Monday, May 21, 2007

Fried glands, take two.

Fennel and cilantro. These are the remains of the first organic vegetable box to be delivered to our household. A good idea, that. I don't think that I would have thought of buying kale at the market, but I'm happy it arrived in the box last week - tasty. But the fennel and cilantro have been the unfortunate victims of a common disease in our household. We are soo lazy, sometimes. I have excuses. New dog. Energy-sapping, soul-sucking job. It's often a lack of imagination. Perhaps the next box will fare better.

Often the outcome of a moment of extreme laziness is an unforgiveable sin. Domino's. McDonald's. Boston Market. I would go on, but then everyone would know my shame. Sometimes the outcome is a different kind of unforgiveable sin. Gluttony, I think it's called. These dinners don't happen often, but when they do, they're worth writing about. Ah, Cortez.

I know that sweetbreads are either the pancreas or thymus gland of a cow (and/or baby cow). What I do not know is how to tell which of these glands is on the plate when it comes out of the kitchen. Regardless, what came out of the kitchen at Cortez last night was very exciting. Sweetbreads and squid with onions...ooh-wee.

Starting with El Diablo: tequila, creme de cassis, lime, and ginger beer. Then the sweetbreads + squid. And...salad. But not boring salad. Mizuna greens and manchego. Also ravioli with mushrooms and parmesean foam. Remember Marcel from the last season of Top Chef, with the molecular gastronomy? Yeah, like that. But, as I'm sure you could not tell through the medium of TV, the foam is great. Rich, and then it disappears. A whole meal made out of foam would be a dieter's heaven. Perhaps. Not sure how the calories fit into that.

Moving on. A glass of white burgundy with crusted halibut. The standout of this dish was the super sweet onion and the way it blended with the fish and spinach. Really, not a standout, I suppose. More like a perfect combination. And although it was not my dish, I must mention the aged sirloin. Because it was. That. Good. Like a fantastic New York Strip, but smoother. More of a bite, more flavor. Atop a bed of potatoes and cheese (?) pureed beyond recognition. The forkful, followed by a sip of cabernet, was intricate and satisfying. I won't try to relay the moment in any further detail.

And, dessert. Toffee parfait inside cruchy chocolate, with popcorn ice cream and sour gelled fruit. Junk food, but pretty. With a shot of maple liquer. I wasn't driving.

And now you can see why it was so hard to come up with something to make for dinner tonight. Lit'l Smokies and pasta just aren't going to top fried glands, invertebrate seafood and liquid toffee fluff. Although I do love Lit'l Smokies.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

How to eat fried glands

Saturday night, S + O and I went to Chapeau! in the Richmond. I've wanted to try sweetbreads for several years now, and I heard they were on the menu. Also, S and I always like an excuse to drink too much wine and be driven around by O.

Ah, thymus glands. The sweetbreads at Chapeau! were fried and drizzled with a deep mushroom sauce, with some itty bitty carrots and parsnips on the side. They have an organ-y taste, but it's very light, as is their texture. We also had the foie gras, which was fantastic. Seared lightly on top of a bit of toast, with an amazing vinegar and honey sauce. It gave the foie at the General's Daughter a run for the money.

Altogether, Chapeau! gets an A+. The proprietor is charming (and was happy to see another Parisian in the form of O) and suggested a great wine to go with dinner. Embarrassingly, I cannot remember what it was, except that it was something white and a little buttery, from France. Normally, I prefer a crisper white, but it was perfect with our wide range of dishes: foie gras, sweetbreads, salmon, halibut, monkfish, and cassoulet.

Hat! - we will be back.