Gateway to offal? (Philly)
I'm interested in offal - I've never really tried any but I'm becoming a more adventurous eater and feel that this is a can't miss stop on the good eater express. Do any of you recommend starting with anything particular? Or working my way up to anything in particular? Is tripe the best thing to try first? I really don't know.
On top of that, I wonder where would be a good place in Philadelphia to experiment? Bibou is the word on everyone's lips, of course, but do you have any additional recommendations? Thanks!
I've had a nice pig's head terrine at Meme. They also usually have foie gras on the menu.
I recently had the offal tasting menu at Per Se in NYC, but I have yet in my life to eat tripe. No particular aversion, I've just never tried it.
Liver is technically offal, but it's so common in pates and such that I don't really think of it as adventurous, but if you've never had it (or foie gras), I'd start there. Sweetbreads are pretty easy to like, too. I'm not a fan of tripe, I think a lot of people don't like the texture. Hearts usually taste like the meat of the animal they came from, but in my experience are much tougher. Kidneys are less easy than sweetbreads, but still basically taste like meat with a silkier texture. I had duck testicles once, they were a lot like the kidneys. Never had brains.
I've had excellent sweetbreads at Fond, Bibou and Zahav (the 'sweetbread schnitzel'). The moelas (chicken gizzards) at Koo Zee Doo are awesome. The foie gras pastrami at Vetri is great, too. Good chicken liver pates can be found at many places, Parc's is good (very buttery though, I think it's like half butter, half liver). Zahav also serves a plate called the 'Jerusalem Grill', when I got it it had various duck and rabbit parts (the kidneys, hearts, and testicles I mentioned) on it but their current menu just lists duck hearts.
i second the chicken gizzards at koo zee doo. outstanding stuff and meaty enough so that you don't really think about what you are eating. the liver and rigatoni at osteria are also amazing, and definitely good for a beginner since the livers is, erm, crumbled? the sweetbreads at dante and luigi's are fried and meaty too, so that is probably a good addition. foie gras is definitely a good intro as well, if you've never tried it out. for reference - i like all offal except for lungs and tripe. it's a texture thing.
a good tongue sammie at a jewish deli might also be a good bet. does 4th street do a good one, anyone anyone?
I guess technically foie is offal, but I feel like it's so decadent that it doesn't count like something like calves liver would. But that's a separate argument.
I think a good gateway into offal is a good pho joint, like pho 75 in south philly or chinatown. You can get stuff like tendon and tripe in addition to the noodles broth and meat. If you don't like it, no big deal, you still have a huge bowl of delicious broth, meat and noodles. In the cases of those specific cuts (tripe and tendon) the big thing is texture, they really don't taste like much (that I could tell any way).
As for bibou, i've looked at the menu before and would probably be a nice, positive introduction as well. The foie stuffed pig trotter looks awesome.
The seared Hudson Valley duck hearts in sherry at Bar Ferdinand were outstanding I thought. I ordered two servings. It was a special though. I also recall enjoying Pho with offal at several Vietnamese restaurants in the city.