Italian Cooking & Language Blog

Fare La Scarpetta means to wipe your plate clean with a piece of bread.

What else could you ask for?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Zingerman's Mardi Gras Dinner

Zingerman’s offered a dinner on Fat Tuesday called “Creole & Acadian Carnival: A Mardi Gras Dinner.” My husband and I went with expectations that were only met half-way.

Am I allowed to live in Ann Arbor and critique the Zingerman’s Empire? Since we are moving this summer, I suppose I’m safe. Here it goes…

The email advertisement described a conversation about the differences between the two New Orleans’ cuisines and wine pairing suggestions. Instead, there was a brief talk that described a few differences, but didn’t identify all of the foods on the extensive menu. The wine discussion included a talk about the vineyard, but not how to pair which wines with which dishes. There was no discussion of the holiday that we were there to celebrate.

My favorite dish was the gumbo. The base of the soup had a complex flavor with a hint of spice. It was hot and dense with rice and fish. The red beans and rice serving was a close second with the rich pork taste infused into the red beans.

The side room where the dinner was held was packed, but under-staffed. It was like a mediocre wedding: we weren’t all served at the same time and some of the food was cold. For Zingerman’s prices and reputation, it was disappointing.

Fried foods should always be served hot. The coush-coush, a corn meal fritter which is meant to prepare the taste-buds for the upcoming dishes, was cold and hard. I was surprised that the dessert calas (a rice donut) also wasn’t hot. The beignet, however, was, and the taste carried through the heat. The crepe itself was dry and denser than a fresh crepe should taste.

My husband and I both drank the Sazerac cocktail, which is a New Orleans drink made from Jim Beam straight rye, Absente, and Peychaud’s bitters with simple syrup and lemon oil. It was delicious!

Here is the complete menu with a few explanations:

The Start
Boudin Blanc (white sausage with rice)
River Shrimp Canapes
Snails Bourguignon

Coush-Coush (corn meal fritter; the name means “cushion”)
French Bread

Crab, Oyster, Shrimp & Andouille Gumbo (topped with fried okra)

The Dinner
Crayfish Boil
Chicken Rochambeau
Shrimp and Bacon Stuffed Artichoke
Sole in Brown Butter
Ham Stuffed Mirliton (squash)
Red Beans and Rice

The Finish
Orange Crepes
Beignets (made from wheat flour) & Calas (made from rice)

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