Dessert Comes First

An obsession with dessert and other unabashed opinions of a food writer

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Down To The Bone (Marrow)

posted by in American, Restaurants

Read at your own risk, cardiologist not included.

I honestly didn’t know what to think when I first heard the words, “I need to get my Lipitor” uttered at one of my dinner parties. I had spent all day roasting eight kilos of prime rib, stirring a massive amount of rice for risotto and admittedly, getting quite the nice food facial in the process. I had also, and I’m certain this is the culprit of that pointed utterance: roasted seven kilos’ worth of marrow bones. Served straight from the oven and proffered in nothing but the metal pan that they’d been roasted in, golden and scorched in some parts, they stood there like stalwarts of the fatty and sinful, their now molten fat sloshing up the pan’s sides, centers sputtering with marrow that dribbled down the bone.

I thought it made for quite the devilish, heart-stopping sight and was frankly, quite insulted at the remark. But ill will doesn’t last for very long, especially not at the dinner table. And insult rapidly turns to gratitude when I think about how lucky I am that I don’t have to resort to meds to combat what I eat.

Bone marrow is the unctuous (yes, very apt that word is right now) tissue found in the center of lamb, veal, and beef bones but the latter two are most often favored due to the increased ratio of marrow to bone. A textural, delectable experience, eating bone marrow is akin to reveling in foie gras with added health benefits; the fat in marrow is largely the monounsaturated kind although I don’t think that qualifies it as health food, unfortunately.

I prefer to roast my own bone marrow at home and eat it there too so that I can suck and slurp heedlessly with a carefully chosen group of friends who I’m confident will still like me after they witness me as such. However, if I’m stepping out, I like Chef Adrian Cuenca’s exceptional Bone Marrow Burger and the following single exemplar of bone marrow bliss.

Malcolm’s

This is one of my favorite steakhouses in the city. Its interiors are so classically steakhouse and masculine replete with dim interiors and the requisite wood-handled knives. There’s much to like here and though I need to get around to writing about this place one day, I want to tell you first about their Roasted Bone Marrow (P395).

The bones stand at attention and are kept whole (what I favor), and not sliced vertically which is the wont of other restaurants serving a similar dish. Surfaces glisten like over-oiled bodies ready for a photo shoot, they scintillate seductively. The bones sport a haphazard shower of shredded red onion, parsley, and pepper, a gremolata of sorts. Twin receptacles offer a try-and-taste combination of sea salt and a lemon wedge while toast rounds, a traditional accompaniment to bone marrow, complete the tableau.

I’m dainty at first, slowly teasing out the fat – oops, a large portion of it flails then plops on the plate – which I immediately smear on the toast. It spreads like butter. Quickly now, as I notice the fat congealing and clouding on the plate due to the air-conditioning, I sprinkle on some salt and squeeze some lemon juice over it all. Bite, crunch, ooze, and a smoothness that seems to go on forever followed by fat, unrestrained and full-on, a flavor I favor, yes. My knees weaken, my spine slackens, and I’m suddenly mute. No wonder steakhouses have usually subdued noise levels.

Decorum dictates that bone marrow is scooped from the bone with spoons specifically designated for that purpose. They’re called marrow spoons but aw hell, I use a knife or a regular teaspoon or … I just suck it up.

Naked marrow teased out of its bone, languidly laying there incites the most obscene image comparisons. I slip it, whole and long into my mouth with nothing but grains of salt, and those images take flight. It has a warmth about it, seemingly pulsing with a primal promise. Its flavor enshrouds my mouth, feral and wild with a rich earthiness that encapsulates. Undoubtedly carnivorous, unmistakably fat, it melts then melds onto my tongue. I breathe deeply and shudder in rapture, as oil drips off my chin. I’m love-soaked and giddy with my marrow feast.

Tomorrow, I shall repent.

~~

Malcolm’s

138 H.V. Dela Costa St.,
Salcedo Village, Makati
(02) 403 9484

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