The only contribution I made to this dish was my limited kitchen facilities and my Wedgewood china. Now, from the chef himself:
“My first real foray into fine dining was at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s eponymous restaurant at Columbus Circle in New York City. For all the food research I had done up until that point, when the suited waiter brought out plates of something he called an amuse-bouche the word was completely foreign to me. To save you the trouble I went through of looking it up afterwards, amuse-bouche is a French word, literally translated as something to “amuse the mouth.” It’s typically served before even the appetizer, as a miniature portion to whet the appetite. I was quite taken with the idea, and later implemented it in a tasting menu I cooked up. Here we have a crab salad canapé, wrapped in smoked salmon and built over a cucumber slice. The cucumber suggests the summer season in which I made this, as well as the bright flavors of lemon juice and chopped basil I incorporated in the crab salad. I suppose you could say this is my take on a maki roll, although I’m quite far from being a Japanese sushi chef. Although I was quite pleased with the flavor, the cucumber could have benefited from a refreshing vinaigrette, perhaps a citrus fruit vinaigrette to add depth that complements the other flavors. Alongside my “maki roll”, I have a chilled tomato-watermelon gazpacho, served in a shot glass (it’s just an amuse-bouche after all!) whose rim has been rubbed with a piece of a strong-flavored goat cheese from the León province of Spain. The rubbed rim idea actually came from the amuse-bouche served at Jean-Georges, an excellent corn chowder also served in a shot glass. The only complaint I have here was the presentation. The cheese didn’t stick in one neat piece, and as a result the presentation was a bit sloppy…but I guess that’s why they’re professionals, and I’m not.”
These two “treats” were part of a tasting menu Chucky prepared and shared with a guest. He prepped for hours that day as I looked on in dismay and prayed for a clean kitchen. I was able to taste the gazpacho (my first gazpacho experience) and although it is not something that I would ever order on my own, I found it surprisingly good. It had a crisp taste, very refreshing for the summer season.