Monday, March 1, 2010

An Offal Meal

After an afternoon of wandering from tent to tent, booth to booth, at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, I felt like I accomplished something.  It had nothing to do with anything I did at any of the booths, rather it was what I didn't do - over eat and/or get bombed from boozin' like a madman.  Why?  I had a reservation for dinner with friends at Talula where they were offering a special 7-course offal-themed tasting menu.


After getting off to a rough start with wine, vodka, bourbon, and beer at the Festival, I reminded myself that I needed to stay sober so I could drive home to Coconut Grove and back to the beach before dinner.  I had just heard about this menu and was interested in giving it a shot.   At Cobaya Dinner #1, I got a taste of what the team at Talula can do when given the chance to be creative and it ended up being my favorite meal of the year.  

I was a little late arriving but I already knew what I'd be ordering so we were able to get going pretty quickly.  Three out of 5 of us got the offal tasting menu while the others ordered the ceviche, tomato soup w/ lobster, grouper, and the aged spinalis which was one of my favorite dishes from last year.  The tasting menu started off with a confit of beef heart salad that I really enjoyed.  The heart was sliced very thin which kept the dish light.  It was a nice start to the meal.  The sweetbreads that followed were a tad heavier and had a fantastic contrast of flavors and textures.  

The ceviche and soup apps for the others arrived during the third course, the braised pig ear risotto.  I had really only had pig ear in crispy fried form before so this one was interesting.  I liked the somewhat gelatinous texture of the pig ear along with the slight chew of its' cartilage but I thought the risotto was a little dense.  The sauteed duck hearts that followed were my second favorite dish of the night.  The hearts were tender with a nice meaty flavor and the smoked grapes were delicious.  The flavor of the grapes triggered some sort of memory for me but I ran out of grapes before I could place what it was.  I had been looking forward to the tripe cassoulet but it fell a little short for me because my portion was lacking in the tripe department.  I also thought it was a bit heavy for the 5th course of a seven course meal.  

photo by @djkmia

Our final dinner course was absolutely phenomenal.  A combo of chicken liver pate and house cured pastrami along with some pickled onions and honey mustard had a multitude of flavors singing in harmony.  The textures and sweetness of the mustard reminded me of a bbq pulled pork sandwich with an added earthiness provided by the livers.  A great final savory flavor to the meal.
photo by @djkmia

Dessert came in the form of foie gras doughnuts with a blackberry-chile jam.  I really don't have much of a sweet tooth but I practically licked the plate clean.  The doughnut was light, airy, and fresh.  When I put my knife to it, the foie gras filling oozed out onto the plate.  I used slices of doughnut to sop up this sugary rich gob of awesomeness.  The tartness of the blackberry-chile jam was a nice contrast of flavor.

We finished up the meal right around closing time and Talula's Sous Chef, Kyle Foster, came out and chatted with us for awhile.  One of the servers had mentioned that Kyle had put a lot of thought into creating the offal tasting menu and it showed.  I appreciated the skill involved in making some delicious dishes out of things that usually elicit a "Ewww, gross!" response from people.  There are few chefs who dare to do so in Miami and Talula has executed it well on two out of two occasions for me.  I need to make a solid effort to hit up Talula more often when I'm on Miami Beach and I encourage all to do the same.  Great food and friendly, attentive service make for a great dining experience. 

Check out Talula's dinner menu here.


chadzilla said...

This looks like a meal I would have loved to devour. How much was it? Frod says they're going to run it again.

SteveBM said...

It was $78 and I think that included tax/tip. I thought it was well worth it. There were some fantastic dishes in there. Given what I've experienced at Talula with dinners like this and their regular dinner menu, this place should be packed nightly.

The Chowfather said...

Nice recap. Sounds like I missed a good meal.

paula said...

I hope they do it again though now I know to expect some similar dishes in their specials menu. I don't think the price included tax/tip, but I could be wrong. Still it was definitely worth the price.

Like you, I liked the beef hearts, duck hearts, chicken liver pastrami on toast and dessert the best.

SteveBM said...

Youre right Paula, it didnt include tax/tip.

jackie sayet said...

I am reliving the meal and its antics as I read this... Great recap Mr. Berry! Looking forward to the next one!