Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Happy friends

A friend hired me to do a dinner for his 3rd year anniversary. He's giving me full reign over the menu, and a generous budget. This friend and I have a good amount of history, so I want to pull out the best stuff for him. 11 or 12 course small plates tasting with 2 or 3 sweet courses, and a cheese course. At the risk of prematurely revealing to he and his wife a menu item, I thought it'd be nice to reveal a play by play of how I thought of one of the courses.

Cinnamon and vanilla butter poached lobster tail half, Jamon Iberico, Idiazabal.

For lunch in the office, I brought it some jamon serrano, and Idiazabal cheese, which is similar in nuttiness to an aged manchego, though its more smokey. Jamon serrano, has a very unique nutty, and spicy characteristic. You can't get these flavors out of these products when you eat them straight out of the fridge; you've gotta let it come to room temp so all of those hidden flavors and aromas can feel safe to come out.
I rolled a few thin slices of idazabal in a single slice of jamon, took a bite and savored. I got notes of cinnamon, almonds, walnuts, and some very light smoke. Jamon Iberico is a ham that is cured for about 2- 3 weeks in the mountainous regions of Spain, and then hung to age and dry for two years as its pounded by the pure winds that bring the ocean's briny characteristic to it. As the meat ages, the flavor gets nuttier and the texture of the fat becomes more supple.
Its been referred to the caviar of cured meats, and the cheapest I've seen it for was $99/lb. I had the pleasure of sampling Iberico at Murray's real salami at Grand Central Market this week, and was floored. It was an embarrassingly emotional experience for me (I think I may have was that good!) I paid closer attention to it, and tasted a faint note of cinnamon.

I will roll six or seven thinly sliced pieces of idiazabal in one slice of Jamon Iberico. I will gently poach the harvested lobster tail meat in cinnamon and vanilla butter, and put them both on the plate for my friends to enjoy.