February 12, 2012

the time that Anthony Bourdain got me to eat a baby.

via google
Yes, you read that right. It's amazing how one man can convince you to do things you never in a million years thought you would. I have always been totally against eating baby animals. Not all animals mind you, just baby ones and possibly ones that are classified as road kill. But after reading Kathryn's blog I might change my mind about that too. This past weekend Mike and I went out for a very special dinner. In honor of Valentine's Day, our first as a married couple he made reservations for us to eat at a hot spot here in town. A very small, locally run restaurant with an expansive gourmet menu. I had my heart set on getting some seared Ahi Tuna. It's something that isn't very common in this town and when I find it on a menu I jump on the chance to eat it. Alas they had switched up the menu for Valentine's Day and only offered a small handful of their traditional items. There must have been some unseen force that wouldn't allow me to eat seafood on Friday night because as I started to make my selection the server informed us that they were out of Grouper and Flounder thus rendering my choice for the Seafood Platter useless. I was disappointed but made a happy compromise and ordered the appetizer of a half dozen Kumamoto Oysters. I had never heard of them but was feeling adventurous. To be fair we live in a very small town and if this restaurant owner was serving these I figured they couldn't be too strange, right? I decided to do some research and found this information about Kumamoto Oysters.
Kumamotos are small, sweet, almost nutty oysters characterized by their deep, almost bowl-shaped shell. Like Pacifics, they have deeply fluted, sharp, pointy shells. They spawn later and in warmer water than other oysters, so they remain firm and sweet well into summer months. Kumamotos are widely cultivated in Japan and the West Coast. The name Kumamoto is so valued that Kumamotos are always labeled as such, although some places will also specify where they are from. Kumamotos used to be lumped in with Pacific oysters, but it ends up they are their very own species. 
source: about.com
All I can say is these little buggers were amazing! Mike doesn't care for oysters and started to ask to try one but then saw me eat one and quickly changed his mind. The slime does him in. He also hates eggs, jello and pudding to name a few things. Mike doesn't like food that giggles. He doesn't mind the flavor of oysters, just the texture. These oysters, while small were amazing. Fresh, light, great "sea flavor" I wish I would have gotten a dozen! Mike opted for some goat cheese, on crusty bread with some amazingly sweet thick cut bacon. SO good. Since I wasn't able to get the Seafood Platter I opted to try the Filet. Mike on the other hand decided to be gutsy and chose to order the Lamb Shank. He apologized to me, knowing my strong dislike for people eating baby animals. I told him not to worry that it was my hang up and not his, and that honestly I'd been curious about trying lamb for some time now. The minute I think about what it is, my stomach turns and my heart aches. Then in the next moment I see how amazingly happy people look when they are eating this. Mostly, Anthony Bourdain. Yes, I'm a sucker for this dude... totally. {I'd also like to blame Rachel Ray, Ina Garten and Bobby Flay for this as well, they are all guilty of the "amazingly good" face after sampling Lamb}.

As we enjoyed our wine, and appetizers I kept thinking to myself, "If you don't try it now, you never will." One taste wouldn't hurt, it's already being eaten by your husband after all. Mike got up to use the restroom and I was left there to observe the room around me. The group of people behind us had gotten their main entrees and I noticed one man got the Lamb Shank. I watched him cut into the meat and take a bite and there it was that blissful face of satisfaction with his choice and meal. Curiosity peaked. Mike returned and I told him that he probably made a wise choice judging by the man behind him's reaction to the Lamb. Soon enough our main course was ready and laid before us. My filet was cooked perfectly. I prefer mine more on the rare side, so this might have been a bit over cooked for my usual feelings toward meat but it was still tender, juicy and pink in the middle, and bottom line delicious. You know how I said I hate ordering steaks when dining out unless I go to my favorite place back home, this is a very close second and I'd totally order it again.

I watched and waited for Mike's reaction to the Lamb. I could tell at first it was a bit censored for my benefit. As if he was fearful that showing how much he loved it that it might upset me. I smiled and asked.. "Is it good?" and his eyes half closed and smile with the words "It's awesome!" sealed the deal. I had to try it. He cut me off a little bit of the lamb and I cut him off a slice of the filet and we traded.

I did hesitate.. and thought to myself OK girl that always thought this was just horrible and a sin you're about to go back on all you talked about for years in one moment. I then remembered that my motto has always been "Never say never." Yeah, the Biebs didn't come up with that shit on his own... so I took a deep breathe and took a bite.... it was... amazing. All I can describe the flavor as being like was a pot roast that had been slow cooked all day. It was fall off the bone good with a reduction sauce that was just as amazing. Mike agreed it was a very "home cooked roast" flavor. It had a bit more of a game flavor than beef obviously had but it was amazing. As usually I was immediately jealous of Mike's choice for dinner over my own. We often order the same thing when we go out to eat mostly because this happens, I always get plate envy over his meal. All our sides were the same to pair with our meat, but his meat took center stage. It fell off the bone, it was tender and amazing.

The bottom line - I'd try it again. I'm not sure how often, but the Lamb Shank was great. I have never had the rack of lamb and others have said it tastes much different. For now I will continue to reserve my stance on not eating baby animals. Lamb won't be something I seek out but it was delicious. I will say this though, you will not catch me eating Veal. It hurts my heart too much.  To all my vegetarian readers, I apologize. I am however a person that eats meat, just not all types of meat.

Our meal was amazing, the conversation was fun, the wine was so good and the restaurant and it's employees were delightful. It was a wonderful way to celebrate Valentine's Day and beat the crowds. I can't wait to go back in the spring and summer when the weather is nice and order a few glasses of wine and appetizers and enjoy the sun.

So there you have it... the night Anthony Bourdain made me eat a baby.

Kumamoto Oysters and Lamb Shank: She tried it and.... really, really liked it.

In other off-topic news tonight is the premiere of The Walking Dead - and I can't wait. Anyone else a huge fan of this show? Or tried Lamb and loved/hated it?

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sarah said...

I like lamb, but rarely order it. For some reason I typically order beef and always extremely rare.

But I'm glad you got up the nerve to try it. And I'm even more glad you guys had a great dinner!

Kathryn said...

Way to expand your horizons! Glad you enjoyed both of them! I have never actually heard of kumamoto oysters- maybe I should add it to my list :) And OMG goat cheese with bacon? I'm dying just listening to that. Yum. Thanks for the shout-out by the way!!

Lora said...

you know, I like lamb. I've only had it a couple times. I've never eaten veal.

But I got to thinking... isn't it better to eat these animals while they are babies? Instead of forcing them to suffer a super shitty life just so they are big enough to eat without us feeling like we are eating babies? I've seen what goes on at some of those farms, and the cows don't have it good AT ALL.

Cathy said...

That restaurant sounds awesome! Also, I love lamb. We usually have it at Easter. So good.

I had oysters for the first time a couple years ago while visiting friends in Boston. It took me about 10 minutes to talk myself into eating one, but they really are very delicious. I've had them numerous times since then.

Way to try something new!!

Kallay said...

WOW!!! Way to put yourself out there!

The first time I had an oyster raw was in culinary school. I was working for this restaurant helping them with a banquet and one of the line cooks asked if I wanted to try one. So he splashed the lemon, the tabasco, loosened it from the shell... and when I put it in my mouth they told me to just swallow it! I chewed. Ugh... not appetizing. I do love mussels though, but cooked. ;)

As for lamb, I've eaten a ton. We've always eaten it at Easter, and I've made some delicious lamb chops for Mother's Day, too. I love it.

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