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Tue, Jun

Addison Unveiled: A Gastronomic Ballet of Art and Flavor

ERIC PREVEN'S NOTEBOOK

ERIC PREVEN’S NOTEBOOK - It all started with my brilliant hack onto the Addison waitlist - the first available reservation was in April.  I simply booked a room in the Hotel and called the concierge, asking if they could book us at Addison on December 21, the shortest day of the year.  Savannah apologized and said the waitlist was quite full.  "How full?" I asked and she admitted that there were thirteen parties ahead of us. 

A week before the scheduled trip, the anticipated call from Addison arrived, setting in motion a series of emotions and realizations. "Shit," I thought, realizing that the dream reservation was now a reality, a commitment that transcended considerations of price and sacrifice.

The Name Addison: A Culinary Legacy:  The restaurant's name, Addison, initially led my thoughts down a biblical path, contemplating which son of Adam—Cain or Abel—the chef drew inspiration from. However, I discovered that Addison was an homage to Addison Mizner, a visionary architect who left an indelible mark on Florida's resort landscape in the 1930s. 

This connection to a creative pioneer added a layer of historical richness to the culinary journey, emphasizing that Addison in Del Mar was not merely a restaurant but a living legacy of culinary and architectural artistry.  

Addison: A Seven Star Experience

The culinary journey at Addison, under the artistry of Chef William Bradley, is not just a meal but a symphony of flavors, meticulously paired with eight different wines. The Tepache, a fermented beverage crafted from pineapple peels and sweetened with the rich, crystalline syrup of piloncillo, set the tone for an evening of gastronomic indulgence.

 

Delicacy: The Pinnacle of Culinary Artistry

The Delicacy course, featuring Oyster, Horseradish, Smoked Roe, and Green Apple, stood as a testament to Chef Bradley's commitment to culinary excellence. This carefully curated dish not only delighted the palate but also underscored the serious and artful nature of the dining experience at Addison.

Prelude: A Theatrical Introduction to Culinary Delights

The Prelude, a diverse array of items accompanied by intriguing introductions, showcased Chef Bradley's dedication to providing more than just a meal. With each dish, a new chapter unfolded, complemented by the sommelier's generous pourings of carefully selected wines. The sommelier's expertise elevated the experience to perfection.

Seasonal Selections: A Culinary Ballet

The Seasonal Selections offered a complex of flavors, beginning with sashimi and a shellfish dish, leading up to an exquisite Golden Eye Snapper that was rated off the charts by our entire party. A dramatic Thai coconut soup, created at the table with a coordinated display by tuxedo-clad wait staff, was sharp. The experience culminated with squab yakitori, tender and divine, served with a rare vintage—Spring Mountain, St. Helena, Napa Valley, California 1979. The sight of the year on the bottle elicited gasps of excitement, adding a historical note to the gastronomic journey.

Sweet Treats: Culinary Innovation Unleashed

The Sweet Treats segment unfolded as a finale of imaginative and inventive delights. From Cocoa Crunch with Mezcal and Passion Fruit to a Berry-Beet Tartelette with Verjus and Vanilla, each creation showcased the mastery of culinary arts. Bitter Chocolate Wafer with Pistachio and Sour Cherry Jam, Caramelized Honey Bonbon with Almonds, Ginger, and Rosemary, and a classic Tres Leches added layers of sweetness and complexity. This was all accompanied by Vilmart & Cie - Ratafia Chardonnay, Champagne France 2013, elevating the dessert experience to celestial heights.

The Culmination: Experience as the Universal Mother of Sciences

As the magical evening complete with periodic cracks of lightning in the sky above Del Mar came to an end, the realization dawned that beyond the exquisite flavors and masterful pairings, the true value lay in the shared experience. The act of being together, immersed in the symphony of tastes and aromas, transcended the sumptuousness of the dishes. In the wise words of Cervantes, "Experience is the universal mother of sciences," and indeed, the collective experience at Addison became a treasured memory, a shared journey into the depths of culinary delight that etched itself into the fabric of our shared history.

In the end, the ten-course tasting menu at Addison was not merely a feast for the senses but a celebration of togetherness, a communion of flavors that bound us in a shared tapestry of extraordinary experiences. As we reflected on the culinary odyssey, it became evident that the most valuable aspect of the evening was not the exquisite dishes or rare wines but the collective joy of savoring the moment together—a sentiment that transformed the meal into a timeless memory.

Technical Notes:

The Choreography of Taste: Beyond Serving Spoons:  In contrast to my own occasional oversight of serving spoons, Addison's commitment to the art of dining extended beyond mere presentation. The choreographed meal at Addison left no detail to chance, ensuring that each bite was a carefully curated moment of delight. The diners, transformed into artists, were entrusted with the task of assembling their experience, embracing the interactive nature of the ten-course journey.  

