Two odd bits, cockscombs and pig’s ears were combined in a salad for the first dish. This was interesting as it made me realize that I prefer cockscombs warm, in a sauce. It also showed yet again, that pig’s ears are a polarizing odd bit. It’s the cartilage that makes people love them or hate them.
In my book I suggest using tongue instead of ham in a croque monsieur. Patrick made three different croques, using duck, veal and beef tongue.
My favourite dish was the brain ravioli, made with veal brains, not lamb thanks to a last minute substitution by the supplier. Patrick added toasted pine nuts, which gave the dish a nice crunch. Everyone who hates, or who thinks they hate brains should taste this dish. I’m sure it will convert them to the delights of this delicate odd bit.
And for dessert – chocolate blood ice cream, what else?
I’m not sure how I feel about awards, but I know I love to be nominated and love it even more when I win. Single subject is always a tough category and this year I am shortlisted with my friend Molly Stevens and Yotam Ottolenghi who I don’t know personally, but I do like his recipes. This is an interesting mix of cookbooks All About Roasting: New Approach to a Classic Art, Odd Bits and Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes From London’s Ottolenghi. Whoever wins, I think we are all winners if we have encouraged our readers to cook.
So the meal begins –
Bone and tendon interpreted by Matty was a roasted marrow bone, topped with grated horseradish set in a broth with beef tendon and peas. A dessert spoon was inserted into the marrow handle first. I think the idea was to use the handle to extract the marrow, as the bowl of the spoon was too big for most of the bones. I pushed my marrow out into the broth, and reached for the sour dough toasts. Although the toasts already had a smear of foie gras butter, that didn’t stop me from spreading the bone marrow on top.
Then came Chris with the lamb kidneys. Gnocchi, rapini and sauteed lamb kidneys topped with a fennel zabaglione was a great way to introduce people to kidneys. These kidneys were mild almost sweet, balanced by the rapini and light well flavoured sauce.
Tripe is often a hard sell as most people think they don’t like tripe. Kevin and Marc cooked unbleached lamb’s tripe with pork bits to make a rich, satisfying stew that wasn’t overly gutty in taste. They added beans and topped it with cornmeal encrusted, fried slice of testicle.
Veal brain was next and Bertrand served it with a bacon brioche Toulouse sausage, black trumpet mushrooms tand tied the dish together with a beurre blanc, rich and satisfying. Some diners expressed nervousness about eating brains, they should know that odd bits from well raised healthy animals are fit for the table.
Well done gentlemen, I’m hoping you’ll consider a repeat performance. Although it took a day and a half for me to even have the slightest hint of hunger, I’m ready to eat it all again. Two great meals of odd bits and another coming next month, a great start to 2012, The Year of Offal.
To begin, Nick presented an amuse bouche of vegetables, pickled carrot and beet, balanced with a piece of fresh apple, no odd bits there. At my table were two vegetarians!!!!!! Yes I was polite, but I did get on my soap box a couple of times. We also had a paleo diet follower at the table, so as you can imagine our dinner conversation was very lively.
Nick started with a bombshell – Crispy Lamb’s testicles with caramelized onions and double smoked bacon combining two of my recipes with delicious results. There was a nervousness, but all the diners were surprised by the mild taste and light texture of the testicles. The bacon was worth the trip to Waterloo.
The next dish was a combination of pig’s ear served two ways; cold in a salad and hot and glazed. Nick also included slices of grilled tongue with mustard seed glaze. Pig’s ear is challenging for some, you either love it or hate it because of the cartilage. The tongue was a universal success and hot tongue was a first for many of the diners.
Lamb brains followed in one of my favourite incarnations, a filling for ravioli. I add morels in my recipe, but as they were not in season Nick served the ravioli with his homemade picked wild mushrooms, a perfect foil for the rich, creamy brains.
The main course was a Peruvian heart kebab on a bone marrow dumpling with spicy winter greens, a mix of cultures that worked. The only negative with the heart for some was its texture, chewy some said. True. It wasn’t tough, but you did have to use your teeth. To quote my friend Al Brown, “when did tenderness overtake the importance of flavour? Texture is good.” He’s is absolutely right, and heart has both texture and flavour.
Nick finished strong with chocolate blood ice cream with a choux paste beignet from the Fat book. Again people were surprised by this dish and all loved the rich chocolatey taste.
It was a fabulous meal and as Nick followed recipes from my book we both hope that the meal inspires them to try the recipes at home and explore the vast world of tasty odd bits.