Last night I attended the Annual Dinner for the non-profit where I work. It was held at a restaurant in a very chic hotel in Los Angeles run by a chef who is known for his use of molecular gastronomy. As I wandered around the room, I felt as if I were in a theatre where the food not only took center stage but the dishes were both unusual and magical. Everything was bite size, with choices like Cotton Candy Foie Gras, (which I didn’t try) tiny cones filled with cream cheese and topped with salmon caviar, Caprese Salads no bigger than your thumb prepared with liquified mozzarella, and silver spoons that held “Spherical Olives” a process where the chef purees and strains olives to separate the essence, and somehow creates soft little green balls that, despite their olive flavor, are almost foam-like in consistency. One of my favorite “bites” was the brown egg that looked as if it was soft-boiled but in fact was hollowed out and filled with Flan.
When all was said and done, I left feeling like I had experienced a great show. I wasn’t disappointed, but I didn’t have that familiar sensation that you have when you eat a meal that is nourishing, earthy, and soulful, something like the dish I had prepared earlier in the week for a friend, Tongue in Spicy Tomato Sauce.
Tongue in Spicy Tomato Sauce
1 Beef or Calves’ Tongue
2 Large Onions
6 Cloves of Garlic
1 Green Pepper
1 tsp chili flakes
1 tsp dried oregano
1 14 oz. can tomato sauce
salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot, cover Tongue with water, bring to a boil and cook for about 15 minutes. Drain and fill pot with fresh water, again making sure tongue is submerged. Add one large onion cut in half, 1 large bay leaf, 3 cloves of garlic, a pinch of salt and about ½ tsp freshly ground pepper. Bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer, cover pot and cook tongue for about 2 hours. Make sure that tongue can be easily pierced with a fork before removing from heat. Allow to cool completely.
In the meantime chop a large onion and sauté in 2 tbsp olive oil till translucent, about five minutes. Add 3 cloves minced garlic, 1 tsp chili flakes, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp dried oregano. Saute for 2-3 minutes. Add green pepper that you cut into strips. Then add 1-14 oz. can tomato sauce and about 1 cup water. Cook for about 10 minutes covered, on low flame.
In the meantime, slice cold Tongue on the diagonal and add to tomato sauce. Cover and stew for about 30 minutes. Serve with rice, mashed potatoes or corn tortillas. Serves 6-8