Saturday, September 22, 2007


when p and I had dinner at latium last month, I was accused of eating in a filthy manner. p wasn’t referring to any lack of basic hygiene, but stated emphatically that dining with me was like having the sound track of a c-list pornographic movie playing in the background. I obviously did not agree, but my mouth was too full of the beautiful fish ravioli to argue. I groaned in pleasure in response.

three weeks dreaming about the fish ravioli, I had to go again. the table booked, I lobbied c into having supper with me.

I ordered the same starter I had the last time I ate at latium – three moreish mounds of beef tartare, each topped with a poached quail’s egg, with a side of rocket salad. it was more moreish than I remembered. c chose the foie gras terrine with a cherry brioche – rich and sweet, total decadence.

the pasta courses were next. or rather THE pasta course. having convinced c that the fish ravioli was simply divine, and also that I wasn’t willing to share any of mine, c ordered his own plate of fish ravioli. it was a work of art – four different coloured ravioli squares placed in front of us in the order we were meant to eat them in. black squid ink ravioli with its filling of monkfish, spinach ravioli with its treasure of cod, egg ravioli with brill and carrot ravioli with crab. the raviolis were dressed in a light fish broth and shaved bottarga. it couldn’t get much better. this was true love.

the mains were lovely. to be fair to the mains, they had big ravioli shoes to fill as I was still lusting after the fish ravioli even after it had come and gone. c’s pork belly was a lovely chunk of well roasted pork goodness, the crackling a delight. I had braised beef which came wrapped in cabbage which when cut open revealed the tender strips of beef which fell apart in an satisfying manner to absolve itself of all its slow cooked goodness.

having eaten till bursting capacity, we could just about manage petit fours – a good looking tray of truffles which we were much too full to eat in its entirety which was a real shame. we did however had a nibble of each truffle which we then placed back on the tray in such a manner it seemed we hadn’t touched it at all. rather juvenile on my part I admit, but I blame the fact that I was still on a high from the fish ravioli.
latium has definitely made it onto my favourites list. the waiters have promised me that while the main menu is seasonal and subject to daily changes depending on the market produce to which the kitchen is subject, the current ravioli menu is on for the entire year. I’m probably going to cry when they break my heart and stop serving the fish ravioli.

Saturday, September 08, 2007


I’m not a big risk taker. i am admittedly boring – I like the safety of the tried and tested, the classic choices which speak out to me in sensible, reassuring measures of that which is known. my risk aversion rears its boring, sensible head often when I’m ordering at restaurants. rather than throw caution to the wind and order the panfried watermelon which I’m curious about, I end up with crème brulee (which I adore – we have a long happy history).

while ls probably wouldn’t declare himself to be the world’s greatest risk taker, he does order the funkier stuff on the menu and dining with him is always a pleasure because he orders the things I secretly want to order but refrain from doing so because of my risk aversion. such was the case when we recently toddled over to arbutus
for supper.

the service at arbutus was refreshingly non-chi-chi but at times bordered on being entirely gormless. not being one for high maintenance, it wasn’t cause for complaint, but did cause ls to question the reliability of anything I said when I mentioned in passing that arbutus had been awarded a star. it was a curiosity. the food however did not disappoint. it was clean, relaxed, and well tasty. none of the microscopic portion nonsense here. we had to share a pudding because we were much too well fed to order one each.

ls ordered the pig’s head terrine to start. and when it arrived, I silently cursed my risk aversion. it was a plate full of gelatinous, meaty goodness in a thick generous panfried slice. served with a creamy potato puree and sweet caramelized onions wrapped in a sliver of pork cheek. jwt, had previously proclaimed this dish one of his all-time favourites when he recently partook of the exact same dish at wild honey, sibling restaurant to arbutus. jwt was probably right.

my envy of ls’ starter was soon assuaged when I ate my own – little raviolis of oxtail confit in tomato sauce. the rich, red wine laced oxtail confit in the light, thin egg pasta blouses. the rich meaty bites of bullish pleasure, the sweetness of the vine tomatoes. I stopped lusting after the pig’s head.

ls ordered the caillettes of pork with carrot and potato puree. his “old fashioned pork meatballs” – the explanation given when we queried what on earth caillettes were, though looking rather rude and testicular like, were delicious. each extremely large meatball were entirely meat. I suppose that’s what you should expect meatballs to be. and I suppose they would have gotten it right in the old days. somehow I was surprised by the meatiness of the meatballs. but then again I shouldn’t have been thinking of the ikea meatballs (which by the way i do admit that i adore in all its microwaveable glory) in the same breath.

I had wanted to order the caillettes. but my risk aversion overtook yet again when the waiter mentioned that the fish of the day was roasted skate with cockles. I caved. I do love skate, and the cockles made it sound slightly bryn-williams-esque. the skate came dressed in a light nutty beurre noissette like sauce and lashings of smooth mashed potato.

the one pudding we shared was the cherry clafoutis. it was deliciously warm when it arrived, cherries in their loving blanket of sponge-y baked batter, with a drizzle each of vanilla and cherry sauce on the side.

I’m not much of a risk taker. while the safe and well tested hasn’t disappointed me so far, I suppose life’s probably far too short to just eat the same dish and contend with order-envy. perhaps the next time, I’ll order the pan-fried watermelon.