i'll start by saying that if you are a Veggie (what i like to call vegetarians) and your reason for being so has anything to do with animal rights, then please do not read ahead. with that said....
guys, i had the most interesting meal of my life yesterday. but interesting in a tilt-your-head-to-one-side-and-think-"hmm...okay, i get it but i don't actually like it"-type-way. we went to Incanto for the annual Head to Tail dinner. if you don't know, Incanto is known for serving dishes specializing in parts of animals not typically eaten. this means offal. what's offal? it's the variety meats or more commonly known as internal organs and trimmings. this means things like liver, kidney, blood, intestine, etc. Head to Tail is a dinner in which each dish is made to highlight these animal parts. offal is not something i regularly eat. sure, as an asian i eat tripe and a couple other things, but i stray away from things that are too "minerally" in taste. why? because minerally = poopish. i don't think i need to elaborate about how much i prefer not to eat poopy flavored things. BUT, i thought it'd be an interesting meal to try at least once. if anybody is going to serve a finessed cut of liver or a duck blood soup, it's going to be Chris Cosentino. so here is the meal i had last night....
tripe crudo, hazelnuts and lemon
crudo, meaning raw, however "cooked" in lemon juice. the lemon and hazelnut was nice, and this dish was sort of refreshing. but the amount of chewing involved in breaking down each piece of tripe was ridiculous. i'm surprised my jaw was still intact by the end of the meal.
duck blood soup, grilled hearts and seed quackers
hmm...this tasted exactly like you think it would. it was bloody and thick, somewhat gritty and rich. you crack the "quacker" into the soup to bring the seasoning to the dish, making it a deconstructed dish. fun in a sense. the hearts were very tender and had a little bit of smokiness to them, which was nice.
smoked liverwurst, snails, upland cress and ranch
Cosentino definitely knows what he's doing with charcuterie. if you've ever been to Boccalone at the Ferry Building, then you know that they master cured meats. this was a surprisingly light dish in that the thin slices of liverwurst weren't heavy in your stomach. the snails, which i don't typically like, weren't bad when sliced thin.
lamb bits, asparagus, chili and pistachio
this dish was too organy. it was full of cuts of lamb liver and kidney, then topped with a lamb bottarga. ugh...too much organ! the textures and mineral/iron flavors in this dish was too much for me. i ate all of the salad elements of this dish and passed along the organ portions to someone else. whole slices of rare liver are not my idea of a good time.
Pig Newton, chicken-chocolate cannolo & lemon lime soda
the most interesting and inventive of the dishes in my opinion.
Pig Newtons- they took the gelatinous parts of pig ears to mix with dehydrated strawberries to make a berry preserve. then they chopped up pig ears to add a chewy texture to the center of the Pig Newton. the pastry element was cooked with pig fat. the dish wasn't very pig flavored but you could definitely feel the pig ears in your mouth.
chicken chocolate cannolo- chocolate chicken liver mousse, shell cooked in chicken fat, white chocolate and deep fried chicken skin. this piece absolutely tasted chickeny. it was super inventive and sorta awesome for what it was.
overall, i enjoyed myself in that i can fully appreciate what they did to the organs and variety meats to make it appealing and edible. for me personally though, i would never purposely order any of those dishes again. organs just aren't my thing. i love food and trying new things but damn was that a weird meal. i'm absolutely glad that i had this experience but i don't think i'll be returning next year.