from tongue to tail (and skipping everything in between)
First off, sorry for the lag in posting. I have no good excuse, only laziness.
With that out of the way, I devote this post to one of the more amazing and unusual dinner parties I’ve attended in a long time. It had all of the right ingredients: great people, weird meats, and booze in plastic bottles.
Our friend S invited us over for a feast of ox tongue and ox tail. Yes, that’s right. Ox. Tongue. Tail. When we arrived both were stewing together in two large pots filled with some veggies. S had soaked them the day before in water, I think to soften them. Two pots were necessary because the tongue (it’s huge, as you can imagine) had to be cut in half to fit in them. We took a peek while they were cooking–the tail didn’t look so weird, but the tongue really looked like an oversized tongue, taste buds and all. The taste buds…I think it’s actually the tongue membrane…stays on while cooking, but then gets taken off before you eat it.
While we waited for the tongue and tail main event to begin, we sat around and ate kibbeh (raw lamb) and an assortment of cheese. G and I had stopped at Surdyk’s on our way to dinner to pick up wine, which we drank with the cheese/kibbeh and with dinner. Going to Surdyk’s was its own awesome experience. I like going in there to pick the wine expert’s brain about cheaper bottles of wine that go with different foods, but I think ox tongue and tail is the best request I can think of. As always, the wine guy was super excited and super helpful. He came up with the idea that since we were having two parts of the same animal, that we should get two malbecs from different countries. He picked us out one from Argentina (Piatelli Vineyards) that was earthy and rich and another from France (Caillau), where apparently malbec originated. The Argentinian malbec was by far our favorite–it was rich and earthy as promised. The French wine was less rich but opened up a bit after a while.
We also brought a bottle from Spain that had been in reserve since 2001. I think it cost $13 and was delicious.
The main course–tongue and tail–was served on mashed potatoes. It looked a lot like a hearty beef stew although the tongue had a much softer almost melt-y texture. The tongue and tail were great together with complementary textures. If you ever have the chance to eat them, I highly recommend it.
In addition to the wine, we ate the meat with some liquor called rakia from Bulgaria. Another friend at the dinner had brought it back from a summer trip there. She had bought homemade rakia from a market where they sell it plastic bottles. It’s kind of like Greek raki or Italian grappa, and is made with grapes. It’s sweet and strong, making it the perfect companion to ox and tail.
We finished off the wonderful evening with Epoisses, a smelly, creamy, brie-like cheese from France. We had to keep it in its package until the end because the smell can be sort of overpowering. When G first saw it in France he couldn’t eat it because of the smell, but has grown to really love it. I think it was the perfect end to such an extreme meal.