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As noted above, no one has tried tasting that mammoth meatball since they were unsure how our bodies would react to thousand year old genes. That's why a friend of mine uses Siberian Tiger dna instead. He's the son of a billionaire prepper. His dad carved a huge survival bunker into the schist upstate New York but was never able to get much use out it, he died before doomsday. My friend was stuck with the underground complex and decided to turn it into his personal lab and experiment with lab grown, invitro meat.
He won't tell anyone exactly where this bunker is located but keeps teasing with details of an elaborate living area, large dining room and of course the lab he installed. As he explains it, instead of growing cells in a petri dish, he devised a way to grow small nubs of meat using hybrid grape vine. When the grape nubs start to grow he injects them with Siberian tiger cells which take over the innards of grape and suck up all the nutrients that way. He gets only small nuggets but it's easy to lob off the nubs when they're 'ripe', then gently squeeze them and out pops the meat! Mush them together in the conventional way to form hamburgers and stuff sausages. You can't really grow slabs of meat because it's difficult to supply large pieces with the nutrients. "Cells become necrotic if separated for long periods by more than 0.5 mm from a nutrient supply." Now that sounds ominous, doesn't it?
What about the necrotic part I asked him, are you sure this is safe to eat? Not to worry he said, he fed the meat to lab rats and pigeons for months to make sure it was safe and the inspectors from the USDA were impressed. He should be able to go public soon and sent me a pix of his latest harvest.
Well, since it's safe I suggested that instead of just making patties how about putting together one of my favorites: steak tartar ... vitroTartar. And then it hit me, the big idea: vitroPearls!tm®© Salt and cure the 'pearls', just like caviar. [He promised to give me credit, but just in case tm®© .... whichever is appropriate.]
It's been months now and he's ready, RSVP for a tasting, finally gives detailed directions .... don't tell anyone! ... to the secret location upstate. Look for the barn he said. After an hour and a half I end up bumping down a long dirt road and there is a barn. You've got to be kidding! I think I've been had? It looks like the next storm would knock it down, but in the lot is a decidedly upscale set of cars, even a couple of chauffeurs milling about.
I head to the barn. In the back is a heavy-duty door with a light behind it. Stone steps lead down.
... and there is my friend waiting at the bottom of the steps.
He shows us into a comfortable looking room with a few tables
A friendly waitress with wine glasses says hello.
... and here come the vitroPearls!tm®©
ooops ... let's try that again ... here come the vitroPearls!tm®©
my portion ...
So what did it taste like? In the mouth pearls pop with just a bit of tongue pressure, then melt into a satifying meaty feeling, savourly salty. There is a faint flavor similar to wild boar? Ham? I ate my small portion mostly with the spoon, finishing the juices with the blini.
To top it off my friend surprised me with a bottle of Piesporter Treppchen, dry with a hint of sweetness. My Granma used to mention that one often so many years ago. Nice. The new and the old.
heading back home now into the City ...
It's a comfortable decadent storefront wine bar in the Alphabets on a stormy evening. There are no other customers showing this early - just after six - until we finish barely an hour later when the first diners drift in. The decor includes ill-matched settees, arm chairs, and a red velvet sofa claimed by a friendly black pit bull, one of their regular customers the owner explains. Music is eclectic from the seventies?, the kind you would hear in an American expatriate hangout in Paris.
We opt for a recommended Chateau Saint Sulpice 2003 Bordeaux, smooth and having body. I would have preferred a Rhone with a bit of fruit I think. After-dinner research reveals that St. Sulpice was a son of wealthy parents who renounced the idea of marriage and devoted himself to good works at an early age, especially to care for the poor. A church in Paris named after him has recently experienced increased attendance since being mentioned in The Da Vinci Code ... none of which relates to our dinner in any way.
The food of choice is fondue, perfect for the wet Nor'easter blowing outside, though choice may be the wrong word. It goes a bit like that Monty Python spam skit; there is hearty fondue and sweet fondue, or we can have cheese boards, or perhaps cheese brochettes? The special is Bourgeois Pig Fondue with extra spicy cheese, a hearty herb seasoned fondue arriving with a surprisingly huge board of peppery frites, olives, gherkins, deadly butter-soaked bread, fresh strawberries, sliced perfect apples and oranges and shredded artichokes. We are stuffed in no time yet manage to clean the hot pot down to the last stringy globs of Gruyere sticking to the bottom.
It's still cats and dogs as we head back home, the short dash is barely enough exercise to make room for chocolate babka waiting in the wings.
Park Avenue Corners - 42th to 34th Street