Food Trend: Bone Luging Is Actually Delicious

Step 3: Bone Luge (by Robbie)

Bone Luging. Have you heard of it? Maybe you have, and maybe you haven’t, but I’m confident in saying it’s the latest, hottest thing in food-cocktail trends.

Step 1: Consume bone marrow

I take food seriously. I take cocktails seriously. Food trends? Not so much. Let’s not confuse them. But I don’t take myself so seriously as to say that I’m so above any phenomenon without closer examination.

The process is simple: Order bone marrow. Eat bone marrow and leave the bone. Take one shot of desired spirit (a fellow bone luger helps here) and pour down the channel of the hollow bone while your mouth hangs eagerly on the opposite side of the “luge.” (The shot picks up the flavors of the bone during its travels.) Enjoy.

A trend that has arisen a few months ago (yes, it’s that “stale” already) out of Jacob Grier’s Portland, bone luging was something that intrigued me because: 1) I love bone marrow. And while I still have a few food-curious friends who are getting acclimated to the idea of it, I always have enjoyed those umami scoops of that gelatinous center. Yes – even without the crostini. 2) I love shots of (key:) good spirits. Okay, or fortified wine, if you want to get technical with me, here.

Add to the above: The combination of a quality, well-paired spirit with unctuous bone marrow has to be greater than the sum of its parts, no? I guess there will always be the eye rolling haters detractors. And there are the curious mainstream. The health proponents and enthusiasts. And of course, there will be the fanatics and the pros.

Step 2: Pour shots of desired sherry

As they say: Don’t knock it without trying it. And I did, on my recent stint to that other city over there on that other coast – at Prime Meats, one of my favorite restaurants, no less. And it was delicious. I believe the key factor in bone luging being classified as an all-out fad vs. arguable trend is which spirit/wine is used in the shot. Thankfully I was in good hands, as Sother Teague (@creativedrunk) poured shots of Oloroso Sherry for my friend Robbie and I to luge with. As Sother explained, since sherry is closer to a wine, it’s sweeter and better than using a really brash spirit because it works well with the unctious bone marrow taste. And I have to say, the bone marrow really added some fatty finesse to that shot.

So where can you bone luge in Los Angeles, fearless readers? Bar | Kitchen in Downtown LA. (You can spy Daniel of Thirsty in LA, Chris Bostick of The Varnish and Zara of Providence doing “Fertreuse” luges here – that is, with Buffalo Trace Single Oak Project 131 & 132, Fernet & Angostoura shots.) If you don’t mind guiding your bartender and accompanying kitchen, maybe even try Lexington Social House – or if you’re brave, Wolfgang Puck’s CUT, which is known for some of the best bone marrow in the city. Bone luging is for the brave, not for the shy, because there will be lots of attention and questions! If you’re lucky, you’ll get the disgusted looks.

I’m sold on the novelty. Not so much the tequila bone luge shot, though I haven’t tried it yet. And yes, it’s a novelty, because I’m not about to get mad at a cocktail bar because its kitchen doesn’t serve bone marrow. Just make sure you’ve got the right shot, and if you enjoyed eating the bone marrow in the first place and step, the luge action may make your selection a shot of heaven.

Past coverage: Brooklyn, NY: Prime Meats is Simply Divine

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Bar | Kitchen at O Hotel
819 S Flower St
Los Angeles, CA 90017
213.784.3048

Prime Meats
465 Court St
Brooklyn, NY 11231
718.254.0327

Brooklyn, New York: Prime Meats Is Simply Divine

Sauerbraten on Pretzel ($10)

My familiarity with The Franks, funny enough, began in Los Angeles at a little restaurant called Animal. So upon visiting Prime Meats with NYU grad student Nancy, I had experienced the imported version of Italian food originating at Frankies 457 – immediately next door.

Interior of Prime Meats

But that lunch, after my vintage hat box purchase at the Brooklyn Flea Market, would instead be German. Prime Meats’ menu is intact with The Franks’ restaurant philosophy, with housemade items and farm-to-table ingredients. The servers wear suspenders, cuffed jeans and pin-striped shirts; I had never been inside a German restaurant that had so successfully turned “dingy” on its side to yield “hip.” And here we were. Brooklyn. It was a beautiful, sunny day when we visited, and natural light flooded the doubly-expanded, distressed, wooden interior.

Though our fellow diners seemed to prefer breakfast, Nancy and I both settled on lunch. I was eager to try another interpretation of the German influences that had been so prevalent in my Midwest upbringing – or at least experience the Brooklyn, artisanal approach to it. Nancy’s Sauerbraten was dressed with braised red cabbage and came with a side of Bavarian mustard. The housemade pretzel braid that encased the sandwich, however, was key. I may have stolen a bite when she went to the bathroom, and had tried to refrain from asking for that third or fourth bite once she returned. That is my confession.

Weisswurst, Sweet Mustard, Pretzel Roll ($10)

That’s not to say that I was in the least bit dissatisfied with my serving of Weisswurst – made with minced veal and pork bacon. The server helpfully divulged that typically, the wurst is opened and the interior spooned out onto a roll – but that this housemade version was completely edible, inclusive of casing.

