Monday, May 15, 2006

Love At First Read

When I read Anthony Bourdain's passionate chapter on English cooks and cooking, it just affirmed how much this is a man I would run away and live happily ever after with after my own heart. His enthusiasm for people like Fergus Henderson and Gordon Ramsey makes my heart beat a little faster. They are food heroes, and I don't need to taste their food to believe this. I'll be honest though, if I had both Anthony and Gordon in the same room I wouldn't be talking about tete de veau...

He mentionned a dish at St John's Restaurant that almost made him weep with joy, a meal he'd chose as his last, and I know exactly how he feels, because just reading it I was whimpering for it and can only imagine the ethereal experience it would be tasting it. Roast Marrow Bone with Parsley Salad.

A stunning photo of a stunning dish
from the St John's Restaurant website.

So as any 21st-century Google-addicted person would do, the next day I searched for the recipe thinking it might be elusive and looked forward to the challenge of making it up, but there it is, from Fergus himself. I never liked marrow bone as a little girl - it was in the same category as buckwheat and ox tongue and all those grey foods I was forced to eat. But as an adult winter presents all those rich comforting dishes like lamb shanks and stews and yes, osso bucco. So I tried the marrow bone and my first thought was, oh, how many years have I missed out on this treat! And when no one was watching I would dish out the last bone and sideline the meat, just to suck on this creamy pocket of unctuous goodness. Here is a dish where nothing gets in the way of it - smeared on toast and seasoned with grey sea salt, the smell of the roasted bones, the crisp herbiness of the parsley, you couldn't ask for anything more. So when I come back from Europe, this is what I'll look forward to cooking.

Roast Marrow Bone and Parsley Salad, serves 4
12 x 7-8cm pieces of middle veal marrowbone
1 bunch of flat-leafed parsley, picked from the stems and chopped
2 Shallots, very thinly sliced
1 modest handful of capers (extra-fine if possible)
Juice of 1 lemon
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground salt and black pepper
Toast, to serve
Coarse sea salt (Anthony mentions sel gris and I think it would be highly preferable to any sea salt).
1. Preheat the oven to 190ÂșC/Gas 5. Place the bone marrow in an oven-proof frying pan. Roast the marrow for 20 minutes until the marrow is loose and giving, but not melting away.and place in a hot oven for about 20 minutes, until the marrow is loose and giving, without melting away.
2. Mix together the parsley, shallots and capers. Make the dressing by mixing together the lemon juice and olive oil.
3. Just before serving toss the parsley mixture with the dressing and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
4. Scrape the marrow from the bone onto the toast and season with coarse sea salt. Serve with a pinch of parsley salad on top.


Blogger chimera said...

You MUST get Fergus Henderson's cookbook, it's fabulous !

see here, or Amazon of course :

6:01 PM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

it is that time of year! the only redeeming feature of winter is hearty winter food and imperial mandarins. So I've just added osso bucco with risotta milanese and a big bowl of gremolata to this weeks menu. Or maybe I'll have polenta...can never decide between risotto and polenta. Love them both equally.

12:46 PM  
Blogger Julia said...

Love polenta...

And you know I agree, food is the only good thing about winter.

12:49 PM  
Blogger Caroline W. said...

I'm dying to read this book!! How did you like it?

2:53 AM  
Blogger Julia said...

Caroline - this book is a MUST. It's gone straight into my favourite books list. I'm so glad I've just finished it and he has a new one coming out - my Bourdain fix is satiated for now :-)

8:44 AM  
Blogger paradise said...

i watch bourdain's show on the travel channel, "no reservations" and it's really addictive. i love his casual, off beat way of introducing food from all over the world.

10:21 AM  
Anonymous Russell Allen said...

I had the RMPS the last time I visited. It's one of those dishes that you must have a bit of everything on the fork when you eat. That way it works perfectly. Otherwise, you wonder if someone is playing a cruel trick on you.

The other thing on the menu that it excellent that no-one probably orders is the Mushrooms on Toast. Divinity in fungal form!

4:58 PM  
Blogger Julia said...

Wow, I'm sure that would be amazing - I know I would love it!

A dear friend has even suggested we pop in to St John's for the RMPS for the couple of hours I'm in London in June - so tempting!

2:02 PM  
Anonymous Russell Allen said...

You really should - St John is a standout restaurant even with Fergus not cooking (which he isn't at the mo)...

If you can't get a table there, then Top Floor at John Torode's Smiths (SOS) is two minutes walk away as is Club Gascon. Both are considered mainstays at the topend of London dining.

7:32 PM  
Blogger Gillian Young said...

I can't believe somebody else has a crush as big as mine for Anthony Bourdain!

The chapter on his visit to the French Laundry hit me pretty hard. And I have sudden urges to go to Japan and Vietnam just to eat!

8:22 PM  
Blogger Julia said...

Thanks for stopping by Gill! I'm exactly the same, with the French Laundry and Vietnam chapters - they were so hypnotic. I love his writing style, so honest, bullshit-free. Love him.

9:22 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home