Silence of the Lamb Chops: Veal Brains, Beef Heart Tartare, Chicken Liver Mousse, and Moth Cookies
All photos by Giovanny Gutierrez
Thrill seekers gathered last night at the Federal for a special collaborative dinner between Cesar Zapata and Todd Erickson (Haven and Huahua's) that included pig face, beef heart, chicken liver, veal brains, lamb chops, and moths.
Inspired by the psychological thriller starring Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster, Silence of the Lambs, all dishes are straight plays from scenes in the film and meals had by Hannibal Lecter. "He's our favorite cannibal," said Aniece Meinhold. "So we wanted to honor him." Erickson and Zapata did just that in five-courses. The wine pairing dinner, dubbed Silence of the Lamb Chops, brought out the heebie-jeebies in us, and it had nothing to do with the food that was served.
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If you were at the Federal's opening celebration then you might recall an incident when wine bottles fell of a shelf for no apparent reason. Turns out the Federal is somewhat haunted, or at least that's what Meinhold and Zapata have been told by mediums before. That, of course, made it the perfect location to host such a terrifying dinner. Don't worry, nothing weird happened. Although, we were kind of hoping for it.
Servers dressed the parts of mad scientist, Jason, and other frightening movie characters. This guy, the mad sommelier, outdid everyone.
Erickson and Zapata were wearing matching Halloween high socks. They sat down and watched the film together the day the idea came up. They also collaborated on all dishes together. "Cesar asked me super casually if I wanted to do a cannibal dinner and I was, like, 'Absolutely'," says Erickson.
First course included a smorgasbord of pig face, beef heart tartare, and skin suits. Although, the skin suits were really sweetbreads -- ia play on the Buffalo Bill character who would get women pleasantly plump and rub them with lotion, only so he could kill them and fashion a skin suit. Sweetbreads sound about right as far as what would get a girl good and plump, so we'll take that with some the house pickles, spicy mustard, and toast as it was served.
Perhaps the most favorite line in the film inspired the second course of the evening. "I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti." Hannibal Lecter was on to something here. Erickson and Zapata's play included chicken liver mousse with fava beans and Chianti gelle. It was, hands down, the best dish of the evening, which was, of course, paired with a Chianti as well because, as Meinhold best put it, "It would be uncivilized not to."
A young cannibal in the making takes fans back to the scene where Dr. Lecter cuts opens Krendler as his last meal, which happens to be remnants of his own brain (seared, of course). In this case, country fried veal brains with braised figs in a corn and ancho chile sauce were far less off-putting and easy to swallow.
Even cannibals can't keep away from lamb. Hannibal Lecter's choice for his final supper was also the fourth and final savory course to last night's meal. The chops were served close to rare and with pumpkin hash, blood sausage, and mole sauce.
And you know the moth had to be worked in somehow, so what better way than dessert? Zapata and Erickson cooked blanched and roasted live mealworms and then added them to rocky road cookies. The mess was served with chilled frothy milk. Tasted like
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