Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Food notes: An Irish blue cheese adds zing to a salad, Italian ricotta dreams, and perhaps the best steak dinner I've ever had

A few disparate food notes:

First, on the home cooking front, I made a spectacular salad two nights ago using fresh spinach greens, a splash of seed-heavy trail mix with raisins and dried cranberries, a spectacular (if expensive) blue cheese from Ireland made from sheep's milk called "Crozier Blue" (see their website for a lot more detail about this cheese and its makers).

The Crozier Blue cheese really made the salad special, though it'd better given the dear price - a whopping $30 per pound at the Central Market, though I just bought a smidgen (at $3 worth), enough to liven up a couple of 2-3 person salads. It would be wrong to call the flavor "mild," though it's not as pungent as some blue cheeses (or as I imagine it might become if allowed to sit and ripen a bit). Indeed, arguably the slightly less brash initial reception the Crozier Blue engenders with the palette creates space for enjoying more fully its rich and complex textures. A good find. I can't afford much of it but it's a good choice for a style of cheese that frequently I pass by as too overwhelming.

Speaking of cheese, I was interested to see an article in a recent issue of Saveur about traditional methods of making ricotta cheese used by shepherds in rural Italy - nearly a dying art form now practiced by septuagenarians whose kids for the most part haven't picked up the family shepherd biz. Turns out Ricotta cheese (ricotta means re-cooked, said the article), is produced from the whey or liquid byproduct from making pecorino cheese, a more expensive and exportable commodity. That whey is used for all sorts of different products by industrial manufacturers, but for shepherds in the mountains its main purpose in the past was to generate a wonderful fresh ricotta that still dominates the region's recipes.

Finally, I'd be remiss not to mention the ridiculously fabulous (and equally expensive steakhouse Kathy picked for her birthday dinner last night - a place called Three Forks at Lavaca and Cesar Chavez catty corner from City Hall.

The meat was as fabulous as any I've been served, clearly of the highest possible quality. My filet mignon came as a three-inch high tower of melt in your mouth tenderloin goodness, perfectly cooked medium rare, while Kathy ordered a rib-eye twice the size of my cut of meet which she entirely devoured. Kathy was so happy with hers she essentially giggled all through the meal.

The side dishes are the same for everyone, so all you pick are the entree', drinks and appetizers, though given the size of the main dish portions there's really no need for the latter. The bread that came before the meal, too, was clearly made on-site and really quite special. With entree's at $35-50, this is a place for special occasions only on our budget, for sure - Kathy just wanted a "good steak" for her birthday so we got her one. It may not be P.C. to say so given the global economics of beef production, but that might have been the best meal I've had in 2008.


Robohobo said...

Austin Land and Cattle is by far the best steakhouse in Austin. 12th & Lamar behind the Tavern. You will not be sorry.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I've been there, robohobo, more than once, but I gotta tell you Three Forks outdid them, IMO.

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