Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Amuse-Bouche

I always admire a chef who serves an amuse-bouche to guests. The elements of confidence ("I'm going to serve you something I know you're going to like") and surprise are provocative, and create a level of interest and anticipation. The amuse-bouche also says, "I'm not too cheap to give you something for free." All salutary outcomes.

At home, for a special meal, I also enjoy serving an amuse-bouche. I find they are challenging exercises in concentrated flavor and, in particular, design. An amuse-bouche can neither bore the tongue nor the eye. It must excite -- and amuse! -- both. And in a very small package...an amuse-bouche should never contain more than one or two bites of food.

Recently, at a dinner in honor of international style maven Albano Daminato, I prepared an amuse-bouche, served cold, consisting of shaved roast pork and roasted red sweet pepper, maple candied shallots and a wee burst of white wine dijon mustard. I prepared these hours in advance and stored them in the fridge, on their small serving plates, so they were ready to plunk down. I thought they tasted great!

What's your favorite amuse-bouche to serve or receive? Have you ever had a bad amuse-bouche? Tell me about it in the comments!

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