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Joyously Self-Medicated

I am all over the place.  I don’t know quite where to start.  I feel compelled to write reams, yet at the same time I want to just write “WOW”, add the images & then nap in a chair for hours, dreaming about it all.  There’s lots of great food around these days, but how often do you eat a meal that truly blows your skirt up?  Last night I ate one of the most memorable meals in the last 10 years.  And I {think} am sure I just found my new favorite restaurant in Seattle.  When I consider that I almost called my dining buddies & told them I was going to pass on dinner & just head home, I am alarmed that I nearly made such a completely disastrous decision for my taste-buds.  And my emotional well-being.

According to Bing Maps it is 10.38 miles from my office to Cafe Juanita in Kirkland.  Why then, you may be wondering, did it take me 107 minutes to drive there?  Well, the 520 was like a parking lot.  Then, once I finally got off the 520, up the 405, down 100th & round to 120th Place I couldn’t actually locate the restaurant to save my life.  I am, therefore, especially grateful to my trusty assistant who saved me from myself 20 seconds before I gave up and headed home in utter frustration.  She guided me in like an airport beacon guides the planes in.  When I got sat down at our table & Reid suggested that this might just be the night to change my no drinking policy I almost agreed with him.  Luckily however for everyone present, common sense prevailed.  Plus there was Foie Gras on the menu.  I would joyously self-medicate with that instead.

Seared Foie Gras with Onion Crostata, Candied Ginger, Cacao Nib and Charteuse Apple Brodo

 The foie gras was like cutting through softened butter.  In reality you can’t even describe it as cutting.  The knife just slid right on through.  Unbelievably tender with a top crust that defies description. The apple brodo (clear both) was gently poured around the foie gras after my plate glided in front of me.  By the time I had let every last sliver of liver past my lips my plate was left with an incredibly silky, deep, complex sauce which I had no qualms about spooning up like soup afterwards.  I was not missing one drop of it.  I would have gone home completely content had our meal ended at that point.  I think if I was at the “last meal” stage of life & could have only one thing, this dish would be my request.

Other appetizers around the table…I was so wrapped up in my own personal oral rapture plus laughing out loud at Reid’s naughtiness that I missed how they went down.  Sorry about that.

Fresh Alaskan King Crab with Green Apple Sorbetto and Sweet Crab Butter Powder

Grilled Octopus with Fennel, Green sauce and Chickpea Purée

 When the entrees arrived things started to get really difficult.  There I was desperately trying to deftly snap a few shots so we could get on with the eating, but discovered it was really hard to focus:

1. Because of the lack of light

2. Because of the intoxicating smells wafting up my nose from the table

 Our Delightful Server’s explanations of the entrees made it simply impossible for this Brit to brush off the bunny.  Impossible I tell you.  Wine, cream, pancetta & mushrooms?  Mercy.  Reid couldn’t resist it either.

Local Rabbit Braised in Arneis with Baby Turnips, Pancetta and Porcini

I’ve eaten a fair few rabbits in my life.  We Brits do that.  Even so, I had no idea that rabbit could taste like this.  And it was like slicing through chocolate mousse with a hot knife.  The sauce brought new meaning to the word smooth.  Rich, creamy, & complex it had an intensity that seemed perfectly impossible in something so thin.  Luscious.  That’s a good word to describe it.

As Reid pointed out:  “I eat out over 300 nights a year & it’s not often you get a meal that is truly memorable.  This one is.”  He also expressed it another way but I think it’s probably best not to verbalize that on a family-friendly website.

Mic & Enrique ate Pork Cheeks & Wagyu Flat Iron respectively.  Of course I somehow wangled a taste of both.  The pork cheeks were simply ridiculous.  How do they cook pork like that?  It was so tender & juicy it just fell apart in my mouth.  The steak – I have never tasted steak with such a distinct flavor all it’s own, and I’ve eaten at most of the famed steakhouses in this town.  I want to eat a whole plate of that steak at Cafe Juanita one day.  {Very} soon.

Blackmore Wagyu Flat Iron, Miners Lettuce, Roasted Onion, Smoked Bone Marrow , Hen Egg Emulsion

Braised Pork Cheeks with Polenta Integrale, and Fried Rosemary

It’s that rabbit again.

You know I just realized that I can’t even tell you one thing about the restaurant interior.  Nada.  Usually I will go to great lengths to insist that it’s not just the food that make a great meal but the sum of the food, the ambiance, the service, the decor…the whole package.  I think I just changed my mind.  The food here was so extraordinary I don’t even recall anything else.  Except our server.  She was just delightful.  And funny.

Dessert was offered.  There was no way I was giving up any chance to eat more of Cafe Juanita’s food.  Mic had been checking out the menu from mid-afternoon onwards and already had her {great big} heart set on Bacon Gelato.  That great big heart dropped like a lead weight into her {very tiny} boots when it was missing off the dessert menu.  Delightful Server to the rescue.

 Bacon Gelato

 Panna Cotta with Cardoon Blossom Honey

Bittersweet Chocolate Torta with Marcona Almond Gelato, Tangerine Reduction, Caramelized Banana

I am completely stumped as to how to even begin on the desserts, so I am thinking I am just going to reel off a few things that come to mind and you can just string them together yourself in any order & then add a few joining words:

Intense.  Creamy.  Glorious.  Texture.  Unbelievable.  Silken.  Gobsmacking.  Sublime.  Smooth.  Astonishing.  Pure.

I have no clue how they made those 3 slices of banana taste so banana-ry.  I have never tasted anything like it.  The gelatos were astounding in their smoothness & creaminess & intensity of flavor.  I am not even going to repeat Reid’s description of his Panna Cotta.  And if all that wasn’t enough, Delightful Server not only knew the brand of chocolate used in my dessert (Valrhona, what else) but she even knew (without going back to ask) which specific couverture it was (Guanaja Lactee).

Stunned.  On so many levels.

That’s it.  That’s all I can say.  I am now back to being as speechless as I was for a good part of the evening.

Except one last comment:  Cafe Juanita, that is the tastiest turnip that I ever ate.

Cafe Juanita on Urbanspoon

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  • bobTO0 TEMPTING:

    I asked my doc for a prescription for the same medication but he wasn’t having any of it !! Shame !!!! So I’ve just gone out and bought a fresh foie gras from the local farm. Now all I have to do is make that sauce !! ( I think I know how to do the crust).
    Blogs like this one make me want to put on kilos !!ReplyCancel

  • JeffMy gawd.

    Hold me if I start to weep. Beautiful photos and food.ReplyCancel

  • cbThank You, Sir! You may well have wept had you eaten it. I alternated between bursts of tears & bursts of uncontrolled laughter at my utter good fortune.

    Oh, and Hello Tampa! Great to have you swing by.ReplyCancel

  • » Foodie Footnotes[…] plating & presentation: not food-porn like Book Bindery or Cafe Juanita, but elegant, beautiful plates.  (We hands-down, knocked-our-socks-off loved it more than Book […] ReplyCancel