It has been a long time since I have uploaded anything onto this blog...which is pretty shameful considering it is a year since I began it. Since finishing uni two months ago, I have really begun to try and follow a career in confectionery and figure I should get the blog back on the road. It isn't that I haven't baked or been places...I just haven't documented it! Plus, finals at uni got pretty tough and my hobbies suffered a bit.
I have a couple of photos from my phone of places I have been and things I have made over the last two months which I want to upload in an attempt to fill the gap. I have promised myself to keep up now! No excuses :)
During my finals, my sister was interning at the Southbank Centre and managed to get her hands on two tickets to Heston Blumenthal and Jancis Roninson's sherry and tea tasting at one of the SC venues. I was so excited (I am a bit of a Heston enthusiast) and so got the train back from university in Brighton to attend.
I wan't too sure what to expect, as I have never tasted sherry before!? but I am a big big tea drinker. The talk was part of a 'best of british' type series put on at the centre, so the tasting was followed by a lecture.
The main tasting hall was interesting. The majority of the hall was for sherry tasting, with about 20 different stalls set up with different companies giving out samples. However, the main issue was the number of people. It was impossible to move, let alone wriggle your hand through the sea of bodies in order to get a drop in your glass. I hung around the tea tasting counter instead. My sister and I managed to squeeze up to the front counter and lodged myself there. They were offering delicious blends of black teas in small glass cups. Tasty.
The absolute highlight for me was getting to listen to Heston Blumenthal speak. We entered the theatre where the lecture was taking place and on each seat was a black box. There was a notice on the stage saying
DO NOT OPEN YOUR BOX UNTIL HESTON REQUESTS
I managed to restrain myself from sneaking a peak. Heston began to talk about his efforts to bring the different concepts of' britishness to the afternoon tea...and asked us to open to box. It looked rather airoplane like (for which he apologized) as he had to roll out a few hundred identical boxes.
Heston took us methodically through each creation which ranged from a toast sandwich, a piece of pork crackling to be served with an anchovy gentlemans relish, a deepfried mince pie 'ball' served with a stliton mousse to an orange cream pastry 'jammy dodger'.
The most bizarre was probably the mincemeat filled pastry with the stilton mousse. It was interesting but I couldn't quite understand the logic. The salty moist anchovy paste however on the crispy pork crackling was delicious!
At the end of the talk I waited to speak to Heston and made sure I got my embarrassing 'starstruck' shot. I asked him which chocolate he uses in his cooking and he said Valhrona (of course) and another name I think beginning with 'm' that I couldn't catch above all the din.
What I learnt from the whole evening...and took away was the power of expectation and surprise. Two things that I think are pretty central to Heston's whole approach to food. Simply by not allowing us to crack open the box as soon as we sat down, or gobble the creations in any order made the food an experience, and a discovery.