AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: My Ten Favorite Dishes: #6 - Lengua DATE: 11/07/2008 09:00:00 AM ----- BODY:

Ken Oringer is probably my favorite chef in Boston (and was also on People Magazine's 50 most eligible bachelors) – he has four and ½ restaurants, and truthfully, I could make a list of my ten favorite dishes in Boston, solely from his menus. Clio, his flagship restaurant, serves modern-French fare. Uni, the sashimi bar on the lower level of Clio (the ½ restaurant) offers modern interpretations of sashimi – my favorite: seared foie gras with grilled uni with a sweet soya glaze and granny smith apples. K.O. is a steakhouse in the Nine Zero Hotel, and La Verdad is a taqueria near Fenway Park. Compiling a list of only Ken Oringer dishes would be intoxicatingly delicious, but not very interesting, so I limited myself to just one: from Toro.

Toro is a tapas-restaurant in the South End of Boston. It’s located on the edge of this trendy, restaurant-centric neighborhood, in a low-traffic section bordering the edgier parts. But the food bring the crowds. The bar and dining room blend together in single area that concentrates the lively energy. The wood bar stools and tables create warmth that accents the fire in the back of the room. The kitchen juts out just barely into the dining room. The ambiance mimics perfectly that of the Tapas bars in Catalania, Spain which I visited last year.

The dishes are uniquely Ken Oringer with a decided Spanish influence. Tortilla Espanola makes a pro-forma appearance, but the real stars of the menu are the grilled corn with spicy aioli and farmers' cheese rub, roasted brussel sprouts and conejo. David at limeduck gives descriptions here.

Since I’m limiting myself to one dish, I will tell you about the lengua… the Spanish word for tongue. The tender meat is smoky, salty and perfectly marbled for richness. The bed of lentils (lentejas) gives it an earthy, textural contrast; and they tone down the intensity of the meat without distracting from its flavor. (Though admittedly, I prefer strong flavors). The salsa verde drizzled on top gives a sweetly, acidic contrast to the meat which rounds out the full spectrum of flavors.

As a side note, growing up, my parents used to take me to a local deli for Sunday lunch. My favorite cold cut was the tongue, and I regularly ordered a tongue sandwich on rye with mustard. It wasn’t until cooking school, 12 years later, that I realized that tongue was, in fact, tongue. I’m not sure what I thought it was, but I never made the blatantly obvious connections.

Have you ever seen a fresh tongue before?

Labels: ,

----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous claire DATE:11/07/2008 10:33:00 AM thanks for that second picture! if you want tongue you can eat with your hands, try rosticeria cancun's taco version. amazing. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Psychgrad DATE:11/07/2008 02:18:00 PM I have a very similar experience with tongue. It tasted close enough to corned beef, so I would eat it regularly at my Baba's. Mind you, it had a bit of a different, maybe mealy, texture. I don't know what I was thinking. Maybe I figured it was just a homonym. One day (around the same age as your discovery), I asked what it was. So - that was the end of that.

I don't think I would completely swear off of tongue,but my Baba didn't continue buying it through the years. Personally, I don't find the picture of uncooked tongue to be very appealing. Sometimes it's better that I just not ask what the food is because my mind is fussier than my palate.

But - I'll have to add trying a Oringer restaurant to my "bucket list". ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) DATE:11/07/2008 05:14:00 PM Haven't had tongue since my grandmother used to make it when I was a kid. I'm not sure I could bring myself to eat it now, but I do have a wonderful taste memory. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Sylvie, Rappahannock Cook & Kitchen Gardener DATE:11/07/2008 08:59:00 PM No only seen one - many times - but buy tongue and prepare it regularly. It's inexpensive meat that works great in sandwiches as you note. The small ones cook a lot faster than the large ones, and - of course - don't produce as much meat since I am the only one in the house who really eat it. The only ones who eats liver too (well, the cat does eat liver too... so when it's just she and I, the girls have liver for dinner - or lunch)

Sylvie ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Julia DATE:11/08/2008 09:19:00 AM Claire, Thanks for the tip! Taqueria Mexicana in Union Square also has tasty tongue tacos.

Psychgrad and Lydia, I always find it curious the psychological barriers people have about certain parts of an animal and not others. I personally draw the line at kidney... tastes too much like the fluid it processes.

Sylvie, Thank goodness most people are still squeamish about it. They ensure the prices stay low for people like us :) ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Psychgrad DATE:11/08/2008 10:19:00 AM Re: kidney tasting like the fluid it processes...ew.

We've got an award for you! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Julia DATE:11/08/2008 08:14:00 PM Psychgrad -- I have a permanently scared you away from kidney :-) ?? And thanks so much for the award! I'm honored and flattered! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous We Are Never Full DATE:11/08/2008 11:02:00 PM ohhh yeah! we love tongue! you should try some veal tongue that we made a few months ago (if you're interested). Here's the post:

mmmm, tongue. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger samaBlog DATE:11/10/2008 01:41:00 PM I LOVE tongue. There's a taqueria in Waltham where you can get tongue burritos. Great stuff. Jewish fried of mine in college introduced me to tongue. Try smoking (BBQ) a tongue some time, it's great! ----- --------