My little dog and pony show of a blog here, along with the weekly newspaper I contribute to, has landed me in with some of the coolest kids in town. Mainly culinary, as the Homeskillet is still, mostly, food focused and I am the head Chow writer for the Weekly.
In my near hermit-like oblivion of secluded living as I approach 50 years walking around as Mark Whittaker, it's always nice to get out now and then and hang with those cool kids. If you've kept up with this here blog, you know that every summer I attend, as much as I can, the monthly GUT dinners at the Carriage House. Unfortunately, because I got the dates wrong, I missed the first dinner this summer. That's on me. But I did attend the 2nd held in late July, which had the "Time Travel" theme, where chefs had to create dishes with ingredients from the decade they were given. If you recall my online posts, one of the highlights was a cheese platter (popular in the 70's, you know like fondue and stuff) with a squid ink infused cheese ball that was shaped like the Death Star, along with crackers resembling an exploding Alderaan. Totally awesome.
That's what these imaginative chefs do every year and every year they keep upping the ante to showcase our local culinary talent.
The last GUT dinner for 2019 had the distinction of carrying the "Deception!" tagline of intrigue. Meaning food that looked nothing like the actual flavor or focus of the dish. You've seen plenty of trickery like that if you watch enough food channel shows or follow multi-starred chefs such as Grant Achatz or Ferra Adria, who literally can make food float.
Here though, we were treated to plates that were a bit more down to Earth in whimsy.
As we all found a seat in the sold out event, we were treated to passed around 'dessert first' appetizers. One stand out was a chocolate truffle filled with chicken mole. You see...deception! Wasn't expecting that to hit my tongue. The smoked salmon mousse macaroons were a lot of fun too. We were also treated to a fantastic cocktail of fruit puree, almond extract, lime juice and cinnamon tea mixed with Banks 5 rum. It was paired with a miracle berry so the first sip you got was a bit sour but then after eating the berry, it turned sweet. Duplicity! Clever, clever...
First course held the title of "Coal and Stone" featuring an amazing strip of sous vide flat iron steak over 'esquites', or Mexican street corn salad. The deception here were the "stones", that were actually these savory, and slightly sticky, mochi balls. Were they mochi? Did I hear right? Get back to me so I can make this right.
For the 2nd, we got "eclairs". But wait! This is the Deception! dinner. They, uh, weren't eclairs. Tee hee. They were, get this...roasted green chile fondue tamales. Yes! With a black bean mousseline, which is sorta like Hollandaise, and a dark chocolate chicken mousse. The texture for this one was a little striking but all in all the flavors melded really smoothly for an extremely playful plate.
The 3rd, or the 'intermezzo', was served in an ashtray (that's right!) featuring smoked salmon formed into 'cigarettes', with a melon and lime granita, basically a semi-frozen dessert, resembling ash and a red pepper gastric. Watching some at my table giggle at this gag made me laugh so hard. Because I did a little when it was placed in front of me. It was a bit too real looking. Well done chefs! Well done.
The 4th course was the GUT diner portion of the evening. They took a scalloped beef tenderloin and paired it with gnocchi resembling potatoes O'Brien, some mango hot sauce formed into a 'yolk' with a halibut gelee as the 'whites' of the egg. Wow. The tenderloin was almost sausage-like in it's approach but matched with that 'egg' and the gnocchi home fries was really enjoyable.
The dessert is what totally caught me off guard. It was, in its essence, a banana split but looked more like a refined squid plate. There was a molded tentacle infused with squid ink and cherry along with chocolate and pineapple caviar, peanut butter 'sand', and this incredible dome of fermented banana Bavarian cream with a strawberry gelee center. Unreal.
To check out the Deception! dishes, just scroll on down...
|Thats no eclair...thats a tamale|
|That flat iron steak was killer|
|Gnocci "home fries" and mango hot sauce/halibut gelle "egg"|
|Smoke that trout if you got 'em|
|I sea what you did there|
As always, I just want to thank Devon Sanner (exec chef of the Carriage House) and Mat Cable (of Fresco Pizza and Tucson Originals) for always letting a dork like me be a part of such awesomeness as this. You guys rule.
I also want to thank the whole GUT collective for continually proving to the rest of the culinary landscape that Tucson is a tasty threat to be taken quite seriously.
Respect to Obadiah (Obie Serious) Hindman and Aurelio Garcia from Mountain Oyster Club, Susan Fulton and Mary Steiger of Gourmet Girls, Vanessa Moon of Old Pueblo Provisions, Penca's David Solorzano and Thomas Golden, Ken Foy from Dante's Fire, Amanda Prewitt from The Lodge at Ventana Canyon, The Parish's own Travis Peters and Rica Rances, Sam Arnold of the Doubletree Suites, Mama Louisa's Mikey Elefante, Mayra Silva from Casino del Sol, Izzak Morhaim of The Hub, Janet Jones of Tanque Verde Ranch, Roderick Ledesma from PY Steakhouse, Stacy Vernooy of Chef Chic along with Dominique Stoller, Max Provost, Nohemi Estrada, Brently Singletary and of course Lindy "Thunder Bacon" Reilly.
I love you all. I thank you all. And I can't express how honored I am to be a part of it all.
See you at the next event.
Camera, Typing and Feeling the GUT Love
"Metal" Mark Whittaker
Another Tasty Summer, 2019