Preparing for and writing about this dish is all about definitions. Firstly noix, French for nut, but more specifically meaning walnut. Wiktionary.org comes to the rescue with

used both to mean “nuts (in general)” and “walnuts (in particular)” – compare Spanish carne, meaning both “meat (in general)” and “beef (in particular)”

Interestingly noix de coquille st jacques is a scallop

I had most of the ingredients lined up for this dish for some time, but had yet to find a source of Swiss chard. This was until one day when someone threw into conversation that silverbeet is known as chard in other parts of the world – eureka! Luckily I didn’t have to look too far for sorrel as my flatmate was growing it in the back garden. Eating it raw it has a quite unexpected citrussy flavour.


The tinned snails get simmered in wine, the spinach blanched, and the walnuts chopped and mixed with breadcrumbs. Anthony advises:

“You can do all the above hours in advance (as long as you keep the spinach and snails refrigerated). Have a drink. Relax. Dress for company. Smoke a joint. Your work is practically done here.”

Not wanting to veer too far from the recipe, I did as I was told, before blazing through the rest of the cooking.

The previous classic snail preparation from a few recipes back – my favourite of the two – perfectly presented the mushroomy, almost-oystery escargot flavour on a pedestal of garlic, butter and parsley. In this instance the taste melds in with walnut, walnut oil, leafy spinach, Swiss chard, zingy sorrel, breadcrumbs and bacon.

It is satisfying, has a great texture that holds together, and sits up on its own, but could equally be described as mushy and grey. From here I can see where Heston Blumenthal may have pulled his influence for snail porridge. It would do well on crackers or sliced baguette as an hors d’oeuvre.

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