A great chef once told me that food should be “yummy.” It’s a funny word from the mouth of such a serious chef, especially with a thick French accent. But the point is profound. Fundamentally, good food should provide pleasure. Tasting it should cause lusting for more. And more.
The chef would usually repeat his axiom after a fine dining experience that disappointed him. It was overwrought, overthought, or both. Experimentation, culinary acrobatics, and cunning can all be good things, he says. But, they should never come at the cost of yumminess. Food should not just make you think to yourself: “this is good.” You should feel it.
Few Charlottesville chefs observe The Yummy Rule better than Peter and Merrill Robertson, of Côte-Rôtie food truck. Sure, they are capable of masterful creations. As Culinary Institute of America graduates, they routinely nail sophisticated dishes like Squab Terrine with D’affinois, Crostini, Grainy Mustard, and Balsamic-Macerated Dates; or Grilled Octopus, Pork Belly, Unagi, and Butter Beans in Brodo. But, these always share space on the ever-changing menu with more familiar fare, like sandwiches, steak, fried chicken, sushi, or whatever else the Robertsons might feel like eating. You see, the Robertsons cook not to show off, but to make food that is pleasurable to eat. Whether a cheffy experiment or something simple, you can taste it in everything that comes off the truck: these chefs love to eat.
Case in point: Veal Meatballs with Spaetzle. Of all the dishes I ate last year, this may have come closest to the Platonic ideal of Yumminess. Eating it, you never pause to consider how it was made or why its ingredients cohere so well. No. Reduced to a kitten on Grade A catnip, you just savor it, moan, and shovel it in, compulsively pumping the serotonin drip until it’s gone.
This type of reaction is not uncommon to Côte-Rôtie’s food. To track it down, follow along on Facebook for their latest whereabouts, which often include Random Row Brewing Co. and Blenheim Vineyards, among other locations.