i feel compelled to respond to the comments made by angelina about my earlier post.
i have to disagree that just because i think some of my customers might not know what something is, i shouldn't state it on the menu. this feels like "dumbing down" the menu to me, and once you start, where do you stop? most customers might not even know where on the animal the loin is, but i'm still going to mention it for the ones that do know.
i think, on the contrary, that having some words, descriptions, or items on the menu that people don't automatically know is a good thing. maybe they'll ask the server, maybe they'll just order it and see that a thumbelina carrot is just like a normal carrot, only small and stout, kind of like a thumb. personally, i think if you're spending the extra money to buy special ingredients like these you should point this out by stating where they're raised or grown, telling what is special about them, using the specific name, etc... it serves to educate the dining public which can only help both the industry as a whole and the individual diner.
i don't understand the criticisms put forth.... why is saying that it's Colorado venison bad? would anyone really want to know where in colorado? if so, a chef who's on top of things should be able to furnish a curious diner with the name of the ranch the meat was raised at, especially they are stating it's organic as well. cippoline onions are a specific type of small, flat, sweet onions (which i've seen sold in regular chain supermarkets under the "melissa's" brand, by the way) and it would be readily apparent if one tried to substitute regular onions instead of the real cippoline. and would many chefs ever consider doing this? personally, one of my great thrills is getting high-quality, special ingredients and sharing them with diners. when i get real cippoline, i want to prepare them in a way that shows them off and introduce people to them, so that they leave having discovered a new thing that maybe they really like a lot and will seek out again. i think (i hope) that most chefs feel this way, and would never consider selling spanish onions as cippoline just to save a few pennies a plate or so they could charge more.
also....i think angelina very much underestimates the average diner. depending on the type of restaurant you work at, i think most people would know what cippoline onions or shiraz is... customers frequenting a restaurant which would serve the type of dish i described would, i think, be savvy enough to understand.
so i must disagree with angelina about using the KISS system. americans are getting more and more knowledgable about food and restaurant dining is about much more than just filling your stomach. food is something that drives everyone on this board to write enough posts to fill a book...shouldn't we share that enthusiasm with our diners?
to talk about it in such descriptive terms on cheftalk, and then to use the KISS mindset to write menus for customers who "won't get it," smacks of cultural elitism to me....