Posts Tagged ‘meat’
I’m comfortable with dining alone. If I’m out and about on errands during the day I will have lunch by myself. There are many restaurants with counter seating which is perfect for one. I will perch on a stool and scroll the news headlines on my mobile as I eat. These contemplative meals tend to be at casual eateries so I was apprehensive about my booking at The Ledbury in London.
Chef Brett Graham is Australian and The Ledbury piqued my interest during the London riots. The restaurant was attacked by a mob and the staff armed themselves with kitchen accoutrements to defend patrons. There is an Aussie larrikin spirit to that!
With two Michelin stars, The Ledbury has a prix fixe lunch menu at the bargain price of £35 for three courses. The stately dining room was decorated in warm tones with chandeliers, mirrored walls draped with curtains, tablecloths and upholstered chairs.
It was a full lunch service. There was a group in a business meeting, a family celebrating a birthday, and tourists in shorts and visors.
An amuse bouche of foie gras mousse on hemp biscuit was the centrepiece on a rustic ceramic plate.
Speyside and Glenlivet are words I associate with Scotch but the area is also a pristine source of natural spring water.
A wicker basket cocooned warm onion and bacon, sourdough, and malt bread rolls. The onion and bacon scroll was dense and savoury.
The first course was a salad of spring vegetables with crisp pheasant egg and Parmesan. There was a collective gasp from the adjacent table when this was presented. It was an artistic arrangement of tender batons. Vibrant radishes, carrots, asparagus, beans, peas and micro greens complemented the richness of the Parmesan encased pheasant egg.
My entrée silverware with replaced with a spoon. I was pondering how to cut hogget with the blunt, round edge when a shallow bowl was served. The waiter announced it was a pre-course of Cornish brill with radishes, barley, shellfish consommé and cream of white beer. Delicate and flaky, the white filet paired well with the briny broth. This was an ode to the ocean.
A serrated knife was swiftly set. The waiter wryly described hogget as middle aged sheep. The plate was a kaleidoscope of shapes and colours. A wedge of aubergine glazed in black sugar and garlic, dots of green tomato juice and flecks of dried olive were in a jus with three cuts of unctuous heritage prime biodynamic hogget.
A shot glass was layered with passionfruit jelly and vanilla cream, a sweet and tart palate cleanser.
Dessert was a vivid parfait of dried flowers topped with gariguette and wild strawberries, and white chocolate. A puddle of warm tapioca was textural and temperature contrast to the icy smooth parfait.
Petit fours from left to right: eucalyptus chocolate, earl grey biscuit and mandarin jelly.
Lunch was nearly three hours and I read that day’s Guardian newspaper in between courses!
I was exploring the Flatiron District after lunch at Shake Shack and I found myself at the entrance of Eataly. I stood on the sidewalk for several minutes, observing the speed of the foot traffic in and out. I finally walked in, thinking I’ll do a quick lap and exit.
All my senses were on alert. Cutlery clanging on china, diners conversing and shoppers ordering, the decibel of the din would be near noise pollution. The hum of human activity and the kaleidoscope of colours was a sight to behold. The aroma of freshly ground coffee wafted through the air. I breathed in deeply, to ease the anxious feeling of being enveloped in a large crowd, and to absorb caffeine!
I got lost in Eataly. Unlike IKEA, there were no arrows on the floor, no dividers for a path and no map. Directionally challenged, I weaved and wandered until I took a photo of every section and every restaurant.
The Eataly website lists twenty sections in their market and twelve places to eat. Below is a selection of them!
Wood fire ovens and counter seating at La Pizza and La Pasta for Neapolitan pizzas and al dente pasta.
Il Pesce serves fresh seafood including whole fish.
Paninoteca‘s chalkboard menu highlights regional specialties.
A pretty display of single portion cakes and tarts at Dolci.
With such a concentration of eateries, Eataly is ideal for progressive meals. Apéritif at Birreria, appetizer at one restaurant, main course at another, dessert at Dolci or Gelateria, and conclude with an espresso at Caffe Lavazza or Caffe Vergnano.
A stainless steel espresso machine is the centrepiece of Caffe Vergnano, a standing only espresso bar.
Caffe Lavazza is at the Fifth Avenue entrance and you can while away an afternoon people watching.
