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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Mr Penfold

Food and art collaborations, oh what fun!!

We teamed up with friend and street artist Mr Penfold for his first London show and designed a colourful vibrant menu to accompany his work. This was such a challenge that I absolutely relished! After being massively inspired and in awe of the artwork that came out of kitchens like El Bulli, I felt here was an opportunity to interpret ideas in art and artistic styles and create dishes based upon this. Brilliant!!

These are some of the early sketches and ideas, at first the idea was to replicate some of the artwork in an edible form. I played with this idea but decided that there were too many blues (a difficult colour to recreate naturally!) and after speaking with Mr Penfold (aka Tim) I stuck with the interpretive ideas. I thought about serving dishes on pieces of brick or wood (i.e. wall or fence, where the street art would normally be) but decided to serve food on plates. We did end up serving the canapes for the launch night on pieces of Mr Penfolds display from the second room, nice. See pic below.

This was the menu for the Friday and Saturday evening:

Stuffed radish with hollandaise
Pigs cheek with tarragon and beets
Pigs skin skin with purees

Wasabi Avocado smear with chicory and ceviche
Radish & beetroot salad, beetroot and orange puree, horseradish foam
Peas, beans and greens, herbs, leaves and strawberry
Roasted tomatoes and onions with garlic and almonds
Deconstructed burger with brioche cream, charred lettuce, pickled apples
Watermelon sorbet, churned to serve
Carrot cake, taken apart and put back together again
Lemon foam raspberry financier

This is part of the main room of the gallery. You can see the one of the tables we had painted which was where the 16/17 guests sat and dined on the Friday & Saturday night. Its funny, when I sat down at the table at the end of the Friday night service, it felt almost magical and I well and truly believe that this was such an unique event, such vibrancy of setting with food & drinks to match. I felt very happy as I sipped on the Mr Penfold beer that our friends at Honest Brew had come up with (check them out, they make brewing accessible to all and are really awesome people!)

This was ajo blanco, basically almonds and garlic, with roasted sweet tomatoes and onions with tarragon oil and toasted hazelnuts. Looks unassuming but the flavours were intense. I tried to use onion rings and have vibrant colours and flavours to represent Mr Penfolds use of shapes and colour

This was walnut brittle that I made using isomalt, a sugar substitute made from sucrose. As you can see if leaves a very clear finish as it doesn't caramelise in the same was normal sugar does, pretty awesome I think! This was used as part of the garnish for the carrot cake.

On the Saturday night I was having a few issues with the pork cheeks that I had cooked and pressed, basically I didnt have enough that had held together as the numbers went up on the last day. So I had the idea of creating a parcel of cheek meat using my friends Hugo's cured & smoked pork belly (aka pancetta) which we then blow torched to serve. This was delicious as the fat melted onto the cheeks and not only did it add a smokey hit but it also added a really fun dimension to the canapé as I blowtorched them in the dining room for all to see (and eat straight away!!)

This dish was lots of fun as we decided to churn salted yoghurt to serve, creating a frozen yoghurt parfait, served with summer greens and herbs. It made me laugh as we were meant to send it out with a strawberry, but we forgot both nights!! We were in such a rush to serve the rapidly melting parfait (there was no freezer, hence churn to serve!) that we'd send the dishes and then exclaim "****! the strawberries!!"

This was a fun dish to plan and execute, the deconstructed burger. There's lots of Mr Penfold stickers in various places now, one is on the side of our oven, and there is one of a burger with eyes & legs. So i thought it would be fun to make a deconstructed burger, especially as the world around us has gone a bit mental over burgers in the last couple of years. I made a paste using brioche, milk and browned butter which was the bun element. I used beef short ribs which I cooked in coca cola for 18 hours and then finished in the pan. The reduction from this was phenomenal and I enhanced it with various elements like, worcestershire sauce, pickled walnut juice and butter! We added a piece of sirloin on the second night to mix it up and allow for the extra numbers. The lettuce was braised in beef stock and the pickle element came in the form of apples pickled in cider vinegar. I'd made a tomato consumme which was to be turned into a jelly, however the agar wasnt setting properly, most likely because of the acidity of the tomatoes. So I whacked it into an isi whipper, with a touch of xanthum gum, charged it and boom, tomato foam, a la minute! really pleased with this last minute substitution as it tasted fantastic and the foam really contrasted with all the other elements

Deconstructed carrot cake, inspired by Thomas Keller, so much fun as love carrot cake and love the idea of taking all its flavour components (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, carrot, walnut, raisins, sugar etc) and turning it into something different but recognisable and familiar.

"There is a light that never goes out" Morrissey  

Hope to see you all soon, keep smiling, eating, laughing and loving