Tuesday, February 27, 2007

C.(ulinary) S.(cene) I.(nvestigation): Palena (Course 1)

SVR-Pennsylvania Raised Rabbit (Boneless saddle stuffed with herbs and hazlenuts with mostarda di frutta, pickled beets, and mustard glazed endive.)

JFW-Juniper Scented Chicken Consomme (With poached quail egg, truffled trofiette pasta, veal tongue, and slivers of foie gras. With some tender vegetables as garnish.)

The rabbit rocked. I hate dry, white rabbit. I guess the saddle is a darker cut and it was tender and adequately fatty and rich. All condiments were nice pairings, though the beets (I believe) were a bit too sweet. The other flavors couldn't quite stand up to the sugar. The mustard was perfectly pungent. Overall...a well-executed and decadent starter.

My consomme was surprisingly good. As expected, the liquid was a pale and transparent yellow. Thin in viscosity, the flavor and density was still extraordinarily rich. It's incredible how a liquid can pack such depth of flavor. All add-ins were also of distinct flavor and texture. The trofiette was almost like spaetzle. The slivers of foie gras were amazing. In most of my foie gras experience, it's seared. Good as that can be, with a nice crust on the outside yielding a near molten center, this duck liver was more lively and complex. It seemed to be less of meat and more of earth. The texture was beautifully silken and it seemed like it had gone through a poaching process in the consomme. There were some sweet overtones and I could've easily downed a few more 'slivers.' The veal tongue was also very special. Taking after the Jews in my family who love(d) schmaltz and marrow and liver and beef tongue, I was by no means afraid of the chunks of pink baby cow tongue floating around in my soup. Believe it or not, the tongue was light. It was spongey, but airy. It was fluffy, but still rich. It was kinda like the best piece of pastrami you can imagine. It was obviously house-cured. It was tangy and also, like the broth and the liver, adequately rich. The vegetables were all nice enough and a nice counterpoint to the rich meats. The quail egg was also a nice touch...as breaking the yolk added further depth to the broth.

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