Monday, January 25, 2010
Innards are in.
We went to Portland this weekend (sans hooligans! whoo-hoo!) for recreating and eating. You would not think that Oregon was struggling with 10+% unemployment based on how hard it was to get a reservation.
Le Pigeon called me back: they'd had a cancellation. They could seat us at 6. YAY! Le Pigeon! Faux-french-localvore-industrial-chic-deliciousness! The last time I ate there I had a single scallop the size of a baby's fist. It was enshrouded in crispy pork fat (That's how it was described on the menu--I felt a moment's repulsion--eeuw! pork fat! But really, that IS the best part of the bacon). It was awesome. This time I had a similar experience with a crispy duck breast smeared with marrow atop a bed of spaetzle. Spaetzle bear an unfortunate resemblance to maggots. But they're really just buttery little dumplings, made with a potato ricer. I'm now in the market for a ricer.
Le Pigeon is big on "nose to tail" eating. It's a little challenging: are you macho enough to eat tongue? Sweetbreads? Blood sausage? Tripe? Marrow? Venison heart pasta? Maggots (kidding)? We were, but we could have taken it further. No one in our wimpy party wanted the sweetbreads. Maybe if we had, our waiter would have been more impressed.
After our entrees and a second bottle of wine, our deadly serious* waiter came to tell us our dessert options, "Tonight for dessert, we have the St. Honore eclair filled with a foie gras mousse ice cream and drizzled with burnt caramel, we have a dark chocolate cake with peppermint--"
I was compelled to interrupt, "Did you say foie-gras?"
"Yes, a foie gras mousse ice cream, we also feature an orange-anise--"
By now I was perseverating, "Do you mean foie-gras as in goose liver? In ice cream? Are there capers?** Is this Iron Chef night?**?
Our waiter replied with maybe the slightest touch of exasperation--I was, after all, repeatedly interrupting his schpiel, "It's a foie-gras mousse, whipped into ice cream--it's very rich and creamy. It's one of my favorites, actually."
At this point I did shut up (I may have been kicked under the table. Thank you, I needed that.) We heard the rest of the options, and our waiter volunteered--or maybe insisted--on bringing us tastes of foie gras ice cream.
I sniffed mine (wimp). My brave companions said it tasted good until you swallowed it. The aftertaste was liver.
Someone needs to explain this to me. I am an adventurous eater. I like pate (with lots of capers)--although I can't say the same for scrapple. Tentacles dangling over the edge of the soup bowl do not faze me. I'll try any kind of sushi. I'll eat a hot dog of dubious provenance. I tried the venison heart pasta--a bit chewy, but tasty! Blood sausage is good as long as you don't think about it. My dad and I used to slurp raw oysters because they were delicious and it was fun to gross my mother and my sister out. I just do not get the trend of shoehorning foods that belong in one place into another. Liver ice cream...the hooligans would say: "ugh-scusting."
* I think this guy was getting paid not to laugh at my (possibly lame) jokes. Usually the fine folks who bring the food in restaurants can be counted upon to play along--it has to do with working for tips. It should be noted that his actual execution of his job was impeccable, and our tipping reflected that. Far be it from me to pay someone to crack a smile.
**These are examples of my (possibly lame) jokes.