Bite of the Beast at Locanda del Lago
I was invited back to the monthly supper club Bite of the Beast at Locanda del Lago in Santa Monica. The last Thursday of every month, Lago hosts a communal meal, featuring animal roasts and traditional, rustic Italian dishes. The “Bite of the Beast” includes a 5-course dinner featuring the choice animal, and optional wine pairing. October’s beast? Goose.
I loathe geese. Like, seriously cannot stand them. I am not going to even explain by irrational hatred of geese with hyperbolic words; instead, here is a photo I recently snapped in Midleton, Co. Cork Ireland:
Why is there a monument to the asshattery of geese, the bane of every child’s existence, erected in the middle of a quaint Irish town? I have no idea; I can only assume to serve as a reminder to the local children that constant vigilance is the only way to prevent random acts of geese violence. That, or to serve as a warning for any would-be mischief makers that anyone suspected of being a hooligan will be thrown to the town geese and paraded around town for all to mock. I see you, Ireland.
What I am driving at people is that because I dispise and fear geese so much, I was eagerly anticipating a five-course menu where goose is the main protein. The geese used in this month’s Morso della Bestia is not your run-of-the-mill park dwelling fowl terrorist, but a fancy bird from Whetstone Valley Farm in Vermont. This time around, I decided to go with the premium wine pairings that accompanied each course.
The sweet acidic tomato vinegar added a grateful zing to this very meaty salad. Once all mixed up, it was the perfect start to our goose feast. As for the wine, it should be mentioned (again) that I am not generally a fan of rosé. I’m more apt to try a rosé if it’s from France, though, because they’re flavor profile rarely includes “battery acid,” but I can safely add rosé from the Toscana region as more than acceptable.
I sucked in a tight breath of pre-judgment when I read “purple potato” because purple potatoes (along with purple carrots, squid ink and blood oranges) are on the relatively short list of foods which may taste fantastic, but I cannot get over the visual. Thankfully there were no traces of purple within this soup, and my brain was left in peace to mellow out with a delicious bowl of soup and a glass of sweet but dry wine with a citrus finish. I took a wicked delight in the rich, decadent foie gras, elevating this otherwise humble soup.
Unsurprisingly my favorite – not simply for the goose offal (hearts, kidneys, livers), which makes me feel like I am absorbing the powers of the almighty goose – but for the miracle of transforming farro into a risotto-like base. I honestly could have eaten two portions of this. Oh, wait, except I totally did because my mom was getting full and wanted to make sure she had enough room for the next two courses. Thanks, mommy! In my notes for the wine, I wrote “smooth with oak” so I am guessing there were notes of aforementioned tree? I remember liking it OK, but being way more impressed with the house red. Protip: Table/House red in an authentic Italian restaurant run by actual Italians is going to be fantastic.
Would you like some meat with your meat? Oh, yeah. Supple and generous, this plate of poultry melted in my mouth. Admittedly, I adore turnips. Raw, boiled, mashed, roasted, and braised as eaten here, I have not met a turnip I did not take the utmost pleasure in scarfing down. I was wary of an espresso-honey reduction, but its smooth, rustic flavor tickled my taste buds. The wine was very sophisticated, a nice juxtapose to the deceptively simple dish.
This strudel was delightfully sweet without drowning us in sugar overkill. Pinenuts were dotted throughout each slice, giving an agreeable contrasting texture to chew on. Lambrusco is one of my favorite wines, and I was in 7th Heaven.
January 2016 will be Venison, book your seat now and check the website after the first of the year for the menu!
Locanda del Lago
231 Arizona Avenue
Santa Monica, CA — 90401