Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Petrus. Main Course.

Another entry in the continuing narrative that is the best meal of my life - so far. In London. At what was once Petrus, but is now Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley.

So after finishing several amuse bouche and a glorious appetizer course, we were clasping our hands in glee to set upon our mains like a pack of wild hounds. Really, the anticipation was just that huge, because not only had I ordered farm-raised Scottish halibut, but hubby had ordered Norfolk suckling pig - which had been marinated, then cooked for 24 STRAIGHT HOURS! Holy crap. So basically they had begun cooking this succulent juicy piece of pork yesterday while we were tooling around South Bank trying to find a place that served tea and scones. The mind reels.

Now don't get me wrong, I love halibut and ordered it specifically because it was from Scotland. I had had the best oysters of my LIFE in Scotland (and I need to write about that actually). Yeah, yeah, don't order fish on a Monday, whatever Tony Bourdain. I just knew that this fish, here, at this time, would be out of this world. And I was anticipating it - but I was literally jumping out of my SEAT at the thought of eating that pig.

Our main courses arrived. My halibut was delicious. So perfectly cooked it flaked right on my fork the second the two made contact. Served with charred asparagus and asparagus puree. A transparently curling slice of parmesan was arranged on top. Genius paring, as the salty parmesan was really good with the tender fish and the smoky bitterness of the asparagus. The asparagus was charred to perfection - charred way better than either one of us has been able to do on a grill at home. Pencil-thin spears, so tender they just fell away in your mouth. Out of season? Yes, but when you've got a party going on in your mouth you're not one to split hairs...

...And the pig? The pig. I could wax poetic on the pig. It was all I could do to convince my husband to let me try it as all I could see were his hands and face tearing into it like the Tasmanian Devil. Bones were flying! I did manage a tiny chop and some crispy skin. The chop was so small it was almost quail-like. Except this quail tasted so much better. Like a porksicle. So yummy it's criminal. Words cannot adequately express the pork yummy goodness of euphoria I was feeling as I obliterated that chop and chewed up that skin in all its crispy crunchiness. So good. When I was a kid I used to read the Little House books and was jealous when Laura was given pork cracklins during hog-killin' time. This must be what that's like. Crunchy porky goodness squeaking between your teeth and a porksicle to go along with it. Sigh. I've toyed off and on over the years about being vegetarian, but after eating Marcus's pig those thoughts just floated clear away. Even watching a horrific documentary about hormone-injected factory-produced piglike creatures couldn't tear me away from this stuff. It's just that damn good.

Not to be outdone, the sides presented with the pork were equally yummy - although it took me a while to remember them while writing this as the memory of that pork seems to have erased all else. The suckling pig did have chicory with it in some form or fashion which added a nutty dimension - as if you needed another dimension! Before we devoured the pig entirely, a waiter brought over a tiny steaming copper pot of the most finely whipped mashed potatoes I'd ever seen. He delicately spooned a tiny hill of them onto hubby's plate before placing the pot on its own little serving tray. Jealousy doesn't describe it. I got a few mouthfuls, but the remainder of the meal saw me gazing hungrily over at that little copper pot like it contained an antidote I needed so I wouldn't die right there at the table. These potatoes were so smooth it was like you were eating milk. So smooth you could drink them like Jamba Juice. Yeah, I love asparagus, but....those potatoes!

I must admit after all that deliciousness I knew there would be dessert. There had to be, right? Oh my god, how am I going to fit in dessert? Must. Have. Willpower. I'm not of the age where I can necessarily eat like Henry VIII anymore. But here? I'll try...

To check out Marcus Wareing and hear what a truly cool chef he is, check out his video interview, which he did ONE HOUR before opening his new place. Grace under pressure indeed.


where i've escaped...

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