Chef Ari Taymor at Alma, a soon-to-be next-door neighbor to Ace Hotel Downtown LA, is a kindred spirit who understands that a dish holds every bit as much power to take you back in time or across the big ponds as the most haunting note struck on a Mellotron M400. We stopped in recently and broke bread with him and the Alma family and asked him if he could ruminate on some formative dishes for us.
Most of my memories of food and the compositions that take place from these memories center around other senses than taste.
Celery root soup, smoked lardo, apple and pine: This is a winter dish that for me evokes a summer day. A drive through the Santa Cruz Mountains on a first date. The cool, misty fog that covers the central coast each morning in the summertime is starting to burn off. The late morning turns to early afternoon and the lazy sun makes the resin of the pine trees fragrant, mixing with the smell of campfire. The blue of the ocean is visible in the distance. This dish that conjures for me a very clear moment in time and the flavors for me compartmentalize those emotions. Sweetness, smoke, bitter and salt.