Digging Deep: Unearthing Culinary Treasures:  At Addison, the culinary philosophy encouraged diners to "dig deep" into each course, urging them to explore the layers of flavors deliberately embedded within. This gastronomic excavation added a dimension of discovery to the dining experience, compelling guests to savor every nuance and texture. It was a departure from my usual approach, where the variety of dishes is laid out buffet style, and instead, it invited a sequential exploration that unraveled the culinary story with each progressive course.  

Bowl Technology: Shaping Culinary Innovation:  The innovative use of bowl technology at Addison was nothing short of extraordinary. Resembling six-inch white tires with a two-inch hole in the middle, these vessels became wells for culinary excavation. The unique design facilitated an immersive experience, allowing diners to delve into the heart of each concoction. The bowls, much like the dishes they held, became integral elements of the visual and tactile symphony that unfolded with every course.  

Spoons and Chopsticks: Varied Instruments of Enjoyment:  In the orchestra of flavors orchestrated by William Bradley, spoons and chopsticks played varied roles, adding a touch of diversity to the dining experience. The utensils themselves became conduits for the immersive journey, guiding diners through the intricacies of each dish. From unraveling the Kanpachi to ensure every piece was coated properly, the instructions provided a roadmap for savoring the offerings presented.

Since the Three Stars...  Finally, as I reflected on Addison's journey since being awarded the third Michelin star in December 2022, it became evident that the acclaim was well-deserved. The restaurant's commitment to culinary excellence and the pursuit of gastronomic perfection had indeed set them on a trajectory of success. Addison, much like its namesake architect, had become a maestro in the symphony of fine dining, leaving an indelible mark on the culinary landscape of Del Mar and beyond.

Activision Blizzard Harassment Settlement:

Activision Blizzard has agreed to pay about $54 million to settle discrimination claims brought by California’s civil rights agency on behalf of women employed by the video game maker.  As part of the settlement, however, Activision agreed to pay as much as $47 million to address accusations of pay disparity and discrimination.  The settlement leaves big questions unanswered.

For one thing it is a stunning reversal. In 2021, the state agency estimated that Activision’s liability was about $1 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal. How the state agency went from accusing Activision of fostering a culture in which female employees were “subjected to constant sexual harassment” to withdrawing those claims a couple of years later isn’t clear.  

The company has faced criticism from its workers over wage disparities, especially as shareholders narrowly approved a $155 million pay package for the chief executive, Bobby Kotick.  Mr. Kotick is a Michigan graduate and serves on the boards of The Coca-Cola Company, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Harvard Westlake School.  Go Wolverines! 

Carte Legit:

Here's the 10-course tasting menu from December 21, 2023, with the wine pairings in color...

Tepache  

1) A fermented beverage made from the peel + the rind of pineapples, sweetened with piloncillo 

Delicacy

2) Oyster, Horseradish, Smoked Roe, Green Apple 

Prelude

3) Sake cured Kanpachi * Nigiri *

Sage Hill Ranch Garden Greens

Spanish Anchovies, Potato, Wild Arugula, Meyer Lemon Jam

Chicken Liver Churro, Bitter Chocolate

Sanchez - Le Guedard, "Blanc 2 Noir," Brut Champagne, France NV

Seasonal Selections

4) Sashimi

Kanpachi Sashimi, Preserved Pear, Kivi Pichuberry Ponzu

Schloss Gobelsburg - Reid Lamm, Grumer Veltiner, Kamptal Austria

5) Chawan -  (茶碗; literally "tea bowl") 

Shellfish Chawanmushi, Broccoli, Bok Choy, Celtuce

Bessin Tremblay - Chablis  Bugungy France 2020

6) Caviar

Regils Ova Reserve Caviar, Koshihikari Rice, Smoked Sabayon, Sesame

Krug - Grand Cuvee Brut Champagne France MV

7) Golden Eye 

Malt Vinegar Crisps, Burnt Onion Dip, Dill Relish

Splendid Alfonsino (golden eye snapper), Flavors of Winter, Clam Butter

Jerome Checeaux - Premier Cru Aux Boudets, Nuits - Saint-George Burgundy, France 2014

8) Soup

Sourdough Bread, Goat's Milk, Browned Honey Butter

Tom KhaGoong (Thai coconut soup), Sweet and Sour Fowl, King Crab, Swarnadwipa

Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst, Riesling, Spatlese Mosel Germany 2015

9) Squab

Squab Yakitori, Peanut-Miso, Pickles, Purple Daikon

Yuzu Custard, Mint, Ceremonial Matcha (green tea)

Spring Mountain  St. Helena, Napa Valley California 1979

Sweet Treats

10) Cocoa Crunch, Mezcal, Passion Fruit, Toasted Fluff

Berry-Beet Tartelette, Verjus, Vanilla

Bitter Chocolate Wafer, Pistachio, Sour Cherry Jam

Caramelized Honey Bonbon, Almonds, Ginger, Rosemary

Tres Leches

Vilmart & Cie  - Ratafia Chardonnay, Champagne France 2013

Chef William Bradley

 

(Eric Preven is a longtime community activist and is a contributor to CityWatch. The opinions of aMr. Preven are not necessarily those of CityWatchLA.com.)