supper, brit-style.
so tonight was the big dinner at st. john, fergus henderson’s little shrine to all that is good about english food (and yes, english food can be good. but definitely not in loughborough’s dining halls, that’s for sure). everytime anyone’d asked us what we’d planned to do in london during our stay, the only thing i could manage was, “well, i made restaurant reservations.” and of course, they never knew what the heck st. john was. henderson (as noted in a previous entry concerning his cookbook, nose-to-tail-eating: a kind of british cookery) is regarded as a master of offal, and we all know how much i love the stuff. i might have overdone it this time, but it was well worth it.

to start, connie had the pig’s ears and watercress salad (crispy shredded bits of the meat with dressed greens and capers), i the roasted bone marrow and parsley (a st. john specialty, made with veal shanks, served with moistened sea salt, parsley and capers, and two generous slices of toast), and chris had the “carrot, boiled egg, and aioli,” which, to our surprise, was exactly that: two raw carrots, tops attached, one boiled egg in shell, and a heap of garlicky mayonnaise. while chris claims this was indeed the best boiled egg he’s ever had, perfectly cooked yolk and all, and while the carrots were very fresh and, er, full of carroty goodness, it was still sort of laughable. (the server laughed when he brought the plate as chris greeted him with a quizzical look and asked under his breath, “how the heck do i eat this?”)

mains: i ordered the lamb sweetbreads with chunks of ham and broad beans (or favas, as they’re known here); chris had the snail, chickpea, and sausage stew; connie had the duck breast with radishes. all very good. my dishes were both incredibly rich and intense. connie’s duck was perfect, one of the best duck preparations i’ve had in the past couple of years. both breast and attached leg were perfectly, perfectly cooked, a lovely, juicy medium-rare throughout. yum. none of us understood the radish bit though? radishes? boiled radishes? maybe some radish greens, but these were just such a bland and insubstantial counterpoint to the meat. chris’ stew was very tasty (though he claims he’s made something similar at home). though the portions were appropriately and moderately sized, i was nearly undone by the overwhelming nature of my food.

luckily, i passed on the last few bits of sweetbread in favor of dessert: peach and almond tart with jersey cream. the server commented on the excellence of the peaches (“highly unusual here,” he noted) when asked to choose between the tart and the chocolate pot (a pudding that chris enthusiastically recommended), and indeed, the tart was so good that i slogged through my incipient nausea to finish every last morsel. (the jersey cream was sooooo incredibly fatty. it had the texture of pastry cream. soooo good.) connie and chris both had the buttermilk pudding with fresh raspberries. we quite mistakenly took this dessert for just another version of panna cotta, but no, this was so light and refreshing, (connie says,”lemony” and “palate-cleansing”), and the raspberries were both impressively large and delicious (rather rare to get both at once, i’d say). we drank a saint chinian ’99. whatever that is. the interior is surprising wash of white on white but low-key and spare and very likeable. service was top-notch, relaxed, friendly, and just enough hinted irony to keep us guessing. overall, a solid meal. and very reasonable — about 40 a head, including wine and tip.

karma comes and bites me in the ass.
or so connie claims. i still feel guilty for yesterday’s posting, but this was compounded by this scaryass dream i had last night in which i was actually shot.i didn’t die, but i didn’t wake up immediately either, and i recall feeling pain in my dream and actually falling to the ground within it from the impact of the shot. insane.

how kickass is the tate modern?
we started off the day at camden market (which has expanded considerably since my last visit), and managed not to buy anything (which must be due mostly to the hot weather we’ve had here). there’s some fascination with chinoiserie and some japanese cartoon character called “pucca”.
oops. more later. internet cafe is closing.


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