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Flavors Flock To Duck Dish
by Gilad Edelman | Oct 2, 2013 12:16 pm
Posted to: Arts & Culture, Dining, Food, Downtown, Chef Of The Week
The pearl onions and fingerling potatoes wouldn’t be in the frying pan long.
Manuel Romero had already slow-cooked them in oil, confit-style. He just needed to warm them up so they could join the leg of duck that sat nearby, having cooked for several hours in its own liquid fat.
Romero, the chef at Ibiza, a Spanish fusion restaurant on High Street, said that although the ingredients were cooked in oil and fat, I would be wrong to expect a greasy dish. The cauliflower foam would balance out the oiliness.
Indeed. Romero had made it by boiling cauliflower in seasoned water, then puréeing it with heavy cream. Unlike solid chunks of cauliflower, he explained, the foamed version would spread its flavor, and the ones it had absorbed, throughout the dish.
The hot foam sat in a dispenser that looked like a clown’s gag seltzer bottle. After removing the frying pan from the heat, Romero (pictured) grabbed the canister and, using a metal ring to shape the spray, dispensed about a quarter cup’s worth onto the plate. Then he removed the ring and began arranging the ingredients.
As he embedded the onions and potatoes one by one in the frothy mixture, then draped them in dark chunks of soft duck meat, Romero explained each component’s purpose: The onions would bring natural sweetness and acidity; the foam would be savory; the duck, salty and fatty; and the potatoes would add texture. Romero said paying attention to the interplay of elements in a dish is central to his cooking philosophy.
“I put all the ingredients that I want the customer to feel in the mouth,” he said. “I don’t put ingredients just to fill up a dish, and people get full. Sometimes it’s for texture, sometimes it’s for flavor, but it always has a role in the dish.”
The chef, who got his start cooking in Manhattan about 15 years ago, said that matching flavors is the most difficult part of creating a new dish. To make the process easier, he writes down every successful flavor combination he comes across, storing it away for a future creation. That makes it easier to invent new dishes like this duck confit, an appetizer that Romero said will start appearing on Ibiza’s menu this week.
Finally, Romero drizzled a teaspoon of a reduction made from Pedro Ximenez dessert wine and added microgreens as a garnish. The finished product achieved something like the harmony of flavors that he had hoped for. The mixture of the reduction and the cauliflower foam created a deeply sweet, rich sauce that complimented the salt and fat from the duck. The tender potatoes and tart, crunchy onions filled out the balance of textures.
Romero had some new flavor matches to write in his notebook.
Tags: Manuel Romero, Ibiza, Chef of the Week
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posted by: Josh Levinson on October 2, 2013 2:23pm
I have to say, I don’t go to Ibiza often because I find it prohibitively expensive, but I must admit, the quality of the food is pretty out of this world. If I was a tad richer I’d probably go more often.