Since the recent Michelin star, I went back last night with friends. It was one of the first times I haven't ordered the full tasting menu (which has gone from $55 to $62).
I started with a special starter of duck triangles with foie jus and moved into a seared mackeral with vadouvan, wilted greens, potatoes and octopus. I got to taste one of my compatriot's offerings; sardines (which are now cut up and not grilled whole) with fennel and brioche and Humboldt squid with fennel, tomato, and celery.
Besides the prices having gone up, the plating has become considerably more precious. I can see why this is now befitting a Michelin star for the perfect brunoise and stunning sauces. It is very elegant and precise and perfect. And I don't wonder if it hasn't lost a bit of its "chi" for me. It was all very good, yes. But I miss the great influx of Moroccan spices and influence. There are only two or three dishes on the menu that seem specifically Moroccan.
Is Aziza still all that and the bag of chips? Yes. Mourad is getting a lot of attention and will be getting that much more when his PBS show and cookbook comes out. It is just different from whence it came and I long for those days when Mourad was still discovering his path. It was great to be a part of the learning process and see how exceptional his skill has become.
I went back to my very first post on Aziza on eG almost five years ago (and am really sorry the pictures are gone!), but here is a description of the entrées:
- Hungarian Paprika-smothered Cloverdale Rabbit with Parsnip Purée, Organic Tomatoes, and Alfonso Olives
- Saffron-infused Hoffman Ranch Cornish Hen capped with House-Preserved Meyer Lemons and Purple Potato Mash
- Braised Paine Farm Squab with Wine Forest Black Trumpet and Hedgehog Mushrooms on a Thyme-Ras el Hanout Reduction
- Stewed Lamb crowned with Charred Eggplant in a Ginger Saffron Broth, Sun-Dried Point Reyes Tomatoes, and Sudaniya Oil
I am just wistful, I guess. Aziza is still an incredibly outstanding restaurant. It is just a different one that I had grown to love and I will always long for some of those flavors I had grown to admire.