Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Palo Santo: My Aquatic Fantasy

Sometimes I view my life like an outsider watching a movie. In it, there's a sassy guardian angel, dispensing sage advice with a kicky attitude, kind of like Queen Latifah. While the Queen boosts my confidence while teaching me the importance of keeping it real, I also have a personal cupid of sorts. Chef Jacques Gautier of Palo Santo has been creating my most romantic meals since his days at La Brunette, a fantastic French-Carribean restaurant in Williamsburg.

Whenever I ate there, I felt like Gautier was personally ensuring that Q would fall madly in love with me as he had another oyster amuse bouche. Gautier was my own personal Sebastian the Crab, crooning "Kiss De Girl."

When La Brunette closed it's doors, I had no choice but to teach myself how to cook (actually, Queen Latifah may have pushed me in that direction), but I kept my eyes peeled as to what Gautier was doing next. Because the whole world revolves around me, Chef Gautier opened a new restaurant, Palo Santo in a brownstone in nearby Park Slope. It has quickly become a favorite.

On a recent visit, we started with a green gazpacho with toasted pinenuts.


The gazpacho had a tang of watermelon, and the pinenuts and drizzle of olive oil provided a wonderful textural contrast. The soup was cool and refreshing, especially when eaten in their sunny back room overlooking a soothing fountain.

Because Chef Gautier is Sebastian the Crab in my head, I subconsciously adhered to an aquatic menu. I can't remember the name of our next dish, but our waitress explained it was a peruvian street food. I love street food, and I'm willing to try all types, including skewered duck hearts.


These were delicious. Again, the addition of yukon gold potatoes and green onions made the texture so much more interesting. You can tell that texture is a big thing with me. For his main dish, Q ordered a coconut clam stew.


I can't speak to the flavor of the dish, but isn't it pretty?!? The presentation of the stew blew me away. Q certainly seemed to love it. Personally, I decided upon the seared tuna.


I wish that I was able to photograph more of the accompanying veggies, because they were as much the star as the tuna. Blue potatoes, radishes, and string beans were all tossed in a light, lemony vinegar, the perfect crunchy side to the tuna. While my dish may have appeared a little light in flavor compared to Q's hearty stew, I thought it was perfect.

Palo Santo has a bar alongside the kitchen, where patrons can submit to the will of Chef Gautier and eat his tasting menu, consisting of whatever he wants to make for you. While I am incredibly tempted to do so, I don't want to ruin the fantasy that a tiny crab is back there, orchestrating my romantic evening. Sigh. I guess I'm willing to sacrifice that fantasy for an amazing meal. At least I'll always have Queen Latifah.

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