Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pigeon at Blue Ribbon Brasserie (97 Sullivan Street)

Ever since I spotted one of these alien-like pigeon coop structures in Egypt, I've been meaning to try pigeon. Pigeon is a national delicacy in Egypt, and is consumed in other countries, including France. Because most people associate pigeon with dirt and disease, pigeon meat was re-branded as "squab" and can be found in quite a few places in New York.

It is on the regular menu at The Egyptian Kitchen (35 1st Avenue), a sketchy little hot-food bar in the East Village, but they don't have it every day. If you want good hamam mahshi (pigeon stuffed with rice/wheat), you'd need to go to Queens or get a special order for a group of 50+ at Casa La Femme (140 Charles Street). Congee Village (100 Allen Street), the mother of all weird food, has a pigeon dish as well.

We wanted a high-class pigeon experience, so we went to The Blue Ribbon Brasserie where we ordered:
Beef Marrow & Oxtail Marmalade 10/10
Steak Tartare 9/10
Sweetbreads 8/10
Pigeon 9/10
Rack of Lamb 9/10
Red Trout 8/10
Flounder 8/10
Duck 9/10

All of these dishes were stellar. The pigeon dish came with 2 legs and a couple of small slices of breast. It tasted much like duck, although actual duck was juicier.

Pigeon was the reason we went to Blue Ribbon in the first place (and it was worth it), but the highlight of the evening was the bone marrow & oxtail marmalade. Benjamin, our server at Blue Ribbon, was kind enough to explain the long cooking process for bone marrow:

Bones cut by the butcher -> Bones cleaned -> Bones put in brine for 1.5 days to drain the blood -> Bones baked -> Bones arranged on plate -> Oxtail marmalade added (there's a long process of preparing that as well) -> Parsley, bread added.
The eating process was equally fun: the bones come with wooden sticks that are used to scoop the marrow and push it out of the bone. The texture was delightfully gelatinous and paired well with crunchy slices of toasted bread.

We loved our food at Blue Ribbon so much, that we forgot to ask the burning question on all of our minds: "where does the restaurant procure its pigeon?". Now we'll never know! One thing we do know though is that if the economy gets any worse, we'll be able to survive by hunting in the city... at least until there are no more pigeons left.

Lesson Learned at Blue Ribbon: pigeon is perfectly edible and now we know we can survive in this city if all hell breaks loose!

Afterwards we checked out honey wine (the generic modern word for mead) a few blocks away at Camaje (85 macdougal st). The wine smelled and tasted like honey but had the usual consistency of white wine. I was hoping it would be a bit more dense. Nothing of the sort. Just a regular wine that smells and tastes like honey!

The best part of Camaje was the awesome living-room like furniture arrangement they've got in the front. It felt like we were hanging out on a couch at someone's house with a coffee table full of magazines, books and even a chess board -- great hang out spot.

1 comment:

  1. I had the best squab experience at Django near Grand Central a couple of years back. I didn't go expecting to order it, and I didn't really have much interest in trying it, but once I saw that it was stuffed with fall fruits like some kinda Thanksgiving turkey, I was sold. I still consider it one of the best meats I've eaten in NYC.