The days when a meal without meat was not considered a meal are
long gone in most homes – certainly in ours. The current mindset of the ‘fooderati’ has been neatly phrased by Michael Pollan: ‘Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants’. Meat is a treat, a luxury item almost. Going to the butchers’ shop is not a chore, it is an indulgence, and here in London we are spoiled with some terrific butchers selling great meat. Frank Godfrey in Islington is where we buy our meat for the restaurant. Not only is the quality superb but the service and commitment make working with them a delight – they will get whatever cut of whatever animal we want, trim it for us in any way we ask and deliver it with a smile.
For our home supplies we go to Moen’s in Clapham – the most wonderful shop. They always have great canned and dried goods; they bring in heirloom potatoes, new season garlic and foraged mushrooms; and they have the most wonderfully macabre window displays. For Christmas they hang two big turkey carcasses in full feather, wings and tails splayed to show their impressive plumage. The mums of Clapham are horrified, the kids love it. The meat they sell is superb, especially the beef steaks they so expertly age: full of flavour, tender but not mushy, and if you gasp a little when you come to pay, you know it’ll be worth it.
This dish is a good way to stretch a good steak. When we first came to this country and worked on lowly chefs’ salaries, this was our treat: a great steak, slices of sourdough cooked in the same pan to absorb as much of its precious flavour, the best tomatoes we could find, and some herbs for interest. Nowadays we can afford a bit more steak, but this dish is still a treat for us. There aren’t many dishes that you can bring to the table fifteen minutes after you started cooking, and that are so smart and tasty.
Honey & Co. At Home: Middle-Eastern recipes from our kitchen by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich, published by Pavilion Books. Image credit to Patricia Niven.