Extremism in defense of tastiness is no vice.

Monday, November 12, 2007

"Sorry. Those all go to L'Etoile."

That's the answer I got this weekend when I asked if it would be possible to get any bone-in ribeye from Fountain Praire Farms. "All of our best cuts go to L'Etoile."

Like Jessica Simpson faced by some particularly complex long division, my initial reaction was one of terror and panic. How could this be? Where else could I get such an incredibly perfect steak? Would I be forced to happily throw away my apartment and life savings due to more trips to L'Etoile than I could possibly afford? Most importantly: why did I not know this already?

As is so often the case, my horror quickly turned to outrage.

What the hell, Fountain Prairie Farms? A little praise from the New York Times, and three years later you're too good for your adoring fans, the teeming, unwashed masses of steak-purchasing humanity? Did you think that we wouldn't notice? That we wouldn't want the best cuts from the best producers (i.e. you)? That we would assume your cattle were mysteriously born without longissimus dorsi muscles? Sure, you can try to placate us with flank steak. And it's true that the outside skirt I bought (prepared in a slight variant of this recipe I stole from Bouchon) was good--superb, even--but it wasn't the same.

Et tu, Tory Miller? It's not enough that you cook better than me, have more awards, and run what is quite possibly the best kicthen in the state. Now you have to take all of the best steak, too? Steak is the last bastion of the lazy home cook. It's a safe haven for us, when we don't have time to make Cassoulet, when we don't have three varieties of Hen-of-the-Woods for a wild mushroom salad, when we don't have the skill to make poached lobster with saffron tapioca and Gewürztraminer foam. A quick sear over a high flame, maybe a little Béarnaise sauce or compund butter, and even Thomas Keller couldn't complain (well, at least unless you were trying to serve it in one of his restaurants). And now, Chef, you take our steak frites? For shame, sir.

But, like an aging Marlon Brando on a private Tahitian island, I am a reasonable man. There will be no retaliation. I do, however, require justice. From Fountain Prairie, I demand but a single steer. If the National Geographic Channel is to be believed, this is a mere pittance, and a generous offer as recompense for my slighted honor. (And make sure he likes chickens; the balcony's pretty small.)

L'Etoile, meanwhile--no doubt anticipating a backlash against their loathsome scrumptiousness hoarding--has already scheduled a Rhône wine dinner featuring Châteauneuf-du-Pape for my birthday on December 12. And that's a good first step. A lifetime supply of Katie's ambrosius pastries from Café Soleil should round out the deal nicely.

In the meantime? Oh, I'll still buy Fountain Prairie's beef. I'll still visit L'Etoile. And I'll still take advantage of their $35 early week tasting menu. But each bite will taste like ashes. Delicious, delicious ashes.


Amber said...

I don't want any part of the steer, but if justice does find its way to your door and grants you equitable relief in the form of a lifetime supply of Katie's ambrosius pastries from Café Soleil, could you spare an almond marzipan one for an old roommate once in a while? I was deeply outraged on your behalf.

Brian said...

Well, so long as you were outraged.

For now it looks like they're dragging their feet, but I'm sure I'll be getting their penitent phone call any day now...