As you know I'm passionate about odd bits like this beautiful piece of caul fat and convincing people to try them, every chance I get. My excuse for not blogging recently is that I have been working on a TV pilot.It all began earlier this year with an email. Over the last year I've made good friends and made many interesting connections via email and Twitter. And while I rage against social networking, it does have an amazing power to connect people like minded people. After numerous emails and conversations on Skype Marcel and Mark flew from Texas to Toronto last weekend to film an Odd Bits pilot.
As this was probably my only chance to do this I wanted to show odd bits that tend to make people squeamish. Many people dislike odd bits without ever having even tried them. Then there is a cringe factor, which blood and testicles certainly have.
We started with Rob Gentile at Buca, who I know loves to work with one of my favourite odd bits - blood. Rob has blood pasta and a surprising chocolate blood tart on his menu. Recently he added a blood gelato with Tuscan spice and he showed us how he makes it. He serves Sicilian-style, that is in a brioche, with caramelized spiced pistachios and a chianti reduction. After tasting this I'll never go back to regular ice cream.
Matty Matherson from Parts and Labour likes to shock and he loves testicles. He prepared fried lamb testicles two ways - with a beautiful salad with leaves harvested from his restaurant's rooftop garden and dressed with salsa verde. The second presentation was heartier, on mashed potatoes with fried onions, bacon and topped with a rich, trotter maple sauce.
The final day shooting was with Scott Vivian at Beast restaurant. Scott is the force behind the Group of 7 chefs and loves to use the whole animal. He made us a dish using three odd bits, the heart, tongue and marrow bone, all from Ontario water buffalo. Scott likes spicy food as his final dish revealed.
A taco with spicy marinated heart, roasted rare and creamy poached tongue and topped with coriander, fresh house-made cheese, pickled onions, and a garnish of red cabbage sprouts. As Scott noted wisely, if you serve odd bits in a familiar dish people are more likely to try it. I loved it, but it was the accompanying roasted bruléed marrow bone that made me swoon. Topped with a spicy caramelized topping I briefly considered stopping my campaign to convince more people to eat odd bits and to keep all those marrow bones for myself.
Finally a snap of the odd bit loving Texans, Mark and Marcel. No cowboy boots or stetsons, just an appreciation for eating the whole animal. They left Toronto with a new found love of bone marrow and testicles. So watch for the next big thing in Dallas to be a testicle bone marrow combo, as the year of offal continues.