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Dinner at The Black Hoof

2009/10/09

The Black Hoof is a dream for those with adventurous palates and a love of charcuterie. It opened about a year ago on Dundas (near Bellwoods) and only seats about 30-40 people. I had been trying to get to the place for while but one thing or another kept getting in the way. Reading the Hoof’s blog (Charcuterie Sundays) on a regular basis didn’t quell the hunger pangs either. All that ended on Saturday. A group of us got there at 6:30pm to ensure that a table for six would be available. No reservations. Between Nuit Blanche and the rainy weather, no one was looking forward to standing outside to wait for a table. We were able to snag the six-top right in the front window. If you were there that night, I was one of the people causing a bit of ruckus in the front. What a great time though. The staff at the Hoof are fantastic and took good care of us.

Nduja, photo by DC

N'duja. Photo by DC.

We started off with a couple orders of N’duja. This was one of the dishes I was really looking forward to after reading all about it on the Hoof’s blog. N’duja is a cured, spreadable, spicy salami that has its origins in Calabria. I’ve eaten something similar while in Italy, but never here. On fresh, warm bread it was delightful carrying just enough spice. There’s a definite kick at the back, but it’s a flavourful hot, not “hot-for-the-sake-of-being-hot hot.”

Next up were a couple of roasted marrow bones served with crostini. Unfortunately the photos didn’t turn out. The roasted marrow bones were good but definitely needed the accompanying salt. It would have been nice if they painted the bones with tomato paste first to add an additional depth of flavour.

Large charcuterie board, photo by DC

Large charcuterie board. Photo by DC.

Next up was a ridiculous (large) charcuterie board. Ten different items. My least favourites were the smoked foie gras torchon and guanciale. The torchon was overpowered by the smokiness, and the guanciale was just okay. The pork rillettes, very good. Duck prosciutto with just a hint of juniper – excellent. Venison salami with a blueberry infusion – also excellent. Duck liver mousse – outstanding! The sopressata and other items were also very good. House-pickled turnip, olives, cornichon, and grainy mustard were served as accoutrements.

Gnocchi with squash, walnuts, and bacon-scented cream. Photo by DC.

Gnocchi with squash, walnuts, and bacon-scented cream. Photo by DC.

Moving into main courses, we started with a plate of gnocchi. Served with squash and toasted walnuts, the pillowy gnocchi were dressed with a bacon-scented cream. Simply put, it was some of the best gnocchi I’ve had in some time and was the most surprising dish of the evening. I expected the charcuterie to be good. I wasn’t expecting the delicate hand required to execute this dish. Well done!

Raw horse sandwich with raw egg yolk. Photo by DC.

Raw horse sandwich with raw egg yolk. Photo by DC.

Another dish that I was really, really looking forward to was the raw horse sandwich. Served with sriracha mayo and a raw egg yolk, I was surprised at how light the sandwich was considering its ingredients and how rich and layered the flavours were. We were very, very tempted to order another. It wasn’t an easy sandwich to slice up, but I think I did a pretty good job!

Divvying up the horse sandwich. Photo by DC.

Divvying up the horse sandwich. Photo by DC.

Beef tongue sandwich with tarragon mayo. Photo by DC.

Beef tongue sandwich with tarragon mayo. Photo by DC.

Serving up the tongue sandwich. Photo by DC.

Serving up the tongue sandwich. Photo by DC.

It’s a good think we held off on another horse sandwich, because the tongue sandwich was unreal. Served on warm brioche with tarragon mayo, it was amazing. Think about some of the best pastrami you’ve ever had, then multiply it by about a thousand! I could eat that sandwich for lunch every day. Structurally, it wasn’t the easiest sandwich to portion, but I made do. Only four people wanted to try it so that meant more tongue to go around.

Foie gras PB+J. Photo by DC.

Foie gras PB+J. Photo by DC.

Our last savory course was the foie gras PB+J. Seared foie on warm brioche with a thinned out peanut butter and in-house made grape must jelly. I’ve had a lot of foie lately, so while it was good I wouldn’t consider it otherworldly. I found the other menu items much more interesting.

Bacon bread pudding with Cointreau-infused cream. Photo by DC.

Bacon bread pudding with Cointreau-infused cream. Photo by DC.

Dessert uses a different stomach, so when we heard that the special was a bacon bread pudding we had to try it. I don’t think it was a particularly successful dish. The bacon needed to be crispier and have the extra fatty bits trimmed out. Also, the Cointreau added to the cream trainwrecked against the bacon. Basically, a decision needed to be made. Bacon or Cointreau cream. Not both.

The food is great. The cocktails are excellent as well. Add a couple of great beers like Brooklyn Lager and Dog Fish 60 Minute IPA and you’ve got winners in the glass in addition to on the table. I hope the Hoof sticks around for a very long time and I get to make repeat visits.

Have a great turkey weekend everyone!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 2009/10/09 8:42 AM

    I thought spreadable salami was a Marchegiana thing, we call it ciauscolo.

    http://www.saporetipico.it/prodottotipico249/marche/ciauscolo.html

    oh, http://www.thefruitfullpantry.blogspot.com is The Bean’s endeavor to share her knew-found talent in the kitchen with the world.

    • futronic permalink*
      2009/10/09 8:59 AM

      Cris, there are variations of it all over Italy. In addition to this Calabrese version and the Marchegiana version you mentioned, I’ve also had it in Tuscany and Piedmont. The concept is the same, the spices are what varies. To no surprise, the further south you go, the spicier the preparation.

      I saw Bean’s blog but need to do a better job keeping up with it!

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