Libertine – A person, especially a man, who behaves without moral principles or a sense of responsibility, especially in sexual matters.
Friday night was date night, with dinner and a show. We didn’t attend the theater, instead we went to the art museum, which is open late on Friday’s. The show we went to see was “Atua: Sacred Gods from Polynesia”. As an added treat this show is free on Fridays. This is a visiting show from New Zealand and photography was not allowed. Too bad, because it was a nice show. The back story on it goes like this, a former director of the Saint Louis Art Museum originally hailed from Australia, when he returned home the stage was set for this show. The artifacts on display were primarily wood figurines, mostly human. There were a few implements, primarily clubs. There were also some European engravings included, added for historical contexts to the indigenous artifacts. There was no doubt on the sex of any of the figures. The museum has its own Polynesian collection, but this show was a cut or two above anything that the museum owns. I was pleasantly surprised by the show and left quite pleased with it. A Forest Park raccoon did our valet parking.
Last Sunday, after our glorious afternoon at Shaw Nature Reserve, talk turned to dinning out. Anne wanted to try something new, but I was a stick-in-the-mud and we ended up at the Greek place. It was fine as always, but I felt bad for not trying something new. I consulted Nathan, a colleague and a foodie. He made several recommendations, all of which need to be followed up on, but the one that stuck out was the Libertine. Located in Clayton on Forsyth, reservations are recommended. Here is what we ordered, in the order that the dishes were served.
- Flash Fried Chickpeas – Pork Powder
- Persimmon Salad – Yuzu & Sorghum Compressed Persimmons, Ricotta Salata, Sweet Peppers and Sprouted Wheat Berries
- She-Crab Soup – Blue Crab Spring Roll, Sherry Pearls and Marash Chili
- General Tso’s Hen of the Woods – Pea Sprouts, Benne Seeds and Bourbon Barrel Soy Sauce
- Crispy Pig Tails – ‘Buffalo Style’, Whipped Gorgonzola and Brown Butter Polenta
- Maple Budino – Coffee Tuile, Maple Ginger Gastrique and World’s Fair Doughnut Ice Cream
Pork powder doesn’t have pork in it, it is a blend of hickory smoked seasonings and salt, oregano, red pepper, dill weed, black pepper, dried jalapeño and dehydrated onions. Yuzu is a citrus fruit originating in East Asia. Wheat Berry is the entire wheat kernel, so just a fancy name for the common grain. Sherry Pearls are sherry that has been gelatinized. They looked like caviar, but taste fruity, not salty. They were sprinkled over the spring roll, which was fashioned to look like a scallop. Marash is a Turkish pepper. Hen of the Woods is a wild mushroom. Budino is a sweet Italian dish, usually rich and creamy like a custard or pudding. Tuile is a thin cookie, typically made with almonds. A gastrique is a sweet-and-sour sauce. You caramelize sugar, combine it with equal parts vinegar, and reduce it slightly to make a tart, thick syrup.
The chickpeas were complementary and if we hadn’t ordered so much food, we might have finished them. The salad was excellent and would certainly serve as a meal by itself. The she-crab soup was my favorite small plate. Too bad we split it. Although, the restaurant did a nice job of doing the split. The hen of the woods tasted like Chinese chicken, go figure. Nathan had mentioned the pig tails, with the caveat, try them if you feel adventurous. He had billed them as better than bacon. What can you say about food that you try on a dare? They were actually more like sausage and pork rinds and also quite spicy, but good. Dessert was to die for. Think free-standing crème brûlée, like without the cup. The meal wasn’t cheap, but it wasn’t too expensive either. I think that Nathan is a well that I’m going to have to dip from again.