I can’t stand people who do not take food seriously. ~ Oscar Wilde
Let me be very clear that I am not a “foodie” (one who has an avid interest in the latest food fads). As a rule, I like good old, plain and simple fare. But there are times when I find myself at some restaurant, gazing at my plate and thinking “what the heck is that?”
Mostly this happens when we attend special wine dinners, where you are served various courses of very fancy and oh, so precious servings of stuff like “raw brassicas leaves and pickled stems, goat’s whey, chrysanthemum, and herb oils,” for example.
(note: This is an actual item on the Tasting Menu of a really hot spot on the Houston restaurant scene.)
Would I ever order it? Actually, I’d rather have a shrimp cocktail, thank you very much. Or a freshly sliced avocado piled with lump crab meat Louis. Or a bowl of really great gumbo.
So the other night, we attended such a wine dinner, where we were presented with a set menu. It started out well, with Bacon Wrapped Quail Bites. I wish I could have just eaten them all night! They were really good.
Next course: Hebi Sashimi, Salad of Green Papaya, Yuzu Ponzu. It was sushi, of course, which gives me the “hebi jeebies”. So I pushed it around my plate and ate the two bites of the salad with whatever yuzu ponzu (a sauce) was. My friend Dennis looked up Hebi on his smart phone, and discovered that it was a shortbilled spearfish.
And then: Roasted Hawaiian Walu, Taro Root Puree, Fried Plantains, Blueberry Mango Salsita. This dish featured two smallish portions of a roasted fish atop a puree. No fried plaintains on my plate, alas, but a sprinkling of blueberries and mango was there in the middle. Just a sprinkle of them.
This time Joel looked up what a Walu was, and discovered a lovely bit of information about this particular fish (also called Escolar): “while tasty and buttery, it can sometimes cause gastric distress, similar to diarrhea, only the body will expel yellowish-orange drops of oil instead of liquid bowel movements. Some individuals suffering from escolar-induced keriorrhea also report other digestive issues, including stomach cramps, diarrhea, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and anal leakage; onset may occur between 30 minutes and 36 hours following consumption.”
PASS. We both did, especially Joel, who had an early morning flight the next day, and didn’t need to worry about expelling yellowish-orange drops of oil at 10,000 feet. I did eat the puree and all two bites of the blueberry mango salsita.
Thank goodness for the bread on the table. I think I ate four pieces of that.
Next up: Braised Pork Empanada, Borrata Cheese, Caramelized Onions, Chimichuri. While I wouldn’t have ordered this particular item if I’d had a choice, I ate some, mostly because I was so hungry . It was ok, nothing to write home about.
The grand entree: Charred Bison, Pappas Brabas, Cilantro Pesto, Baby Zucchini, Queso Fresco. Again, I ate. The bison serving was maybe a little over an inch square and very rare. The potatoes were identifiable, and appreciated, but those were the babiest zucchini pieces I’ve ever seen!
Finally, hooray for dessert! Double Chocolate Capirotada, Cinnamon Ice Cream. I ate the whole thing. YUM. (funny, usually, I’m not a dessert person…)
So the evening began and ended well, and in the middle, although I didn’t eat much, we sure had lots of fun and laughter at our table. Friend Susan confessed that she normally doesn’t drink six glasses of wine at night, which made us all laugh some more. Oh well, spread out over the span of four hours, with much water drunk between glasses, it didn’t seem quite so scandalous.
Will I ever go back to this lovely restaurant? Yes, likely so. The service was wonderful, and I enjoyed myself, despite my not being a foodie. As long as I can order what I want from the regular menu, I’ll be fine.
All this talk about food is making me hungry. I think I’ll go cook me up some vittles!