Would you like a cigar with your scallops?

While Paul and I were in New Orleans for the AHA, we went out to dinner with some friends at a restaurant one of Paul’s colleagues had recommended: Root. It was a pleasure from beginning to end, both in terms of food and company.

There were many things on the menu we enjoyed — Kellen’s Cilantro ‘Rita stood out among the cocktails, Paul enjoyed his blanquette de veau, the sweet corn caramel flan was the hit dessert — but the real knockout in terms of sheer surprise, presentation, and wow-I-will-never-eat-anything-quite-like-this-again was the dish Annie and I both ordered: the cohiba smoked scallops.

Now, when I ordered this dish, I basically didn’t look much further than the word “scallops,” and had no reason to connect the word “cohiba” with the cigar brand. You can imagine my surprise when, after our starters were cleared away, and we were enjoying our bottle of wine, the waitstaff brought over two boxes of cigars and set them before us.

My first thought was: are they offering us a pre-main-course stogie? Then the other two plates arrived, and I realized that I was looking at my meal, which I now understood to be Cohiba (cigar) smoked scallops, served in a cigar box lined with parchment. (Mine arrived in an Ashton box, Annie’s in a Romeo y Julieta box.)

Cohiba smoked scallops, served in an Ashton box.
Cohiba smoked scallops, served in an Ashton box.

How was it? Delicious! The cauliflower was amazing, the potatoes and onions were a perfect complement to the smoky aroma, and the scallops themselves melted like butter in my mouth. The cigar presence was largely olfactory — I can’t say my food tasted of cigars, which I consider fortunate — but it was truly unexpected and amazing and, yes, unique. I have never had such a dish before, and doubt I will again.

In short: if you’re in New Orleans, and willing to pony up for a fancy dinner, Root is worth a visit, especially if you can do it with fellow adventurous eaters.

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3 thoughts on “Would you like a cigar with your scallops?

  1. You’re giving me ideas for salmon and other ‘meats’ on the grill next summer. I take it that marination is the key to success, not only the cedar of the boxes (?), plus select seasonings. Hmmmm…

  2. No idea how they did it! I don’t think the food was prepared in the boxes, just served in them. Who knows! Definitely interesting, though.

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