Bone Marrow at Blue Ribbon

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When people ask me, “How do you come up with stuff for your blog all the time?” I have a ready-made answer: “Camera.”

“Camera?”

“Yes,” I say. “I try to carry a camera everywhere I go” (sometimes at my own peril) “and then if I eat something notable or I stumble into somewhere notable I can take pictures and write about it later.”

Such was the case last night when I went with Diana to Blue Ribbon in the West Village. I’d been there before, I wrote about it way back when and it seemed like this would be an unbloggable experience. But then I recalled the passage in Phoebe Damrosch’s “Service Included” where she and her Per Se co-workers seek out the best bone marrow in New York and find it at Blue Ribbon.

“Diana!” I yelled, after sitting at our table. “We have to get the bone marrow.”

“Bone marrow?”

“Yes,” I continued. “It’ll make a great post and plus I hear it’s fantastic.”

“Ok,” she said. “As long as you’re paying.”

Phoebe describes the Blue Ribbon bone marrow thusly in her book: “There would be no way to improve upon the perfection that is Blue Ribbon’s bone marrow. First of all, the bones themselves are cut on both ends, meaning that, as Gabriel demonstrated with practiced ease, one could slide the little wooden fork around the marrow, loosen it, and simply lift the bone away. Left on the plate is a perfect cylinder of gently wobbling marrow waiting to be spread generously onto the thick, sweet, golden brown triangles of fresh brioche.”

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The price is steep for the bone marrow you see above–$16, appx.–and heads turned as the server placed it down before us.

“What are those bones on that table next to us?” I heard someone ask a few chairs away.

Those bones contain a treat prized by food lovers everywhere; a treat that is essentially a glob of fat, but a fat so infused with flavor it’s practically indescribable. But let me give it a go: beefy and gelatinous, creamy and gamey, buttery and insanely rich.

The glory, though, is in the triad of marrow, bread and sauce:

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The brioche, as Phoebe says, is “thick, sweet and golden,” and with just the marrow on top it’d be enough. But surrounding the marrow on the plate is a red-wine reduction sauce, enhanced with demi-glace, that joins the bread and marrow together into a sinful, blissful package.

“Wow,” said Diana, scromping down.

“I know,” I said. “I could see why this’d be somebody’s last meal.” (I’d mentioned that Bourdain wants bone marrow at his last meal, at least according to that last meal book.)

What fascinates me about the marrow is that all that flavor and goodness lives there in the middle of a bone, a bone that might otherwise easily go neglected. What does it say about the design of the universe that something so delectable is found inside the bones of a cow?

Soon the plate was swept away, I ate a salad to negate the fat and we walked off into the night, my camera loaded with another blog-worthy experience.

So carry your camera, you post-deficient bloggers. You never know when the opportunity will arise to suck the marrow out of life. When you do, though, spread it on toast. It’s much better that way.

34 comments

  1. One of my favorite Filipino soups, Nilaga Bulalo, features marrow bones. Usually when my Dad makes Nilaga, this beef stew, it’s just with meat, but he makes the Nilaga Bulalo for special occasions. He cuts them the same way, so the marrow falls out exactly as Ms. Damrosch describes. It’s infused with this wonderful beef broth.

    I look forward to special occasions just for the Bulalo.

  2. Bravo for eating bone marrow! I love it. Having grown up enjoying it in the context of beef soup, vegetables, and rice, it’s hard to imagine putting it on bread. I think I’ll have to try that next time, especially with that red wine reduction sauce!

  3. Although I found the food topic to be a bit unsettling since I’m a lacto-ovo-pollo-pesco-wacko, the advice about using a camera to help generate blogging material is good.

  4. Ah, the memories. My “bachelorette” party two years ago was a wonderful dinner in the wine room downstairs at Blue Ribbon, and the most memorable thing we ate was the marrow–half the table thought I was nuts to order it, but the rest of us were thrilled!

  5. Oh, yummy. I recently indulged in these at the Blue Ribbon in Brooklyn. Nothing will make you feel more like a glutton than a meal of fatty, gooey, mouthwatering bone marrow. They should have had Denethor in LOTR eating these instead of tomatoes.

  6. Yes! Take that camera everywhere. (It helps to have the pocket-sized variety.)

    I always laugh when I see raves about bone-marrow dishes; I buy 40-60 pounds at a time … for the dog. (Here are some photos.)

    But I keep meaning to pull some out and try them myself! (And yes, I’ll roast ’em first.) Your post is another inspiration.

  7. I love bone marrow as much as the next guy but $16 bucks for three bones? I can get three times as many bones from my butcher for like 2 bucks and roast them myself.

  8. Thanks for reminding me of my most daring food venture yet. About a year after I returned to “the other side” from being a vegetarian, I tried bone marrow at Spiaggia in Chicago. Unbelievable. That day I also tried raw beef (forget what that’s called) and about five other courses of amazing food. It definitely pays to be friends with a chef at an amazing restaurant. Good advice on taking a camera everywhere with you. Now I just need to learn how to take better pictures!

  9. Growing up, mom would always cook a roast on Sunday’s. And forty years ago the butchers would cut the roast across the bone with a larger area of Bone Marrow. The three boys in my family would fight for the marrow. I have to drive now to a meat market to find a roast with a large chunk of bone. http://hotcookies.net

  10. Hmm something about bone marrow weirds me out…not sure I’d be this adventurous! I admire you though for trying it. And I agree with you on the camera, I feel naked without it these days!

