Wednesday, September 26, 2007

It's not meat. And it's not paper.

It's meatpaper. Whilst trolling for progress on The Fresh Market on College, my esteemed colleague and I popped into Northside News, where we discovered the premier issue of meatpaper. It's not recipes, it's not a trade pub for ranchers or butchers, it's about what the editors (both women, forgive me for letting that surprise me) call the fleishgeist - the spirit of the meat. (Have you noticed that "meat" is one of those words that gets more vulgar the more times you say it? Meat, meat, meat, meat, meat.) I'm not sure how long anyone can sustain a magazine strictly about the art, culture, and meaning of meat, meat, meat, meat, meat in all of its forms, but kudos to a bizarrely beautiful magazine.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

They ARE called gastropods, after all

Does that mean "delicious feet"? Hmm. Probably best not to think too hard on that one.

On Saturday, my esteemed colleague made the crucial observation that The Fresh Market carries snails – giant snails – pre-stuffed with butter and garlic and parsley.

We popped 10 of them in the oven (425° for 14 minutes seemed to work) as an appetizer for the coq au vin I made Sunday. They were fabulous. As good or better than escargot (funny how adding butter and a French name makes yanking a mucusey slug out of a shell with a toothpick palatable) that we've had at French restaurants in big cities.

You must try them. If only to ensure that they keep stocking them for us.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Elements - No Periodic Table Jokes

Every once in while, you have a dinner that's just…right. Elegant dining room, dithering over the exquisite menu in low, excited voices, perfect lighting, your esteemed colleague has two Tiffany boxes sitting on the table, Champagne has been poured. The appetizer arrives and there's only one thing to say:

"Holy shit, this is good!"

Yes, dear reader, that's what I said upon the first bite of the pork belly starter at Elements on a recent Wednesday. And it's true. Not a combination I would have thought of (which is why he's Greg Hardesty and I'm not) as it was pork belly - perfectly both meaty and fatty - with mussels and fingerling potatoes in a saffron mussel broth. Stellar. It was so good, I'm going to skip right over the endive salad that preceded it. I just have a dressing issue and restaurants around here use entirely too much of it. Plus, skipping salad gives me more time on the entrée.

Wow. Again with the ingredients that raise an eyebrow. I'm following along well with Halibut and braised escarole. Applewood smoked bacon, yes. Sweet corn, oh yes, yes. Raisins…excuse me? All bundled in a "spicy sour veal reduction." My philosophy is that if you trust the chef, let him take you wherever, maybe it will be a revelation. And this was. The sauce was unlike anything I've ever had before. Sweet nose, sweet at first blush, then this deep burn that lingered. The next bite it would start all over again. It was fantastic against the corn, the creamy fish and yes, the raisins. The secret, our server revealed, was red chili flakes that you couldn't actually see in the sauce. Dynamite.

The dessert was a lovely blueberry ice cream alongside something called a friandise (like a tiny flourless chocolate cake). So, full of yumminess (and more than a little Chateauneuf-de-Pape) we headed back to the car. Which was parked in front of the toy store on Mass Ave. Where they sell robots and dragons. To people full of yumminess. Like I said, every once in a while, you have a dinner that's just…right.

Visit Elements for menus and pictures.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A little like being at Schwab's at the right time

The writer of one my longtime favorite reads, FeedMe/DrinkMe, has discovered fork. Thanks muchly for the mention!

Stinky Cheese. Market didn't have it, Web does

Indy has a few good sources of cheese. The Cheese Shop in the Mall is okay, if unexciting, and The Fresh Market is getting better but it's no Dean and Deluca.

For really great cheese you pretty much have to travel. Good thing that's one of my favorite things to do. A few weekends ago, my esteemed colleague and I visited Chicago and ended up at TRU, Rick Tramonto's experimental house of food worship on North St. Claire. I'll save the rundown of the courses for another day; this is just about the cheese. One of the most varied and creative and daring cheese trays I've seen in the U.S. I HAD to know where they get it and the answer for many of them was Murray's, a shop I know but have yet to visit in NY.

So I visited the web site instead. My order arrived yesterday. I ripped open the box and the unmistakable smell of raw milk cheese swept through the room like the unmistakable smell of raw milk cheese. "Did you order something dead?" quipped a nearby coworker. I popped the box in the refrigerator and later heard another one yell, "Something in the fridge is rotten!" Heh. Perfect. And that's in its packaging, ice cold, and in a closed cardboard box, so just imagine when it's out at room temp, next to a little bit of compote and maybe some honey for the blue….

Ahem. So, the point is, dear reader, stinky cheese IS available in Indy. You just have to be patient. And have understanding coworkers.

Visit Murray's Cheese and TRU for more yummy foodstuffs.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Oh! Oh! Oh!

Actual workmen and actual equipment actually moving actual dirt at The Fresh Market site. Saw them with my own eyes! Soon, my little lamb shank, you will be all mine....(without the 30-minute drive).

The French Market. They got the Market part right. Kinda.

We look forward to the French Market at St. Joan of Arc every year and we know it's not going to be the magical land of Lourmarin, a tiny Provencal town with the greatest market ever in the history of markets (and, dear reader, one that happens once a week, not just once a year), but is it too much to ask that it be a little magical, a little daring, a little challenging? Just un petit peu?

Where's the stinky cheese? The pate? Where's the real bread? Where's the fish stew that watches while you eat it? No wild game? No bunnies in sauce? So what if the people on the extreme ends of the age brackets wrinkle their noses. Surely St. Joan of Arc realizes that many, many people who attend this fair are Francophiles. And any of those things would be just as easy (or, in the case of cheese, easier) to prepare and serve as what they have anyway. Hell, bouillabaisse is essentially fish parts in broth. Who can't do that?

Yes, yes, furthering the palates of Hoosiers is not the goal of the fair. It's not supposed to be intimidating, it's supposed to be fun. I know, I know. But couldn't there be ONE booth, one tiny, modest little booth serving something that could be construed as authentic? Preferably the one next to the Roast Beef Po' Boy.