Anthony Bourdain has said that, for his last meal, he’d want the roasted bone marrow with parsley salad that Fergus Henderson serves at his London restaurant, St. John.
It’s fitting then that, for my last meal as a New Yorker, there was that very same dish. Only it wasn’t prepped by Fergus Henderson; it was made by Gabrielle Hamilton at what’s come to be my favorite New York City restaurant, Prune.
In September, I shared with you a picture of the Avocado Sandwich I ate at Prune for lunch (link here.) The response was enthusiastic: “Ohmgosh that looks so beautiful,” wrote Shannon. “Oh, PRETTY!” wrote Hannah. “That sandwich is a work of art!” wrote Kathryn. Again, it was a very enthusiastic response.
Last week I took Molly Orangette to Prune for lunch (I felt it was a very Orangette-like selection) and the avocado sandwich had been replaced with a ratatouille sandwich. When it arrived I snapped the picture you see above; and when I took a bite, I knew I had to do a post about it.
“By the time the intercom buzzes, I am assembling the greatest grilled cheese sandwiches of all time and the fridge is filled with seriously good Champagne, so packed that the bottles that can’t stand up on the top shelf lie on their sides like stockpiled ammo down below. This is not the day I want to be drinking any of that chardonnay-sweet or over-yeasted bread-dough shit. I want tight effervescence, chalk on my tongue and the roof of my mouth, sugar turned to cold glass.”
That passage comes from one of the best pieces of food writing I’ve encountered in recent memory, Gabrielle Hamilton’s essay “Christmas Eve” which appears in the new Canal House Cookbook, Volume No. 5.
It all happened very quickly. My friend Jimmy IMed me and asked what we were up to, we said nada, decided to all go to a movie but first, I invited him over for dinner. “It won’t be fancy,” I warned. “Probably just some pasta.” (I had penne in the cabinet and cauliflower in the refrigerator, so I knew I could make this recipe, minus the broccoli.) But after the plan was set, my hosting gene kicked in and I felt the need to also make a dessert and an appetizer. The dessert? I’ll tell you about that later. But the appetizer came together in no time, and it had everything to do with having three ingredients on hand: spicy mustard, a box of Triscuits and a can of sardines.