Review Summary: Uncle Rise makes metalcore Cioppino.
Oh, Uncle Rise. He sure loves Italian cooking; the problem is everything turns out tasting eerily similar. This time he went balls out and tried his hand at Cioppino, an Italian stew composed of many types of seafood in a tomato and wine broth. Of course, as is the first thing with every dish made by Uncle Rise, the hardest thing to get past is the overwhelming essence of garlic. The first sniff is very deceiving, a bright herbaceous note followed by a punch to the face of garlic. Maybe he misunderstands the recipes and adds whole heads instead of cloves.
But if you can get past the repeated punches to the face of garlic in his Cioppino you’ll find that it is very respectably composed. The tomato and wine in the delicately perfumed broth are wonderful backdrops for the meat in the stew, and the meat really takes center stage. Dungeness crab, squid, clams, shrimp, various whitefish, mussels, octopus, and some bits of coral. Coral surely seemed odd given this dish would never call for such a thing, but I suppose it made the dish easy to digest, even if it threw off the rhythm from the rest of the seafood. Uncle Rise even put some bass he caught in this one, cooked to perfection and enjoyable when you found a piece.
Cynics might say that Uncle Rise was trying to cover up flaws in his dish with a wankish variety of seafood that served no rhyme or reason. While some of it is surprising and seems hard to come by, it is without a doubt that every piece serves its purpose. The variety of flavors and textures made every bite a genuine surprise. As soon as I had been contented, there was some new critter swept into my spoon and tapped from the depths of the ocean. But once the tastes and textures of variety of seafood could be sampled on my palette, I’d bite into a chunk of garlic. It really disrupted the flow of my dinner and made me wish it was a little more cooked down and refined.
Thankfully, the last bite was definitely the best. Unlike the previous morsels, this last bite seemed to have everything together, a myriad of seafood flavor ending with a splendid aftertaste that left me satiated. If I could save that bite, I would base the entire second batch off of that sample alone.
Maybe Uncle Rise can figure out that with a decrease in garlic, this dish could have been perfect. The bright notes of oregano, thyme, parsley, and the earthy seafood made this a delight to eat most of the time, but the garlic and coral seemed forced by Uncle Rise. Even with those missteps, a hearty stew always warms the soul and leaves you pleased, but sometimes, you have to let the backbone of the Cioppino speak for itself instead of trying to force it to be something it shouldn’t be.