We don't know Chris Cosentino, but we have tasted his brains risotto -- the warm, cinnamon-scented webs, the rice, the tender little chunks of chicken thighs studding the bowl. We have had his marrow salad and his tripe. The Top Chef Masters champ -- San Francisco's dark prince of "the nasty bits" -- can cook, no doubt. A dinner at Incanto makes you drunk.
Marrow goo runs through your veins like lava in slow motion. Voices sound fuzzy and distant. Your polenta legs buckle and sway. However, in addition to allowing Cosentino's creations to do battle with the inside of your stomach, you may now wear them on the outside as well. Yes, that's right -- Cosentino is hawking offal-themed apparel.
At last night's Test Kitchen dinner at Bestia, the phrase "vegetarian options are not available during this special meal" printed on top of the menu was something of an understatement. Cooked by some of L.A.'s top "underground" chefs, the focus of the 5-course meal was a selection of offal-centric dishes, which might not have seemed very sweet unless you were swayed by honeycomb tripe, veal nerve, and sweetbreads the size of cat brains.
It was no coincidence that the dinner was scheduled on Halloween's eve. Some people might prefer haunted houses or costume parties this time of year, but for a certain subset of foodies, this dinner could be seen as a grown-up version of being blind-folded and sticking your hands inside bags of cooked spaghetti (witch's hair) and peeled grapes (eyeballs).
One of our new favorite web series these days is Kamikaze Kitchen, a collaboration between Good Food and sometimes L.A. Weekly contributor Eddie Lin (DeepEndDining) and Trippy Food blog author Valentino Herrera. The comedic duo just dropped their first episode on YouTube back in September and have plans to release several more episodes in the near future.
The point of the show invovles challenging L.A. chefs to "get real weird" -- to borrow a phrase from Workaholics -- with an unusual mystery ingredient. Thus Lin and Herrera drop in on chefs at their restaurants, give them a brown bag with the secret (and very strange) protein, watch the chefs cook with it, then sample the results.
Tomorrow is Bloomsday, an annual holiday in which James Joyce fans rejoice and celebrate one of the author's greatest works, Ulysses. For those of you who have never read the book, or only pretended to read it in college, the epic story follows one Leopold Bloom as he goes about his day -- June 16, 1904, to be exact -- in Dublin.
To celebrate Bloomsday 2012, the Hammer Museum will host a Guinness-infused happy hour followed by a "fast-paced presentation of the Aeolus chapter" of the novel, followed by another Guinness-infused happy hour to wind things down. And, because pints of Guinness aren't the only way to celebrate this Irish character, we have a few additional ideas to make Bloomsday your own.
Chef Perfecto Rocher wants to help take your mind off the upcoming foie gras ban by reminding you that there are tons of other tasty animal livers that make for perfectly suitable ingredients. While many other restaurants are hosting all-out foie feasts, Lazy Ox Canteen is planning a "Forget Foie" menu -- intended to "celebrate [their] apathy" with the foie gras issue -- set to run as an a la carte menu. On June 29-30, the menu will feature alternatives to foie like braised octopus with monkfish liver (known as the "foie gras of the sea"), beef liver cooked "a la plancha" with roasted yams, and a Lazy Ox burger topped off with lamb's liver. Remember what your mother said about eating liver. Turn the page for the full menu.
It's 8 a.m., June 16th, 1904, and at 7 Eccles Street in Dublin, Leopold Bloom, the wandering hero of Ulysses, is contemplating a breakfast of offal, which we know all about thanks to James Joyce's piquant description:
Mr. Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls. He liked thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liverslices fried with crustcrumbs, fried hencods' roes. Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine.
Today marks the birthday of one Robert Burns, Scotland's national poet, whose short but prolific life back in the late 18th-century is celebrated on this day every year by any Scot worth his or her haggis -- or anyone else looking for a good time eating traditional Scottish dishes washed down with more than a wee dram of whiskey. This is drunken revelry at its best.
The traditional Burns Supper centers around a haggis, which consists of sheep's 'pluck' (heart, lungs and liver) minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices and salt all encased in the animal's stomach and simmered for several hours. Haggis is not for the faint-hearted and when you break it down there's not a lot to like: it's basically a glorified stuffed sheep's stomach with lots of bells and whistles to distract from what you are eating.
Palate Food + Wine, a restaurant towards which we feel a great amount of affection, just announced its new Offal Wednesdays, in the spirit of its Tuesday Cirque de Fromage - a concept of which we are no less fond. Because while some people are becoming alarmed at the recent profusion of ears and snouts and trotters in the better sort of Los Angeles restaurants, we see it as only a good thing.
Each order of bone marrow with kimchi and fried quail eggs, or brain ravioli with ricotta and sage, or sweetbreads with wild nettles, or split-pea soup with pig's ear croutons is a ribeye steak not eaten and a pork chop not ordered; a local, sustainably raised animal
enjoyed in its fullest. Menus, served at the wine bar in the back room, change weekly: a three-course tasting menu runs $25, and individual dishes are available for $9 a pop. We'll be the guy pounding down braised roosters' combs at the bar.
Palate Food + Wine: 933 S. Brand Blvd., Glendale; (818) 662-9463.