“This is why I live in California,” explained chef Ari Taymor as enormous platters of hibachi-grilled asparagus landed on our table this past Saturday night. He had FedExed them from LA, where he is the chef and co-owner of Alma, and the growing season knows no bounds.
As more food arrived, California’s allure was obvious. Hay-roasted potatoes with goat’s milk, warm smoked trout blanketed in roe, and ribs (brined, smoked, grilled, and glazed) all came out family style, “because it’s messy and fun.” Our glasses stayed full of Zev Rovine wines, and enormous pine-and-parsnip ice cream sundaes rounded everything out, tasting like a crisp, apple-y forest very far from Manhattan. Check out some of our favorite moments from the night below.
Ari and his sous chef, Flynn McGarry, made miniature English muffins, then charred them on the hibachi grill before topping them with burrata, uni, and caviar. Marian Bull The food on paper: Great. The food on our plates: Even better. Marian Bull It wouldn’t be a California-inspired meal without some kale chips. (These ones came topped with a creamy black truffle sauce.) Marian Bull Ari and our editor-in-chief Adam Sachs addressed the table before the meal; at this point, Ari and his team had already been cooking for over six hours. Marian Bull After cooking eggs sous vide for over an hour, Ari discarded the shells and whites and saved the creamy, bright-yellow yolks. Marian Bull Up next: plating the yolks with smoked dates and chives, then dousing them with a rich caramelized sunchoke soup. It was a crowd favorite—and apparently one of Ari’s favorite dishes on the Alma menu. Marian Bull Cooking alongside Ari was 16-year-old Flynn McGarry, apparent master of the hibachi grill. Marian Bull A full platter of hibachi-grilled asparagus, which the Alma team flew in from LA. “You guys won’t be seeing asparagus for another few months in New York,” Ari joked with us before the meal. It was, literally, a California dream. Marian Bull After hors d’oeuvres and a few glasses of wine, we took our seats and waited patiently for the first course to arrive. Marian Bull When topping the uni-burrata-caviar English muffins, Ari used tweezers to place the delicate tarragon on top. Marian Bull Ari’s take on a beet salad: Mixed with three types of citrus, and topped with whole pistachios, a thick pistachio cream, and tangles of greens. Roasted in hay, and served with goats milk and lovage, these potatoes are one of Ari’s favorite dishes to serve at Alma. “They’re roasted but super soft, making them almost like mashed potatoes.” Marian Bull The finished hay-smoked potatoes, topped with a fearless serving of grated black truffles. Marian Bull A full, happy table awaits the next course. Marian Bull Adam, Ari, and SAVEUR publisher Kristin Cohen share a moment in the kitchen after the meal is through. We like to have fun here. Marian Bull