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travel

Eating London – Day 1: Fryer’s Delight and St. John Restaurant

After spending Six Hours in Boston, we hopped on another red-eye to London. We arrived in Heathrow at around 7:15am and hadn’t really slept in two days. But after finally getting into London at around 9:30am and settling into the Russell Square flat where we were staying, we went looking for food.

One of my eating missions for our trip was to find a chippy for some proper fish and chips. I’d read a lot about various chippies around London, but when I learned that Fryer’s Delight was walking distance from our flat AND fried everything in beef tallow, it immediately got on our “must” list. I ordered the haddock and my wife had the cod. We got it with a side of forgettable mushy peas, but you can’t really go wrong with this as a first meal:

Fried Haddock and Chips at Fryer's Delight
Fried Haddock and Chips at Fryer’s Delight

Energized by fried food, we walked our way through Bloomsbury, Covent Garden, and Camden until we ended up at the British Museum, a welcome (and free) sight since it was drizzling outside and my wife doesn’t like the rain.

The main hall at the British Museum
The main hall at the British Museum

(We had a lot more pictures, but my wife’s bag was stolen, including our beloved Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 inside, while we were shopping in Piccadilly Circus before we had a chance to download the pictures from the camera. Because of this, pictures from the first two days in London are from my iPhone 4. Good thing I was taking pictures, too!)

After looking at mummies and other artifacts that were stolen from Egypt, we went back to the flat to rest before for our dinner at St. John Restaurant, Fergus Henderson’s shrine to nose-to-tail eating. The restaurant is in Clerkenwell, which wasn’t that far from the flat, so we walked to dinner. We walked a lot in London, which is funny because at home, we normally drive to places that are much closer than many of the places we walked to in London. I hope this changes now that we’re back.

St. John Still Water
St. John still mineral water by Hildon

We met one of my wife’s friends at the restaurant, which meant there was going to be more food to sample. :) We started with the Roasted Bone Marrow & Parsley Salad, which is just about as classic as you can get. I loved that there was still meat on the bones for us to gnaw on along with the marrow and toast.

Roast Bone Marrow & Parsley Salad.
Roasted Bone Marrow & Parsley Salad

Our other starter was simply called “Terrine” on the menu and contained Middlewhite pork, duck, rabbit offal, foie gras and some other awesome stuff I don’t remember.

Terrine
Terrine

Our friend ordered the Turbot, Fennel & Samphire, which she liked a lot, and we all learned that a samphire is a “sea green bean.”

Turbot, Fennel & Samphire
Turbot, Fennel & Samphire

I ordered the Roast Tamworth, Carrot & Aioli, a simple and delicious roasted pork dish that came with a nice surprise…a little chicharron. I always appreciate a little fried pork skin when it’s made available to me. :)

Roast Tamworth, Carrot & Aioli
Roast Tamworth, Carrot & Aioli

Speaking of fried pork skin, my wife ordered the Pig’s Cheek & Dandelion, which features one of the best parts of the pig and also contained some fried bits of pork skin and crunchy breadcrumbs for texture. This was our favorite entrée of the night.

Pig's Cheek and Dandelion
Pig’s Cheek & Dandelion

St. John may be a mecca for meat lovers, but their desserts were also outstanding. The Poached Peach & Vanilla Ice Cream was the best peach dish I’ve ever eaten and is one of my favorite desserts of all time. I love peaches, but I’ve never eaten anything this pure before. Simply stellar.

Poached Peach & Vanilla Ice Cream
Poached Peach & Vanilla Ice Cream

My excitement over the peaches didn’t malign my impressions of the other two desserts we ordered. The Chocolate Mousse & Crème Fraîche was a decadent combination, and the Strawberry Ripple Ice Cream was a great showcase for the season’s freshest strawberries.

Chocolate Mousse & Crème Fraîche
Chocolate Mousse & Crème Fraîche
Strawberry Ripple Ice Cream
Strawberry Ripple Ice Cream

You have to order the Madeleines at least 15 minutes in advance, which we did, and they were a great way to end the meal. They’re pretty hefty and we ended up taking a few home and eating them for breakfast the next morning.

MadeleinesMadeleines

My only regret was that I didn’t order the Ox Heart, Beetroot & Horseradish, but overall, I think we had a pretty good first day of eating in London. We returned to the flat to rest up for day two, which featured more English culinary royalty…Heston Blumenthal.

Fryer’s Delight
19 Theobalds Road
London WC1X 8SL
44(0)20 7405 4114

St. John Restaurant
26 St. John Street
London EC1M 4AY (map)
44(0)20 3301 8069
Web site

Categories
David Chang Momofuku pork recipes

Chicharrones (Fried Pork Rinds)

Chicharrones

In my world, there is no finer snack than some chicharrones, a.k.a. fried pork rinds. It’s something I’ve been eating since I was a kid, and Filipinos love it with sukang sili (chili vinegar) and beer.

Over the past year, chicharrones have been embraced by the “mainstream” through the efforts of chefs like Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats, whose chicharrones, despite my initial apprehensions, are other worldly. They’re incredibly light and when they’re fresh, they snap, crackle, and pop in your mouth like porky Rice Krispies.

4505 Chicharrones

Because they’re so cheap and readily available near me, I’d never considered making chicharrones at home until a couple weeks ago. I had some pork skin left over after removing it to making the Momofuku Pork Belly, and it would be a shame to waste such a nice piece of pork skin. There’s also a recipe in the Momofuku cookbook since they serve a piece of chicharron to every guest as an amuse bouche at Momofuku Ko.

The process is pretty simple. First, put the pig skin in a pot of water and boil it for about an hour a half, then chill it in the refrigerator for a few hours.

Boiled and Dried Pig SkinPig skin after chillin’ out overnight.

Use a spoon to scrape off any excess fat left on the skin and put it in a food dehydrator for 12 hours. It should look like a brown piece of plastic.

Dehydrated Pig SkinBreak this into small pieces and fry them up.

Next, break the dehydrated pig skin into 1×2-inch pieces. This doesn’t have to be exact, as the small pieces make nice chicharrones, too. Heat some oil (preferably one with a high smoke point) to between 390-400F in a deep pot. Drop a piece of pig skin into the oil and agitate it a bit until it puffs up. This should take about 10 seconds. Fry each piece one at a time, so they don’t stick together. Here’s a short iPhone video I shot to give you an idea of how long it takes.

After frying, season the hot chicharrones with a mixture of equal parts togarashi (Japanese 7-spice powder), sugar, and kosher salt. Serve them hot or at room temperature. You should eat them within a few days when they’re still crunchy, but I doubt these will last more than a few minutes. :)