"Food for Words" at Georges California Modern - La Jolla, CA

Dinner - Sunday, August 19, 2012

When Chris Kostow and Trey Foshee join forces for a meal, it's bound to be a success. Bound by a common thread (the former having worked for the latter), these two generations of chefs weaved a seamless menu at a charity dinner to benefit Words Alive, an organization that works to foster a passion for reading in the community. We were fortunate enough to attend this fundraiser, making a few new friends and enjoying some good food.

The evening began with some passed hors d'œuvres in the California Modern bar, allowing guests to mingle and bid on a number of items for charity (it's true that nothing builds bravado better than a dash of alcohol). Following the short mixer, we adjourned to the private dining area for the main event.

Canapé 1 - Miyagi oyster, rose, smoked beet
Canapé 2 - Geoduck, lardo, squash, grissini
Sweet, salty, earthy, crunchy (and easy to eat) - the epitome of what a canapé should be. The creaminess of the lardo melded very nicely with the texture of the geoduck clam.

Canapé 3 - Tomato, ginger, aonori, burrata
A reprise of a dish from our very first TBL3 dinner. Almost as good as the first time we had it - the consistency of the burrata here was a little runnier than ideal.

Canapé 4 - Steamed carrot cake, carrot top mascarpone
Chino Farms corn pudding
Huitlacoche, popped sorghum seeds, hominy, brown butter
An inspired beginning to the meal proper, boldly paired with a Madeira from the Rare Wine Company (very enjoyable, although it blew out the next two wines for me). I only wish I had gotten a bit more of the silky corn pudding (in retrospect, I apparently had less of it than my neighbours) - the bowl became a tad monotonous with just the crunch.

Cucumber, piquillo pepper, basil, ham broth
This course should have worked, but somehow didn't. While the preternaturally sweet melon was quite enjoyable with the cold ham broth, I found the cucumber to be a jarring and strangely unpleasant contrast. My basil leaves were also dry and fibrous, and somehow managed to mar the accompanying Riesling as well. Not fun.

Day lilies
Spot prawn, leek flowers, Osetra caviar
This plate was virtually identical to one we had at our recent meal at Meadowood, save one important difference - the prawn was perfect this time around. Again, we were taken with the diverse flavours presented by the different parts of the lily. Again, the caviar added a beautiful burst of brine. Now, the prawn's bite was well-integrated with its neighbours, and it contributed a subtle sweetness that tied the dish together.

Wild King salmon
Summer beans, smoked lemon, seaweed, truffle dashi
Beef tenderloin
Garden snails, chanterelles, bone marrow, purslane
Although the pairing of beef and snails is not novel, I'm fairly certain this was my first experience with it. Frankly, I would never have guessed just how well the two go together - truly a match made in heaven. Add in the creaminess of the marrow and the rich, earthy chanterelles, and this was a superb meat course. To top it off, the purslane brought in its characteristic tangy saltiness to counter the decadence of the other components.

Chino Farms plum sorbet
Cucumber consommé, black cardamom
Amazing - absolutely bursting with flavour! The concentrated cucumber essence was a perfect tonic for the sweltering (by San Diego standards) heat that has beset our city. It matched remarkably well with the plum sorbet, although I wish the painfully underappreciated black cardamom was more prominent in this preparation.

Strawberries, raspberries, beets, hazelnut
Overall, we were very satisfied with our meal. Prior to arriving, I hadn't realized that the kitchen would be simultaneously executing our event and the regular menu in the main dining room - quite an impressive feat. Fortunately for us, we have easy access to half of tonight's equation here. Still, the corn and beef dishes call for a hasty return to Meadowood, so we can have a second go at their tasting menu. One can hope.

To learn more about Words Alive and their mission, follow the link directly below.

Words Alive
5111 Santa Fe St., Suite 219
San Diego, CA 92109
Phone: (858) 274-9673