  11. I’ve never had bone marrow as a dish on its own before – it sounds really good. Until I read this, I always thought of soup when I thought of bone marrow! And the carry-your-camera-everywhere tip is good.

  12. I had marrow at Prune on Wednesday night during my first trip to NYC. Absolutely phenomenal. The bartender at Prune asked if I’d had marrow at Blue Ribbon before and had to say no…I’ll check it out next time I’m there!

    Prune was wonderful for marrow though. Wonderfully delicious and incredible. I’d highly recommend it if you’ve not been there!

    Of course, that was the place Bourdain went to when he did the NYC episode of No Reservations. I had a friend tell about the place before I saw the episode, so I knew it had to be good!

    As an aside, I adore the blog!

  13. Adam – THANK YOU for the post. I have always wanted to try marrow and now that I am FINALLY getting to visit NY in many years I will have a place to go.

    What are you doing Monday night?

  14. I would NEVER eat something as disgusting as bone marrow. We Florida people are way too particular about our food to do that.

    However I might fix some for my boyfriend “Big Bear”. Everytime I fix him something he doesn’t like (which is just about everything I fix) he punches holes in the walls of the trailer house.

    Bone marrow may do the trick . . . get me a new trailer house that is.

    Check out the photo of the “Bear” on my website. He is just darling (even when he drools on his tee-shirt).

  15. Was the sauce key? I have tried it before at Landmarc at the TWC, and it was essential to add salt to really make it sing.

  16. Oh yum, bone marrow is simply delicious when it’s done just right! A nice sprinkling of sea salt and it’s positively heaven! I’m glad you enjoyed it =)

  17. Knowing how much bone marrow costs in a restaurant, it’ll be worth it to try making it at home. My Parisian friend has talked endlessly about eating bone marrow as a child growing up in France and now it’s in the spotlight. That will be on next weeks “to cook” list.

  18. I grew up eating bone marrow – my grandmother, mother, and I would fight over the bones in beef soup so we could spread the marrow on buttered rye bread.

    It’s not as horribly bad for you as you might think. According to wikipedia (which I know of course is no authority), “Bone marrow is a source of protein and high in monounsaturated fats. These fats are known to decrease LDL cholesterol levels resulting in a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, prompting some to make bone marrow a dietary staple.”

  19. What bones do I order from my butcher to try this @ home?

    And at what length should they be cut? looks like about 3″ in the photo.

  20. What bones do I order from my butcher to try this @ home?

    And at what length should they be cut? looks like about 3″ in the photo.

  21. I have a friend who wants to put Bone Marrow as a dish on his menu. I am against it.

    Bone Marrow and a few other items are simultaneously Hip and new and at the same time sort of peasanty. So Restaurants are able to speak out of both sides of their mouth. Simple and Rustic while overcharging and play off the ignorance of average customers and say look a CREATIVE Chef works here.

    What frustrates me about such items is Chefs are motivated towards such items because of the cool factor and a drive to be first to menu such unique items without care of what a customer would really prefer to order if no menu was present.

    It doesn’t get the PR or enough attention to just do common food excellently.

    So Chefs run from darling exotic product to latest techno-cookery and back again and selfishly disrespect the heritage behind dishes, the authentic flavors that bring back memories among those people who are familiar with the item and the fair market price they should charge.

    I like the ideas started by Jeff above who say try cooking your own.

  22. When I make beef soup, I always eat the marrow that is still left in the bone after making the bouillion. I love to spread it on a piece of cracker. I will try brioche one of these days.

    Indeed beef marrow is one of the tasty food out there and from what I learned it is highly nutritious too. Ancient humans eat them, inducing fantastic rates of brain growth leading to humans becoming a highly intelligent species.

  23. would anyone have any info. re.bone marrow to eat being beneficial in helping a older man’s blood cells to recover from leucaemia thank you

  24. would anyone have any info. re.bone marrow to eat being beneficial in helping a older man’s blood cells to recover from leucaemia thank you

  25. I am delighted and happy that there are others also who treat bone marrow as a delicacy.

    In the Indian subcontinent it is a favorite in meat soup, curry/stew of Beef, Goat, or Lamb. I still try to be cheeky and first to pick up the bone with marrow in it, when ever we have a meat dish at home. The best taste of bone marrow is in Nihari (Nee-Ha-Ree) a beef shank curry meant to be served as it is by meaning at early (Nihar)breakfast but also served in modern times as lunch and dinner entree. Recommended to be cooked on low fire air tight with wheat flour dough all around the edge of the lid and the pot for the whole night, the ready product is full of red chili star anise and anise seed flavor thick gravy with other spices, it has big chunk of meat and collagen/fat attached with the meat. As a condiment and to get the real taste it is topped with bone marrow when asked and then cilantro and very thinly julienned ginger and some lemon to squeeze. Best to serve with freshly red brick oven baked bread called Nan or Tandoori Roti. This item is not easy to cook so the taste varies

    In restaurants you have to try to come up for your taste buds to be in agreement for the correct taste.

    Thanks

    Nasir

  26. Well in my home and my parents homeland of Bangladesh, we alwasy ate beef bone marrow.

    It is the most delectable, suculent, moist peice of fat you can ever eat. Wehn cooked correctly and with the correct amount of spices, it isnt as geletin as American bone marrow. It is juicy, brown and oozes this wonderful aromatic juice.

    The beef ones are the best, thelamb and goat ones are more narrow and you wont get much marrow from it.

    Eid is my favorite holiday becasue we get to slaughter a whole cow with other fmailies.. and most familes vie for the marrow.

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