Traditional recipes

Philadelphia’s Volver: Jose Garces’ Entirely Unique High-End Culinary Playground Slideshow

Philadelphia’s Volver: Jose Garces’ Entirely Unique High-End Culinary Playground Slideshow

Beyond cheesesteaks and Phillies fans, Philadelphia has much to offer the traveling food lover

Dan Myers

The meal started with a bang, as the first course is actually made up of four individual snacks: (clockwise) a crisp rye cannolo filled with smoked salmon and crème fraîche; scrambled egg foam layered with tomato jam, jamón ibérico, and caviar; carnitas popcorn (actually chicharron) drizzled with smoked dulce de leche, and a deviled egg that was actually egg-free; the “white” was made from milk, and it was filled with duck liver mousse, Pedro Ximénez gelée, and shallot jam. Each snack was an explosion of flavor, creatively inspired and internationally-minded, a preview of what was to come (and these snacks are all available on the à la carte menu, except for the carnitas popcorn).

Course 1: Snacks

Dan Myers

The meal started with a bang, as the first course is actually made up of four individual snacks: (clockwise) a crisp rye cannolo filled with smoked salmon and crème fraîche; scrambled egg foam layered with tomato jam, jamón ibérico, and caviar; carnitas popcorn (actually chicharron) drizzled with smoked dulce de leche, and a deviled egg that was actually egg-free; the “white” was made from milk, and it was filled with duck liver mousse, Pedro Ximénez gelée, and shallot jam. Each snack was an explosion of flavor, creatively inspired and internationally-minded, a preview of what was to come (and these snacks are all available on the à la carte menu, except for the carnitas popcorn).

Course 2: Milk & Cereal

Dan Myers

This dish was composed of a bowl filled with rice flakes, a quail egg, bacon, chicken, truffle, and thyme-flavored mini-marshmallows, served with a glass “carton” of white asparagus soup on the side. Pour the “milk” over the “cereal” and go exploring.

Course 3: Spring Lettuces

Dan Myers

Another dish that gave us plenty to explore, this salad was springtime in a bowl: lettuces, English peas, pickled hon shimeji mushrooms providing some acid, okra, and green garlic mousseline tying it all together. Items are swapped as the season progresses; if you dine at Volver in the height of spring, expect to find morels and green almonds instead of hon shimejis and okra.

Course 4: Otoro

Dan Myers

Three thick slices of fatty tuna belly were the stars of this dish, with bergamot ice, a sphere of smoked white soy, and a dusting of Espelette pepper singing backup.

Course 5: Fava Bean

Dan Myers

Three large fava bean tortellini were served in a light broth, topped with shaved Parmesan.

Course 6: Mackerel en “Escabeche”

Dan Myers

A slice of lightly pickled mackerel was served atop a round of crème de violette gelée, topped with a crumble of dried clams, and dotted with coriander olive oil. Edible flowers and a dramatic plate helped to make this a very attractive plate of food.

Course 7: Jamaica Queens

Dan Myers

Inspired by a trip made by Garces to Queens, New York, this complex dish was a bowl of coconut curry, pimento yogurt, and cucumber, with a small pile of saffron biryani with pistachio and pickled golden raisins, topped with three thick slices of king crab. Topping it was a spice-laden cracker.

Course 8: Gyu Katsu

Dan Myers

The final savory course was a thick slice of A5 Miyazaki wagyu sirloin, breaded and deep-fried in the style of Japanese katsu. It was served alongside dots of teriyaki sauce, a stripe of katsu sauce, and a small salad of kohlrabi and shiso atop a stripe of spicy mustard. The sirloin was perfectly cooked and it tasted delicious, but by this point in the procession the deep-fried wagyu was simply too rich, the meal’s only misstep.

Course 9: Sainte-Maure

Dan Myers

For the cheese course, we received a slice of perfectly ripe Sainte-Maure, an unpasteurized ash-rubbed goat cheese. It was nicely complemented by bacon lardons, slices of green apple, dots of speculoos, and a strip of quince paste.

Course 10: Yogurt Panna Cotta

Dan Myers

A light panna cotta accompanied by strawberry, rhubarb, mango, and Thai basil, this dessert was essentially perfect.

Courses 11 and 12

Dan Myers

Course 11 was a rich and dense chocolate tart, balanced with a mound of unsweetened whipped cream. A small selection of traditional petits-fours followed.


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