After looking at comfort food, the Accidental Locavore began thinking about the difference between memorable food and comfort food. We all have dishes we get nostalgic about, but to me, memorable food (or meals) have almost as much to do with the time, people and place as it does with the food.
And then there’s food that just is the absolute right dish at the right time. Such was the amazing duck dish I had at my last visit to Cafe Miranda. After a day that could only be described as ghastly, we managed to catch our breath and be just a bit late for our perch at the bar.
I’ve written a lot about Miranda, as it’s been a favorite of ours for years. Generally, a careful perusal of the menu will take at least twenty minutes — yes, there’s that much on it, and most of it has multiple ingredients. Somehow, that night, within 30 seconds of looking at the menu, “Let’s Get Dangerous”–a duck dish based on that 90’s cartoon Darkwing Duck — caught my eye and I was done.
It was a duck leg confit resting on a bed of noodles in a coconut curry sauce, with a cooling salad of cucumbers on the side. The leg had been cured in a blend of Szechuan peppercorns, tamarind paste and cloves. After having a nice, slow bath in its own fat, it was finished by tossing it into the wood-burning oven. Rich, dark spices, meltingly tender duck, great crispy skin — it was the absolute perfect dish!
Even Kerry, the chef/owner thought it was amazing. I’d offered him a small bite when he came in. Since it was a new dish, he hadn’t had a chance to taste it from the line and he was quick to praise his line chef, Andrew.
The only problem with dishes like the duck is that you’ll want to order them over and over again. Possibly they won’t be as good as you remember, or there may be something else on the menu equally delicious. We were recently back to our counter perch at Miranda and I had to make sure it was as good as I remembered it being (it was!), but that was the first time in many, many visits there when I didn’t order something different. What do you think? Do you go back to the “old reliables,” or do you live on the edge and try something new?