Friday, August 9, 2013

Up the Downey's Showcase

So that's a bad iPhone photo of a very good dish, round one at Downey's recent Celebration of Summer dinner.The rest of the meal was magnificent too--this is Downey's after all--and I'll jump to dessert in a bit, but right now I'd like to linger with this scallop. Yep, just one, but round as a Kennedy dollar (remember those?), and perfectly cooked--this is Downey's after all--translucent but done in the center and completely, evenly seared tan on the outside, but then cleverly sliced across its middle to make two perfect discs and divvy up that delicious sear into more bites. You will bite small, as you want it to last, as you want to taste, as you want to get a bit of the watercress, exactly dressed so each leaf is moist not dripping, and perhaps a sliver of endive too. The sprinkling of pine nuts, and how do they get each one toasted so similarly?, adds something crunchier plus that lovely, wispy forest floor flavor. And then there are the peaches--what a summer for peaches it's been here in Santa Barbara, and these, semi-dried, fight back a bit more with their chewiness, and therefore last more. Wash all that down with some Dragonette rose and you could go home after one dish sated with the essence of edible summer.

Let's then skip ahead to dessert, and the joy that is Persian mulberries. I've had some mulberries that seem, well, muddled--a bit more about the taste of the land than bursting fruity goodness. That's not the case with any John Downey ever serves, though. Here's they are made into an ice cream that's part of the world's most elegant ice cream sandwich, with the cookie part an almond dacquoise, surprisingly firm yet flaky and pleasingly crunchy. More crushed almonds are toasted around the circumference of this puck-a-licious blast of not-too-sweetness. I want another.

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