I'll admit it. I was once "Yelp Curious." I was younger, and I experimented with it, and I found out it just wasn't for me. For me it was just a phase. But to each his own, live and let live, and so on. I believe in tolerance. So I have no hesitation in noting that Yelp has come up with something that caught my attention: "Yelp Eats! Week."
From July 20 - 26, a dozen local restaurants will be doing special prix fixe dinners at $25. A few things impressed me: (1) $25! (2) it seems some efforts were made to discourage restaurants from just offering the "same old" (i.e. the Miami Spice trifecta of chicken paillard, skirt steak, and farmed salmon), with some of these menus actually showing some variety; and (3) andouillettes?!?
Among three entrée choices at Au Pied de Cochon is the rather innocent sounding "grilled andouillettes." Which, for Mrs. F and me, brings to mind a dining experience from our younger days. Not long after we were married, we took a trip to Paris for a week. One of our first meals when we were there was at Le Procope. Le Procope was founded in 1686 and is said to be the oldest operating restaurant in the world. It was the haunt of folks like Voltaire, Rousseau, Balzac and Hugo. There is a hat on display which was supposedly left there by Napoleon.
Neither Mrs. F nor I speak French, and so we were phumpering our way through the menu (since then, I've developed a savant-like ability to read menus in several languages even though I am otherwise completely incapable of communicating in any language other than English). I ordered a duck dish, while Mrs. F saw something called "andouillettes," and figuring it be something comparable to an andouille sausage, which we were familiar with, she ordered it. Our dishes came out, my duck looked quite nice, Mrs. F's looked like a large, greyish beige sausage. I started to dig in, and she took a bite of hers. She's looked at me, and I couldn't quite make sense of her expression. It was initially puzzlement, but then shifted to mild distress. After a lengthy pause, she said: "I just bit into something. It wasn't meat. It wasn't fat. I don't know what it was. It felt like a rubber band." Another pause. "And this smells funny." We switched plates, and I had the dubious privilege of eating the rest of the andouillette.
It turns out that andouillette is a particularly visceral tripe sausage, usually coarse ground, and often with pork intestines in the mix as well (hence that rubber-band texture). It has been described as "a pale, lumpy sausage made from pigs’ intestines that smells like a pissoir," and "like chewing on rubbery . . . poop." Apparently Seattle chef Tom Douglas' assistant recently made the same andouille/andouillette mistake that Mrs. F made, and likewise concluded that "it wasn't my cup of tea." Needless to say, the French have an association dedicated to their appreciation, the Association amicale des amateurs d'andouillette authentique (or AAAAA).
I have enjoyed more than my share of tripe in the intervening years, and have even started to come around to pig intestines, though I'm convinced there must be a better way of preparing them than the simply grilled chinchulines that are often served at Argentine parrillas. So of course I now feel obligated to pay a visit to Au Pied de Cochon to see if they're serving real-deal andouillettes, and if so, whether I'll like them better than the first time. Somehow I think Mrs. F will be sticking with the duck.
Not the Yelp/Tripe connection you thought I'd make? Anyway, here's the full rundown of menus on offer:
660 at the Anglers
1. Andalusian Gazpacho or Risotto & Mushroom Croquetas
2. Pappardelle Carbonara or Half Chicken "Al Mattone" or Moules-Frites
3. Liquid Center Chocolate Cake or Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta
1. Peruvian Style Ceviche or Peruvian Style Tiradito or Bahamian Conch Salad
2. Grouper Ravioli or Yellowjack with mustard sauce or Breaded Filet of Mackerel
3. Passion Fruit Mousse with Crème Anglaise or Tiramisu
Au Pied de Cochon
1. Warm Crispy Camembert Cheese, Beetroot & Apple Salad or Escargots Vol au Vent Provencale
2. Grilled Salmon Filet or Grilled Andouillette or Duck Confit Parmentier
3. Red Fruit Clafoutis, Raspberry Sorbet or Apple Tatin Tart, Sour cream, Caramel Sauce
1. Organic Greens Salad or Pork and Shrimp Shu Mai
2. Salmon Teriyak or Wok Seared Kobe beef or Chicken Pad Thai or Tofu Vegetable Pad Thai
3. Mango Rice Pudding or Coconut Flan
1. Sausage, cannellini beans, tomatoes, and greens casserole or Mixed Plate
2. Spaghetti with littleneck clams or Pappardelle with mini veal meatballs or Risotto of the day prepared with vegetables seafood or meats
3. Homemade amaretti gelato or Ricotta almonds chocolate figs semifredo
1. Eggplant timbale or Baby arugula salad or Beet carpaccio with celery salad
2. Pasta or risotto of the day or Large shellshaped pasta or Pennette or Crepes filled with ham, fontina cheese and cabbage or Giancarla's fish stew
3. Selection of homemade desserts
1. Grilled Homemade Argentine Style Sausage or Bay Scallops Involtini
2. Hand Cut Angus Sirloin Steak or Egg Pappardelle or Grilled Free-Range Chicken Breast
3. Graziano's caramel filled (Dulce De Leche) crepes Flambé with orange liquor or Argentine style cake
1. Choice of three Ceviche Spoons
2. Mexican Tortilla Lasagna or Rice Platter "Chino del Chifa" or Chopped Celia's Salad with Chicken
3. Palomas de Cajeta or Flan de Queso
1. Pears and Manchego Salad or Goat Cheese and Yuca Croquettes or Tapa of Ceviche
2. Chicken Saltado or Salmon with Scallops or Fettuccini
3. Peruvian Style Dulce de Leche Topped with Port Meringue or Sorbets
1. Hot and Sour Popcorn Shrimp or Sesame Chicken Salad
2. Skirt Steak or Grilled Fish Szechuan Style or Spaghettini
3. Drunken Grape Parfait or Vanilla Creme Brulee
1. Tuna Tartar or Tuna Yuke or Thai Combination Platter
2. Chicken Teriyaki or Santini Roll or Mitch Roll
3. Fried Ice Cream or Thai Donuts or Green Tea Ice Cream
Red, The Steakhouse
1. "Red" House Salad or Classic Caesar
2. Bucatini, Meatball, Red Lead or CAB Prime Sirloin Steak or Fish du jour
3. Housemade Sorbet or Molten Chocolate Cake