For a dish to be successful, all of the components on the plate must make sense, meaning that they must complement one other and, to put it simply, taste good together. Alas, common sense is too often uncommon; not long ago I experienced a course during a tasting menu that did not work at all — the pork clashed with the fennel, and the idea of a raspberry compote was not a good one.
This past weekend, however, something I ate was nearly perfect. It made sense, it tasted good, and it was cooked with excellent technique. I was at Le Mistral, and the occasion was a truffle dinner hosted by Diane Roederer, who imports truffles and other delicacies, and whose wares were being featured at the meal.
The dish to which I am referring? Seared foie gras on top of veal, which was on top of some of the most delicate and flavorful brioche I have had. The foie was slightly crisp — almost imperceptibly so — on the outside, smooth and rich inside, as it should be. The veal was as veal must be: tender, full of flavor, possessing something approaching heartiness, but still clearly unhindered by excess muscle. When I sliced the construction and tasted all three components together — combined with the truffled veal jus — I tasted a dish that deserved to exist. And I have not forgotten the truffles; they were Alba truffles, and paper-thin slices adorned the foie and were peppered about the rest of the platter — the dish was served on a plate made from a tree trunk. Those truffles, at their peak of freshness, added a level of umami that one could not take for granted. This was something you will want to savor.
My one suggestion? Leave the thyme stalk off of the finished plate. Its flavor is appreciated, and it was there by way of the cooking process, but I firmly believe that everything on a plate must be edible, and one does not want to eat a stalk of fresh thyme.