It’s not hard to make me fall in love. For those of you who are trying, here are a few tips. Buy me a set of copper saucepans. Preferably from Paris. Preferably antique. Know that I only ever drink cappuccinos, and order them for me when we go out. Bring me gifts of strangely-shaped fruits – like baby pears or blue melons or something with an unpronounceable name in a language neither you nor I can understand. Or, take me on a weekend jaunt to London to eat at St. John’s, and there, ply me with brains and liver, bone marrow, goat’s curd, and other things I’ve never tried.
Oh, St. John’s. Oh, Fergus Henderson. The man who changed my life with a piece of pork belly.
This is my second trip to St. John’s, the first being almost a year ago exactly. And though this isn’t the Smithfield outpost, rather the newer one in Spittlefield, and though there isn’t bone marrow and parsley salad on this menu, I feel both giddy and supremely content at the same time.
I’m here with Ambrice and her parents. We’re sitting at a corner table, getting cozy with a bottle of chardonnay. Our meal comes out in hiccups – cold lamb’s tongue salad with arugula and herb-soaked breadcrumbs, foie gras on toast, cauliflower and chickpea salad dribbled with spicy mustard, goat curd with caramelized onions and mint on giant slabs of bread. We sop up the sauces with freshly baked sourdough crusts.
It’s sitting here that I am reminded, once again, of how lucky I am to have the people in my life that I do, how I can’t wait to see where we go.
Our mains arrive, with another bottle of chardonnay – venison with beetroot and horseradish, calve’s liver with braised onions and crisp potato hash, and finally, the most tender, rare pigeon, split upon a bed of greens and pickled walnuts. Even Ambrice’s mother, who says, I will not eat pigeon, eats pigeon. It is the perfect ending to this meal.
The low, pleasant murmurs of diners around us, the smell of rich sauces and simple, graceful food – this is what a restaurant should be.
So love, when I talk about it, this is what I mean. I mean laughter and lights, a bottle of wine (or two), good people, and food. When I say love, I mean food.