May 29, 2011
We ate last night at Bondir, the tiny jewel of a Cambridge restaurant
by Chef Jason Bond. His is a short menu but so deliberate and carefully thought-out that it’s a little scary. All the newest, the most cutting-edge, the best-for-you ingredients are there: a bread with seaweed and dried shrimp, handmade burrata, teff polenta, periwinkles, burdock root, sassafras sorbet, triticale wheat berries. You almost need a glossary.
But luckily Bond is not only creative with his ingredients, but a really, really good cook. Lovely, pale green sorrel vichyssoise was velvety on the tongue with just enough hint of bitterness from the leafy vegetable, one of the first in the spring garden. The nutty, dark brown teff polenta provided a good foil for root cellar vegetables, and the morel and mousseron mushroom ragout for little scallops.
The best was an asparagus and calaminth risotto with lobster, mussels, and tiny periwinkles. All lovely, but draped across like a wisp of veil was Mangalista prosciutto, almost all transparent fat. It added a pretty terrific depth to the sea-clean tastes of the seafood, and in a funny way cut through the creaminess of the risotto.
The Mangalista, originally from Hungary and now being grown in the US, doesn’t really look like a porker, more like a sheep. Bond explained, as he talked to us for a few minutes after dinner, that he cured this prosciutto for two years, and that it was almost all fat.
Which was the beauty of it — the flavor is in the fat, and the proof of Bondir’s menu is in the eating.