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ink: a culinary Rorschach test

July 14, 2017


 It’s been a year (or two), but I’m still salivating over this dish… With the consistency of an ultra-rich mash this marrow topped potato polenta delivers all of the fatty, creamy goodness one could desire. The crispy toppings? Dried beef shreds- crunchy and packed with flavor. My taste buds spurt their excitement just thinking of the exquisite contrast in textures and complementary tastes. This dish came from Michael Voltaggio’s ink on Melrose in Los Angeles.


Voltaggio has an impressive resume. First, he was the winner of Top Chef Season Six. Then, as Chef de Cuisine at The Bazaar by Jose Andres the restaurant was nominated for Best New Restaurant by the James Beard Foundation. He then moved on to be Chef de Cuisine at the Langham Pasadena’s The Dining Room, which garnered a Mobil Five-Star Award, the AAA Five Diamond Award, and an elusive Michelin Star, (one of few held in America) under his reign. 


ink was his first foray as a restaurateur and has made quite the impression on the LA food scene since its 2011 opening with GQ naming it Best New Restaurant in America. His vision was to recreate fine dining for Angelenos providing "modern Los Angeles cuisine” in a minimalist setting where his culinary creations are the star. Ingredients allude to the colorful cultural makeup that is the City of Angels.


I also sampled the smoked trout, little gems, (burrata, I die!) egg yolk gnocchi, and the ridiculously tender pork shoulder. The menu changes frequently, but still featured (at the time of this article) are the little gems of smoked burrata, lemon dressing, puffed anchovy (crunchy, salty heaven) and the egg yolk gnocchi with brown mushroom butter and hen of the woods.


Most of the dishes proved more interesting because of their unique composition and architecture rather than the actual effect of the combined tastes, but dining, if nothing else, is an adventure. In fact, the unusual pairings and flavor profiles invoked such animatedly different responses that it called to mind the famous Rorschach test, a psychological analysis of an individual's interpretation of inkblots, fitting of course, for a restaurant named ink.


This concept of attributing perception of "ambiguous design" to personality traits and dysfunctions can be traced well before Herman Rorschach's Psychodiagnostik to Leonardo da Vinci and Botticelli. Food at Voltaggio's level is inarguably an art form, and as with other art, it's interpretations are subjective. 









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