Posts Tagged ‘meringue’
It was a glorious Monday in London and we spent the only clear weather we had outdoors. I gallivanted about Westminster in the morning fending off tourists with unwieldy maps and gargantuan DSLRs. We merrily roamed Kew Gardens in the afternoon, steamed in Victoria era glasshouses and felt the spring blades of grass between our toes.
Famished and fatigued, dinner at Nopi was a nourishing conclusion to a lovely day.
A lampshade of rustic bronze leaves greeted patrons.
The glare of the all white interior was diffused by the lighting creating a warm ambience.
A beautiful bouquet in pink hues marked the serving table where platters of salads and loaves of bread were displayed in a front corner of the dining room.
On the left was the grapefruit and lychee cooler, a fruity cocktail of lemon infused vodka, lychee and grapefruit juices, lemon, sugar and mint.
The menu was categorised into vegetables, fish and meat. We agreed to let our waiter order for us and our group of seven had nine dishes family style.
The first was roasted aubergine with black garlic, harissa and pine nuts. Eggplant halves were roasted until silky, its soft flesh contrasted with the crunch of the pine nuts.
I’m neutral on lentils so I only had a tiny spoonful of these green ones with shaved beetroot and radish, and berbere croutons. An African spice blend, the berbere was an appetising seasoning for the bland but nutritious lentils.
Sambal rubbed gurnard was wrapped in banana leaf. The fish fillet was succulent and fiery.
A sphere of burrata was paired with slices of blood orange and coriander seeds. The squeaky mozzarella oozed with cream, and the herby and citrus notes tempered the richness.
Portions of twice cooked baby chicken was dipped in chilli sauce and sprinkled with lemon myrtle salt. The distinct Mediterranean flavours were bold and vibrant.
A cube of pork belly was in a pool of grape mustard jus. The fatty meat was balanced by the wedges of caramelised nashi pear.
In a skillet was seared prawns tossed with feta, fennel and Pernod.
Two golden orbs were courgette and Manouri fritters. Dipped in a cooling lime yoghurt, the mixture of zucchini and Greek cheese were savoury bites.
The last of our waiter’s selection was a ‘cheesecake’. Valdeón, a Spanish blue cheese, was baked in a copper pot and garnished with pickled beetroot and thyme honey. I prefer this version to dessert cheesecakes!
This scoop of sorbet was the essence of pear.
A classic English treat, this Eton mess of meringue, sumac and rose syrup was topped with a quenelle of strawberry sorbet.
Delightfully warm and fluffy financiers were shared.
Posted Monday 05 March 2012on:
Presented by Book Larder, the dessert party with Gail Simmons was held at the Palace Ballroom and coincided with the Top Chef season 9 finale on leap day. I love MasterChef Australia but I haven’t watched Top Chef so I was curious about Gail‘s memoir, Talking with My Mouth Full.
Banners of each chapter in cursive font and a symbolic illustration decorated the space.
The dessert menu was three chalkboards tied together with string.
Clockwise from top: schnecken, apple cake, derby tartlet, and chocolate meringue pie. The recipe of Tom Douglas’ grandmother, the schnecken was sticky sweet rolled and glazed pastry sprinkled with chopped nuts. Gail’s plum cake made with apple was scented and light. Chewy and nutty, the derby tartlet was a bite size treat. A pillowy twirl of burnished meringue rested on a chocolate filled crust, the mini pie was the highlight of the dessert party.
Rhubarb dump with crème Anglaise in a ramekin.
Both ladies listened to each other with intent and were animated in conversation. Gail’s mantra of ‘the harder you work, the luckier with are’ resonated with me.
Gail cited Survivor and Fear Factor as the stigma of the reality television genre when she filmed her first episode of the inaugural season of Top Chef in 2005. Many hours of footage from many cameras were edited for each show. Instead of applying a formula to the judging panel, their styles developed as a team.
Gail’s father was born in South Africa. He moved to Canada in the 60s and met her mother in Montreal on a blind date. Gail’s mother operated a cooking school out of her home kitchen and wrote a regular column for Canada’s national newspaper, The Global and Mail.
