Last night the Cooks&Books Visiting Chef Series by Kim Ricketts took place at Spring Hill. This is an event I’ve eagerly been awaiting every day for at least the last month. David Chang of Momofuku (and other New York restaurants) and Mark Fuller of Spring Hill are, in my mind, an ideal chef pairing. I’ve never had the chance to visit a Chang restaurant, and Spring Hill is one of my favorite restaurants (outside of Tom Douglas land), so I hopped on my chance to buy two tickets as soon as they became available on the Brown Paper tickets web site.
The gala evening started with lychee and Prosseco cocktails which were passed along with oysters on the half shell garnished with a sliver of pork belly- appropriately foreshadowing a meal that would celebrate all things pork. (Oysters were destined to make another appearance as well.) Also passed: tiny spoonfuls of a multi-flavored, multi-colored sea urchin preparation. Then we took our seats and received our copies of the Momofuku cookbook.
The first item on the table was a perfectly fresh scallop in a little sauce of buttermilk, soy, and poppy seeds. This was my husband Frank’s favorite taste of the evening (though this is a little hard to believe by the amount of pork he consumed later in the meal.) The scallop was followed by a plate of warm English muffins (from the Dahlia bread bakery). The menu states that they were spread with bay leaf butter, but I think our server mentioned that a special lard was used instead of butter (not sure, it was hard to hear). Simple as it was, this was one of my favorites tastes of the evening- the inspired addition of bay leaf transformed TDR bread baker Gwen LeBlanc’s perfect English muffins. A salad of crisp Fuji apple slices with smoked pork jowl and maple labne (drained yogurt), dressed with a puree of kim chee came next.
Then, possibly the most spectacular item: Momofuku pork buns. The pork, encased by a soft pillowy bun, melted in your mouth. I could have eaten 3 more of these, and I thought about the pork buns for the rest of the evening. (One of our table mates, who has been to Chang’s New York restaurants, said he thought the pork buns were exactly the same as at Momofuku.)
Next, a platter of ginger scallion noodles and glazed chicken wings. Simple, straightforward, delicious flavors.
A tiny spoon of lucky peach sorbet (photo middle far right) was served to cleanse our palates. Wow! That one little bite was so flavorful, it seemed to cleanse my whole head!
I thought things were winding down, but the spoonful of sorbet was followed by the lushest and largest course of the evening- the deceptively simple sounding Bo Ssam. Here’s what was was set on our table: sensational Shigoku oysters (from Taylor Shellfish),shucked on the half shell but with their perfectly flat lids still on top, set in a bowl of ice; a giant platter of caramelized pork (photo second from top, left); a bowl of lettuce leaves; a plate of kimchee and other condiments (bo ssam photo is to the right of the pork photo). You fold an oyster, some pork, and some condiments in a lettuce leaf and eat. At this point I could only eat one leaf-full, but my stalwart husband managed to dispatch four well-stuffed bundles.
Dessert was a plate of soft, tasty “compost” cookies (which apparently contain crushed potato chips, chocolate chips, and everything but the kitchen sink) and a glass of the celebrated Chang “cereal milk.” Never having been a fan of sugary cereals, not even as a kid, I didn’t think I would like this, but even I could appreciate its charm.
David Chang came to each table and autographed the cookbooks. He seemed such a nice guy- friendly, relaxed and natural, not at all aloof. Mark Fuller (photo second from bottom) and his staff (the photo above Mark’s picture shows some of his staff with David Chang on the right) did a stunning job with Chang’s recipes. The recipes really were a perfect fit with the style of Mark’s restaurant. I think we’ll be seeing a lot more pork and kim chee on Spring Hill menus in the future!
This was a great evening that completely met my expectations. And thanks to Marjorie Chang Fuller for her graceful hosting.
Last but not least, thanks also to the marvelous Bruce Miyahara, serial summer camper and an intrepid member of Seattle Foodies, for all of these photos except the sorbet spoons.
(If you want to see more great photos of the food, check out this link to Lorna’s blog, The Cook Book Chronicles.)