Sweet and savory

This post is about two things: sliders and mixing savory with sweet.  I apologize for the lack of pictures upfront: I must have left my wherewithal at the door.

Sliders are great.  For those of you who don’t know what sliders are, they are mini hamburgers, essentially 1/3 to 1/4 the size of a regular burger.  They are generally presented as appetizers in bars and other such places, but I for one hope to see that change.  I just got back from a quick trip to Las Vegas and I went to a great restaurant there named Fix, located in the Bellagio.  It was a high-end steak house that offered all sorts of kobe, wagyu, filet, and sirloin, coupled with fantastic decor and a lively atmosphere.

But there, in the place I was least expecting to see them, I saw on the menu Kobe Beef Sliders for $25.  The dish came with three sliders, each garnished with grilled onions, one pickle, and an appropriately mini mason jar with ketchup (I took notes on that one, trust me).  The burgers were great, but beyond that I appreciated the gentrification of the slider.  After seeing ‘gourmet’ burger prices in New York skyrocketing upwards of $40 or $50 for a truly up-market diner experience, I guess sliders were next on the list.  My point is, though, that I like the trend it: sliders are fun, and kobe beef is good, so why not see them alongside ahi tartare and kobe carpaccio?

My second encounter with gourmet sliders conveniently leads to my second point about sweet and savory.  I recently ate at a restaurant in Orange County called Wineworks that served a very interesting variation of sliders.  Four thin pieces of USDA prime sirloin came sandwiched between slices of fresh French baguette and dressed with a sweet mango chutney and a single fresh mint leaf.

Now, I know the idea of mixing sweet and savory, especially on the appetizer course, isn’t an attractive idea to some, but I’m officially promoting the idea right here and now.  The taste of the mango blended so well with the marbling and juiciness of the beef, and the smooth texture and fruity aroma of the chutney complimented the baguette and mint so perfectly, that I couldn’t imagine a more pleasing combination.  It certainly didn’t leave me confused about what I just ate, and if anything it made me happy to know that I hadn’t before tasted anything similar.

Another example of the sweet and savory blend occured when I was in Bordeaux.  During my lunch at Chateau Cordeillan Bages, they brought us a course in between our main entree and our dessert courses of basil sorbet.  Basil and ice cream?  Weird, I know, but it was just subtley sweet and yet not overly herby: it was the perfect transition between courses and it didn’t seem the least bit out of place.  I hope more chefs start getting creative with these unfortunate constructed borders between the sweet and the savory, but I think that will start happening more when we all get a bit more comfortable ourselves with the idea.

Mark posted this on June 30, 2008 and is filed under Musings.

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