The Meat Emporium

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Dinner last night was at the remarkable St.Johns restaurant in Smithfield, London. An old smokehouse now converted into an emporium of reverence to all things edible between tusk and tail.

Here you will find cuts not normally on restaurant menus, such as heart, liver, tripe, sweetbreads and crispy pigs ears. All delectably cooked, with simplicity and honesty, and served with panache.

The highlight of the meal was their signature dish starter of bone marrow, parsley and onion salad, rock salt and sourdough toast.

It was the best thing I’ve eaten in years.

The marrow was silky soft, deliciously creamy and deeply savoury. The flat leafed parsley salad, sprinkle of crunchy rock salt and the crispness of deeply good sourdough toast completed a taste experience that knocked my socks off.

If you get a chance to worship at this Emporium to Meat, go. Bite someone’s hand off for an invitation. Sell your children for a table.

I’m a convert!

Anneli’s Wonderfully Warming Chicken Gabure

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Snow is blustering around both London and the Gers along with a bitterly cold wind, driving us to huddle around the woodburner. Winter has us all at last in its icy grasp.

Time for warming stews and soups, and a garbure is a wonderful fusion of the two.

Normally made with duck locally, a Garbure is a local, rustic stew- soup made with cabbage, garlic, beans and meat. Totally delicious. Anneli had the inspiration to replace the local duck with chicken, and I have to say that it was an inspired modification.

The full recipe is here http://www.delicieux.eu/p=3270

This recipe just uses the shredded meat from the legs (and the meat from the wings in my case as that was what I had left) from a roasted bird, and I have to say with the onion, leek, garlic, cabbage and beans it was more than enough.

Never have a couple of chicken legs fed so many.

Do try this. Comfort food at its absolute best.

Garlic and chilli prawns with sugar snaps

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Supper last night was at Patara on Greek Street, a Thai restaurant of some repute.

Continuing the healthy eating theme here was going to be a challenge, with all those lovely, creamy hot green curries and sticky rice, but I was pleasantly surprised.

My main course was a simple dish of wok-seared king prawns with garlic, fresh chilli, lime and sugar snap peas.

Nice, zesty and light with a hot chilli kick. The sweetness of the sugar snaps was counterbalanced perfectly by the lime and chilli.

Next time I do Thai I’ll certainly try one of these lighter options again. Much as I love the comforting hug of a good green curry or massaman it’s good to ring the changes sometimes.

Brunch Dilemnas

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I’m in the Workshop Cafe on Clerkenwell Road, London, having brunch.

You know when you come across one of those menus where you could seriously eat everything?

And whilst you’re weighing up the pros and cons of sourdough toast, grilled cherry tomatoes on the vine, sweet corn fritters, chorizo anything and roasted peppers you know that the waitress is gonna arrive soon and it will just have to be a blind stab at the menu, because whatever you choose will be gorgeous and it’s impossible to narrow the selection down.

And that doesn’t really matter because it’s all what you feel like eating.

So I made a decision.

And it was delicious.

Potty for mackerel

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At supper tonight at Hawksmoor, a celebrated steak house in London, I spotted potted mackerel and melba toast as a starter on the menu.

Very retro-chic, I thought. I’ll definitely try some of that.

The butter sealing the pot of mackerel was diligently removed. In days gone by I would have spooned this greedily onto the toast, but am trying to be good and so it was quietly and a bit wistfully laid to one side of the plate.

Mackerel has a lovely, oily texture and a robust, salty flavour so a little goes a long way.

Served with dill sprinkled cucumber slices to counteract the strength of taste it was rustic, delicious and very moreish.

I like it when things stand the test of time and potted mackerel is up there with the best of them.

First catch your mackerel…

The polo mint pizza

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In my usual guilt-ridden January mindset, having consumed far too much goose, turkey, mince pies, chocolate and wine to be good for me over the Christmas break, I have started to seek out healthy meals in January.

It was that or invest in reinforced elastication on the waistband, believe me.

But after three days straight on salads I needed something carb-laden and slightly bad-ass, and the craving for a pizza came upon me.

Enter stage left Pizza Express with their wonderful 500 calorie extravaganza of a pizza, the Legera.

The pizza with a hole. Just like a polo mint.

The base and toppings are the same as normal, but some enterprising individual cuts the centre out of the pizza and stuffs it liberally with dressed salad.

Somehow this food witchery works, and the eater doesn’t feel at all hard done by even though consumption of the gorgeous, fattening bits like crispy base, goats cheese and caramelised red onions is significantly less than it would normally be.

Thank you Pizza Express Legera inventor, whoever you are. You shall henceforth be known as a Food God.

Because of you and your invention my healthy eating month will lurch further on by at least a few days.

Tiny turbot

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Refreshing the fresh foodstuffs in the local supermarket just before New Years Eve I wandered over to the small fish counter to see what looked good.

In amongst the usual suspects such as oysters, cod and salmon was a small box of tiny turbot.

I’ve only ever had slices of turbot, big and meaty, from large fish. They’re known for their firmness and taste and the fact that the slices can be several inches thick show how big these fish can get.

This is how you normally see them, if at all: in this part of the world they’re pretty rare to see on a fish counter.

But these were like little slipper sole – the whole fish being only about twelve inches from head to tail. They were fresher than they had any right to be and although I had no idea what I was going to do with them, I had to give them a try.

Keeping it simple I baked them in the oven for fifteen minutes and served them with a dollop of hollandaise sauce.

Partner wasn’t impressed – he thought that plaice or sole had more flavour, but the flesh was delicate, white and sweet, and after the beef, goose and turkey excesses this holiday it was so good to eat a spankingly fresh fish to cleanse the pallet.

It’s 2015 now so am looking forward to lighter meals as soon as we’ve eaten the remaining Christmas cake, cheese and leftover biscuits from Christmas…