It was the word "gelatinous" that sold me. We were out for a fancy prix-fixe dinner at Bar Lola, enjoying red wine and perusing the brilliant menu that folds together seasonal flavors and experimental gourmet; I asked about the marrow appetizer that I saw under the Small Plates heading.
Our waitress began to explain the dish, which consisted of a beef marrow bone, cracked in half and roasted with sea salt and spices, resulting in shallow half-moons of warm, gelatinous fat that I would scoop out and spread on toast. I could see head chef Guy Hernandez in the restaurant's open kitchen, and I trusted him. Plus, how could I turn down the opportunity to try a dish that was described as "gelatinous" in the sales pitch? In a moment of gastronomical impulse, I ordered it. (Bar Lola's menu changes often; you may have to wait a while for the next time this specialty rolls around.)
Anthony Bourdain calls it his favorite comfort food, and several cultures prize marrow in dishes like tacos (Mexico), ossobucco (Italy), pho (Vietnam), or pot-au-feu (France). It's a good source of protein, high in monounsaturated fats, and some people say it's the better version of foie gras. I contend that the earthy taste and creamy texture brought forth an almost primordial enjoyment — perhaps I was connecting (in a very refined way, of course) with my inner cavewoman.
Bar Lola | 100 Congress St, Portland | 207.775.5652 | barlola.net