Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Japan on a Plate

Buddah’s Tears green tea to begin...

Salad of yellow and white nectarine, wakame and red radish flavoured with honeyed ginger and sesame oil, ringed with tamari roasted seeds (pepita and sunflower) and raisins.
Soba noodles flavoured with kome miso, shallots and coconut oil served with (1) sesame and soy marinated white cabbage, (2 ) pickled ginger and a (3) soy and wasabi granny smith pulp.

Nori rolls filled with an avocado and hatcho miso paste, black sesame seeds, rice wine vinegar flavoured roasted pumpkin, red capsicum and cucumber and served with soy and wasabi.

Cherry and mint agar agar jelly served with fresh cherries, coconut milk granita and mint leaves.
A trip to Japan is definitely on the cards - until then I will have to make do with wakame, soba ginger and soy.
Any Japanese expats want to judge just how far from traditional fare my interpretation is? The deal remains open (scroll down to the end for an explanation of the deal) - send me an email with your name, age, favourite food and why I should cook for you - and chances are an invite will follow. よい食欲

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Global Gobbler guest #3 - Sten

Name: Sten
Age: 25
Occupation: Architect and general style queen
Favourite food: Cheese
Why she deserves the Global Gobbler experience: My last healthy meal before slumming it in London on mushy peas, bacon sarnie and Yorkshire pud.

The Verdict
Joel’s healthy vegetarian French is comfort food balanced with freshness prepared with a whole lot of imagination.

The sometimes matching, sometimes contrasting of textures which marked the beginning of the meal continued through the courses, crescendo-ing (true!) to the ice cream which is not ice cream.

It was radical! The entrée, a stuffed zucchini, was more a dessert! Sweet, sticky, warm. The world needs more vegetable puddings served with pinot.

The real applause for this dish goes out to the texture of the zucchini – cooked to perfection with a melting firmness which ensured the contents, prunes, peas, mint and red onion combined without losing their individual flavours.

The second course was the stand out for visuals, acid green on dark claret. The flavours were also the most bold – earthy beetroot and tart lemon wedges, perhaps fighting, perhaps dancing. I can see the mash trend in culinary circles definitely heading in the purple direction.

The comfort food settled down for the main. This was the dish I’d been most looking forward to as I love a fritter. But does cauliflower have a flavour? If it does, buckwheat owns it. But the fritter’s texture was outstanding; moist and melting with the bite of nutmeg and coriander the lift of chives.

Perhaps after such a flavourful ‘small’, the fritters should have been smaller, so there was less volume and more crispness to contrast with the fritter interior.
The rosemary capsicum relish was delicate and not too sweet and the goat’s cheese and chive spread Moorish.

The dessert was a revelation as I generally eat dessert only under obligation. Lets leave the un-announced cameo of pistachio and balsamic frozen bites to one side (a strange experiment which would be ideal in smaller quantities as a drinking snack). And the stuffed and grilled fig, deliciously sticky and sweet with the crunch of walnuts and fresh hit of sage, was also lacklustre in the company of my first and without doubt best experience with fresh figs.

Fresh ripe figs served with what I call the most delicious ice cream but what Joel calls goats vanilla cream. The action of scraping juicy fig pulp and scooping tangy sweet ricotta onto a spoon was glorious. The use of vanilla beans as opposed to essence lifted this dessert from outstanding to truly memorable.

The meal on reflection was nicely balanced, volumes not overdone and each dish retaining its own very distinct character. Did I experience the upper echelons of French dining? My taste buds thought so, while my waist escaped to a health retreat – during the same meal.

Thankyou Joel

French Revolution - RIP 12 January 2008

Zucchini filled with peas, mint soaked prunes, paprika, ricotta and balsamic caramelised red onion.

Chef Notes
Everyone does stuffed zucchini and I don’t think I really differentiated this enough. The prunes, ricotta and mint combined well but I think the filling needed to be a bit firmer. It still tasted fine and looked good but I felt it was missing something – maybe some roasted seeds – and perhaps a bit more paprika – classic French(?)

Lemon roasted asparagus spears resting on a tarragon beetroot mash topped with grated macadamias.

Chef Notes
The taste of the mashed beetroot was so sweet but still had that root vegetable flavour. The tarragon and lemon lifted it from a being too heavy. The roasted asparagus turned out well and I think the grated macadamias were simply a visual addition. Could have almost turned this into a dessert...next time.

Nutmeg and coriander flavoured cauliflower and buckwheat fritters topped with a chive and goat cheese spread and served with red capsicum, rosemary and date relish.

Chef Notes
Interesting flavours... The cauliflower gave the fritters a creamy texture and the bite came from the coriander seeds and nutmeg. Perhaps a few more herbs would have freshened it up and also making the fritters a little thinner and crispier would have required less chew action and the toppings could have played a greater role.

(1) Figs stuffed with cinnamon ricotta, sage, walnuts and grilled with honey. (2) Fresh fig topped with vanilla creamed goats ricotta and served with frozen sweet and sour pistachio.

Chef Notes
Fresh figs – hard to mess these up and equally hard to improve them! The figs still had some bite so the sweetness of the vanilla cream combined well. It was definitely worth getting the vanilla beans – such a different flavour from the essence and with the lemon zest, honey and goats ricotta…This dish was lucky to make it to the table! Not so sure about the sweet (honey) and sour (balsamic vinegar) pistachios…maybe needed to be grilled instead of frozen? Or else served as a separate dish. The grilled figs were less spectacular but the walnut and sage worked well. Best served cold I think once everything is set.