Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Swiss Pakora Yorkshire Horse Melt



We are back from the second gastronomic tour of Switzerland where on this occasion I ate horse. Or foal, as the SO pointed out, hiding her grimace behind the menu. And for good measure it had a lobe of foie gras on the top, just to make sure that any passing animal activists were well and truly incensed.
It was the Italian part of Switzerland and Italians, like the French, eat horse. So when in Rome, or Paris, or Lugano, etc. It came up carpaccio, which just in case you've forgotten means very very thinly sliced. And raw.
So I didn't just eat horse, I ate Raw Horse. Or rather Raw Baby Horsey. It may as well have been My Little effing Pony the way it tasted (of very little) and the way my smile of satisfaction was received (with very little accord). But now I can add 'horse' to that list. Of things never to be touched again, like andouilette and tripe.

Anyway, it was forgotten because on the train back through the Gotthard Tunnels and bridges and flyovers and whoops and spills and thrills we drank nearly a whole bottle of Swiss red merlot, a reserve no less, which three hours later had me off the horse hook as we slowly sauntered towards the departure gate at Zurich, sad to leave, especially since the sun had just broken out and the snow was long forgotten. And as the charming man at security was confiscating our very expensive bottled gifts of essences and oils we thanked the lord that we hadn't bought that foot wide Swiss Army Knife with the twenty seven blades.

No sooner back than we're off to Edinburgh where a comedy weather storm has broken out, torrential rain, freezing temperatures and thick swirling snow have replaced spring sunshine for a couple of days, starting just thirty seven seconds before we arrive and ending as we board the 16.30 to Glasgow Queen Street. To the relief of the Edinburghers the 'weather' had swept west to Glasgow, I think it might have been tied to the bumper of our train, so that we were greeted on arrival by crowds, traffic jams, and, er, weather. But not to worry.

First port of call is the Ashoka, where, I explain to the SO who has never set foot in the city before that the reason I bang on about the unavailability of pakora outside Glasgow is because it is nectar from heaven. Or the Punjab. Anyway, she watches, nibbling wee bits, as I demolish the lot, nuclear pink dipping sauce included, and then head over to Tennents Bar where she remarks that "IT'S A BIT LOUD" because the 200 men sinking pints are all TALKING AT ONCE. So we leave and have a quieter dinner a deux in the city's newest hotel and it is fine.

We leave for Bradford, curry capital of England, (as Glasgow is the curry capital of Scotland) and demolish a monster pakistani takeaway with friends. We remark that the chickpea bhaji is a hit, the pakora is not. But mostly the sound around the table appears to be nom, nom, nom.

And so back to London where we whoosh up to the top floor of the Hilton, a glamour spot if ever there was one (not!) transformed four years ago into one of the delights of London gastronomy by the Galvin Brothers. We peer over the edge of our table down into the back garden of Buck House but can see neither The Queen walking the dogs, nor Camilla popping out for a quick fag during dinner. The staff are no use at all, refusing to divulge ANY nugget of salacious information.
SO advances through the menu first, grabbing the foie gras starter, matched with a sensational Barsac, and leaves me with the scallops. Both are delish but I smugly hint at the question marks hanging over foie gras production (yes, yes, full marks for rank hypocrisy) and suggest she might like horse next.

She doesn't.

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