Thursday, 26 January 2012

Odd Bits Dinner in Waterloo

Last night I was at Nick and Nat's Uptown 21 in Waterloo. I met Nick last year at Savour Stratford, when we were both judging the Best Chef competition. Nick asked if I would participate in a cookbook dinner at his restaurant sponsored by the local bookstore Wordsworth Books. I said yes,  Nick had told me he loved my Fat book, authors always fall for flattery. Also I love this type of event, the chef does all the work and I have time to meet people who like my books and I can continue my mission of convincing people to try odd bits. Nick made my food shine and alas my photography doesn't do it justice - I had a camera incident - my flash had a mind of its own deciding when it would and wouldn't work, but I've posted the snaps anyway.

To begin, Nick presented an amuse bouche of vegetables, pickled carrot and beet, balanced with a piece of fresh apple, no odd bits there. At my table were two vegetarians!!!!!! Yes I was polite, but I did get on my soap box a couple of times. We also had a paleo diet follower at the table, so as you can imagine our dinner conversation was very lively.

Nick started with a bombshell - Crispy Lamb's testicles with caramelized onions and double smoked bacon combining two of my recipes with delicious results. There was a nervousness,  but all the diners were surprised by the mild taste and light texture of the testicles. The bacon was worth the trip to Waterloo.

The next dish was a combination of pig's ear served two ways; cold in a salad and hot and glazed. Nick also included slices of grilled tongue with mustard seed glaze. Pig's ear is challenging for some,  you either love it or hate it because of the cartilage. The tongue was a universal success and hot tongue was a first for many of the diners.

Lamb brains followed in one of my favourite incarnations,  a filling for ravioli. I add morels in my recipe, but as they were not in season Nick served the ravioli with his homemade picked wild mushrooms, a perfect foil for the rich, creamy brains.

The main course was a Peruvian heart kebab on a bone marrow dumpling with spicy winter greens, a mix of cultures that worked. The only negative with the heart for some was its texture, chewy some said. True. It wasn't tough, but you did have to use your teeth. To quote my friend Al Brown, "when did tenderness overtake the importance of flavour? Texture is good." He's is absolutely right, and heart has both texture and flavour.

Nick finished strong with chocolate blood ice cream with a choux paste beignet from the Fat book. Again people were surprised by this dish and all loved the rich chocolatey taste.
It was a fabulous meal and as Nick followed recipes from my book we both hope that the meal inspires them to try the recipes at home and explore the vast world of tasty odd bits.

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