Saturday, June 27, 2009

Seven Too Many

Dayboat scallops seasoned and at the ready.

For the past couple of weeks, I've been having a scallop craving. Every time I'm at Swirl hanging with Austin and James I dream of going to the fishmonger next door and buying a pound. But I've either been with Twyla (who hates seafood) or not in a position to run home and start cooking. Now that she's moved back to Arizona I'm back to my usual Tour de Force and can indulge on scallops again.

The local fishmonger stocks some nice dayboat scallops. They're dry and lovely. Beautifully fresh, happily sweet - they're a dream to eat and I never seem to get enough. With a pound in tow, I head home to season with salt and pepper then pan sear in cast iron with canola oil. The results are just beautiful. Success. With some steamed rice as the backdrop and a little extra salt and a squeeze of lemon, it's scallop perfection.

The first bite is divine. That balance of sweet scallop meat accented with the salt and the zest of lemon is sublime. It is God's Perfection. I'm blown away. I must have more.

This is where I should have stopped.

Seared scallops seasoned with salt & pepper, and drizzled with lemon.

In total, I seared eight scallops. Eight beautiful scallops. I should have stopped after eating the first. Not because of any bad experience that necessitated a Ruling of The Kingdom, but as I ate the successive scallops, palate sensitivity lessened. The more I ate, the more my palate became used to the flavor and the more I had to eat - always trying to recapture the beauty I had tasted in the first bite. Like a drug addict chasing his first high, I ate each successive scallop chasing the sweet beauty of the first. My palate had grown accustomed to the beauty and the beauty of each successive scallop was diminished.

This is something that Thomas Keller had talked about that I had forgotten. So used to massive servings, we lose the flavor we seek as our palate becomes used to the flavor. I'm sure each scallop was just as amazing as the first but as I got used to the flavor it lost something. One scallop would have been the apotheosis of flavor. Two would have been beautiful symphony. Three would have been a wonderful meal but after that, it was just excess.

Not that I discourage excess when it comes to fresh, dayboat scallops. Just be prepared to lose a taste of the flavor with each successive bite. I may profess here that one perfectly prepared scallop is the apotheosis of flavor but I don't think I'm Keller enough to only prepare just one. Next time I'm faced with a mound of scallops I'll probably be consuming them en masse.