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One Dish: Jasmine Tea-smoked Duck At Merchant Roots

By Trevor Felch

Merchant Roots 1365 Fillmore Street, San Francisco. For menus and reservations, visit merchantroots.com.
Merchant Roots 1365 Fillmore Street, San Francisco. For menus and reservations, visit merchantroots.com.

After sheltering in place last summer, oh, how we all need some time to enjoy the flowers in full June bloom! This month, the floral and gastronomic worlds meet at Fillmore Street’s tiny and whimsical tasting-menu destination Merchant Roots. Chef-owner Ryan Shelton (whose culinary career took off more than a decade ago and includes stints at Chez TJ and Baumé) is a master of combining imagination with exemplary fine dining techniques. The result is menus that take inspirations like the current “In Bloom” theme and transform them into enchanting, multisensory masterpieces.

Jasmine is the centerpiece flower for this duck dish, where the fowl is smoked with oak and jasmine tea, glazed with jasmine tea syrup for crispy skin, and surrounded by jasmine rice pudding dots that appear as flower petals in their final presentation. Flowering succulent spinach and shaved raw beets round out the tableau. Sit back, smell the flowers — and the duck — and enjoy this brilliant expression of late spring.

Wine pairings: With the duck, try Belden Barns’ Epiphany Grenache from Sonoma Mountain or the Sutro Wine Co. Warnecke Ranch Merlot from Alexander Valley. And since the sun will be staying for a while, it’s also a great time to welcome a captivating rosé such as the Tuesday’s Child Pinot Noir Rosé that Chef Shelton currently pours with this dish, or McPherson Cellars’ Les Copains from the Texas High Plains (yes, a fantastic Texas rosé!).

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