Since October 2011, Italian-restaurant Locanda del Lago on the Third Street Promenade has been hosting a monthly series called “Morso della Bestia,” which translates to “Bite of the Beast.”
It is a five course dinner that highlights the use of the whole animal for cooking, not just the best pieces or cuts where the rest of the animal is trashed.
General manager Megan Sheehy said the concept is a return to tradition over trends as well as a green movement to use all parts of the animal, not be wasteful, and, in some small way, lessen the animal product footprint by being thorough in its complete use.
“Traditionally, Italian cuisine, European for that matter, utilizes every part of the animal for different necessities of the meal,” Sheehy said. “The bones are always used for stock, the innards for a pasta ragu or filling, and the ears and cheeks for sauce flavoring, etc. We always feature a sustainable, all-natural protein. We have done lamb, venison, Virginia Striped Bass, buffalo, and suckling pig to name a few.”
At the most recent dinner series on Jan. 31, the restaurant featured the Grimaud Farms Goose.
Sheehy said goose was a very typical holiday feast in Italy, so its Executive Chef Gianfranco Minuz created a menu as a way of saying goodbye to the holidays and starting the year off to a great beginning.
The menu included a carpaccio of goose (raw meat), a ground goose pappardelle pasta, a goose consommé (soup), and a roasted goose breast, followed by an almond and bosc pear torte with mixed berry sauce for dessert.
Minuz said goose was a difficult animal to debone, but it has a wonderful flavor.
“From the fat, which is one of the most delicate of all animal fats, to the tremendously flavorful bone stock to the tender breast, it is a wonderful animal with lots of character and flavor,” he said.
“For the carpaccio, it is rubbed with a spice, refrigerated in cylindrical form, allowing it to be sliced ever so thin that it melts on the tongue. The caraway seed dressing adds a nuttiness to the meat and the fennel partakes a crunchy freshness so when all combined it is perfectly balanced on the palate.”
He said the consommé takes hours and hours to produce.
“The bones are slow cooked so every bit of flavor is given to the broth, then it is strained multiple times allowing the perfectly clear broth to be used, no particle left to disturb its eloquent transparency,” he said. “Adding some dry red wine and onion allows the full essence of flavor to shine through in the soup.”
The “Bite of the Beast” series is kept intimate: generally there are 15-20 guests at the dinner.
The restaurant offers a communal table for guests so they can interact with others diners taking part in the feast; guests are also free to have their own separate table for the evening if they choose.
Chef Minuz always comes out and does the final carving or preparation for the main course in the dining room for all attendees to see before he walks the room for a meet and greet.
Sheehy said the items on the “Bite of the Beast” series are only available for one night, which makes it a truly special and unique experience.
On Feb. 28, the restaurant will be feature Niman Ranch Venison from Montana. On March 28, the restaurant will feature an all-natural Colorado lamb for the whole animal dinner series.
Valentine’s Day 2013
With Valentine’s Day this Thursday, the restaurant will feature a romantic four and five course menu to choose from in addition to a limited a la carte menu.
This special menu will begin today, Feb. 8 and be available through Saturday, Feb. 16.
The extended offering of the menu was created for guests who don’t want to fight the Valentine’s Day crowds, or by chance have to work, or are in the hospitality business, so they too can enjoy the romance of the restaurant with the special menu.
Locanda del Lago is located at 231 Arizona (at Third Street Promenade) in Santa Monica.
For reservations or more information, call 310.451.3525 or visit www.lagosantamonica.com.