Sunday, 17 June 2012

The post-dinner analysis with Jed.

Sometimes it can be quite hard to write about an event after you've hosted it, so this time we've handed the reviewing reins to Jed Smith, the chef and reviewer!

Factoryroad Gallery did it again... After a stressful overhaul of their home and work space on June the 1st for the Flint and Food exhibition (I also provided the food for the Flint and Food show, click the link!), they then did it again the following week for 'Dinner with Jed Smith', entrusting me to transform Factoryroad Gallery into a beautiful and unique restaurant, for just two nights.

Everybody who came last week deserves a huge thank you for making the two evenings into a huge success. It was tough work for everybody involved, but that is all part of the fun!

Everybody who couldn't make it, there might be another on the horizon, so please do stay tuned!
There was a huge effort from the guests who did come, people came from places as afar as Birmingham, Suffolk and Wales and others not so far, some from the end of the road and as far as I could see (from a hot and steamy kitchen) everyone was having a great time and thoroughly enjoyed their evening.

The evenings proceedings kicked off around 7pm on Friday, but there had been much preparation beforehand. Not only had I been working in the gallery kitchen since Tuesday that week, I had had weeks of deliberation on the menu. Every spare minute I had, my brain was churning, over and over. Every time I was trying to get to sleep, every time I was on a train or a bus, scores of recipes and combinations were flying around my head. Dishes were being created, blended, baked, sauteed, boiled, roasted, grilled, flambèed mentally and then completely destroyed, the menu just kept evolving on the run up to the opening and continued to do so until the doors closed again on Saturday night.

I tried to encompass all of my previous experiences as a chef, be it in London or the English countryside, New York or Montreal, Mexico or Korea. The menu had a great many influences but had a great balance and personality. For those of you who couldn't make it or need a reminder of the menu, this is what you may or may not have eaten:

I really wanted to keep it as close to a restaurant experience as possible, so there were reservations being taken so you could choose when you wanted to eat, and what you wanted to eat with an 'a la carte' menu. I've seen so many pop up restaurants or supper clubs where you are told to arrive at a certain time and everybody gets the same menu. Another agenda was to expose diners to food or flavours that they may never have tasted before, apricot seeds, black garlic, burnt cucumber, kim chee, beef heart, genmeicha, tostadas etc.
I wanted to exceed people's expectations (obviously) and entirely satisfy each guest.

Everybody was greeted with a glass of something pink and bubbly and then their evening began...

Each diner was introduced to the evening's fair with a small cucumber and jalapeno juice, with apricot seeds, water chestnut and lemongrass oil.
Friday's diners were served with razor clams and Saturday's with mussels and samphire.

The master bread with a no-knead bread production for the weekend...

and then into the starters:

'Radish. Turnip. Tomato/Mustard custard' were radishes and turnips dressed in tomato pickle liquid with mustard oil served alongside a shiny mustard custard.
Thick home-made 'mustard custard'.

'Mackerel. Cucumber. Burnt things' was lightly cured mackerel galvanised in a burnt cucumber oil with pickled cucumbers and burnt baby onions and crispy mackerel skin.

 Ready to go out!


Burning 'things' over a red-hot hot plate!

'Beef cooked mayonnaise' was beef heart served in a tartare style with traditional accompaniments in a not so traditional way; pickled leeks, fingerling potato crisps, fine green beans, mustard oil and a cooked egg yolk mayonnaise.

After people had mopped their plates up with more bread, the main courses were as follows:

'Zeragosa vs Mexico 2000' was a mix of Mexican flavors influenced by a couple of my favourite bodegas in New York. There was a killer salsa verde, frijoles negros refried with fresh english peas and glazed with lime, queso fresco and of course some home made tortillas deep fried for a tostada crunch.

Having a joyous time squishing tortillas into shape!

'Cod Piece' came from the wild... after the cod was crisped up and slowly poached in butter a celery root puree seasoned with mussel stock was smothered underneath it, and a salad of celery and lovage (from the Factoryroad garden) and wild garlic capers (from Leicester's Castle Park Gardens) and thin slices of black garlic were smothered on top.

Served and ready to go!

'K-Town Pork' was all about Korea Town, a great spot to eat cheap and late in New York. There was roast pork, braised pork, kim chee, kochukaru (red chili paste) sauce, glass noodles (jap chae) and lots of ginger and spring onions. I just wish there was room for more.

Between the main course and dessert, some 'Ghost cheese': goats cheese with fresh orange, lemon and lime zest served with maple syrup and black pepper for people to enjoy at their leisure, between courses.

Then finally, desserts.

'Strawberry King'...where to start?
Strawberries were marinated in lime juice and strawberry olive oil, strawberry mousse, beet and maple syrup puree, Horlicks shortbread, burnt white chocolate and peppermint meringue.
One guest told me she didn't believe everything would taste good together but after she had tried she said she was in heaven!

'Chocolate Queen' was chocolate parfait with chocolate fudge and chocolate crumble a generous serving of genmeicha pastry cream and a sneaky little apple vinegar jelly.

