Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Fat Duck

A friend of ours (or at least she was 'til she told us), told Mary and me last week that while she was in London recently she was able to secure a table at The Fat Duck at short notice. Huh? We didn't ask. We just drooled over her pics of the meal. First course, red cabbage gazpacho with grain mustard ice cream. "Tell someone who cares", I said.

Then followed an homage to the great chef of Mionnay - Alain Chapel - a jelly of quail with crayfish cream served with chicken liver parfait, oak moss and truffle toast. Ok you've got my interest.

Snail porridge - "you have got to be joking". "No" she said, "not when accompanied by Jabugo jamon and shaved fennel".

Ok. Then on to ethical roast foie gras served with gooseberry, braised konbu and crab biscuit. "Oh really" I said. "I had that last night. Anything else"? "Well yes" she said, "9 more courses actually".

The mock turtle soup was next with the Mad Hatters gold watch on a chain melted into the soup like a banker's teabag. "The March Hare took the watch and looked at it gloomily; then he dipped it into his cup of tea".

The "Sound of the Sea" was an audio/oral course with the foamy rock pool accompanied by a conch shell concealing an iPod with head phones to allow two diners to listen to the sea while grazing in the tidal pool.

Continuing the fishy theme came salmon poached in liquorice accompanied by artichoke, vanilla mayonnaise and golden trout roe. Now I am seriously overwhelmed and make jokes about a slide evening.

Then she got my attention with a blokey dish of powdered Anjou pigeon (circa 1720), served with blood pudding, potted umbles, spelt and pickles. Heston Blumenthal - you genius.

The spookiest experience of the evening my friend said was the hot and iced tea which was molecularly manipulated so that it passed over the palate hot one one side and cold on the other.

This led to the first of the 4 dessert courses, macerated strawberries with olive oil biscuit, and a chamomile, coriander jelly and ice cream cornets and an edible serviette.

Just a warm up for the BFG...

... and the whisk(e)y wine gums and

the grand finale - the lolly bag - "Like a Kid in a Sweet Shop"

Impressed ? Me?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Cold Night In

One friend drove from Launceston, one had driven to Launceston and back. One had been to a meeting at Port Arthur and another had been painting a mural in a cold concrete building under construction. Roads were closed, there was snow in the suburbs and everyone was freezing cold on the outside. Enter a good log fire, a few exceptional bottles, a world class free range ham from Guy and Eliza at Mt Gnomon Farm and some collaborative effort in the kitchen.

First a French onion soup topped with Gruyere gougeres and a Normandy sparkling cider with a Calvados chaser. Now we are warming up. Then poach off some figs in star anise, coriander and mustard seeds and cardamon pods.

Soak, simmer, glaze and bake the ham and serve with the spiced figs and potato and fennel galette. Wash down with heroic amounts of 2005 Puligny Montrachet. Getting warmer.

Then a cheese course, Roquefort, Roy de Vallees and Edel de Cleron with an 2001 Big 'd Big Barolo and back in to the kitchen to assemble dessert.

The piece de resistance! Tiny hazelnut and chocolate pastry cases made from local hazelnuts, filled with King Island cinnamon and honey yoghurt and topped with pieces of preserved Franklin cherries. With? A 2002 Chateau d'Yquem of course.

It's a bit warm in here don't you think?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Eating South Africa

While teaching advocacy to young South African advocates (read barristers), with an international team in January this year Mary and I put out a Twitter call to find a place to eat in Cape Town. Sydney Twitter pal and food critic Simon Thomsen came to the rescue with Bistro Bizerca, an award winning restaurant run by Cyrillia and Laurent Deslandes, who not long before had run a very popular eatery just outside Sydney. Their friends told them they were mad going back to South Africa - hence the name. The highlights ? The trio of tomato, the beetroot tart, the Kudu carpaccio and the Karoo lamb stew.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Very Talented Mr Bester

One of the guests at our Web 2 lunch this Easter just gone was Marc Bester. The last photograph on that blog post is of Marc' stunning house made chocolates. Well, he is not just a great cook, he is also a very talented photographer as the picture above and the ones that follow demonstrate.

Now I know next to nothing about photography and any good pics I get for our blog are the result of my taking many shots and having had the good fortune to purchase last year a Panasonic Lumix DMC ZR 1. But I am looking to improve. So it was, that when I saw an amazing nature still taken by Marc last weekend I asked him about his camera.

Marc very kindly sent me this link to the site for the camera he has now taken 15,000 pictures with. It's also a Panasonic Lumix but it's an LX3. The Leica lens on the Lumix cameras is outstanding and the LX3 is able to focus closer than a standard digital SLR and so is probably the best compact camera some one with my penchant for food could own.

As can be seen from the pictures above the camera is also, (if you'll pardon the pun), brilliant for taking sharp food shots in low light. All this Marc explained to me. And he lent me all these images to prove it.

These luscious strawberries also bear witness to the camera's ability to take wonderfully sharp images in good light. I just love taking photographs of fruit and desserts and the selection of Marc's pics below are evocative and mouth watering.

Now the Panasonic Lumix LX3 is about to be superseded by the LX5 due out later this month. So check it out here. At a rrp of probably $650 - $700 AUD it represents good value for some one who only wants to own a compact but wants to take professional quality shots. And make no mistake it's not just a camera for food - the photographs Marc takes on his regular bushwalking expeditions and shares with his Web 2 friends are some of the best I have ever seen. Have a look at Marc's collection on Flickr