If you found this blog by Googling my name or by following sundry noxious links (you know where), please note that all claims that I was fired from my job are 100% false, as are most of the other things written about me. I don't know the people who are libeling me, but it's clear they have some imaginary axe to grind and way too much time.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Gravity-Bonging With Shereen, Alex, and Janelle@Desnuda

Back in college, some of my overly intelligent classmates would put their high SAT scores to use toward crafting the most ingenious smoking devices since the dawn of Getting High. One guy even used a magnifying glass to etch an elaborate fresco onto the wood of his home-made vaporizer.

I can only hope a couple of those ambitious peers will grow up to become the next Peter Gevrekis and Christian Zammas, co-owner and executive chef at Desnuda*.

I don't know which of the pair conceived the idea of smoking oysters with Sichuan peppercorns and Lapsang souchong tea leaves via gravity bong, but on the night I was there, I asked Peter with all the wide-eyed earnestness of a school-newspaper reporter,

"So what was your inspiration for this dish?" And he just smirked. Okay then.

He'd already indulged me by whipping out the apparatus in the first place. The oysters were not on the menu that night, but I'd read so much about them that I had to ask. He warned me that he didn't have the right kind of tea that night - his new supply was a mistake: more expensive, not smoky enough - but I didn't care, I just wanted to see how one smokes a bivalve.

So behold, I have the first (really shitty) video clip of the Desnuda smoked oyster!

The finished product:

I think you could read fortunes in those spheres

He was right: the oyster was delicious, and definitely the most interesting I've had, but I could see its potential for improvement. However, the uncommon act of inhaling deeply and then swallowing a slippery body is a novel enough experience that I'd recommend this imperfect oyster to anybody. We get used to certain acts associated with eating - cut, spear, stab, lift, bite, chew. I think it's safe to say the old inhale-n-shoot a la cannonball (uh, definition number 2) is a new verb in fine-dining.

But if you want a real gastronomic reason, Desnuda has that as well. All of the ceviches I tasted were good, but the composition with deep sea scallops was one of the best dishes I've had in recent memory, including Le Bernardin. I'm not going to try to describe all the components of that dish, because I can't remember them all, but I think Desnuda's menu is pretty open to night-by-night improvisation anyway.

As you can see, it includes mandarin oranges and avocado

Full disclosure: I tend to be a sucker for places where I can interact with the person making me food. I'm annoying. I like asking questions and digging for personal opinions. Sitting at a bar and talking to the owner about his inspirations makes me feel hip.

Here's my one complaint. If you're like me, in that you have a bottomless capacity for raw fish, you're just not going to get full here. Even if you bought, like, all six things on the menu. I probably had four of these free cones of truffled popcorn:

But then, Desnuda is mostly a drink and nibble kind of place, and the edibles are lush, the vibe groovy. It'd be a great second date location to bring and impress your cosmopolitan yet slightly anorexic pickup from the previous weekend.

See those straw fans along the ceiling? They are mechanized to sway back and forth. Groovy.

The takeaway: smoke+ gadgets+cannonballing oysters+delicious seafood+acting like you know the chef = panty-dropper.

*Winner of TONY's 2008 Eat Out Award for Most Inventive Use of Drug Paraphernalia.


  1. I'm not sure about the truffled popcorn- it seems weird. Though I just had really good truffled fries and excellent truffled mac and cheese (both from Bertrands at Mister A's in San Diego).

    And why are things coming in cones now?

  2. Truffled popcorn is delish! I find that truffles add an intriguing scent to things more than a taste, so they don't clash too much with bland things like unflavored popcorn or potatoes or mac and cheese.

    Don't know about the cone thing. Don't French bistros typically serve their fries in cones? I like it.