Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Alma Food and Wine version 2.0

I'm a firm believer that pop-ups usually get better with each version and Alma is no exception. This newer, more refined Alma is held at a spacey industrial like gallery, with drop down windows and pieces of oil paintings and photography scattered throughout. The gallery sets the stage for Alma's more complex and precise creations. The beignets that once made me drowsy, now wakes up my senses.
squash blossom beignet
charred gazpacho with abalone cream

With each dish, there is noticeable growth and boldness compared to the last version. Although, not fond of every single dish - the beet was devoid of contrasting textures, Chef Ari is able to keep his audience intrigued.
Oddly enough, my favorite of the night is this vegetarian medley of tahini and eggplants. Coming from a strictly carnivorous being, this says something.
And seriously, chicken? When was the last time any decent chef allowed the most dull of all poultry to show face? Only a genius of a chef is able to take the most mundane of ingredients and create fireworks. This he did. Little do I know what sort of poking and prodding Ari did to make this homely piece of protein create bubbles of umami in my mouth. Nevertheless, he hit home.
apricot, green tea sponge cake, brittle

As of late, if someone was to ask me of my favorite pop, I would have easily replied, "Le Comptoir." Unfortunately Le Comptoir has fallen to the trap of "signature dishes". With repetition of popular dishes, Gary Menes has failed to bring variety and creativity. Whereas, Ari is able to create an entirely fresh, bold new menu without adhering to the popular demand allure. I saw nothing remotely similar to his previous menu, besides the beignet which I have grown to love. There is much in store for Alma and if Chef Ari keeps up with this pace, he will soon make a name in the industry.

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