Monday, September 1, 2008

RIP China - Year of the Rat - 30 August 2008

Shot of lychee blended with vodka, lime, mint and sugar syrup.

Chef Notes
Not too sure about this one. Sadly not in lychee season - teach me for not following the 100 mile rule – and it was too early for shot glasses anyway. Vodka, lime juice, mint, sugar syrup and pureed lychees – mix with crushed ice and soda water once lychee season is here.

Rice vermicelli, shaved daikon, broccolini, garlic shoots, red peppers, shitake mushrooms, coconut omlette, red onion and black sesame seeds with a sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, chilli and lime dressing.

Chef Notes
Lack of experience with rice vermicelli shone through – don’t think I hit it with enough heat, marinade, and chilli (for my tastebuds anyway). Serving the vermicelli and stir-fry separately didn’t work – what happened to a steaming ‘out-of-the-wok’ experience I had in mind… Less palm sugar, more lime and bok choy - and a rethink on the coconut omlette.

San Choy Bao of black rice star anise, lime, cinnamon, ginger, soy and honey and encased in wombok wrappers and steamed and served on crushed roasted peanuts.

Chef Notes
Star anise and black rice – competing for flavour rather than complementing - should have gone with barley as initially planned. It wasn’t delicate but it did challenge the palate. Presentation worked after the swift insertion of rice paper rolls. I think more lime, honey and soy and less star anise will make this dish – roasted peanuts gave it a crunch but could have played a bigger role. Wombok was the star.

Crispy fried spring rolls filled with caramelised oyster mushrooms, roasted cashews, chilli, toasted sweet corn, water chestnuts, spring onion, and red peppers and served with a soy sauce, Chinese chive and sesame oil dipping sauce.

Chef Notes
Spring rolls fried in coconut oil – made for a fresher result than the deep fried version. The filling was a hit – toasted corn, cashews and creamy oyster mushrooms worked together and the tangy soy, lime and sesame dressing provided the required salt. Perhaps lacking the addition of an animal…

Dumplings of sweet potato, red bean paste and Chinese five-spice rolled in coconut and served with coconut custard.

Chef Notes
Another first time experience – red bean paste…surely food science can create something a little less bland? Chinese spices lifted the overall result but the sweet indistinct red bean flavour remained. Coconut custard made with egg yolk and agar-agar wasn’t quite right – possibly firmer and definitely warmer. Flavour also needed a boost – Vanilla? Dates? Alcohol?! As noted by one of the astute guests – “Could have done with some salt.”

Thanks Annie, Meryn and Josh! I know I was a week late for the closing ceremony...

Heading into the depths of Africa next - Sudan, Nepal, Mali or the powerhouse that is Chad?? African menu will be unveiled shortly - if you want to score a corruption-free invitation, email for details. GG

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