The Coast News Group
Lick the Plate

A meal worthy of high praise

The great thing about a restaurant that does a weekly tasting menu, and alerts its loyal patrons with a weekly e-mail, is the sense of anticipation it builds. I look forward to receiving the Firefly e-mail to see what Chef Aaron Daley and owner Jim Barrasso are up to in their kitchen. The weekend of April 16 it was pure culinary bliss.
This tasting menu, whose description made me cancel plans to get there on a Saturday night, was such a perfect mix of courses and ingredients that I knew it had to be shared. I will try to do it justice.
First off, if you are going to do a tasting menu, do it with the wine pairings. It’s so nice to let the professionals do their thing and just sit back and enjoy. And Firefly pairs wine and food as good as any restaurant I’ve been to. And it’s not always an obvious pairing.
With that, let’s get started on this epic meal. The first course was called Grilled & Chilled Green Asparagus. It combined applewood smoked bacon, parmesan flan, endive lettuce and honey truffle vinaigrette paired with a 2007 Qupe Wine Cellars Syrah from the Central Coast. The asparagus was fresh, full of flavor and cooked perfectly, then chilled. The bacon was cut into small chunks and had that perfect applewood smoky goodness going on. I can’t say I’ve ever had a Parmesan flan and it had a touch of smoke flavor, which tied all the ingredients together. The combo bit of bacon, flan, asparagus, endive lettuce and vinaigrette was so perfect I did not want it to end. Note to Firefly, put this on your menu.
The second course took us into seafood heaven with a Red Bell Pepper Laquered Scallop.
Accompanying the super moist and delicious scallop was a sweet corn and Swiss chard cannelloni, balsamic veal jus and vanilla essence.
Again, the wine pairing was spot on with a 2007 Robert Talbot Winery “Logan” Chardonnay from Monterrey.
The wine felt like it was making the food happy. Again with the really innovative mix of flavors and textures and again, I found myself not wanting this dish to end. Very worthy of a more permanent menu addition with this one as well.
When I saw “Tatonka” as the main course in the e-mail, my mind was pretty much made up I was going to be there. Something about Bison, or game in general, gets me excited. This one was called Cast Iron Roasted Buffalo Tenderloin and it was served with goat cheese polenta, baby carrots and a brandy wild mushroom cream sauce. A Cain Vineyards Cuvee Meritage from Napa Valley of course was creative pairing and it was a good thing. I kind of like it when the server does not ask how I want it cooked. This is the chefs’ meal and I will take it as they serve it, which was a juicy medium rare, which in the lean world of Tatonka is as cooked as you want it.
It’s like we went from spring to summer to autumn all in one meal with the asparagus, scallop and buffalo. I like season traveling in one meal, it works for me. Oh yeah, then we went to crazy Warm Chocolate Walnut Brownie land which was a delightful place to go. Especially when accompanied by banana gelato, fresh raspberries and a caramel chocolate ganache. A Fonseca Bin 27 Port from Portugal provided a smooth, sexy after-dinner companion in brownie land.
I walked out of Firefly happy, full in a good, manageable way, and very cool with the price which was $65 per person with the wine pairing. That’s a huge value for a tasting menu with generous wine pours and of course the quality of the ingredients and preparation.
So that’s my story. I hope I was able to convey some of the pleasure the meal gave me. If you want to see what Chef Aaron Daily has up his tasting menu sleeve go to www.fireflygrill and sign up for their eNewsletter.