For the uninitated, eating organ meats can be, well, kinda gross, as offal tends to pack a bit of unfamiliar grit and goo as well as a distinctively gamey flavor. After trying eyeballs, hearts, testicles, livers, and other since-forgotten body parts, I’d say that sweetbreads are the easiest foray into this increasingly popular culinary genre — so long as you stick to the thyroid-based version, as my experience with barbecued pancreas-as-sweetbreads was more of a chewy mouthful than I’d recommend to anyone.
Nowhere is the path to offal ecstasy paved more scumptiously than at the Four Seasons Biltmore, where Bella Vista’s chef Alessandro Cartumini whips up a magical blend of thyroid, trumpet mushrooms, madeira, and sage under the appetizer named “Roasted Sweetbreads.” Slightly caramelized and richly dressed, his version could pass as a savory dessert, but works rather well with some Sta. Rita Hills pinot noir as well, particularly the bottle of Babcock Winery’s “Appellation’s Edge” I had with me during a recent visit.
I doubt that eating organs will ever be for everyone, but if Cartumini was in charge, I’m pretty sure more people would be lining up to chow down on animals’ deepest insides.
1260 Channel Drive; 805-969-2261; fourseasons.com/santabarbara