Tuesday, February 27, 2007

C.(ulinary) S.(cene) I.(nvestigation): Palena (Course 2)

SVR-Yukon Gold Potato Gnocchi (With a Bolognese style meat sauce and shaved pecorino cheese)

JFW-Braised Beef Shortribs, "Sauerbraten" (With glazed root vegetables, quince, and chestnuts)

SVR had the famed gnocchi. I have to say, they fell a little short. The gnocchi were a little too, er, pasty. That's what my notes say, but I can't quite remember more of how to describe the texture and or effect. The Bolognese was chunky and not a ragu. Dunno if that's Ruta's twist on the sauce or if chunky is the authentic approach. In any case, the meat was on a small dice and was okay. The tomato flavor was prominent and pronounced and fresh and deep. The dish was fine, but I don't think it stood up to all the rave reviews I've read elsewhere.

I had high expectations of my second course. The 'sauer' was very, very sour. Again, I think this was the chef showing off his in-house meat curing mastery. Unlike Central's perfect, boneless short rib execution, Palena left the bone in and, not surprisingly, I felt cheated of meat. The bone was just too prominent and so the meat came across tiny. The root vegetables were a welcomed winter touch and the quince paste was cloyingly sweet, but the right flavor to temper some of the 'sauer.' The chestnuts were mashed and added a nice feel and texture to the arrangement.

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