By Deirdre Bourdet
I think rabbits are very, very tasty to eat. I should disclose here that I had a pet rabbit as a young kid. Though soft, cute, and all the rest you would expect, my rabbit was a serious curmudgeon that hated to be picked up, petted, or otherwise distracted from his business of constant eating and pooping. Consequently, I feel no remorse in eating his brethren at every possible opportunity. And what better time than Easter?
The macabre appeal of an Easter bunny for dinner enchants far more people than I would ever have thought. A few years ago I decided at the last minute to make an Easter rabbit, but incredibly, none of the local butchers had any unclaimed bunnies to offer in the last few days before the holiday. EVERY STORE had sold out. Clearly, my sick mind was not alone in craving some Easter bunny for dinner; it was just too slow to plan ahead to reserve one like everyone else.
In case you find yourself in a similar predicament, get ye to Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen in St. Helena for my absolute favorite rabbit dish in wine country… the famed rabbit tostada with lime crème fraiche. Cindy’s executive chefs Pablo and Erasto Jacinto developed this recipe from their Oaxacan heritage, and it has a loyal following that borders on the fanatical. Simmered for hours in a rich guajillo chili sauce, the tender rabbit meat drinks up the spice and smoke and depth from the chilies, and emerges in succulent glory that demands to be devoured. The kitchen mounds the spice-infused meat on top of cumin-spiked black beans and a crispy tostada shell, then buries the treasure under a fresh tangle of shredded cabbage, arugula, radishes, cilantro, and crumbled feta cheese. Every person I have ever introduced to this dish has instantly adored it, irrespective of their feelings about rabbits as food.
If you can’t make it to Cindy’s on Easter–and they are open as usual for lunch and dinner that day–try your hand at replicating the dish yourself. She and the Jacintos graciously revealed their recipe in the Big Small Plates cookbook, which is widely available.
I’m hopeful that the Jacinto brothers’ latest consulting project will also be open by Easter and serving up some new Oaxacan twists on rabbit. C Casa
in the Oxbow Public Market is scheduled to open any day now in the former Rotisario space, and by all accounts promises some very interesting nibbles. Let’s all pray rabbit tacos are among them.Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen
1327 Railroad Avenue, St. Helena 707.963.1200