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.

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