Gail graduated with a liberal arts degree with majors in anthropology (she ‘really likes monkeys’!) and Spanish (the language of kitchens). Gail wrote reviews of ‘ghetto’ restaurants for her university newspaper.
Her mother’s best friend, Linda, inspired Gail to enrol in culinary school to learn the science of cooking. Linda encouraged Gail to write down what she loves, and on the piece of paper was ‘eat, write, travel, cook’. Culinary school is a modern construct, and to speak and write ‘with authority’, she needed to know the subject.
In New York Gail worked for the esteemed Vogue food critic, Jeffrey Steingarten. Gail described her former boss as an extraordinary mind, a meticulous researcher and self-deprecating. It was ‘an education’ to be Steingarten’s assistant, a difficult job that has ‘opened doors’.
Gail recalled a dry aged meat experiment for an article where Steingarten left the meat on the counter to rot. Dry aging of meat is a calibrated process in a precise environment and Gail cleaned up the putrid meat with maggots before Steingarten returned from overseas!
Gail noted that physical strength is an attribute required in kitchens, it is gruelling manual labour to ‘execute a chef’s vision’. A key to success to knowing ‘when to keep mouth shut’! Gail emphasised the importance of goals and to be flexible with the path to achieve them.
As a judge she uses descriptive words (‘oozy’!) and assesses each dish objectively. She recommends Stephanie Izard‘s Girl and the Goat in Chicago, Spike Mendelsohn‘s Good Stuff Eatery in Washington DC and Harold Dieterle‘s Perilla in New York of the Top Chef contestants.
An audience question about Gail’s health was controversial. Amy stated that the question would not have been posed to a man. Gail responded that it is an ‘occupational hazard’. She tastes food in two or three bites, is attentive of her diet off camera, is active and while she is not American, she walks like a New Yorker!
Gail was gregarious and energetic, and I intend on reading chapter eight, ‘Alone with rotten meat: the Vogue years’, first!
The Boeing Dreamliner, President Obama and Princess Mary all followed us to Australia. We’re enjoying the sunshine, jacarandas in bloom, wearing sunglasses and flip-flops, nostalgic walks, and sentimental meals.
Restore, revitalise, rejuvenate. Despite the beauty of the Seattle autumn I’ve had a bout of homesickness and this was a timely trip home.
In an effort to adjust to the time zone we spent our first day in Sydney in the city. We got lost in the asymmetrical corridors and oddly shaped levels of the new Westfield Sydney. I was delighted at the selection of restaurants and we had an early lunch at Chat Thai.
A modern and stylish design, the entrance of the eatery had a row of leather chairs and tiered floral displays. Timber planks covered the ceiling and a gleaming open plan kitchen entertained the crowds.
The interior is decorated in muted tones and featured exposed brick walls. Round and rectangle tables accommodated groups of varying sizes. We were seated quickly just before midday and within ten minutes the dining room was full.
The menu was a colour printed, hardcopy bound book with scrumptious photography. I had read that it had been ‘souvenired’ by many diners!
As is the custom at many Asian restaurants, the menu items were numbered. Nearly ninety dishes were categorised as starters, grilled and fried, spicy salads, curries and soups, wok fried, seafood, noodles, and ‘one plate wonders’. There was a separate menu for desserts and beverages.
A balance of salty, sweet, sour and bitter flavours is fundamental to Thai cuisine. Glass containers of condiments could be requested to moderate the seasoning.
Sticky and chewy, bites of fresh spring rolls were appetising. Smoked fish sausage, chicken and crab were wrapped in rice paper and doused in caramelised tamarind relish.
Morsels of poached snapper were tossed with a spicy dressing and salad leaves. The larpb bpla was fiery and delicious.
Ba mee haeng bped, roast duck with egg noodles, were piled into a ceramic bowl and garnished with green onions and cilantro. Simple yet delicious, the firm strands of egg noodles were perfectly paired with tender pieces of duck.
We reluctantly left without dessert but I lingered at the counter and spotted trays of kanom buaing, sweet wafers with meringue, and threads of candied egg yolk and herbs.
A basket of ripe mangoes were ready for sticky rice.
Instead of an apple a day, I will be eating mangoes!