Single Thread

Dinner – Monday, November 4, 2019

We were scheduled to eat at Single Thread on October 28, but the Kincade Fire put a quick stop to that as it forced a mandatory evacuation of Healdsburg and the surrounding areas. All in all, the fire burned through ~78,000 acres of Sonoma county in about two weeks, destroying a few hundred structures. Remarkably, thanks to the efforts of a veritable army of firefighters, there were no reported casualties and only four injuries. A testament to their hard work and the resilience of the locals was that just a week after our scheduled meal, we found ourselves sitting in the Single Thread dining room, enjoying yet another fantastic tasting menu.

Mid-Autumn in Sonoma
As usual, the hassun opener was spectacular. Although the seafood always impress, my highlights this evening were all vegetables – a bundle of tatsoi with goma dressing, a “maki” of yuba and celtuce, and sliced shiitake mushroom served with walnut miso.

Mackerel moriawase
Pomegranate, turnip, frozen amazake

We love hikari-mono, so this was a real treat. Shima aji, saba and sawara were cured differently to draw out each fish’s unique flavours – my favourite was the sawara, which received some slight embering. The pairing of fish with pomegranate seeds was unexpected and quite delightful.

Wild Oregon matsutake
Santa Barbara abalone, arugula pesto, green yuzu

A triptych course highlighting the delicious mushroom. On the right, we started with tender abalone glazed in matsutake tea and served with arugula pesto and braised mushrooms. The middle vessel housed tempura matsutake dusted with matcha salt. Finally, warm bread filled with sesame-miso butter. Earthy and satisfying.

Roasted turnip
Broccoli, King crab, salmon roe, shottsuru

The restaurant reopened post-fire on Sunday with a collaboration lunch, featuring Shinobu Namae of L’Effervescence and Nancy Singleton Hachisu. We were delighted when they served us a course from that meal. This was a bold, punchy take on a L’Effervescence signature, highlighting the humble turnip. It turned out to be our favourite course of the evening, which speaks to the synergy between the two restaurants.

Cherry wood-smoked salmon ibushi-gin
Brassicas, roasted sunchoke, steelhead trout roe

Ora King salmon was presented tableside in the donabe, redolent of smoke. It was placed over the vegetables in the larger bowls, and then topped with roe. The roe itself was steeped in dashi and sudachi, leading to more complexity than the usual brine. The silky texture of the fish, contrasted against the cooked vegetables, was superb.

Duck liver parfait
Fig, nashi pear, koshu-zake, brioche crisps

Black cod “Fukkura-san”
Vegetables from the farm, ume, soy-shiso cream

Miyazaki wagyu ribeye
Nori, leek, malted and triple-cooked potatoes

Sonoma grains
Caramelized mugi mochi, wagyu ribeye cap, radish, puffed farro

A wintry-feeling dish, featuring purple barley from Dan Barber’s Row 7 Seeds company. The toothsomeness of the grains and the intensity of the broth they’re hydrated in was perfect. They should offer refills of this, because I’d definitely have another helping!

Mountain Rose apple sorbet
Shiso salt, rose water meringue, raspberry gelée, sesame brittle

Such a refreshing dessert after the richness of the grains. The combination of the earthy, salty brittle with the floral meringue and ice cream were so enticing. Wonderful.

Frozen pear custard
Lime, hibiscus, chocolate, shortbread crumble, warm maple sauce

Matcha bonbons, Pinot Noir and kinako pâte de fruits
Gravenstein cider and miso custards

It was great to visit the restaurant and its team again after a fairly long interval between meals, but even better to support the city and local economy – in fact, we decided to spend our Christmas vacation in the area! As a final note, Sonoma Family Meal and World Central Kitchen (both highlighted by Single Thread) are two organizations working to feed displaced residents, and if you have read this all the way to the end, I encourage you to donate if possible.

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