Sunday, May 23, 2010

End of an Era (maybe)

OFFAL IV was billed to be one of the last formal Thursday Club meals in the Man Cave. With an onslaught of life-changing occurrences blipping on our Thursday Club radar as of late (pregnancies, births, switching apartments, switching jobs, et al), it has been increasingly difficult to gather everyone to honor the cornerstone ideals of our Club - celebrating food, drinking Herculean proportions and being downright silly.

For a special meal like this one, it was great to see the all-offal menu (minus dessert thank G_d) combining some contemporary classics and a few of Teddy’s own creations. Mostly everyone showed up relatively on time and sober…..surprising. Chilled martinis and microbrews greeted one and all…far from surprising.

The table was set for seven:

- Chicken liver toasts

- Terrine of duck and asparagus, crispy duck tongues, dandelion & orange

- Calf's tongue with celeriac remoulade

- Sweetbreads with bacon, capers and lemon

- Bone marrow with oxtail marmalade

- Lemon tart

The starter was far more rustic than the oft-seen chicken liver pate. Going with the whole offal theme, the liver played the lead role with nice undertones of spices and aromatics. For a brief moment, the banter ceased and the sounds crunchy toast echoed throughout the Cave.

Predictably, by the time the first course was plated (approx 8:50pm), served, and demolished, the empties began to pile up, the volume got louder and the scene began resembling the slightly uncouth, albeit comforting Thursday Club.

The terrine dish was a work of art. Bright green baby asparagus spears studded each slice across the top and bottom. I’m not sure what parts of the duck went in (all but the quack no doubt), but each bite had different flavors and textures. The crispy duck tongues were an amazing addition. I could have really made a serious dent in the worlds’ duck population and polished off a hundred of those things. The bitter greens and citrus punch of the dressing and orange segments kept everything in balance.

Tongue appeared again in the next dish in the form of slow-cooked calf’s tongue. Each thin, tender slice was topped with a gelatin parsley cube. Yet another 'shake your head in disbelief' moment brought to us by Teddy.….why put a conventional sauce on top when you can add another texture to the plate? How obvious, right? The celeriac remoulade resembled cole slaw, and added a similar creamy, but bright flavor and the necessary crunch that the dish needed.

This next dish was probably the clear-cut favorite of the night. First of all, the plating not only looked great, but also proved functional as we got every component of the dish in every bite.

Starting from the bottom:

Pea puree – smooth and sweet.

Sweetbreads – hot out of a shallow fry. Perfectly crispy on the outside and moist inside. They would easily replace chicken nuggets in my diet if they were ever in my diet and gout wasn’t a major concern of mine

Bacon –salty, porky and crisp. A staple of any great dish.

Sauce – an emulsion of butter, white wine and capers.

Yup, imagine that combo for every single bite. Can’t say anymore about it, I’ve already drooled all over my laptop. Vile.

Trying our best to keep up with the demanding wine schedule, we were popping open roses, crisp whites, and bubbly Cavas at an alarming rate. The next dish needed a heavy red to stand up to it. Good thing we had 3 or 4 to do the trick.

The oxtail marmalade reminded me of an upscale sloppy joe. It’s pretty damn difficult to take something that has ‘sloppy’ in its name and polish it up, but it totally worked. Teddy used prune juice to add sweetness to the tender, braised meat. Unfortunately, most of my bone marrow escaped out of the bottom of the bone in liquid form. But that made my grilled toast that much happier when it was used to scoop up all of the rich gravy that formed in the bottom of my dish.

With a limited amount of space left in our stomachs and on the table, our dessert made its way downstairs (approx 12:50am). Sweet dessert wines and pretty much all remaining bottles were crammed onto the remaining table space not covered by bottles, ash trays, glasses (broken and non), Mike Phillips' wild gesturing, or J Boogie’s head. The sour lemon tart and accompanying raspberry sorbet was just what we all needed to spruce up our palates again after the five courses of unctuous assault.

This meal was truly one for the ages. Sitting in the dim of the Man Cave, a night of sinfully rich food and plentiful wine swirling ‘round my head, peering through the thickening curtains of smoke, laughing to the point of losing my breath listening to the same stories that all know the ending to - it all kind of hit me. After nearly 5 years of Thursday Club meals, the combination of all of this is really why we get together. Tonight, everything went exactly to plan.

Big ups to Chef Teddy and the Man Cave.


The Johnsons said...

We will miss the blog if this is indeed the end....

The Johnsons

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