In the Raw

Once again springtime has arrived, the flowers are blooming, the bees are buzzing, the birds are singing and everyone is feeling that oh-so natural feeling of excitement, stimulation and arousal. It’s no surprise that at the onset of spring, our pagan ancestors would dance naked under the sun, make love with horned strangers and tear raw flesh from the bone with their hands and teeth. It was a time to celebrate fertility and feast upon nature’s bounty.

Regardless of ancient practices and ceremonial rites, spring fever has a way of affecting us all, increasing our libidos and sharpening our collective licentiousness. While we may not frolic naked in the woods or kill and eat animals raw, we still have a taste for “unfettered” flesh, and you’ve got to admit, there’s just something downright sexy about it.

Take the Atun Tartare at Baru Bistro & Tapas. If you’ve ever lounged out on the sidewalk at this neighborhood restaurant, you’d know that the crudos and tartare are some of the most sumptuous selections on Chef Edgar Caro’s distinctive, Latino and Caribbean menu. Laced with spicy chiles, sweet ripe mangoes and crunchy pecans, the cool raw tuna practically melts in your mouth with each successive bite. It would be a shame not to scoop up a mouthful with a crisp plantain chip and feed it to your lover, especially when he can’t help but kiss the flavor off of your fingertips.

Down the street a few blocks, you can tantalize your senses at Cavan, the latest restaurant from LeBlanc + Smith. Chefs Kristen Essig and Ben Thibodeaux offer, among many dishes, a sinfully delicious scallop tartare with tangy yogurt and pickled butternut squash, and topped with crispy sweet potato adding texture to each mouthwatering morsel. You won’t want to share, but it’s always more fun when you do.

Avid fisherman and uber-talented chef Tenney Flynn at GW Fins has something of a magic touch when it comes to local seafood. Sensuous, spicy and so damn good, Flynn’s Bluefin Tuna Tartare is capable of transporting your senses to the tropics with creamy, fresh avocado, delicate and buttery pine nuts, bright radish and fiery wasabi. Can you picture spooning up the cool, rich tuna to your lover’s lips under a hot, equatorial sun?

While not knocking the sheer eating pleasure of raw fish, one can’t discount the allure of steak tartare, particularly like the dish served at La Petite Grocery. Notably a fan favorite, since it has never seemed to disappear from the menu, Chef Justin Devillier’s steak tartare is the dreams are made of. Made with quinoa, house-churned buttermilk, fiery horseradish and topped with a quail egg, this is raw flesh like you’ve never tasted it before. What a way to feel libidinous and refined all at the same time …

Finally, get the best of both what’s on and in the bone with the devastatingly carnal beef tartare at Brown Butter: Southern Kitchen & Bar. Served with crisp toast points and spicy horseradish, this beguiling beef is made with roasted marrow and served with their own, house made seasonal jam.

While many are sure to disagree, finding raw meat unappetizing, repulsive and certainly not sensuous, I’d have to say it’s like dancing around a bonfire naked or attempting alternative sexual positions, don’t knock tartare till you’ve tried it!

*Article originally published in the April 2016 Jazz Fest issue of Where Y’at Magazine

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