As an interesting anecdote illustrating unintended consequences of stupid government meddling, a few years ago bowing to pressure from Animal Rights Groups, congress killed the US horse slaughter industry. (They did it in a back-handed fashion to boot. They didn't have the balls to stand up and ban it outright, so they pulled funding for federal inspectors for the facilities, which of course killed them because by law they must be inspected to allow human consumption of the product. What slimeballs.) Anyway, the small industry died, but now with no way to get rid of unwanted horses, they are simply abandoned or sold for practically nothing to be crammed onto trains and shipped to Mexico to be slaughtered, a trip that by all accounts is much worse than had they been dispatched at a nearby, presumably nicer, US slaughterhouse. There was a recent conference in Vegas with the goal of figuring out how to revive the industry. To add insult to injury, us taxpayers have been paying to house excess wild horses in unideal conditions for the animals:
While U.S. slaughterhouses in the past processed primarily domesticated horses, the conference in Las Vegas will also discuss the thousands of mustangs the federal government removes from Western rangeland each year to keep herds in check.The folly of our government will be a recurring theme in this post.
The government has had difficulty finding adoptive homes for the wild horses. Last year, taxpayers spent $37 million to hold nearly 40,000 animals in corrals and pastures indefinitely
Ok, on to the food. Here's what we supped upon:
Chevaline Dinner at
BROOKLYN KITCHENLemon Tonkatinis
Tonka Bean infused Vodka
Pecorino and Tonka Aioli
Tartare de Cheval
Coeur de Cheval
Butter Lettuce, Black Truffle, Egg, Heart, Roast Shallot - Aged Sherry Vinaigrette
Red Wine & Molasses Braised Flank Chevaline
Winter Vegetables, Horseradish & Fried Parsnip
Pan Seared Chevaline Rump
Braised Escarole, Sweet Onion & Tonka Hollandaise
Frozen Tonka Bean Creme Brulee
Chocolate Black Pepper Wafer, and Poached Pears
My first introduction to the Tonka bean was in a cocktail, as Lemon Tonkatinis made with Tonka Bean infused Vodka were available as we entered. Tonkas are a bean from South America (wikipedia) which have a unique and intoxicating scent, the strongest note is reminiscent of vanilla, but there are many other layers of aroma going on, almond, cherry, cinnamon...it's hard to put your finger on it. As the night would show me, I am a fan; they are quite intriguing.
Trouble is that Tonkas are illegal in the US because they containing trace amounts of coumarin, a substance banned by the FDA in 1954 for dubious reasons. Naturally, they only got around to enforcing it relatively recently, raiding Alina and their supplier in 2006. The ingredient is popular in France and can even be found in Achatz's Alinea cookbook. On another note of government silliness, coumarin is also present in comparable amounts in Nutmeg, as well as cinnamon and many other common foods. It is the reason that Żubrówka, or Buffalo Grass Vodka, is banned from import in to the US. (The recent appearance in the US of Buffalo Grass Vodka is reformulated and coumarin free, aka fake.) You can apparently buy Tonkas here for use next time you need to cast a spell for love or money, but not to eat.
Our first course used both ingredients; the Chevaline Carpaccio was a good way to start as it really let the meat stand out and let you notice the difference between horse and beef. It was as I remembered, lean and surprisingly mild flesh, nicely aromatized by the Tonka Aioli.