The oven At Moro

The days from Saturday 14 May were momentous for us. Having hardly stuck our noses out of the door for two years we took buses to Caernarfon for the Food Festival, went to the Newen Afrobeat gig in Bethesda that evening (still don’t quite believe it happened), and by the end of the week we were in Paris celebrating Sue’s birthday and the approach of our anniversary …

A lot of this took place in restaurants starting with a perfectly adequate meal at Pizza Express, Euston Road on Saturday, Joe Allen in Paris on Sunday, building up to Brasserie Balzar on Monday and culminating in a bang-up at Moro back in London on Tuesday.

Moro, on Exmouth Market, is possibly our favourite restaurant in the world but with our budget it’s definitely a very occasional, big celebration event. In fact it would be pointless going there with any sort of budget in mind – you might as well take full advantage or stay at home.

Be assured we took full advantage. Won’t tantalise you with the full details but it featured belly pork and cod for mains both roasted in their wood burning oven … In fact it was the oven I was going to tell you about.

Many of you will know Paul Merry, long time Australian baker, baking teacher, oven builder (see Panary). Don’t often get the opportunity to name-drop but the great oven builder Alan Scott (also Australian but then in America) put me in touch with Paul when I had fantasies about a bakery based on a wood-burning oven.

Anyway, did a couple of courses and used him as a consultant in the mid noughties. But the point is, he built the oven in Moro (and later in Lunya, Liverpool, but that’s another story). Here’s a favourite pic I took of Paul from the Ludlow Food Festival in 2007:

I’d taken oven photos at Moro way back in 2009 on my 62nd birthday:

and, looking at it again, I notice the tiles are different. Wonder if they rebuilt the dome?

This time I found myself talking to one of the two Sam Clarks (his partner and co-owner is also called Sam). He even gave to oven a little polish for the camera …

Should have asked him about the bread. The recipe given in their first book, “Moro – The Cookbook”, is obviously written with beginners in mind – bog standard white sourdough baked in tins, whereas the loaves in the restaurant are large, rustic, flattish rounds with, I reckon, a blend of flours. Might have been the Negroni but my taste-buds said “oats” in there somewhere.

Would have had a list of prepared questions if I’d know I’d be talking to Sam Clark himself …

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