But I mean that in the most positive way possible.  In fact, Campagnola Roma’s recent Quinto Quarto: No Guts, No Glory dinner was perhaps the best offal dinner I’ve had.

There were actually TWO offal dinners happening in Vancouver that night and, while I was greatly tempted by the 7:00 p.m. seating at the other place, I elected to attend the Roma feast, despite the 8 o’ clock kickoff, because the menu appealed more.  Crispy pig ears?  Lamb neck?  I’m in!

Also “in” for the feastly festivities on this night was our friend, let’s call her Agent 17, but you know her here on this blog as kathode, two other Katherines, and Akemi who enthusiastically committed to the dinner after misreading a menu item as Peking Duck instead of Pekin Duck.

The night in pictures…

K2 armed with her superior camera
K2 armed with her superior camera
Agent 17 with her better-than-my-iPhone camera
Agent 17 with her better-than-my-iPhone camera

Let the eating begin…

1Course #1: Crispy pig ears and geoduck with lemon aioli and green tomato chutney.

The thought of eating a pig’s ear and geoduck (elephant trunk clam) may be off-putting to some but those willing to venture into uncharted culinary territory were well-rewarded here.  It was Akemi’s first time having geoduck and she ended up zeroing in and helping herself to the pieces on my plate.  The accompanying tomato chutney was good, but the lemon aioli was unbelievable.  In fact, after our plates were cleared, we refused to let them take the aioli, keeping it for the subsequent courses.  My only quibble was the uneven preparation of the ear.  Some was crispy, some less so, but it was all very tasty nevertheless.  Despite Akemi’s warnings, I admittedly overdid it on the ears.

1Course #2: Pekin (not Peking!) Duck three ways – spicy duck feet, duck heart tartare alla putanesca, and duck gizzard fritters.

The tartare was a hit, gorgeous flavors perfectly complimented by the smoky beer accompaniment.  Everyone liked the gizzard fritters – but, let’s be real.  It’s deep fried something.  Of course they’ll like it!  Not much love for the duck feet that most found too lacking in meat.  Mainly skin and bones and not worth the effort for many of my table mates, but I liked the flavors and bold spiciness.

1Course #3: Roasted lamb kidneys with pine nuts, fennel, and tarragon.

Next to the promised plums in the pork crackling dessert, this was the only menu item that gave me pause.  As much as I love my nose to tail dining, I’ve never been a big fan of kidneys that, I’ve found, have always possessed a certain…funkiness. But, surprisingly, this version was actually quite nice.

1Course #4: Pacifica octopus with fregola, black pudding sausage, and peas.

This plate was the big winner among my table mates.  The octopus was perfectly tender, the sausage savory with a hint of sweet.  Plenty of raves for the couscous lookalike fregola, a Sardinian oven-toasted pasta.

1I’m not a huge beer guy, but I thoroughly enjoyed the ones we were served, compliments of the R&B Brewing Co.


Course #5: Braised lamb neck.

I had a feeling this would be my favorite plate of the night and – guess what?  It was!  Akin to an ultra-tender, slow-braised short rib.


Roasted bone marrow, drippings, with grilled black kale and celeriac.

Accompanying the lamb neck were these delectable-looking marrow bones.  After the ladies helped themselves, I ended up with the biggest piece – which, unfortunately, wasn’t cooked through, so this one was a miss for me.

1Course #6: White chocolate caramelized crackling with plums, black cherry pana cotta with honeycomb and crystallized mint leaves, strawberry custard and meringue.

1And foie gras and mission fig soft serve ice cream.

Probably the best dessert I’ve had at one of these events.  Yes, better than the brain pana cotta that one time and the blood-chocolate ice cream the other.  I could take or leave the cracklings but, overall, very nicely done.  And the soft serve!  Who would have thought a foie gras ice cream would actually be good?!  Well, me.  But it was great to have my suspicions deliciously confirmed.

1And, when all was said done (and eaten), we were ready for bad.

A fabulous meal!  Apparently, another blog semi-regular was also in attendance (Nicole) and, even though she recognized me, she was too shy to approach and say hi.  I’ll admit, I can look pretty fearsome when I’m eating but next time, Nicole, stop on by and introduce yourself.  Just don’t put your fingers near my mouth.

You’ve been warned.

Thanks to Agent 17 for some of the pics!

20 thoughts on “March 14, 2014: A Truly Offal dinner!

