Red Roses, Black Pudding
It’s not that you need help. Of course you don’t.
But here it is, the month of hearts and love and romance. You’ve got a special someone in mind, and all you need is a location where you can do the wooing over dinner. What better than an intimate, curvy booth for two, rosy bordello lighting, succulent finger foods, and a little bit of morcilla?
Also called black pudding, morcilla is a Spanish sausage made of pig’s blood, rice, and onions. It has a rich flavor that some people liken to patÃ©: sweet, iron rich, and spiked with savory ingredients, paprika, and salt.
Why should you consume blood sausage, you ask? First, think about all those women who are swooning over vampires now, willing to risk their lives to get a little love bite on the neck. Second—not to put too fine a point on Valentine’s Day—manly Spaniards from the time of El Cid have relied on morcilla to improve their virility. Call it the Antonio Banderas effect.
Lucky for you, Executive Chef J. P. Samuelson at Solera is serving the sanguine aphrodisiac with sherry-glazed pork bellies and black Beluga lentils. If your date prefers a tamer Valentine meal, there’s the leg of duck confit with bitter greens and blood orange vinaigrette.
As chef-owner at J. P. American Bistro, Samuelson produced consistently tasty, fine, casual-upscale fare. It was, for the five and a half years it operated, one of my favorite Minneapolis restaurants, and it’s where I sampled his pork bellies and duck confit. Samuelson landed at Solera exactly one year ago, after a string of misfortunes, including a two-year construction project on Lyndale Avenue, forced him to shutter his restaurant’s doors.
It is a fortunate thing for all of us, but particularly for you, Antonio, that he’s in the kitchen at Solera. Trust J. P. Eat his black pudding. This may be the best Valentine’s Day you’ve ever had.
900 Hennepin Avenue,