I seem to have a recurring love/hate relationship with eggplant.
(By the way, this is a FAILED Tartine Tuesday recipe... before you all get your hopes up. Sorry!)
When I was young, I despised eggplant. I can't remember if it was the texture or the flavor... maybe it was a combination of both, but no matter how it was cooked, I couldn't stand it. You could have covered it in chocolate and I probably still wouldn't have eaten it... okay, maybe I would have. But eggplant parmesan, a classic, delicious favorite? I wouldn't touch it.
It wasn't until just this past year or so that I started to really appreciate eggplant. It all started with my friend Elliott's baba ghanoush. Similar in texture to hummus, which I love, I figured I would give it a try to see if my dislike for eggplant was just me being a baby (pun intended). It was light, creamy, and citrus-y, not bitter and gummy like the eggplant that I remembered from my childhood. From that point on, I felt I would give eggplant a second chance, and see where the relationship lead.
It think eggplant and I are doomed to be like one of those on-again/off-again sitcom relationships.
In my last post, we were on good terms... cut into cubes and roasted, it was delicious. Today though, a completely different story.
A week ago I went out to dinner with Quentin and his family to celebrate his Dad's birthday. We went to L'atelier du Parc, a modern French restaurant near the Porte de Versailles in Paris. Now, I am usually one to bring my camera everywhere I go, but that night for some reason I forgot to bring a camera. I even purchased a pocket-sized point and shoot a few months ago to make sure that even on those "inappropriate for DSLR" moments, I had a camera. I am still kicking myself in the ass for it.
I won't go into the entire experience in this post... as it would take quite a long time to write it all (the dinner was amazing). I will though, give you a little bite of what lingered in my head since that night.
Before our meal was served, the waiters brought us an amuse-bouche. In French, amuse-bouche means "mouth-amuser"... literally, one bite, given by the chef, to give you an opening experience of the restaurant and prepare you for your meal. The waiters brought the amuse-bouche of eggplant and mascarpone cheese to us in shot-glass sized tapered glasses topped with a mesclun leaf (sorry there's no picture of it, *kick*). The creaminess of the mascarpone cheese perfectly accented the eggplant, and the thought of trying to re-create the recipe lingered with me the entire week.
I figured it would be fairly simple; roast the eggplant, add mascarpone, top it with something crunchy... crispy fried shallots. It started out great, I roasted the eggplant, pureed it, pushed it through a sieve to make sure there were no lumps, and mixed it with the mascarpone. I sliced the shallots, tossed them in flour, and fried them to a nice brown crisp. Everything looked good, but looks can be oh-so deceiving.
I can only describe it as "bland baby food topped with baby onion rings". Maybe my younger years of eggplant hating karma were coming back to haunt me?! Maybe I didn't roast the eggplant long enough. Definitely too much mascarpone. Not enough salt. Should I have added garlic? Ugh. Luckily I only made enough for 1-2 servings. At least it looked nice, and it was edible.
I refuse to let this failed experiment keep me from writing off eggplant from my grocery lists. I will settle the score. So far: Eggplant-1, Katrina-1. Bring it.