Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Odd Bits in Toronto


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.

13 comments:

Amarantha said...

I don't think I've ever had caul fat, but I really want to. Overjoyed to hear about the pilot, here's hoping it gets picked up. Good luck!

Jennifer said...

Thanks Amarantha. Caul fat is great for wrapping lean meats, sausage like mixtures and lining terrines. I think it would make a great dress too! Perhaps I should tell Lady Gaga about it?

Amarantha said...

Ooh la la! Perhaps a veil?

Marie-Claire Saint Maux said...

J'en mangerais de la moelle à tous les repas si mon mari ne détestait pas les femmes "pas maigres"
Did he cooked the marrow with the flame or was it cooked and then flamed?

Jennifer said...

Cooked, topped with sugar and a little chile then flamed with propane torch.

George Leake said...

gradually, people are getting more adventurous--here in Austin, I see it happening in a sort of two-pronged paradigm--one by fellow cooks and chefs in the finer dining scene, the second in traditional Mexican cuisine (Menudo & Barbacoa come to mind)

Jennifer said...

Glad to hear people are more adventurous in Austin. My memory, from quite a long time ago is of barbecue and nothing but. Mexican cuisine is a great source for odd bits recipes, menudo is one of my favourites.

Diana @ Spain in Iowa said...

I'd love to try caul fat. I've seen my family in Spain use it to wrap around pigs feet. I wish some of these things were easier to come by in the states. I do hope your pilot gets picked up. I would enjoy it!!

Jennifer said...

I love caul fat Diana. Not only is it useful it is beautiful - imagine a dress made from caul fat. I am sure if people ask for it, it will become easier to obtain in the US.

Michael Irwin said...

Any idea when the film will be broadcast or available for people to see, here in the malnourished (as opposed to undernourished) USA ?

Jennifer said...

They are just editing it. The company is based in Dallas and they hope to sell it to a US TV station so you might see it before Canada! I'll keep you posted.

Snezhinka said...

I love caul fat, and often make "salnik", which is a very old Russian recipe, passed on to me by my granny - put the caul fat into a heavy cast-iron pot, so that the edges hang out; chop up, very finely, the liver, lungs, and heart of a lamb (or pig, or cow), mix in salt, pepper, onions, garlic, dill and parsley, put into the caul fat, pour over eggs beaten with some cream, fold the caul fat over the top, and place into a hot oven for an hour - after an hour, gradually lower the heat to very low (I'd say about 120 C), and continue to cook for another 1 1/2 hours. We eat it with buckwheat porridge.

Can be frozen! Just make sure it is piping hot when serving!

I live in London now, and I get my caul fat from the Ginger Pig :-)

Jennifer said...

Sounds delicious and I love Ginger Pig. Perhaps you know of http://www.russianrevels.co.uk

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