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Quail heads going cheap


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"...if we took the bones out, it wouldn't be crunchy, would it..."

Quite. I popped into St John B&W for an impromptu lunch the other day and in among the usual suspects (langoustine, ox hearts, slip soles, confit of chicken neck) I was surprised to see crispy quail heads and aioli on the menu. I wasn't sure if this was a typo (the dish was £1 cheaper than the usual roast quail) but I ordered them anyway. It did exactly what it said on the menu, a bowful of quail heads, roasted with a dollop of pungent aioli.

I’m not that squeamish but I found them difficult to eat. With their hollow eyes and rictus grin it was quite an effort to shove them in my mouth although masking them with the sauce helped. My friend (vegetarian) suggested that they could be served with a small audio device which emitted tweeting thus bringing one closer to the animal.

The taste was ok reminding me of the dry and crunchy bits one gets on a roast chicken leg – a texture thing I suppose. I could imagine them as a sort of pre-dinner snack /conversation piece, to be served with a chilled fino perhaps. The thing was, I couldn't be sure if this was an experiment by the good people at St J, to push the envelope on selling weird stuff to the public or just a way of making a bit of extra dosh.

The only other cuisine I can imagine serving heads (tout seul) is Cantonese but then I've never seen them on a menu (they’re probably in the section hidden from the gwailo).

Robin

PS I finished every last one of them

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Woodcock is of course traditionally served so one can crunch through skull & brain simultaneously, if one can't be arsed with a surgical intervention.

Too much head can be enervating, though. And quails are small enough that you can crunch through most of the minor bones anyway. Definitely a tapas dish.

Now that's what St. J should do, genuine english tapas.

A gulls egg, a quail's head, a squirrel's testicle and a pig's cheek. Just perfect with a glass of sherry before moving onto something more significant.

Wilma squawks no more

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My friend (vegetarian) suggested that they could be served with a small audio device which emitted tweeting thus bringing one closer to the animal. 

Christ Robin, you never told me yesterday that you were with a VEGETARIAN when you partook of this grotesque feast. I mean how could you? All those grinning staring heads. Actually I think they should go one further with the transmitter and switch from tweeting to "Go ahead, motherfucker, make my day" just as you're about to pop them in your mouth. That way St. John might do the right thing and pay you to eat them, rather than expecting you to...er....cough up for this doubtful privilege.

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My friend (vegetarian) suggested that they could be served with a small audio device which emitted tweeting thus bringing one closer to the animal. 

what did the veggie eat? i haven't been there yet, but i can't imagine there's a huge veggie choice.

Suzi Edwards aka "Tarka"

"the only thing larger than her bum is her ego"

Blogito ergo sum

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not at all, but if you have a close friend who is one it just makes life easier when eating out. On one hand I think "Sod it, can't spend my life worrrying about damn veggies when selecting restaurants" but it is a bit unbearable if all they can have is a goat's cheese starter and a salad.

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now it's packed everyday at lunch.

Last Tuesday it was 3/4 empty at lunchtime, and no wonder at the prices they are charging - small portion of chiterlings (sp?), very salty, £7 - plus the service was dozy (though friendly) and my (takeaway) eccles cake was burned to the point of being inedible. I love St John, but on this occasion perhaps the Emperor has no clothes?

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Going back to the topic of quails, I received this e-mail yesterday. I don't think there is much call for French quails but I could be mistaken and they are a far superior bird due to force feeding! But if anyone has any helpful ideas I will pass them on. Thanks.

"Hi, I don't know if you can help me, basically we are a English couple living in France, a friend of ours, the local mare as a Caille farm, (pronounced Kye) being a French delicacy he is looking to supply to restaurant suppliers in the UK, I wonder if you deal with business to business, or if you can put me in touch with a restaurant supplier that may be interested. any help or information would be greatly appreciated."

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