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What the world needs now, is more stuffed spleen

JudiAU | Apr 15, 200401:15 PM

Fergus Henderson is the owner of St. John's in London. He wrote the influential _Nose to Tail Eating_, which has finally been reprinted as _The Whole Beast_ in the US.

My husband and I attended the Whole Beast book signing yesterday at the Getty. I have been reading the book for the last week or so and was very excited to get at some odd bits. We stayed for the lunch.

I was surprised that very few people were at the signing, probably because of the inconvenient time. Many of the people seemed to be serial Getty-cookbook-signing program-retirees.

There was no talk or discussion of the food except for the menu which was preprinted. Fergus Henderson sat at a table of 12, far far away. I believe Russ Parsons was at the table, perhaps some other local food writers. Lunch was $35. With wine $50.

The wine pairing was strange. We started with a red and then switched to a white. The red grenache was served at freezer temperature, which we found bizarre, and it had a huge amount of sediment. There was 3/4 inch of sediment in my glass. I know some people, especially the Brits, chill their reds slightly but wine was so cold the glass was frosted by the wine. The white was also at freezer temperature. We wish they had provided a nip of something with the dessert.

The lunch, even though everything was excellent, was somewhat disappointing.

Where is my stuffed spleen, headcheese, seed cake and Madeira, ox heart, pickled walnuts, lambs brains? I probably won't ever get to make salted venison liver but I would like to try it once. Why, oh why, didn't we get the marrow bone with herb salad that they are so famous for?

Again, lunch was excellent but really too safe.

First course, three items:

a robust new garlic-chicken soup with soft croutons (simple, comforting flavors, made we wish I was sick to enjoy it properly)

spectacular cured beef tenderloin with celeriac remolaude (this will be appearing on my table soon)

escarole salad with crispy pig's ears. Pigs ears prepared in this fashion tasted a lot like overdone bacon. Good overdone bacon. The fattier bits were best.

Next course was a beautiful turbot over a mixture of gently cooked "green vegetables" i.e. young leeks, fennel, spring onions, and green garlic. Just the right amount of buttery juices holding everything together. This dish was a very good example of "new British cooking."

We finished off with a superior treacle tart, not the nasty sort you pick at in a pub. This had a rich short crust with bread crumb, golden syrup, almond filling flavored with a little orange. Again, excellent "new British cooking."

Now I just need to get on a plane to get at the odd bits.


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