Oh the good eating at Borough Market!
Where to begin? The hot duck sandwich at the French stand? The massive iron skillets full of sizzling paella? The fruit and veg stalls packed with perfectly ripe produce? The German frankfurters? The hot gruyere sandwiches? The Iberico specialty shop that gives free samples of acorn-fed jamon? The mushroom pate? The Toulouse sausages? The bakery stand piled high with meringue? Insider tip: Borough Market is open Thursday through Saturday. To avoid the thickest of the crowds, try sampling the market’s delights on Thursdays around noon. All other times (particularly Saturdays) the market gets saturated with people.
St John, Fergus Henderson’s Clerkenwell institution that specializes in “nose to tail eating” was on tap for Monday evening. The dining room is open and spare, and I liken it to a (pristine) cafeteria with better lighting and white tablecloths. That’s not a negative, per se — the focus here is clearly on the food, and boy was it interesting.
G’s starter — the crispy pig cheeks, raddishes and watercress was bursting with flavor and (I thought) was the best meal of the night.
We needed some help from the (very knowledgable) server to decipher some of the dishes on the menu. Hare saddle? Roast middlewhite? Ox heart? Nose to tail indeed! These Americans were feeling like they were truly diving into British fare. G. went for the hare (yes, rabbit) and I the middlewhite (pork).
There is no denying that a considerable amount of skill went into the preparation of these dishes. And I am also convinced that St. John provides the best of breed for this genre of cooking. But honestly? The flavors were not my cup of tea.
The freshly-baked madeleines, however, were definitely my cup of tea. How in the world did they get them such a perfectly golden color?
G. is in town this week, so we’ve been going on a spree of restaurant and pub-going. He sought out this smart little spot on Bermondsey Street in SE1, south and east of the Thames river. Zucca features modern Italian cuisine in a somewhat trendy atmosphere. There weren’t many tables, which gave the room a cosy and comfortable feel, and the lighting was just right. The immaculate kitchen was open and faced the dining room, which I always love. G. went for simple but tasty cod, and I went for corda ragu — a spicy bolognese with perfectly al dente pasta.
Bermondsey is quite a trek from Fulham, so we probably won’t be back any time soon, although it is always fun to explore a new area of town.
Momofuku Ssäm Bar is one our favorite restaurants in New York City. If you have never had one of their epic pork belly buns I advise you to get to NYC and try one immediately.
G. received Momofuku’s cookbook for Christmas this year, and on Saturday, he decided to treat me and our close friends P. and N. to homemade pork belly buns, along with David Chang’s amazing chicken and egg dish. (NB: this involved de-boning a chicken leg, confit-ing it in duck fat, slow-poaching some eggs, pickling some cucumbers, and making the spongy Chinese buns by hand. It was an all-day cooking affair that we dubbed “Asian Thanksgiving”. )
And we were very thankful indeed for this amaaazing meal, G.’s top chef cooking skills, David Chang’s recipes, and being re-united with friends.