An influential dish that I have been thinking about lately.
I distinctly remember this particular dish from the Meurice in Paris when I staged there in 2004. Speaking no French, I was escorted brusquely to the garde manger, where the sous chef put me to work garnishing this dish. It is a composed salad of sorts, comprising of a thin layer of roasted bell pepper as the base, followed by a very fresh layer of anchovy cut to fit atop of the bell pepper plank. The anchovy is then garnished with a perfect brunoise of cucumber and tomato concasse, couscous tossed in olive oil, tiny basil leaves and raisins.
I had never seen such precision in placement of garnish before this stage, and the dish remains a decided turning point for me culinarily, as it opened my eyes to just how precise one can get regarding cooking. I also found the dish to be genuinely creative. Using rather common pairings and flavor profiles, Yannick Alleno manages to time and again find something new within classic parameters in his food. It is a common thread in his cooking that there is always a nod to tradition. It is a trait that I attempt to emulate in my own cooking; to find something new in something old. There is also an inherent simplicity to the root idea of the dish; at it's core you have bell pepper, anchovy and tabbouleh. Elevated through great product, a touch of creativity, and rigorous execution, the dish becomes much greater than its base reference point.
I also enjoy the minimal, stark aesthetics of the presentation. The ingredients themselves provide their own life and color, so the straight edges and negative space help to contain and highlight that natural beauty. While there is much detail to this dish, the total composition comes off as clean, clear and to the point. A square on a circle plate. Simple brilliance.