I went to the doctor yesterday and found out I now have to arm myself with an epi pen. Boooooooooo!!!!
But, let me back up a second. For several years now I’ve been having increasingly severe reactions to various types of shellfish. Something as innocuous as crab, which I used to catch and eat frequently as a child in British Columbia now causes my throat to swell closed and is completely off limits. A few years later, lobster came to the party and shouted out an enthusiastic allergic ditto. While I can still eat shrimp and scallops (for now) without any ill effects, for the most part I try to avoid shellfish altogether, because I just don’t feel like taking the risk. Plus, the one I really loved was crab, and ironically that’s the one I react to the most.
I was doing a pretty good job of avoiding shellfish too, until an intriguing note from Grant over at The Black Hoof coaxed us into returning. It’d been almost 5 months since our last visit; since the Everyman accuses the place of giving him protein poisoning pretty much every time we go there, we’ve kind of been avoiding it for the last little bit. That note this week changed all of that…
You see, months ago when I was in the midst of my ‘nduja experimentation, the first person I went to for advice was Grant. Unfortunately, he didn’t seem to know anything about it, other than the Len Poli resource I’d already been studying. In fact, I think I may have been responsible for turning him on to the ‘nduja trend (I’ve never asked; perhaps he also admires Chris Cosentino as I do, and heard of it that way). At any rate, we both ended up making some, and his email this week was to let me know that he’d finally taken it out of the curing room and was ready to start serving it. I decided to be a little more hardcore with mine, and instead am curing it for at least 6 months, but possibly as long as 12 depending on its consistency at the halfway point. Regardless, I stll had a foodie’s interest in testing out Grant’s version, so away to The Hoof we’d go.
When we sat down for dinner, the first thing we both noticed was that the ‘nduja dish on the chalkboard was marked as $1. We both spent some time speculating over whether it was such a risky dish that they were trying to give it away, or whether he just wanted to get people to order it (incidentally, it turned out to be neither – the 3 just happened to rub off beside it) After consuming a deluxe-sized platter covered in all of our favourite meats between us (guanciale, cheek rilettes, duck mousse, chorizo, lonzino, clove sausage and more) plus a massive bowl of bread, my ‘nduja arrived in the form of a quenelle, sided by smoked spot prawns, (this is where we connect back to my shellfish allergy) halved cherry tomatoes, olive oil and some nice crusty bread. When I’d seen that it was served with spot prawns on the menu, I spent a good few minutes debating with the Everyman the likelihood of said prawns sending me into anaphylactic shock; I’d eaten them before, but it had been years. Obviously the lust for ‘nduja won (and luckily no shock was had). The prawns were heavenly, lusciously smoky, but not overly so, and provided a cooling burst to combat the ‘nduja’s heat. The strange thing about ‘nduja is that the first bite (which was tiny) was literally so hot I felt like I couldn’t breathe, but the more I ate it, the more addicted I became to it, because it wasn’t a lingering heat. It flared up fast, but dissipated quickly. Captivating. By the end I was wantonly slathering toasted bread with it and mounding prawns and tomatoes on board. There’s only one word for food this good; stupendous.
Let’s just say I’m looking forward to throwing open my ‘nduja all the more now. October just can’t come fast enough over here.
Until next time…