  1. Lookin good and sleepy Joe and Akemi.

    Nice to meet you agent 17 and thanks for the pictures. 😀

  2. You would think I had eaten all that food and was sleepy. I can’t even spell my name. :p

  3. So much coolness! No, not the menu; offal would be something you’d threaten me with to get me to spill the location of that Rambaldi artifact I spirited out of Budapest last summer. Coolness is board members dining out with Akemi and Joe! I must say that Agent 17 and K2 look fabulous and urbane!

  4. @Das: Noooo! It was good, honest! I thought the duck heart tartare would be the hardest to eat, but it tasted so good! I feel that if you don’t overthink it and freak yourself out, you can eat and enjoy a lot of “weird” stuff. Just dive in.

  5. Hooray! Glad to see your write-up of the dinner. I loved that dinner so much, especially the pigs ears and geoduck, duck heart tartare, fregola – oh wait, I’m just listing everything! I will look out for you at the next one of these meals. I know you said you’re not a big beer drinker, but my friend alerted me to a Four Winds x Wildebeest dinner that also has a bit of an offal bent!

    Also, if you like foie gras ice cream, get thee to Portland and have the foie gras profiteroles at Le Pigeon. Amazing.

  6. I know Allie would love all of that. I’d have to take Agent 17’s advice and not over think it. Very cool Kathode! It looks like fun was had by all! 😀


  7. Oh! Also I’m not a big beer drinker but I do love the fruity stuff like raspberry beer and the like. However I’ve had beer in Brugge that was pretty good. Was that beer something you’d actually drink again?

  8. Pretty cool y’all!
    We are “Agents of Joe” we try it all.
    Many of us have become more adventurous in dining thanks to Joe.
    Of course some things are easier to try for the first or only time.
    Like macarons….lol…no comparison – these are a KEEPER.

  9. Hey, Kathode! Great to see you.

    I’d try any of that, at least once. Except foie gras is definitely not my favourite.

  10. Wow! I’m not sure I’d be brave enough for that menu but I bet it’s like Kathode said (don’t overthink it and freak yourself out).

    Waves to Kathode! What is Nicole’s blog name?

    I’m glad y’all had a great time!

  11. Joe, if I ever go out to eat with you at one of these fancy places, LIE TO ME. Don’t tell me what it really is. Make stuff up like…. sirloin steak with mushrooms, tender pot roast, pork chops, pineapple and honey glazed ham, BBQ chicken breasts, etc. Even meatloaf.

    @ Kathode – “@Das: Noooo! It was good, honest!” Oh no! Joe’s got you brainwashed! 😉

  12. @ Kathode – There are three things I won’t eat…well…four…no, five: Organs/organ meat (with the exception of liverwurst), feet, fat, mushrooms (I won’t eat anything that can grow between my toes!), and seafood (shellfish, crab, shrimp, lobster…you know, the stuff that stinks). I will eat fish-fish…things with fins. They stink different. 🙂 I don’t like the flavors of organ meat, though I can handle some when it’s ground up and stuff is added to it so that it no longer tastes like crap. Liver absolutely gags me, but I could eat a pound of liverwurst in one sitting. Go figger. And while I don’t mind the flavor of mushrooms, I can’t handle the texture, same with fat (with the exception of extra crispy bacon fat – that’s like candy!).

    I think it boils down to this: I don’t like strongly-flavored meats – I like the seasonings. When I get a steak it’s not the steak I like, but the butter garlic sauce drizzled over the top. When I get fish, it’s not the fish I like but the blackening seasoning, or the lemon-butter sauce. I hate it when the meat over-powers the seasoning (while most people hate it the other way round).

    I really need to become a vegetarian. 😛


  13. The only thing I won’t eat (for religious reasons) is blood sausage/pudding. But I am game to try just about everything I have seen you write about! I could even introduce you to some interesting items I grew up on. (My parents are Cuban and Puerto Rican) Grew up eating pig ears and tripe. Not a big fan of tripe, but my grandmother’s cracker crumb breaded calf brain is incredible!

  14. Hey Kathode and Agent-17! Good to see you all!

    Your meal (and pictures) look wonderful! For the record, I would have tried all of it, but the pacifica octopus with blood pudding looked especially enticing (I’m a big fan of black pudding).

    I went ahead and signed up for the Campagnolo Roma’s email newsletter and I’m hoping they’ll be running something when Barb and I are out in Vancouver the week after next. Any Vancouver locals have a lead on interesting meals during the weekend of March 28th to 30th? Let me know if so!

  15. That dinner looks terrific. Put in 900+ miles of driving tonight! and don’t expect to have internet till Monday. Looking forward to your further adventures

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