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Tears of Christ and the Fifth Quarter

12 Oct

Last week, my beautiful life partner took me for a surprise dinner to Salvo’s Restaurant. Salvo’s is a restaurant that I wanted to go to since I moved to Leeds really – everyone said how amazing the food was and my friends who had been to Italy said how authentic it was too. This however, was no usual night at Salvo’s, but a night of offal feasting!

Needless to say, the food was amazing. Each course surpassed the previous one and there was a lovely chatty atmosphere. I got to eat some NEW OFFAL and got some lovely ideas to bring home to cook too. If a night like this is done again, I’ll definitely go, because it was totally delicious.

Our menu came with some historical notes:

This is one aspect of Roman cooking which derived from the practice of paying the slaughterhouse workers of Rome (the most modern slaughterhouses in Europe were found in the Testaccio distrct in the 19th century) with some of the less noble parts of the beast which were then often sold on to the local hostelries. The skills and knowledge of the Roman cooks created culinary masterpieces from the cheapest ingredients, refining ‘Cucina Povera’ or the cooking of the poor, to gastronomic heights.

And so to dinner*:

Sopressata alla Toscana

Typical ‘insaccato’ from Tuscany made with the tongue and other pig bits, served with mustard fruit

What an elegant way to begin an Offal Supper, the mustard fruits were like spicy glace fruits and the ‘insaccato’ was delicious.

Crostino Toscano

Roughly chopped chicken livers with anchovies, capers and white truffle oil on toast

Amazing. Anchovy and liver is awesome.

O muss’ e puorco sorpressata

Pressed pig’s head with red chilli and amalfi lemon, watercress salad.

Nasturtiums always get my vote, so I was sold even before tasting. Post devourment, this was my favourite dish. Citrus cutting through the pork, so very delicious. Tongue-tingling in the best possible way.

Zuppa di lenticchie con cetechino di Modena

Umbrian lentil soup with cotechino sausage. Originated in Modena and now traditionally served at Christmas, but borne out of hardship in the 15th century, the pigs rind is stuffed with minced lean and fat pork and cooked slowly.

Daz’s favourite. Served with some fresh shaved fennel to help cut through the richness.

Risotto con midollo di vitello

Risotto with veal bone marrow

New offal to me. Marrow in the risotto, as well as in the bone. Plus I loved delving in the bone with a teaspoon. (I couldn’t believe that the people near us didn’t eat theirs – I almost asked if I could have it, but felt I ought to be more decorous than that.)

Rognoni trifolati al senape

Lamb’s kidneys in grain mustard sauce with barone sourdough.

Yum. I ran out of things to mop the sauce up with. Again I restrained my gluttonous self from actually licking the plate.

Linguine con aglio, olio e animelle d’agnello

Pasta with garlic, olive oil and chilli, served with lambs sweetbreads alla pizzaiola

At this point I was so excited by each course that I kept forgetting to snap a photo. It was better presented before I dived in. Alla pizzaiola is with tomatoes and capers according to the staff we asked. Capers appear to be an ingredient I’m not using enough of. Again, gorgeous.

Coda alla Vaccinara

Old Roman style oxtail with celery and pine nuts, enriched with bitter chocolate, pecorino mash.

Lovely. I would have never thought to serve a chunk of oxtail as a cut in its own right. Lovely sauce and the cheesiest mash ever.

Here I am eating the prickly pear fruit brought round to freshen all our palates before dessert. Gip (one of the owners I think) brought it round and explained that he imported it to sell, but ate most of the stock himself! I’d never tried it – I would say to me it was a bit like a cross of watermelon and carrot, but a little drier than that would sound. Daz (who hates fruit) manfully tried it, but it wasn’t his cup of tea. I’d go for it again.

Sanguinaccia

Pig’s blood and chocolate pot with chilli almond shortbread.

I was pretty excited to see this on the menu as it’s a pudding I’ve been meaning to make all year. Very tasty.

Thank you very much Salvo’s for making such a delicious dinner. I loved all the courses, the service was lovely and the atmosphere great. I was also really intrigued to see quite a mix of different people there too – offal is clearly a universal love! If you’ve not eaten there yet, GO, I don’t think anyone would be disappointed!

*Please note, my pictures were taken on my phone – for clearer, professional shots of the food, please go to the Salvo’s website.

