It’s March 18th; who’s kept up with their New Year’s Resolutions? Right, that’s what I thought. Not me either. Oh well.
Rifle through your memories to New Year’s 2011; can you even remember your New Year’s Resolution? I certainly cannot…luckily, I wrote a post to commemorate the event. My 2011 Resolution was to Eat More Weird Stuff. This resolution was inspired by a recent trip to St John, the nose-to-tail restaurant in London’s Smithfield (there’s also another one in Spitalfields, and apparently a bakery and hotel too!). What’s funny is that Eating More Weird Stuff has become my mantra of sorts; to the point where I fail to comprehend how other people don’t want to try new things. Who wants to try the pasta with white sauce again? Really. I can hear all you foodies out there hollerin’ at me in agreement.
Anyway, my point is that this resolution has not only enriched my eating life, but also impacted other facets of my daily life as well: when someone asks me if I want to get involved in something new, instead of saying no, I jump right in and say, why yes! I would love to be the deputy editor! However, instead of turning this post into a philosophical meandering into the vagaries of my life map, I am going to reproduce for you, here and now, the post that commemorated the meal that made this resolution possible:
On to the ‘meat’ of the post! (do you see what I did there? Food blog…’meat’…sigh.) I recently had the opportunity to go to St John Restaurant in London, in Smithfield.
Very different experience from three weeks previous, when I went to Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck, but more on that later (or now…let me sum it up: the setting was lovely, amazing service, but…I was disappointed! I know. Shameful. But really Heston, why are you still making the same food as 8 years ago, when you described it all on that program I watched on the Food Network? I realize that all your ideas are still pretty inventive, such as the cocktail poached in carbon dioxide and the hot and cold tea, but…we want more!! Conclusion: If you have the money to spare, and it is pretty pricey, I would definitely recommend you go; otherwise, don’t lose too much sleep over it. Definitely have a look at the menu though; the dishes DO sound very cool, just seem to lose a teeny bit in translation…anyway, back to St John!).
I managed to buy the St John cookbook, which let me tell you is a fascinating read (actually, what convinced me to buy the book was that the foreword is by Anthony Bourdain; I may have a small crush on Mr Bourdain…).
For those of you who don’t know (which included me until the restaurant popped up in a Timeout London search and I recognized the name from an article in Bon Appetit, my mother ship), Fergus Henderson, the chef/co-founder of St John, is widely acknowledged to have started the nose-to-tail movement, aka using the whole animal, not just the usual good bits. He is quite well-known, particularly because of his roasted bone marrow dish, which Anthony Bourdain (American chef/food writer/travel writer/has a show about food and travel) has stated would be his death-row meal. Obviously I had to try it, and yes, it is delicious. Although, maybe it’s just me, but I just cannot eat that much fat in one go! It was a bit too rich for me…but still great.
Other things on the menu included a snail and chorizo stew, tripe, and a pig’s ear salad (which I ADORED; crispy pig’s ear is truly a great thing). My parents did not seem too enamoured of the place but put on a good game face for me. My dad credits this restaurant with his decision to go (however briefly) vegetarian. Anyway, back to the book. This was so inspiring to read – the different ingredients he combines are things I would never have thought of. However, this is not a regular everyday cookbook: I am certainly not going to go to my butcher (not that I have a butcher) and ask for a whole pig’s head, with the skull in, thanks very much.
To be completely honest, I don’t even know if I can say that I would taste all the recipes (stuffed lamb’s hearts? I don’t know…), much less cook all of them. Or cook any of them, for that matter! I think this one may be beyond my skill set. But something to aspire to…one day, the time will come when I am able to cook and eat a whole pig’s head, but that time is not now. Perhaps this summer, when I have all the scads of spare time, will be my time to explore the world of adventurous eating. Kind of like in Julie/Julia, but with kidneys and stuff. It would certainly make for an interesting photo op, no? Something to think about at least…in the meantime, stay delicious!