Here is the $96 question: Would you pay top dollar for top meat? Would you shell out the seriously big bucks to eat what is considered the very finest quality steak that is available in America?
Final Cut steakhouse, the high-end restaurant at the Hollywood Casino, is betting that you will.
In the next few days, the restaurant will be rolling out a new menu. Executive chef Brian Hein said, "we're trying to make some more memorable dishes," including a whole stuffed Maine lobster, Georges Bank cod cooked in a tagine with a ginger-scallion broth and Asian noodles, and a lamb shank with cipollini onions and wild mushrooms in a port wine half-glaze.
But Final Cut is a steakhouse, and its big news, its very big news, is about its steak. Along with its other Angus and Prime beef, the restaurant will now start serving the highest grade American Wagyu beef from Snake River Farms in Idaho. This is the same beef that is served at the French Laundry restaurant in Yountville, Calif., which is considered by some to be the best restaurant in America.
Chefs Wolfgang Puck and Masaharu Morimoto also serve it, according to Mr. Hein.
American Wagyu beef is a cross between Japanese Wagyu from the Kobe region and American Black Angus. The Snake River Farms version is fed in a similar way to the Japanese, a slow-paced diet including Idaho potatoes, soft white wheat, corn, and alfafa hay.
"It's the creme de la creme. It's definitely the finest beef outside of Japanese Kobe," Mr. Hein said. Until recently, Kobe beef could not be sold in the United States.
But here, if you will pardon the pun, is the rub: Beef that good is very scarce (it is a tiny, tiny percentage of all available beef) and very expensive.
How expensive? At the Final Cut, a 12-ounce Kansas City strip will cost $96. A 10-ounce top cap of the rib eye will go for $89, and a 5-ounce top cap will set you back $45.
Those prices, Mr. Hein said, are less than is charged at the French Laundry and Morimoto.
Also new on the menu will be an appetizer of homemade oversized tater tots, served with fontina cheese-based mornaise sauce, with jalapeño jam and crispy pork crackling, for $9. That sounds awesome.
If you are planning to go to the big Taste of the Nation event on April 21, you may want to get your tickets soon. Only 400 tickets are sold, and they generally sell out by March 15.
Taste of the Nation, of course, is the big fundraising event for Share Our Strength, which endeavors to keep children from growing up hungry. The money raised this year will go, as it has in previous years, to Toledo GROWs, Toledo Day Nursery, Aurora House, and Toledo Northwestern Ohio Food Bank.
What's in it for you? Only the best party in town, and much of the best food. From 5-8 p.m., more than 40 of the top local restaurants will be serving a couple of their best specialties, with plenty of wine to wash them down. Two nationally known chefs will also be participating: Nicholas Stefanelli, the hunky, Washington-based chef at Bibiana, and Will Skinner of Bar North Bistro in Huron, Ohio.
The cost is $150, and the event (which is held outside under a tent, sometimes on a sweltering day) is black-tie optional. For tickets or more information, visit toledotaste.org or call 419-345-5543.
If you're dining on pan-roasted sable and are looking for the appropriate wine to drink with it, you could certainly do worse than a glass of 2008 Ollieux Romanis Corbieres Classique.
And if your next course happens to be grilled elk with radicchio, you will almost certainly want to pair it with a 2010 JL Chave Selections, Crozes-Hermitage “Silène.” Wouldn't you?
Tomorrow, beginning at 6 p.m. Registry Bistro is holding a six-course wine dinner featuring wines chosen by David Shiverick, owner of Langdon Shiverick Imports. So after champagne and appetizers (fire-roasted winter vegetable and sprout rolls), we happen to know the dinner will begin with red chili pork and roasted plantain empanada, paired with 2010 Domaine Laffourcade Savennières.
Next up will be the aforementioned sable and elk dishes, followed by braised oxtail with carrots puree and Yorkshire pudding, served with 2010 Domaine de la Solitude Châteauneuf-du-Pape. And finally, a dessert of dark chocolate and whiskey truffles with smoked sea salt.
The cost is $70 per person and, because it is being held tomorrow, it might help to make reservations now. Call (419) 725-0444. Registry Bistro is in the former Hotel Secor at 144 N. Superior St. in the former Hotel Secor.
Don't think of it just as eating a whole lot of chili. Think of it as eating a whole lot of chili and also influencing menu choices for generations to come. Or at least months.
Tuesday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., students at Owens Community College will hold a chili cook-off. The public is invited to sample all the chili and vote on their favorites. Not only will the winning team gain instant fame and glory, but their chili will go on to be served at the campus' Fireside Grill restaurant.
The Office of Student Activities suggests a donation of $3 to participate in the cook-off, with the money going to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
And speaking of hospitals, we have saved the best for last: The cook-off will be held in the Student Health and Activities Center at 30335 Oregon Rd. in Perrysburg. Get it? Chili cook-off. Held in the Student Health Center.
For more information, call 567-661-2569.
Every week is wine week at the Walt Churchill’s Market at 3320 Briarfield Blvd. The store has just come out with its calendar of wine tastings for February which, as always, are held from noon-5 p.m. on Saturdays. The cost averages around $15, sometimes more and sometimes less, with the exact price not set until the day of the testing. This month's schedule is:
• Saturday. Cissie Schnoering and her daughter Melissa Crockett work for competing wine distributors. Each one will present favorites from her respective company, and the tasters will get to pick which wine (and therefore which family member) they like most.
• Feb. 16. Rachel Nasatir of Grand Cru will take tasters on a oenophile's tour of the Piedmont region of Italy, sampling Barolo, Barbaresco, Arneis, Gavi di Gavi, and other wines along the way.
• Feb. 23. It's one of the great pairings, ever: Vintage port and chocolate. Vintage Port and Aged Tawny Porto will be served, along with gourmet chocolate.
Williams-Sonoma, too, is continuing its weekly schedule of cooking-technique classes and other goodies.
The other goodie this month is the Cookbook Club, which meets Feb. 13 at 6:30 p.m. The instructors will cook a three-course meal of coconut-curry butternut squash soup, barley risotto with chicken, mushrooms, and greens, and spiced mango pavlovas, all from the Williams-Sonoma Good For You cookbook. The class will highlight plant-based ingredients, except for, you know, the chicken.
The cookbook club costs $75, which includes the tasting menu and a copy of the cookbook.
Meanwhile, the technique classes, which are free, continue apace. At 10 a.m. next Sunday, Feb. 10, , the instructor will re-create recipes from the TV show The Taste, with which the store apparently has some sort of marketing arrangement. At 10 a.m. Feb. 17, they will show how to make the perfect omelette, both rolled and open-faced. And on Feb. 24 at 10 a.m., they will show how to make homemade ravioli, which is easier than you might think (if you have a pasta maker).
To register for any of the Williams-Sonoma classes, call 419-475-6368.
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