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Yorkshire Tasting Menu, Dough Restaurant

20 Sep

If you haven’t been to Dough in Leeds, then you should because it’s really amazing. Luke (who is clearly a totally awesome chef) creates beautiful dishes. He is also very helpful and supportive to offaltarians like me who don’t know what to do with trotters.

The idea of the Yorkshire Tasting Menu was/is (I believe it happens every year) to appreciate the beautiful bounty of Yorkshire, my adopted county. (A Lincolnshire tasting menu would be haslet and/or chine and/or sausages, Brussel Sprouts and Margaret Thatcher’s toenail-clippings.* I am glad the last prime minister to be born in Yorkshire was Asquith and he was Liberal.) At £58 for seven courses, including booze , I a) got a right bargain and b) was pickled by the end of the evening.

I loved eating here and can’t recommend it enough. I’ll be visiting again as soon as I can. The food was beautiful and I got some lovely ideas for combinations to try at home. The picture is followed by the dish and the accompanying alcoholic/non-alcoholic drinks. We really liked how much attention was given to the booze-free boozes (though a little explanation of why the flavours were chosen, like what happened for the boozes wouldn’t have gone amiss). There’s nothing much else to say, other than to reiterate that it was EXCEPTIONAL and repeat the menu with some increasingly fuzzy bad phone pictures.**

Canapes – hot dog, sausage roll, pork pie, chorizo – porkalicious!

(Leeds sparkling rhubarb Prosecco/Rhubarb lemonade)

Leeds yellow tomato Bloody Mary gazpacho with Artisan bakery olive bread

This was amazing. I don’t like tomatoes and would have NEVER chosen this. It was probably my personal highlight in a night of amazing food. This proves that Luke can clearly make everything delicious – so if you visit don’t let your previous tastes inform your choices.

Whitby crab cake – tartar sauce – pea puree – garlic chunky chip

(Ilkley Brewery Mary Jane/Sparkling apple and elderflower)

Faggots in Leventhorpe red wine – piccalilli – Yorkshire blue – celeriac puree

(Black Sheep Yorkshire Square/Red grape juice)

Allotment blackcurrant and gin sorbet

East coast mackerel – cauliflower and cheese cake – Roundhay rhubarb coulis – feathering late asparagus

(Leventhorpe Seyval Blanc 2009/Orange and cherry lemonade)

Confit of Thirsk lamb leg chepher’s pie – wrapped in filo pastry – Fountain’s Gold cheddar – yoghurt and mint sauce – beetroot salsa

(York Brewery Yorkshire Terrier/Strawberry and kiwi juice)

Warm Yorkshire parkin – Yorkshire tea ice cream – dark chocolate crisp – cherry sauce

I accidentally ate all of mine before thinking that I should take a picture. Yorkshire tea ice cream is BOSS!

(Homemade Vodka iced cherry tea/Homemade ginger beer)

*This is sheer flippancy. Lincolnshire grows and produces loads of lovely food. Don’t be put off visiting – no one has cannibalised Maggie (yet)! Also, I am not a Tory and do not think by eating any part of Margaret Thatcher that I will become one. I’m civilised. I know I’d have to eat her brain, not her toenails.

**This is no reflection on the restaurant and more on my crap phone and unsteady hands.

Rose & Crown, Flamborough

4 Sep

Last week I was on holiday in Bridlington and Flamborough. It was very lovely indeed. I did a lot of paddling in the North Sea. I really love paddling. No matter the time of year or how cold the water, I’m duty bound to be taking my socks off within five seconds of seeing the sea.

Daz and I also both like a nice dinner. After deciding on the spur of the moment to stay in Flamborough overnight, we found (to out surprise) a lovely bed and breakfast. They then recommended the Rose and Crown pub.

Lately, when I’ve been going out to eat, I’ve mostly had vegetarian options – offal is still not that widespread in Leeds. The nasty secret voice in me thought “oh no, another pasta dish based on spinach”. Cynicism be damned! There was OFFAL!  And it was served neither in a “oh we so trendy manner” nor was it disgusting.

I chose to have liver and onions, still expecting it to not be that nice, but it was. The liver was firm but not overcooked, in an amazing gravy. Delicious! I was even allowed to have chips and veg (breaking the chips/salad or potatoes/veg dichotomy). For me, it was lovely to eat some nice offal not in my own home – any suggestions anyone (the Yorkshire area preferably)?

