For the last couple months, since the disaster that was the Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill, my Coastie (that is Coast Guard lingo) sister Linden has been, with both her Honolulu and San Francisco – based ships, in the Gulf cleaning up oil.
and cleaning up this:
After the well was capped, Linden got a few days of leave so she headed up to see us here in Memphis! (well, I think she came to see her godson, but her sister and brother-in-law were a bonus!) I decided that, after months of ship food, she was in desperate need of a good meal! So we threw on some cute dresses, too-high heels, and headed downtown to The Peabody’s Chez Philippe!
I had heard that the chef recently changed the menu to reflect his Cuban heritage and just had to check it out!
This little crispy, yummy, warm and gooey teaser was the perfect way to “amuse our mouth” and get us excited for the upcoming meal!
** Linden rounded out her dinner with wine pairings; myself, not this time! But rest assured, they were perfectly paired with each dish **
“She Crab” Soup
The Red King crab meat was huge, sweet and beautiful in a creamy broth with a hint of cumin. Paired with glazed carrots and braised celery, it paired perfectly with Chez’s house-made rolls.
Smoke Tomato Gazpacho
As good as the she crab soup was, this smoked tomato gazpacho was the winner of the first course! Nothing is better on a 100˚ day than a cold soup and this one stood out with its slightly (Memphis-inspired?) smokey flavor. In the center was a delicious, creamy treat in the form of a zucchini panna cotta. Rounding out the flavor explosion was the texture provided by toasted almonds and fried leeks. I knew from the first bite of this that we were in for a treat!
Papas Rellenas (Stuffed Potatoes)
A classic Cuban dish with a Southern twist, all with a French presentation. The sweetness of the crawfish, paired with the sour orange relish, resting in an andouille-crawfish cream was the perfect dish for this wonderful potato dumpling.
A jalapeno popper? Seriously?
Oh, but this did not disappoint! A warm, gooey, and slightly spicy roasted jalapeno and goat cheese croquette was a fun play on classic bar food. The spiciness of the jalapeno was offset nicely by the tomato-citrus marmalade and pepper arugula salad.
The chef gets his goat cheese from Bonnie Blue Farms of Tennessee and it’s to-die for!
BBQ Rubbed Veal Sweatbreads
This is the point where I began to go into a food frenzy, where each course was better than the next and all thoughts of my camera left my head – and these were sweetbreads, can you really blame me??
Here’s the description from the website because all I can recall is “ahhhhh…..”
Veracruz Style Ratatouille, Escarole, Cucumber-Cayenne Tuille, Sherry Jus
I didn’t take a picture here either (sorry!) but this margarita sorbet had a real kick to it, i.e. tequila in sorbet? Fabulous! and was served in a beautiful and yummy sugar basket
Thus began the part of the meal where I was gorging Linden’s wine made us forget to take pictures until after a few bites (or more!) This beautiful Hawaiian Snapper was an homage to Linden’s last post on Oahu. Served over stewed chick peas, it was spiced up with some Spanish chorizo, Serrano ham, and a garlic aoili! The fish was perfectly cooked and perfectly yummy!
We are our father’s daughters, i.e. we love scallops! Perfectly, perfectly cooked, melt-in-your-mouth scallops served over a warm black bean and corn salad with a roasted red pepper coulis! What could make this dish even better? Jerk butter! Good thing the chef thought the same thing!
Shrimp and Grits
NOT TO BE MISSED! So the Chef made sure we didn’t! He brought this out as a bonus course for us to try. We tried it and o.m.g. it was wonderful. The Laughing Bird shrimp were like nothing I have ever tasted. Each little tasty specimen of oceanic wonder exploded in my mouth in a joyous explosion! Once I got past the delightful little morsels, I tasted the, ohmyheavens, braised greens tamale. Cuban tamales have a wonderful flavor as all elements are mixed together, not layered like its Mexican cousin. Here the corn has been mixed with southern braised greens and the classic Cuban flavor pairs perfectly with the shrimp and tomato coulis. Wow, thank you Chef Reny!
This ostrich filet was perfectly cooked rare and served over my favorite pairing, a tangy parsnip puree, and sweet corn-fava been succotash with a toasted cumin seed jus. Ummm, yum. Summer flavors paired with a lean and yummy slice of heaven on a plate.
Niman Ranch Lamb Loin
In this lamb dish we really saw the Cuban-southern twist at its finest! The lamb was served over a queso fresco grits cake with black eyed peas, stewed okra, and tomato jus. This Yankee girl has never had okra outside of a stew and the surprise of its beautiful texture was a fun play in the dish. While I am not a huge fan of black-eyed peas (again, not a Southerner) the grit cake with queso fresco was a delightfully creamy and flavorful pairing with the lamb and tomato jus!
6th Course (Cheese!)
The presentation is perfect! After 6 (or 7) courses, having the cheese served “family style” allowed us to sit, enjoy, and sip our 6th glass of wine!
Evora, Quadrello di Buffula, Edwards Munster, Espoisses
Red wine walnut bread and house-made plum preserves
7th Course (Dessert)
Chocolate Ice Box Cake
A perfect ending to a perfect meal. Neither Linden or I had heard of “ice box cake” but were told it is usually a custard or mousse set in the freezer. Here it was a creamy, rich chocolate terrine with pecan pralines, candied orange cream, Jack Daniels Caramel (a southern twist I can get on board with!) and fresh raspberries (a nice throwback to our home up north!)