Bone Marrow, Sweetbreads, Duck Confit…and Dessert!

In terms of food posting schedule on this blog, I am very far behind. Meals from October, August, and even some from summer in Hawaii sit the ‘Pictures’ file of my computer, patiently waiting its’ turn. The thing is, there’s just so much wonderful food and many adventures, stories waiting to be told. But. There is never enough time. So I’ll do the best I can, because each one of these meals, shared with friends or enjoyed on my own, are surely worth recounting.

Bread Basket #1

A few weeks back I had dinner at one my all time favourite restaurants in the city, Blue Ribbon Bakery. There are many reasons why I love this restaurant. Off the top of head: the bread basket, the bread in general, the bone marrow, the bread pudding, the cozy (though not cramped) seating, the huge bakery area downstairs. And the cute waiters. That is always a plus.

Robyn and I were the last of our party of six to arrive and the bread basket had already graced the table by the time we were seated. What else could we do but dig in? hehe. The bread here is spectacular, and there’s so much variety. Robyn and Justin were particularly enamoured with a simple white bread with the craziest golden crackly crust. There was a cheesy bread. And a tomatoey one. Many others but I can’t remember. Too much too sample. Not enough brain cells to think. I’ll just enjoy.

Bread Basket #2

On my way to the washroom I passed by the gigantic bread baking area, in full action during the dinner hours. Oven fresh loves popping out here and there, billowing rounds of dough. And the smell! Oh! Wonderful! And then out of the corner of my eye I spotted CHALLAH. Oh goodness, I love challah! It’s my third favourite bread, coming in close after brioche and baguette. I mentioned the challah to Justin upon returning to the table, and being the gentleman he is, he asked the waiter to include challah in our next round of bread. Yay! So you see, that is challah to the right. Little did I know there would be more challah to come during dinner…

I knew what I wanted to order far in advance. Bone Marrow. I am obsessed with bone marrow. And you should be too :) The dish is listed on the menu as an appetizer, but after all the bread consumed from the overflowing baskets, and all the bread that comes with the dish, you could easily call it a meal. Bone marrow is like, ahhhhh, magic! Meaty, buttery, near custard-esque in texture. It’s quite ugly looking – the actual marrow innards themselves, but it feels rather lovely in your mouth. It’s a fatty and salty grey blob, somewhat akin to booooogers (hehe), only infinite times tastier. Especially with a spoonful of the red wine reduction and a sprinkle of salt on challah. Wait! Did I just say more CHALLAH? Yes, yes!!!

And just like I promised, more challah! Five, thick cut, grilled slices to be exact. I actually buttered a few of slices before topping it with the marrow, red wine reduction and salt. Buttah. Is amazing. Three hunks of bone marrow may not look like much, but you’ll be exhausted from all that digging (it’s hard to get all the marrow out you know??), and surprisingly full.

Here’s the whole set laid out just for your eyes!

Robyn has this crazy infatuation with duck confit, a result of her semester in Paris. Some people come back from other countries with a fine appreciation for art, others for culture. Robyn comes back with a love of duck confit and macarons. How could we not get along? ;) Want to know what she thought of the confit? Click HERE!

Justin continued his day of innards eating (he had pancetta & calf’s liver for lunch) with a dinner of crisp fried sweetbreads. Accompanied by warm grilled onion compote and a fennel & herb salad, it was the ideal winter meal. Lucky for Justin, he was seated closest to the bread basket, which allowed him to compose a meal of warm bread, butter, and sweetbreads. Sweetbread, as you must know, are amazing. I love meat, but I don’t like chewing as much. I must say, I am a lazy eater. I love soft plushy foods. I love foods that crunch, and pop. But chew? Too much effort when there are many other options. Robyn said it best when she declared sweetbreads to be,

“like light meaty fat with a fine crust. And I mean meaty fat, not fatty meat. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you best go find yourself some sweetbreads, for they are HEAVENLY BLOBS OF GLANDULAR MATTER!”


Steph was still full from the enormous burger we had at Spotted Pig just hours before and took a slightly healthier route with the Vegetable & Saffron rice plate. Look at all those colours, quite the balanced meal, no? ;)

Shann took a different route and composed her meal from two appetizers. We all partook in her escargots, or rather, the little pools of hot garlicky butter. All the bread was put to good use as we soaked up every last bit of that indulgently savoury fattiness. Nothing. Goes to waste.