We squeezed pudding in (which was clearly made at home there too). That was well tasty – raspberry roulade for me and chocolate brownie and ice cream for the gentleman. If you’re in Flamborough, it’s clearly the place to eat. If you’re not in Flamborough you should be, because it is epically beautiful!

Don’t get caught out by the tide though!

Dining out at Kendells

2 Feb

One of the first challenges of the offaltarian diet you’d think was Eating Out. As a lot of vegetarians find, restaurant menus can be quite limited in what they offer and part of the point of my year of offal eating is to broaden out what I eat, as well as to make up my holistic carnivore debt.

As a very lucky lady, I got taken for the second time to Kendells restaurant in Leeds. It is very nice indeed. It’s pretty well-known for all the food awards it has won. It’s an excellent place to eat. What I want to add to the blogosphere of food writing was that the offal dishes that I ate, were not just excellent offal dishes, but were excellent dishes in their own right.

As a starter I had Boudin Noir which is French black pudding. There’s not a lot of similarities between it and the rounds you can buy in the supermarket. Soft, delicious and melting, I had to hold myself back from scoffing it all up super fast.

For my main course I had Foie de Veau which is calves liver, more of this in a second. Less recently than our trip to Kendells I was in Lincolnshire at the cafe I used to work at. In the Shire, offal is still pretty big. Liver and onions is on a lot of menus and people don’t think anything of it. I ordered Liver and Onions as part of my pact to order offal whenever I can. It was pretty gross. Cooked, frozen and re-heated, the liver was GREY and tough and I couldn’t finish it. So there was still a little trepidation when I ordered my baby-cow liver at Kendells.

I should have known not to be worried, because it was the tastiest meat I think I’ve ever eaten. Thin tender slices of pink-in-the-middle-sticky-grilled-charm on the outside, I well loved it. In all seriousness it was a whole new carnivorous experience. Liver is amazing when it’s done well. If you’re iffy about it, please don’t be, just go somewhere good and try it out! At Kendells served with creamy mash, crispy bacon, home-made onion rings and fried sage you can’t get any better! New taste sensation=liver+fried sage!

I’ve read a bit about calves liver now and if you’re thinking of going out and getting some, please ask your butcher if it’s continental or British. Continental is bad as the calves are kept in pretty nasty conditions. However that is outlawed in animal-loving England – even the RSPCA says it’s ok to eat British rose veal. There are a couple of companies that come up in a google search that appear reputable, so I might buy from them. Here and here. In fact I’ve already put together an order with the Alternative Meat company, oh yes! In my ignorance I didn’t ask the question at Kendells when I sat down to eat, but I’m crossing my fingers that it was Nice Veal.

Overall I would like to say a big Thank you to Kendells for introducing me to offally good delights and making me think further (after the eel debacle I should have known) about the provenance of the offal I’m eating!

A condemned woman …

2 Jan

So, my visitation to the world of offal formally began on January 1st. Now I have just another 365 days (stupid leap year) to carry out this life experiment (does that make me sound like an idiot?) to its conclusion.

On New Year’s Eve I had my Last Supper and celebrated the end of regular cuts of meat with a delicious FILLET STEAK at the Stubbing Wharf in Hebden Bridge. Unfortunately I have no photos of this beautiful, succulent piece of desire because Daz and I decided to leave our phones behind to enjoy each other company all the more. That did leave us cameraless. But, imagine if you will, a really juicy rare fillet steak – but not that bland steak you get in the supermarkets – this one was clearly from a real bovine that had been in the outdoors. Lightly peppered it was delicious. A bit of me remembered how much I love steak and then shrank a little at the task ahead.

During the meal (Daz had pink lamb chops) we discussed the offal challenge and quite a lot of questions came up. What about chicken – all parts of game birds are included, but not those of chicken – is any bit of chicken included i.e. only wings? What about sausages? Historically yes, as they used up the offal, but nowadays with these posh sausages they contain proper meat. Shellfish? Fish – you can answer that below:

I guess the main point I am trying to make is about me (and us) as consumers and if we are choosing to eat meat we shouldn’t be squeamish about all the bits we eat. Responsible carnivory, if you will!