Tuesday, July 6, 2010

You Got Peanut Butter in my Chocolate Martini!


Enough of all this flavoring vodkas with things not meant to be drunk. As a follow-up to the piece in my other blog, I have now heard everything.

(I know, I said I'd heard everything before, but this is the new everything)

Chris Cosentino, famed San Francisco chef (proprietor of Boccalone and head chef at Incanto) has purportedly invented Foie-dka. (fwahdkah) This is foie gras infused vodka. I may barf. Lots.

Now, I love foie gras. I hate the manner in which it can be produced (over-feeding geese until they can't walk because their livers are too heavy for their body mass to manage), but when it's done humanely, when the goose doesn't suffer, then I'm okay with it. And there are quite a few producers that do it properly.

And I love a good vodka. Even flavored ones. (and yes, I prefer it if the potatoes are slaughtered humanely, but sometimes a little pain is unavoidable)

But the idea that someone would combine these two vices of mine... Now that's inhumane.

This information came to me via a NY Times article about a different San Francisco (don't ever all it Frisco) eatery, which purveys the food most likely to be popular during summer - ice cream. Only, well - not if the flavor you're looking for resembles something sorta pedestrian. Granted, they do have a few flavors specifically for the kiddies, but Humphry Slocombe doesn't give a damn about your needs. For which I admire them greatly. From their current flavor list we find the following:

  • Black Walnut
  • Malted Vanilla
  • Chocolate
(nothing too threatening here - wait for it)
  • Cinnamon Brittle
  • Salted Licorice
  • Green Tea-Black Sesame
(ok, that's a little odd - but wait, there's more)
  • "Red hot" Banana
  • Balsamic Caramel
  • Peanut Butter Curry
  • Strawberry Black Olive
  • Government Cheese
  • McEvoy Olive Oil
  • Elvis (the Fat Years)
(actually, that one sounds good - banana ice cream, bacon and peanut brittle)
  • Jesus Juice (wine mixed with Coke - a sorbet)
The one I really want to try is the Secret Breakfast, a mixture of cornflakes and so much Jim Beam bourbon that the stuff won't stay solid for long.

And of course, a Foie Gras flavored ice cream.

I get it - lots of foodies out there really love their foie gras. But enough of this already. I like the idea of having food that defies and subverts the original intent of God or whoever of how that food was meant to be conveyed to one's stomach. There are plenty of folks out there practicing "molecular gastronomy", which is a code for "making food you thought you knew so damn weird, you'll pay $20 an ounce for it". On the other hand, there is also a sense of amusing ourselves to death. Bear with me.

We make food for ourselves, and we make the simplest thing we can with the best ingredients we can afford, always recognizing that sometimes, spending the extra money for better ingredients makes for a more satisfying meal, one you eat rather than just inhaling. I certainly get the idea that it's fun to play with people's expectations, especially when it comes to dining out. How many different ways can you sell someone battered fried fish and french fries before the idea of fish'n'chips becomes the the most boring food item known to man? On the other hand, if, by taking out one shoestring potato from the architectural tower on my plate, I send the fried mixed fish with the head attached and the bones still in it to the floor, have I enjoyed myself more or less? The more restaurants out there that experiment with this stuff, the further we get from the original, simple pleasure of things like spaghetti with clams, or a really good gazpacho.

Take vodka, for example. A pure, clear liquid with (done well) no discernable flavor at all, and when served cold, no sense of even alcohol being present. Certainly Russians and Scandinavians have been doing infused vodkas forever, and I respect that tradition, but some things (in my very humble opinion) don't and shouldn't mix. Meat and vodka in the same bottle? Sacreligious.

Take a very fresh side of salmon and cut it in half. Go over the surface of the flesh opposite the grain, feeling for the tiny bones. Find any - pull them out with a pair of pliers or easy-to-grip tweezers, it takes a good tug. For every pound of salmon, mix together 2 tbsp kosher salt, 2 tbsp sugar, 2 tsp black pepper, and 2 tbsp of chopped dill weed. On the larger of the two halves of the side (there will always be one a little bigger than the other), skin-side down, spread this mixture. Add several whole sprigs of fresh dill, and clean the edges of the dill should it spill over the edge of the filet. Lay the other filet on top, skin side up. Wrap the whole kit'n'kaboodle in two layers of plastic wrap, drop it in a baking dish with sides high enough to extend over the top of the fish slab. Refrigerate for three days, turning every eight hours or so. Clean off all the residues, slice very thinly, and serve with a good black bread and either the traditional mustard-dill sauce or some really cold unsalted butter. Have a bite, have a drink. Have a bite, have a drink. Repeat until sick.