Tuesday, July 12, 2011

at the hapa ramen popup with family and friends

there is quite a bit swimming around in my head at the moment. this is probably one of the most unusual vacations i've had in quite some time. there are many things i plan to write about.....yet, i think i'll begin with the memories that are the most fresh.

last night i was able to attend the hapa ramen pop up at bar tartine with the family (i.e., heart sis + AC). it would be the first time that AC would taste hapa ramen's food and i was very curious to see how certain dishes i had heard about on hapa ramen's blog would turn out.

AC has heard from both myself and the heart sis about the food (and richie...and susanna) i was glad they were able to get a sitter and how the date of this pop up was aligned with one of AC's days off. i was also very glad that we were able to meet up with AB + JW...push some tables together and have a chance to catch up over some lovely food. while i had seen AB + JW at my recent party, i wasn't able to talk for more than 2 minutes or so with them as i was running around doing hostess duties.

the fam + i had already started on the "mac + (head)cheese", the foie dish, and the octopus when AB + JW arrived into the restaurant. the "mac + (head) cheese" dish was conceptualized by susanna ok and the foie dish was richie's (chef/owner). how do i know this? not only has this been documented on their hapa ramen tumblr blog, i was able to have a sneak peek of it during one stage of their respective processes. during one of our mutual days off, susanna wanted to check on some things in the kitchen for the "mac + cheese" dish before we hung out so i tagged along. richie was already there working on the foie terrine dish.

this is the life of passionate folks dedicated to cooking + food.....even "days off"....aren't really days off.

i ended up poking around the kitchen, doing some grunt stuff here and there to help out, and did a lot of watching and listening.

i'm always fascinated with how susanna pairs flavors together. this is nothing i haven't told her in person or haven't mentioned in this blog before. she was experimenting with house-made headcheese and macaroni....in order to do a play on "mac + cheese".

in a relatively short amount of time, she is among a small handful of people that i would be willing to try whatever they put in front of me. i wasn't disappointed at the pop up when i saw the final result where she ended up putting both versions of the "mac + cheese" on the menu with a meyer lemon curd, radish salad, and one of the "mac + cheese" components fried with chicharron breadcrumbs on top.

speaking of the small handful of people that i'd be willing to eat whatever they put in front of me......also during that short-impromptu-tag-along-nosy-visit to the kitchen, i was also able to see richie work the foie through a tamis....just one step in the very labor intensive process behind his foie terrine. he explained how working it through the tamis removes the impurities. it isn't something that he had to do. most folks will serve the foie right from the torchon. yet, he puts in that extra effort. i did not find this surprising....at all.

the end result at the hapa ramen pop up was lovely....truly and absolutely lovely....

at dinner that night, the heart sister said she's never had foie before but she thinks that it may have spoiled her for any other foie dish she may have later. the foie was paired with a grilled peach and cornbread. it was a decadently rich and elegant dish. i think someone made a comment about whether or not it would be possible to finish it considering we had so much food on the table and still had ramen to come. my response was that there was no way that i was leaving anything on that plate...not only because it was so good but also because i knew just how much work went into that dish. the plate would go back to the kitchen licked clean if necessary.

another dish that the fam and i shared was the octopus dish. while i was super excited about the headcheese and foie dish...since i had seen sneak peeks of them in progress, the heart sis and AC were particularly excited to try the octopus dish. AC, in particular, likes octopus...from cooked to raw. AC and the heart sister met susanna for the first time last saturday and she was talking to them about it.....so they really wanted to try it.

i usually don't go out of my way to eat octopus. i find it overly chewy. so i remained pretty quiet when they were talking about it. however, susanna's take on octopus kinda blew away any notions of what i thought octopus tasted like.

it was tender, delicious, and the pairings of shelling beans, arugula, preserved citrus, fennel, and more that i can't quite put my finger on....were a lovely mix of complexity and tastiness.

while the fam + i were noshing on lovely tastes of pork, foie, and octopus, the dear friends also ordered a whole slew of dishes including the tasso ham, melon, figs, and ricotta.

it looked so lovely that i broke one of my rules and asked if i could take a picture of it. i usually only take pics of what i am eating....but i so wanted to capture the loveliness of this dish....

you know what though? the fam + i weren't even done....as we also ordered the big daddy ramen......

which is among my fave ramen offerings. during the times i've helped out in the hapa ramen stand, folks will ask me which one my fave is....and it really is the big daddy. i know that sometimes that folks will look at me...wondering if i said that one because it was the most expensive....but really, it is my fave ramen offering because it is a bit of everything. also, something that i hope folks realize about having ramen from at hapa ramen is that the bowl you had 3 months ago is not the bowl you'll have today. what is in the bowl mirrors what is in season and locally available.

as this was AC's first time tasting the ramen, i was very keen to see what he would say. he relayed as he was eating it how much he liked it and was amazed how he could taste all of the flavors of pork, chicken, corn, and more.... within the soup. while the heart sis and i weren't able to finish our bowls because we were so stuffed by this point, AC ate it all.

this is why i will be glad when they have a stand alone restaurant. as there is so much tastiness to choose from, that i find myself gorging on whatever i can because i know that i won't be able to go back "tomorrow" to try something i missed. the heart sis mentioned how she could see richie/linecook/hapa ramen's restaurant being listed in guidebooks when they have a permanent space. you know, i can see that too....and i can't wait to see that become a reality.


Claudine said...

gorgeous photos. I need to get to a Haparamen pop-up!

foodie hunter said...