May 12, 2008

Why I Am So Glad That My Friend Sara Gave Me A Food Dictionary For My Birthday

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"So tell me about the Crudo of Hamachi. What is that exactly?"

"Crudo is another word for raw," the waitress said in a confident tone laced with a little snot.

"Oh. Gotcha. Okay." (Then silently in my head, but what is Hamachi?!) "Yeah, I'll take that, that sounds great." I mean, it was probably good, whatever it was. The foodies around the table had heard that Ten-01's Hamachi was excellent. And: It was. Once I found out what it was. (Fish.... the good kind.)

Second Course. Sweet Onion and Cauliflower Soup. What's not to like. Lamb sausage. Raisins. Almonds. Was there even cauliflower in it? Couldn't taste it if there was. And that's a good thing. The complementing ingredients dressed up that bland vegetable and made it dance like a princess on my tongue. (Wow, what a weird image I just got in my head.)

Third course. At 9:30 at night. After two and a half hours of talking about food, eating quite large portions of the first two courses, I got my steak. Okay, okay. It wasn't just a steak. It was: grilled cascade natural new york strip, warm fingerling potato salad, braised cippolini, harrisa bordelaise.

I hang out at Zupan's olive bar enough to know that cippolini onions are my friends. I thought I had had harrisa before, but couldn't put my finger on just quite what it was. And Bordelaise, yeah, no idea. But I for sure was NOT going to ask the waitress to explain it to me, lest she topple off the very tall horse she was riding around on. It sounded Julia-Child-ish. It wouldn't be bad.

No, indeed, it was intensely flavorful. The cippolini onions did not disappoint with their tangy sweetness and steak was cooked to a medium-rare perfection. Unfortunately, it fell like a rock in my stomach because I was already full and it was the middle of the night. Good leftovers!

Holy hell, yes, there's one more course. Stop. Please don't make me eat it. Sorbet? Okay, that sounds refreshing. Three scoops. With hazelnut cones. In a raspberry-rose sauce. Tongue curlingly sweet. Three bites. Done. So so so done.

I liked Ten-01. The food was really really amazing. And the bartender, when I told the waitress to surprise me with a non-alcoholic concoction, came up with a cucumber, tarragon, lime and chamomile drink that rocked. The service was horrifically slow, though and fairly inflexible.

One of our party had to leave at 9 and asked around 8:30 or so if they could start preparing the entrees, so she could eat her meal before she left. The waitress explained that everything had to be "fired up" together, so unfortunately they would try to hurry, but probably not. The person ended up leaving having only had two courses in two hours. Maybe that's just how it works and I'm just a glorified hick visiting restaurants way above my social range, but it would have been nice for them to try a little harder. We didn't get our entrees until an hour after she asked. That seems a little extreme.

And now, for your educational pleasure:

Hamachi (Seriola quinqueradiata), commonly known as yellowtail, is a prized, expensive, rich, flavorful fish in the jack and pompano family.

Harissa [hah-REE-suh] From Tunisia, this fiery-hot sauce is usually made with hot chiles, garlic, cumin, coriander, caraway and olive oil.

Bordelaise sauce [bohr-dl-AYZ] A French sauce made with red or white wine, brown stock, bone marrow, shallots, parsley and herbs. It's usually served with broiled meats.

And to quote Scarlett O'Hara (kind of) - "As God is my witness, as God is my witness.... I'll never [eat ignorantly] again." Thanks, Sara!

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Sara said...

I love the book and I don't even cook that much. I figured you could peruse it and be amazed by how much you did already know and discover all the answers to food that you didn't know. Shout out to JD for giving me my copy one birthday...or was it Christmas?

Mark by Chocolate said...

Crudo in Spanish also means hang over. Tango crudo. I'm hung over. So, next time, snot comes flying your way from a moron, a chefs term for a waiter, just say, "No thanks, darling, already have one. Too late a night with Brad and Angelina."

Crudité refers to veggies, btw. Poor Hamachi, which is yellowtail, or amberjack. It's a Shusse-uo, fish called by different names at different stages of growth. Enjoy the book.