Friday, April 3, 2009
Master Chef - Mystery Box - The Review
Maker of all things salt. Most famously, the Salted Caramel Tart ™
Who would you trust more, someone with a crane or someone with a sharp knife?
Thanks for the review undercut – too kind of course.
Was it worth the battle?
The onion, the weather, the strange clucking animal with a disproportionately sized brain?
Well, luckily there were no onions involved and everything else was impressively creative, despite Joel asking for a harsh review. Oh, and the weather surprisingly didn’t throw me into oblivion, so, I might as well get to it.
First, the potato; presented as a rosti with rosemary oil and a white anchovy. There is a sign of someone who can cook (or possibly someone who can eat), and I believe that is someone who isn’t afraid to use salt. The rosti itself was a good platform for the anchovy and the oil, and despite what you usually get with rostis, not greasy. The only thing was that the rosti was too starchy and could have benefit from being rinsed in cold water after being grated.
The brussel sprouts were probably my favourite. Very simple and clean by being pan fried and served with crispy prosciutto, roasted hazelnuts and pan fried sage. The presentation of this became a little tricky, but negotiated in the end between a smash-pile and a bridge. The flavours themselves were very straightforward and, in lack of a better way to put it, ballsy. The saltiness of the prosciutto was cut by the freshness of the sprouts, which still held their crunch and mellowed by the nuts.
The next course I think was unconsciously presented. That sentence, though vague, can be explained. So, rocket, blackened corn, chicken which has been poached and shredded with raisins and a hard-boiled egg was presented as a nest; kind of fitting since, if you think about it, we were eating the mother and its unhatched spawn-ovum (not that this egg belonged to this particular bird). The chicken was a drier than Joel would have liked, but the corn and the egg hid that quite well. Quite a mild dish that followed such a gutsy second course, but its subtlety was appreciated.
By this stage, I was getting full, so I didn’t get to finish the dessert. Figs were cooked in a filo pastry with thyme, served next to salted-caramel walnuts and a goats cheese and vanilla icecream, presented in the skins of figs. A very impressively constructed dish, as pointed out, a play on a cheese board, so of course I liked it. The pastry was subtly sweet and ended with a savoury tone with the thyme, which went well with the salt from the walnuts and the goats cheese icecream. It seemed that no combination in this could go wrong, and had the textures and temperatures covered on all bases. The only thing is that the walnuts could have benefited from being toasted before covered in caramel, but that is only personal preference. Though, when I am full and keep going back, you know you have a gold star.
Oh, and I should probably mention this was all cooked on an electric stove and the oven broke. So, I say, thanks kid. I’ll come back when it is raining a second shower over me and blowing me sideways.