or, eating swine in london.
this weekend, i met up with my sister and some friends in london. and over a short day and a half, we managed to pack in a few good meals at some of my favorite food haunts.
first, the wonderful borough market:
where we waited in line for
the world’s best chorizo sandwich. our primary objective, actually, was to hunt down bill (aka ‘the cheese sandwich man’), who, my sister tells me, supposedly makes life-altering cheese sandwiches. alas, he was absent from his usual spot next to neal’s yard dairy, and in his place, there was a sign:
as consolation, we picked up
banoffee pie at the lovely konditor & cook.
and saturday night, i got to go back to st john (smithfield), perhaps one of my favoritest restaurants in the world. we brought 3 uninitiated dining companions along and fergus’s crew did not disappoint. we were, however, disappointed that we hadn’t the foresight to order
(the table next to us did.)
(sorry, couldn’t resist the headless shot.)
carla began with the roasted shallots, which came with toast and goat curd. british people, for the usual unquantifiable reasons, insist on pronouncing their name ‘shal-LOT’, which, i suppose, is closer to the french echalote than the nasal american ‘SHAL-ut’. (but then why, i ask you, do the british say ‘re-NAY-sahnts’ and not ‘REN-uh-sahnts’ like we do, for renaissance?)
i had — naturally — the rabbit offal special. which is a jumble of kidney, heart, liver, etc. (as you see here) on top of the best pea purée ever. carla and i spent much of the meal trying to discern what they flavored it with — and would never have guessed just mint and thyme. nicely balanced with a little acidity as well.
there were also squid with red onion and garlicky, garlicky aioli (excellent), and a crunchy pig ear salad (good, rather plain).
i followed with
langoustines and mayo — sweet, meaty flesh. and see johnny apple’s description of the ones from brittany (sorry, i can’t get a link to the free article any more) from the august 17 nytimes dining section for an explanation of these tasty sea critters. wish i could find them more often.
and then to compensate for our suckling pig oversight, half the table ordered
middlewhite — which almost escaped our notice (i thought it was a game bird; connie thought it was a fish). turns out it’s a rare breed of pig that’s been cooked so that the skin caramelizes into this amazingly juicily fatty sweet-lard candy (the best kind of candy, no?). it’s that brown strip at the top of this slice. carla and i couldn’t get enough. hence this post’s title. the pork comes with a bit of braised fennel, which almost seems beside the point. but i like fennel.