Valentines Dinner 2008
Valentines Dinner 2008 – The Menu
Hendrick’s Gin and Q Tonic
Fergus Henderson’s Roasted Marrow Bones
Seared Foie Gras with Pear*
Arugula and red leaf salad with champagne/bergamot vinaigrette and pomegranate seeds
Harris Ranch Strip steak
Roederer 25 Anniversary champagne
A heart for Valentines Day. A beef heart to be specific.
On February 14th some girls get a valentine card proclaiming love from their sweetie. I got a heart, demonstrating it. A real, honest to goodness heart. Beef heart, to be specific. I’ll enjoy it in March along with several other courses prepared by chef Chris Cosentino at a Nose to Tail dinner in New York. Our Valentine’s dinner hints at good things to come.
Those Lovely Bones
The Offal journey has begun. You may recall that I once learned of an ice cream treat called “awful awful.” The name plays on the double-entendre-ish nature of the word awful – as in something was “awfully good.” Which applies both the Newport ice cream treat and to offal. Both of which I am relatively new to.
The real offal – what is it?
Offal: Noun: 1 : the waste or by-product of a process: as a : trimmings of a hide b : the by-products of milling used especially for stock feeds c : the viscera and trimmings of a butchered animal removed in dressing. 2 Rubbish.
Sounds so enticing, doesn’t it? This is a much better and more engaging definition, from Chef Chris Cosentino’s website. Chef Cosentino is the chef at the award-winning Incanto Italian Restaurant and WIne Bar in SF, and an advocate of nose to tail eating. His website, Offal Good, is a good starting point for anyone beginning this exploration. Essentially, offal is the term for the organ meat of various types and animals. The leftovers after the butcher carves your chops and steaks and hams and such. The giblets in your Grandma’s Thanksgiving gravy or the liver in your pate are both made from offal. It includes sweetbreads, tripe, Southern chitlins, Chinese chicken feet. Most cultures have some food tradition that includes offal.
When I was a child, I always dug out the little teensy marrow from the bone of the pork chop. I had no idea what it was and never stopped to think about it. I just knew it was good. Funny to think of it now. When I got older, I also went for the little fatty deposit in, say, osso bucco, or shank bones of any sort of restaurant meal, finding them similarly tasty. I still didn’t know what I was onto, or into as the case may be.
But really, just think of the last flank steak you enjoyed. Delicious cut of meat that used to be treated as a butcher’s cut, too lowly for consumers, cheap as sin. Once we discovered the secrets of the braise, flank steak became popular. Offal is enjoying a similar re-discovery among chefs and home cooks.
The Godfather – Fergus Henderson
Fergus Henderson has an amazing cast of admirers such as chef, travel host and author Anthony Bourdain. They practically deify him. Henderson’s book, The Whole Beast – Nose to Tail Eating, has become a sort of bible for foodies who like to swim in the deep end of the culinary pool. His acclaimed London restaurant, St. John is like mecca for chefs and food lovers.
His recipe for Roasted Marrow Bones is a new classic and one which appears on many chef’s “death row menu” (What would your last meal be?) Bourdain includes these on his list. They are wonderful and couldn’t be easier to make or more delicious. The marrow bones are served on toast with a parsley salad that adds a bright citrusy note to the richness of the marrow.
Roasted marrow bones is a rich treat (*leading us to decide to save our foie for the next day), and an inexpensive one at that. Making them is an encouraging first attempt at offal cooking and there will be more offal meals though some recipes are a bit scary.
The Next Stop on the Offal Train?
One thing is certain, I’ll get the best intro to offal cuisine a girl could ask for at the upcoming dinner at Astor Wines in NYC in March. Hosted by Michael Ruhlman, and prepared by Chef Cosentino of Incanto in SF. For more information on the dinner, see The Astor Center’s events page, here.
Thanks for the best Valentine’s ever, Caleb! Thanks to my in-laws for the Harris Ranch steaks and the Meyer Lemons that continue to find their way into many things. The zest has been dehydrated and the juice extracted.