And he was right. It steamed as I cut it open and its texture inside was perfectly tender yet bouncy to the bite. I was really blown away by the mustard (also made in-house, of course) with its potency and subtle sweetness.

This is definitely a place that I would slate for a re-visit with purposes of trying more selections on the menu. It’s also a restaurant that would inspire me to call Brooklyn my home should I ever move to the East Coast, what with Prime Meats’ kitchen open until 1 or 2 AM. (It could be that early kitchen closing time is just an L.A. thing – grrr.) The prices are more than reasonable, staying true to making artisanal and simply prepared food accessible. Who knew that probably my favorite, casual German restaurant would be in Brooklyn?

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Breakfast
Everyday: 7 AM – 1 PM
Sat & Sun: 7 AM – 3 PM

Lunch & Dinner
Mon – Wed 1 PM – 1 AM
Thurs 1 PM – 2 AM
Fri – Sat 3 PM – 2 AM
Sun 3 PM – 1 AM

No reservations

Prime Meats
465 Court Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231
718.254.0327

The Franks of Frankies Spuntino Visit Animal

Meatballs With Pinenuts and Raisins

I admit, I had never visited Frankies Spuntino in Brooklyn – nor Manhattan – but I was intrigued when I received a copy of their cookbook in the mail. How fascinating the story is, of how The Franks (Falcinelli and Castronovo, if I must be specific) had actually grown up in the same neighborhood, just to reconnect later on by sheer coincidence of running into each other on the street. As always, food brings people together.

Caesar Salad

Before that reconnection, both had worked in Michelin-starred French restaurants before coming back to Manhattan to work under big names like David Bouley and Charlie Palmer – and then ran their own kitchens to the tune of Moomba and Bistro Jean-Claude. But the drive to create their own Italian-American endeavor and get back to the home-styled cooking of their youth – without the gimmicks like red-checkered tablecloths yet with the affordability of a neighborhood hangout – rang loud and clear. It would have to be Brooklyn; later, their success would allow them to expand to the island and import their own olive oil.

Gnocchi alla Marinara with Fresh Ricotta

And now, the cookbook. What a beautiful styling it beholds, as if a volume in a series of classic novels. And the world tour that would bring them to a one-off at Animal on Fairfax, Los Angeles – with a certain New York Times article on medicinal appetite aids that would bring he, Vinny, Don and Roy Choi together (all were present during the Franks’ dinner).

The cheese and salumi plate, complete with fresh olives, roasted mushrooms and browned cauliflower was solid, as was the bread – especially when dipped in the Franks’ olive oil. Whether that olive oil passed the “extra virgin” test that’s been in the news lately remains to be seen, but it was some of the most flavorful I’ve tasted in awhile.

The Caesar salad was fresh, delicious and … made with Hellmann’s. Yes, Hellmann’s. Apparently, this very recipe was rejected by Koo Koo Roo (Falcinelli used to be a consultant for them) but I can guess that all Frankies Spuntino customers are ever so thankful.

House-made Cavatelli with Faiccos Hot Sausage and Browned Sage Butter

My favorite, however, had to be the Cavatelli with Faiccos Hot Sausage and Browned Sage Butter (recipe). Not too heavy but having plenty of flavor – including the kick at the end thanks to the sausage – the Cavatelli were ever so fun to bite, with a perfect, almost-gummy consistency.

Red Wine Prunes With Marscarpone

It is hard, though, to decide which meatballs I liked better – but the beef meatballs made with garlic, bread crumbs, pinenuts, raisins – and topped with Pecorino – probably won out on the pork braciola variety since I’m a mere traditionalist. But both are awesome, moist and baked, in keeping with the Franks’ desire to create hearty but not overwhelming dishes. The classic Gnocchi alla Marinara fit the same bill – with the vibrant tomato sauce really bringing out fresh flavors on the perfect canvas that was the gnocchi. I don’t remember appreciating gnocchi as much as the Franks’, much less one that was simply dressed with marinara, yet enhanced with a rich ricotta. Then again, margherita pizza is my favorite because it’s simple.

And the dessert. The cheesecake was heavenly – not too rich and having a perfect, creamy consistency. But the real favorite was the prunes steeped in red wine and paired with marscarpone. I love wine and cheese but I could not have imagined this perfect marriage. It was a savory dessert thanks to the creamy-wet cheese but also subtly sweetened by the prunes. The richness of the dessert was perfectly accentuated by the red wine those prunes were soaked in. I would go to New York just to order this dessert after the pinenut-raisin meatballs and Cavatelli!

I can tell the Franks’ Frankies Spuntinos are both special, neighborhood spots just from having tried their food. The prices are remarkably low for the quality – especially given their New York locations. I wonder if I might blend in if I tried…(doubt it).

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Frankies Spuntino Website

Frankies 457
457 Court Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231-4010
718.403.0033

Frankies 17
17 Clinton Street
New York, NY 10002-1718
212.253.2303