She also had a side of roasted red pepper & tomato crostini. I figure you really cannot go wrong with any dish that involves bread at this restaurant!

I think this makes it the 8th slice of Pinisi’s red velvet I’ve had this fall? hehe.

Post dinner we strolled up to Billy’s Bakery, only to sadly discover that they had closed for the day! :( So we parted with Robyn who headed back home and walked over a few blocks east to meet up with Marie. We then took the subway back down to the East Village and shared a few treats at Pinisi on 4th Street.

Andy had a few treats up his sleeve that evening, and excited to meet all “your friends from Hawaii,” he welcomed us in and dished out plates of chocolate mousse & pears in phyllo along with…

…frangipane berry tarts. It’s an understatement to say that I simply feel welcomed at the bakery. It feels more like home. The best sort of smelling home, hot rugelach coming from the oven, buttery danishes in the morning. The coziest sort of home, shelves of cream cheese muffins, chocolate pound cake and cases filled with apple pie and strawberry tiramisu. And of course, the friendliest sort of home. That’s last part is probably more important than the food itself. You can duck in the bakery on a snowy day, after a late night of work, and no matter the mood, the time, the weather, once you enter, it’s an everlasting state of bliss.

And so you see. NEVER call it day without dessert!

Happy Friday everyone!

Blue Ribbon Bakery
33 Downing St
New York, NY 10014
(212) 337-0404

Pinisi Cafe & Bakery
128 East 4th St
NY, NY 10003
(212) 614-9079

  • K & S
    December 21, 2007

    Wow! everything looks so good. I first tried sweetbreads when I was in New Caledonia, I actually didn’t know what it was until after the meal…thank goodness…

  • rowena
    December 21, 2007

    Ahhh..bone marrow, il midollo, as husband likes to insist on when making the proper risotto alla milanese. YUMMY stuff that bone marrow, but I just about fell out of my seat laughing when I read the ‘boogers’ association. Love it! I’ll be thinking about that the next time I’m slurping and sucking the bone free from its lovely marrow![slurping and sucking the bone…did I just write that?] Muahahahha!

  • J. Lo
    December 21, 2007

    thank you for that post – that made my day. :) it’s always nice to remember a really great meal. this is where a food journal might come in handy. but alas…..what’s sad is when you have an out-of-body experience at a restaurant and then, a few weeks later, can’t even remember what it tasted like. moments like those are truly tragic.

  • anonymous
    December 21, 2007

    nice legs, Kathy. If only the photo-shoot would be adapted as a dinner show.

  • Kathy YL Chan
    December 21, 2007

    Hey Kat!The first time I saw sweetbreads on a menu, I thought they meant Hawaiian Sweetbread (Ani’s is my favourite brand! :) Such deceiving words…Hey Rowena!Gah, I’ve never had risotto for sooo long – I can just imagine how awesome it’d be with bone marrow!!! Haven’t seen it on a menu here in NYC yet, but will keep an eye out! :)Justin!You better let me know when you hear back from them law schools – am crossing my fingers for Columbia so I can see you in the city more often! Enjoy the warm winter :)Hey Ron!Ehehe, you lucky I have a good sense of humour! :)

  • anonymous
    December 21, 2007

    OMG! You are so totally gorgeous. The pics are great. I love your blog, all though I do not like bone marrow or sweetbreads {tummy gurgling in revolt} I feel for you in your last post; you are missing Hawaii, and I am here in Honolulu missing NYC. Wish we could trade places for a day. Hope you feel better. Sending aloha,Mae

  • MyMyMichl
    December 22, 2007

    God, I love good bone marrow, but you so rarely find it done properly. I owned a small West Village restaurant and always encouraged my guests to eat with their hands, gnaw the good stuff off the racks of lamb bones, suck out the tiny claws of lobsters, pick up chicken thus getting the bast of it, and absolutely suck out that marrow. What do you give a damn what anyone else might think; you’re doing it right.I swear, they thanked me for assuring them it was all right to eat food the way they really wanted to.

  • Kathy YL Chan
    December 23, 2007

    Hey Mae!Thank you! :) I too, wish could trade places just for a day (or two!)…how perfect that would be! :)Hey mymymichl!Oh man, next time I gotta go to your restaurant – I so badly ached just to do without the tiny fork and eat away with my hands!! How much more delicious that would have tasted! :)

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