Tuesday, November 19, 2019

An "Offally Good" Dinner at The Black Pig

This post isn't for the faint-hearted.

I do consider myself a mostly adventuresome eater. I'm willing to try almost anything, at least once. Over the years, I've had chicken heart, pig ear, sweetbread, tongue...but never all in one meal. The thought of every.single.course being some form of offal (the entrails and internal organs of an animal used as food) was a bit much for me. I'd shied away from the Fifth Quarter dinner events held at The Greenhouse Tavern in the past. But when a similar dinner was being held at one of our very favorite spots, The Black Pig, I decided to take the plunge.
The first course started us off easy, with "Lamb Snacks" that included a heart tartar, mortadella and terrine. Nothing that I hadn't had before. 
Then, Chef Dave Kocab made his take on a favorite Asian salad from LJ Shanghai, a Beef Tendon & Tripe Salad with chili, roasted peppers, and arugula. The flavors were great, but I could have done with a little more arugula. The textures of the tripe (edible lining from the stomachs of various farm animals) and tendon were a bit much for me after about half-way through the salad.
Next up, this dish really pushed us. Pig Brain & Veal Sweetbreads (the thymus or pancreas) with cauliflower, curry, apricot puree, and raisins. The flavors of this dish were outstanding, and the crispy sweetbreads were not a problem for me to enjoy. But the brain was quite soft, and the mushy texture prevented me from wanting to eat the whole piece.
The last savory course ended up being the most difficult for me. The Beef Tongue Stroganoff with blood noodles (yes, BLOOD! was swapped for eggs in the pasta) was rich and flavorful. But I had warned my seatmates that I get squeamish when I visually see whole animals, organs that look exactly like they do inside the body, etc. So, when the guys started talking about the visible taste buds on the tongue and I looked down at a neighboring plate and could see all of the little bumps, it only took a couple more bites of the tongue hitting my tongue before I had to stop. I honestly think I would have been fine if I hadn't seen the taste buds!
Brûléed Bone Marrow with caramel apple was the final course, and personally I think a dessert preparation of bone marrow should appear more often on menus! It was delicious. 

So even though a couple of textures threw me off during this "offally good" dinner, I'm glad that I pushed myself to try so many courses within one meal. I'd even go to one again! When products are in the hands of excellent chefs, it's amazing what can be done. These are often considered "trash" pieces of an animal, but I appreciate that some chefs take interest in and the care to try and work with them. This type of event isn't for everyone, but I encourage you to go outside your comfort zone when you can. 

The Black Pig
2801 Bridge Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44113


Shibani said...

I love osso buco but I’m not sure I’m brace enough for this!

Betsy Ramsey said...

That is a whole lot of offal! LOL Good on you for being so adventurous! I wonder if they serve sweetbreads regularly and will have to call to ask - they have always been one of my mom's favorites and are hard to find anymore!

Holly said...

I would have to be paid a hefty penny to try this! I read your post and got squeamish! And I do like eating meat.

Rachel said...

Oh man... I don't know if I could stomach all of that. I'm sure the experience was amazing, though!

Bite Buff said...

Not regularly, I believe. But their menu changes almost daily. Also if you called in advance they may do a special request. They work closely with local farmers and butchers.

Bite Buff said...

Not something I want to do regularly! But I’d go to one again. When any product is in the right hands of a talented chef, they can do wonders.

Bite Buff said...

It was a bit much, but I’d still do one again, haha.