One Time I Ate 16 Courses
A Complete Amateur Reviews the Mist Project
Sometimes I can get really into something just because a friend of mine is into it. So where I was never all that into action flicks, I now get totally excited to see them with my Lindsey friend, because SHE’S totally excited to see them. Also…they’re just ridiculous. Have you seen Total Recall? Or The Fifth Element? ‘Nuff said.
Lindsey’s also really into good food. Like, fancy, sit-down dinners. Whereas I can be satisfied by most brew-pub fare. But as seen through the eyes of my friend, a gourmet dining experience becomes an adventure! And somehow I’m magically able to eat, like, twice as much as normal, who knows why?
To celebrate my 26th, she took me to the Mist Project–Salt Lake’s very own guerilla dining experiment, or what their website calls “a multi-course, multi-sensory experience.” We had two bottles of wine! Which made the night go a little something like this:
Course #1: Bread
There were two types–fennel seed/golden raisin/semolina and olive/walnut. I’m allergic to walnuts and Lindsey’s allergic to olives. But the first bread was tasty, and warm. Plus there was butter for dipping. Can’t argue with that.
Course #2: Spoons
These are prepared by students and vary from night to night. Ours was a take on a caprese salad (mozz/tom/basil–that watermelon-looking thing you see is a honey-roasted tomato…I think) and an asian-y thing involving tofu and peanuts and eggplant. The first one was too vinegary, but the second was good. I dunno. I’ve never had an amuse bouche before, so that was cool.
Course #3: Duck-Themed Shot Glasses
The left one is a duck confit with feta, sweet potato and barly risotto. Amazing. The right is a duck tea/palate cleanser. In the middle is a wafer-like savory cracker filled with fois gras. SO GOOD. So creamy, and salty, and…my mouth is watering. The point is, these things used to be ducks, and now they are an edible science experiment situation.
Course #4: Sticks
That round orb is a barley gelato which is just as interesting as it sounds and about a billion times more delicious. So good. I’d buy a carton of it, honestly. In the middle was a wee shot of popcorn with candied bacon, sage, dehydrated beehive cheddar, and powdered bacon fat. Unfortunate, really, because now I have to spend the rest of my life eating just regular popcorn. The pork-belly-looking thing was pork-belly, and was as tasty as one would expect.
Course #5: Beets
That whole yellow bottom part of the plate is a beet-flavored jello (a shout-out to our Utahn heritage). Those bubbles were the first (and best) of many foamy garnishes; they’re chlorophyll-honey bubbles. Also there were a bunch of different ways to eat beats, none of which was better than how I like them–roasted, over a bed of arugula, with goat cheese.
Course #6: Tuna
I don’t know, guys, sometimes I just want all of my flavors and textures to fit together nicely on a plate and not be some sort of equation that I can’t work out.
Course #7: Scallop
I like scallops, sure. Even if you fuck around with them and throw in some mushroom foam and “apple fluid gel,” my mouth will still recognize and appreciate their silky, meaty texture.
Course #8: Guest Chef Course!
This was actually our favorite, but we were so stoked about eating it that we didn’t take a picture. Oops. It was a super slow-roasted squid in it’s own ink. Smoky, squidy, inky. Amazing.
I only like my lamb that one middle-eastern way where it’s ground up and mixed with spices and then formed into long sausages around a skinny sword. And this was not that. Fun Fact: that egg-looking thing is actually a “reverse sphere of curried yogurt” on top of sherried tomato gel. Oh! Also! This course had fried sweet breads (glands), and they were not bad! Though I guess most anything tastes good fried. Except ear; ear is weird and wrong no matter how it’s cooked.
Course #10: Short Rib
This is a blurry photo of a too-salty short rib parfait. But I ate most of it anyway, because it was topped with potato mousse and a RYE AND CHORIZO CRUMBLE. I mean, come on.
Course #11: Campfire
SO GOOD. Our waiter assured us that it would be “downhill from here,” and thank goodness for that, because it meant I could go to town. What you see here is soy and coffee cured beef sizzling on top of a 500-degree granite stone rubbed with beef fat. YES, that is a true statement. A true statement accompanied by a literal can of baked beans. S’good. There were other shenanigans, like edible coals made of meringue and also some veggies, but I focused mainly on the best beef I’ve ever had in my life. And I don’t even LIKE beef.
Course #12: Intermezzo
Another palate cleanser! But why would I want to cleanse an edible campfire homage from my tongue? Oh, because you’re serving a spiced apple cider flavored granita with merengue and cream that tastes just like apple pie but is impossibly light and refreshing? Okay then.
Course #13: Sunrise From My Plane Window
Sometimes I think chefs can go too far out there (remember all that foam?), but this is an example of where it works. A hand-blown sugar sphere covering a lychee wrapped in passion fruit mousse on a popping candy base? That is a fancy way to dress up pop rocks, Friends, and I am all for it. Even the cotton candy clouds were good, and I normally hate cotton candy. Plus the blue background was a cocoa butter spray that you could write messages in. We talked about leaving our numbers for our cute, hickie-sporting waiter, but decided against it.
Course #14: Palate Cleanser
I think maybe we weren’t supposed to chew up our dry ice Mist tablets? But we did. These cookies were prettier than they were yummy. Also I don’t understand how a cookie will cleanse your palate SLASH why did we need cleansing after two fairly light dessert-type courses? Anyways.
Course #15: Edible Forest
Did I mention that this was supposed to take place at Paradise Palm and have a forest-y plant theme? But instead it was at the former Metropolitan, and besides the campfire, this is how to do it right, edible-botanical-style. The base is crumbled chocolate cake “soil” and pistachio sponges (meant to look like moss) dusted with powdered sugar “snow,” and then we have delicate, intricate chocolate trees filled with glace cherries and cherry marscapone ice cream. Then our hot waiter poured warm chocolate sauce over the whole thing. It was beautiful and delicious and sensual and just rich enough to finish off our meal in style without overdoing it. Except…
Course #16: Mignardise
…except then they brought us this cluster-fuck of random and unnecessary treats. Some of them are made by local bakeries! But what does that matter, because you just followed up a perfectly wonderful last course with a slapdash smattering of not-so-greats on top of your leftover edible soil. Mignardise are supposed to be small, sweet bites served after a meal with coffee. But there was nothing small about the giant log that even our waiter warned us not to eat, because it wasn’t very good.
Anyways, that’s really my only picky-pants objection to an otherwise amazing, lengthy, and thorough meal. It was super fun! And now I’m a vegan, so it’s probably good that I got that out of my system. I’d give it 4 out of 5 stars.
If I were a professional critic. Which I’m not.