15 May 2011

Garlic, Marrow, Galvanized Prune



Marrow on toast?


Marrow on toast with crumbs of grey salt?


Marrow on toast with salt and a dressed sprig of parsley and a caper and a slice of a cornichon?

Oh yes. Yes. Perfect explosion of crunch and unctuous and salt and brightness.

I had dinner at Prune, dinner on the heels of reading Gabrielle Hamilton’s "Blood, Bones & Butter". And the marrow bones are threaded throughout the book, so of course we had to have them.

Hamilton’s passion for simple food, expertly prepared from well-sourced ingredients leaps out of the book – I want to taste that, and make orecchiette with my Italian mother-in-law, drink a cocktail on the terrace in the south of Italy. So eating in her (little) restaurant, though she wasn’t in the (tiny) kitchen, felt perfectly familiar without my having ever been there before.

And oddly enough, the little restaurant was precisely the kind of place my mother would have liked, what with the funky mirror over the bar, and the mismatched steak knives, and the small galvanized metal tubs, and the brown paper “tablecloths”. I say oddly because one of the sections of the book that resonated strongly for me was the part about Hamilton’s mother - her frugal, stylish, divorced mother, about whom she says:

My most relieving, comforting experiences surrounding my mother are when strangers meet her and later say to me, “Wow. She is one piece of work.”

Because my frugal, divorced mother had an unerring sense of home décor, and too was a piece of work.

I ordered the lamb chop, a blade chop, the kind of chop even my mother wouldn’t buy. Too cheap, too déclassé. Actually, my mother never bought lamb chops: the good rib chops were too dear, the affordable blade chops weren’t worth eating. But Prune’s thick, rare, toothy blade chop, with skordalia and dandelion greens alongside – my mother would have loved it. And she’d have loved the fat grilled asparagus, thicker than my thumb, dressed with a haunting parsley béarnaise, a sauce I ran my index finger through again and again it was that haunting and delicious.

We skipped dessert; it seemed unnecessary, and proved so when the check came with a chunk of good dark chocolate for each of us – just enough.

And then I went home, back to my life. A book can be transporting; a meal can be too. I highly recommend both.


De said...

I just drooled my mouth dry looking at the menu, and it occurs to me I haven't eaten anything yet today.

Janet said...

Yum! I am so putting this on my list :-)

Pinky said...

I have a reservation already, for dinner on the 17th - your review has me salivating in anitcipation!

Jodi Pharo said...

This book is on my list for the summer. Can't wait to read it.

Harriet said...

I had a completely wrong interpretation of the food until the end because when I was growing up, marrow is what we called large zucchini. Maybe it's a British term? And having just been in my garden planting zucchini, meaty marrow hadn't even occurred to me! Your meal sounds fabulous. I have another friend who just went to Prune and was raving also.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Only in New York (or maybe Italy) could you read the book and then eat in the restaurant. Cool.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

I wish I felt that way about food.

I never can really focus on what I'm eating; I can't get in-the-moment; but (therefore?) I do like the stories behind food. It's one reason I like to eat local: because while I'm eating beet greens from the desert, I can think about beet greens growing in the desert even if I don't ever thoroughly taste them!

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

PS I just read about skordalia and my thrifty soul loves the idea. I looked for recipes online but they all call for potatoes, which strikes me as odd because Wikipedia says skordalia is an ancient dish while potatoes are a new-world food. Hm. I'll keep looking.

The Library Lady said...

Blade chops were ALL my mother bought. She used to broil them with "Saucy Susan"--a jarred prep similar to duck sauce which really went well with the lamb. And we loved the marrow bones, just as was.

I used to buy blade chops and grill them with a bit of lemon and oregano, but the price has gone up lately. Saw the price of a leg of lamb and was ready to cry...

YourFireAnt said...

There is also a vegetable marrow. Which was it?


Bibliomama said...

I love the way you talk about food. And your mother.

dawn224 said...

My mother too . . . wow, a piece of work.

De said...

I'm currently listening to the book on CD, read by the author. I love her writing. I'm sure I would love her cooking (although the menu at Prune has changed, I read), but it almost feels like too much, too intimate.