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

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