Cone, cup or to go, the Gelateria has three sizes and many flavours of gelati.
The market is well stocked with dried pasta.
Shelves are laden with sauces.
Marinated, stuffed and in brine, jars of olives aplenty.
A multitude of packaged biscotti.
Preserves and conserves of every fruit.
Chilled local and imported beer.
Sliced and packaged salumi.
Boxes of cheese wedges.
The butcher has some local and organic meats.
The requisite hanging and dangling salumi.
The bakery bakes daily on site.
Bags of flour are stacked high for handmade fresh pasta.
‘The mozzarella you eat at Eataly is never more than two hours old.’
I had a fleeting urge to roll one of these Parmigiano Reggiano wheels around Eataly.
The fishmonger’s seafood is ‘never frozen’.
The fresh produce are piled high in wicker baskets.
The greens and root vegetables are neatly presented.
Beautiful trays of mushrooms.
Some on vine, others wrapped in protective foam, the tomatoes were glossy and vibrant.
A curated bookstore on Italian culinary culture.
Basic dinnerware and glassware.
Melamine glasses and bowls in rainbow hues.
A ten point manifesto and a motto, ‘eat better, cook simpler’.
I left contemplating how local European style delicatessens and providores can compete with a corporate marketplace that is Eataly.
I’m an omnivore. I love roasted and stir-fried vegetables, and my daily sugar intake is mostly from fruits. I also love barbecued lamb cutlets, pulled pork tacos, traditional roasts, duck confit, prosciutto and Hainan chicken rice. But I feel no love for steak.
A slab of meat on a plate swimming in its own juices and oozing blood is how I think of steak. It was with trepidation that I descended the steps into Morton’s The Steakhouse for dinner with two visiting Aussies.
In contrast, Mr S was buzzing with anticipation. A metallic cow sculpture dangled ominously over the staircase as we lowered ourselves into the basement restaurant.
We sat at the bar and sipped apéritifs as we waited for our dining companions. Russet coloured wood panels and dim lighting created a Mad Men like atmosphere, thankfully the smoke haze was absent.
My lemon drop was sharp and tart, and I discreetly licked all the sugar off the rim of the cocktail glass!
Fast talking and in a suit, our waiter presented the menu with a flourish. A trolley was wheeled over by our table, laden with all the cuts of beef and a basket of vegetables. ‘And this is the potato.’ He said in his deep voice with such gravity that I find myself nodding in agreement, ‘yes that is indeed a potato’.
After much deliberation over the menu, where the word ‘jumbo’ featured prominently, our waiter delivered the complimentary bread. Pillowy and warm, the size and shape of the gigantic bun reminded me of a damper. I was starving so I tore at this with gusto but Mr H reminded me of the impending courses.
We each selected a seafood appetiser of which there was total photo fail due to the poor lighting. We played musical chairs with our food so we had a taste of all four dishes.
The essence of lobster was distilled into the creamy bisque. The jumbo lump crabmeat cocktail and colossal shrimp Alexander were aptly named, jumbo and colossal respectively. Succulent and juicy, the broiled sea scallops were perfect without the bacon jacket they were wearing.
I deftly averted a Brussel sprouts crisis and we shared sides of grilled jumbo asparagus and jumbo potato skins. The drum sticks size spears were unfortunately overcooked but the potato skins were charred and chewy.
Below is the prime rib bone-in double cut that Mr S ordered. I didn’t take a photo of my medium well steak as it was blackened. I stared at my chunk of protein for several minutes, inspecting it from all angles. I finally picked up the serrated knife and carved in. The caramelised surface had protected the meat, it was tender and a little fatty. I ate a third and took the leftover home.
I was in need of a sweet conclusion to this heavy meal and I opted for their ‘legendary hot chocolate cake’. Small in comparison to every other dish on the menu, this dessert was a delight.
A gentle nudge of the spoon broke the shell and a torrent of molten chocolate cascaded over the plate. The vanilla ice cream cuddled up to the warm pudding and each mouthful was a lovely blend of the two flavours and temperatures.
When I caught a glimpse of this, I thought the waiter had brought the complimentary bread by mistake. This is the raspberry soufflé for two!
We slowly ascended into the night, with two large bags as evidence of our Morton’s experience.