Again plenty of big thank-yous to everybody who took a risk with a chef that most people hadn't even met before, came along with an empty belly and an open-mind showing their support, for what Sarah and Leigh referred to as 'an artist with a whole new medium' for their gallery.
Thank you to everyone who was involved, Tom (you were missed), Sarah's mum, Brook, Mark, Bear and next door for the pan.
And of course, a great big thank you to Leigh and Sarah for the opportunity to cook in a unique space, who of course, also had the pleasure of having me on hand to cook their meals over the week leading up to the event giving them a chance to catch up with planning the next events.

Until next time, here are a few more photos from the evening:

My art 'hanging' in the gallery..
and my art for the show.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Food and Flint show extended!

Just a quick post from us today to say that we've extended the Food and Flint show as some people haven't been able to make it yet, but need to fill their eyes and ears with this stimulus! So, the show will now be on until June 22nd.

Also, we've put some uber-limted DJ Food metallic press photos for sale in the Factoryroad Gallery shop, I know it's cliche, but it they will be sold on a first-come first-served basis, below is the direct link to all of the stock:

If you want to attend the show before the end of June 22nd, then please RSVP here:

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Flint and Food.


Where do we start? The week ending Friday 1st June saw one of the best experiences of our creative lives as we put together a show we never dreamed we'd get a chance to see, let alone host. Flint & Food might have been the culmination of weeks of planning, promoting, designing and organising, but it was actually the culmination of around a decade and a half of friendship, conversation and admiration.

One of our favourite artists and a bit of a role model for Factoryroad, DJ Food's 'The Search Engine', as you will know from previous blogs, was released in January to great acclaim and with an appropriate cosmic 'bang' at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, followed by a show of artwork generated by the release at Pure Evil in London. We've always known we wanted to do something creative with Strictly Kev (hitherto referred to as 'Kev'), but we never knew what shape or form it would take. Hosting a show of not only this work but a retrospective of some of this massive archive of work to date was an opportunity too good to miss, and on Friday the show opened to the strains of aeronautical bleeps and hisses, the smells of 'out of this world' food (thanks Kev for that) and the sounds of people chattering, pointing, admiring and reminiscing.

Our aim was to bring to a non-London crowd the beautifully realised collaborative artwork created for the album release, the result of 2000AD artist Henry Flint's feverish black-and-white drawings combining with Kev's considered, rich colour work, concepts and design. Alongside that, we wanted to demonstrate how long Kev has been significant in the field of design for music, a key member of the early Ninja Tune team as both artist and musician, and inspiration to us as buyers and admirers of his work and as creatives ourselves. His albums, purchased over a record-buying period spanning three decades, are rich with memories and a sense of time and place and feel like family members in themselves.

It's Kev of course to whom we owe our awareness of Henry Flint's work. We decided to make the whole of the brick wall Henry's, with pencil drawings hidden in other parts of the gallery for people to discover. The rich red rawness of the 135-year old bricks seemed the perfect backdrop for his writhing ink.


We managed to get the Zoetrope Kev had made fully working in our record corner - a beastly looking camera was aimed at the carefully-cut zoetrope platter and, using a secret combination of camera settings, frames-per-second and turntable speed, the images magically animated on screen.

We like our souvenirs as you know, and we made a take on the usual tea towel with Visor and Helmet polishing cloths, printed in gold and choc brown. Available in the shop of course!
And foil-wrapped chocolate Spacefood bars. Of course.

 The night saw a steady stream of the comic geek and the professor, the Ninja Tune fan and the space nerd, the artist and the musician along with friends, family and the merely curious. All had a chance to chat to Kev and enjoy close-up gazing of things they'd perhaps only glanced on a poster, sleeve or online.

Upstairs we enrolled family in the creation of a giant line art space shuttle in the room hosting Kev's spacesuit promotional photographs, with Bob Neely's specially-constructed soundtrack hidden and on loop behind the fearsome-but-necessary stack of toilet rolls (you can never have too many). We happen to have a robotic-looking water tank as it is, so no additional props needed there..

As always the total experience was key, and Jed the stalwart of kitchen alchemy was of course installed two days beforehand to plan his space-themed niblets of alien blood and scabs (actually a delicious crispy rice-paper chip with beetroot and chilli dip); 'chips & mushy peas' (cuboid, of course, with hand-shucked peas and deep-fried crispy pea skins), aubergine mush on tiny hand-made breads, and wild garlic and cucumber gazpacho with apricot seeds and lime. The pictures, we hope, will speak for themselves!

The pictures should speak for themselves, so it only remains to thank the people who made the event: Kev, for agreeing to let us borrow his artwork and for hurling himself so robustly into the setting up of the show and the punishing hours it entails; Henry for being so very present despite not being here; Brook valentine-Menown for being right-hand-woman and making herself indispensible in the realm of PR, promo and scalpel prowess (even though she was believed to be a pseudonym till the last minute); Jed, for traveling to the moon and back for space crisps and sci-fi peanuts; Jo C for the shuttle, Anne C for the hand-stitched tea towels; Nigel Axon for the photographs; Matt C. and Andy for enthusiastic last-minute gallery lighting installations, Bob Neely for making the bathroom ambient; and anyone else whose services were performed under the usual Factoryroad conditions of tight scheduling and anally-retentive detail.

Read Kev's review of the night too, for a report of the experience from the artist's perspective!

All the merch - books, prints, helmet-polishers, Spacefood and records - can all be found in the shop. with the special edition 'Skullstronaut' print for sale from 15th.