17
Aug 04

Finally, we got to visit what had come to be something of a holy grail for us in culinary terms…….

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Finally, we got to visit what had come to be something of a holy grail for us in culinary terms…….

Vicky’s birthday seemed the ideal time to visit …..St John, Fergus Henderson’s house of great repute. There’s nothing flashy about this place really, a whitewashed former warehouse, a bar and tables onthe ground floor and a restaurant on a kind of mezzanine. There’s not a lot to talk about here, so, on with the food (but in the mean time, props to the nice fuzzy haired barman who let me sniff various bottles and told us funny stories) anyway, starters.

Vicky went for the signature dish, roast marrow bone and parsley salad; four chunks of veal shin bone roasted at very high heat served with a salad of parsley, capers and onion with two big slices of posh toast and a pile of grey sea salt – this was just gorgeous, hot, deeply savoury and just gooey enough to mnash onto the bread. I had the only duff note of the meal unfortunately in the deep fried pig skins with dandelion, it’s not as if these fancy scratchings weren’t tasty, quite the opposite, I just fear they hadn’t been cooked long enough as the top was the right amount of crispy, but the lower areas? More like a pork wine gum, in fact it took more than a few minutes to pry it away from my teeth, still tasty mind and I only left one little piece uneaten. On the side of this, we spied the razor clams, and couldn’t resist a couple, and weren’t disappointed, two huge molluscs, swimming in very good oil with a touch of garlic and parsley – fresh and rich at the same time. This was all accompanied by a half bottle of Musacdet sur lie which was tasty, good and fresh, kind of crisp, you know the kind…

Onto the main courses, for which we had a bottle of Irouleguy which made me believe those awful wine critics who describe wines as flinty, I always thought they were talking bollocks, not now, I understod exactly what they meant (we had had a pint each and a gin and tonic each before the restaurant, you can see where this is going can’t you?)

My main was possibly the tenderest flesh it’s ever been my pleasure to eat – three lamb’s tongues, poached and sliced in half, on a bed of salad greens, french beans and a dressing that was full of, but not too full of anchovy, this set off the sweet, melting soft tongue to perfection. really, words can’t fully do justice to how tasty it was. Vicky’s was just as good – sweetbreads – crisp on the outside, almost liquid on the inside, kind of like a savoury truffle, accompanied by shallots and chunks of proper bacon, the sort that’s never been injected with water, hasn’t seen vacuum packs and definitely tasted like it was from ecstatic pigs. Along withthis were some simple chunks of potato, boiled simply so they had a fudgy texture, the perfect accompaniment. We had veggies too, a bowl of potatoes (they looked like anya’s) were plainly presented but cooked well and tatsed almost nutty, and a bowl of runner beans, something which I hated as a kid but here were so tasty you had to keep going back for more.

By this point we were rather full as you ccan imagine, but not too full for pudding of course, so on we went….. We shared two and they were vastly different; an eccles cake that was packed full of rich, black currants was served with a good slice of proper lancashire crumbly cheese (probably Mrs Kirkham’s) and the two scoops of honeycomb ice cream were rich, sweet and full of that deep sweet flavour that only good honey could give.

Only drinks could be fitted in after this and so we retired to the bar, where I bought possibly my most expensive two drink round ever – a glass of Armagnac and a glass of Glenkinchie came to fifteen quid (with a cigar) and it just about finished us off, we wearily staggered back to the hotel deeply satisfied and over full, possibly thinking we may have had a little too much to drink. Me not remembering getting back to the hotel and Vicky sleeping in her contact lenses may corroborate this.

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