Saturday 28 May 2011

That Heston Blumenthal Magic

(The signage at The Fat Duck entrance)

(Sound of The Sea)

(The Not-So-Full-English-Breakfast)

(Taffety Tart - from a recipe dating back to 1660)

(The 'BFG' Black Forest Gateau)

There appears to be an awful lot of Heston love in the Cape Town air. I could have predicted this, having a thing for bald men who wear fabulous spectacles myself. But it’s more than the look. Heston Blumenthal is the Rock Star for Food Nerds. So there he was delivering lectures (did you really expect the whole liquid nitrogen, painstaking detailed cookery demonstration?) at the Good Food and Wine Show this past weekend. Which may I add was horribly crowded and really should be relooked and revamped. If Cape Town is a culinary destination, we should really glam things up a bit more, surely? And also, how about a decent auditorium for speakers where the noise of the main show or backstage don’t annoy the speakers or those who have paid a substantial amount to hear him/her. But I don’t want to appear ungrateful, because our tickets were a much appreciated gift, and it was wonderful to hear one of the greatest chefs in the world explain the thinking behind some of his creations. Heston Blumenthal is a passionate scientist/historian/sociologist/therapist who uses food to communicate beautifully.

In January this year Jacques and I had an incredible meal at The Fat Duck in Bray, I wrote about this experience for the May edition of Taste magazine, but just a few, more thoughts, anyway…

If I could swallow the sea...

Sound of the Sea is served alongside an iPod hidden in a large seashell, which when listened to plays the sounds of the ocean - crashing waves and screeching seagulls. Slivers of fish, sea kelp, foam – so totally appropriate in this dish - and salty ‘sea sand’ made of a particular type of tapioca flour were so deliciously realistic in both appearance and taste that I imagined I was sitting with my bare feet in a rock pool on the West Coast with the sun beating down on my bare neck and that I was scooping up and swallowing mouthfuls of seawater and sea creatures, with the exception that on this occasion it tasted as beautiful as it looked.

A Snail Tale...

And what of the legendary Snail Porridge? Unbelievably wonderful. The bright green parsley and fennel infused porridge oats and garlicky snails was so delicious I could have eaten another huge bowl full. But I will never look at garden snails in quite the same way again.

What’s for Breakfast...

The Not-So-Full English Breakfast with nitro-scrambled Egg and Bacon Ice Cream? Well it looked like an egg, and it was indeed a proper egg that was broken into a pan filled with liquid nitrogen, and the contents were scrambled at our table, and had the look and texture of softly scrambled eggs, except when you tasted it, it was ice-cold, as ice cream should be, and tasted sweetly-smokily of bacon. Confused perfection.

A giant gateau, of sorts...

The BFG – Black Forest Gateau, but also a literary reference to Roald Dahl’s book by the same referring to the big friendly giant, was magnificent in taste (and I usually don’t like black forest gateau) but also in appearance – the chocolate column was flocked (as in the appearance of flocked wallpaper) a process referred to as flocage. And upon being brought to your table the waiter spritzes a fine mist of kirsch around your head, so scenting the air with cherries.

I scream for ice-cream...

Equally wonderful were the Savoury Lollies. A trio of small lollies and ice-creams reminiscent of those found in an ice cream van. The first one was shaped like a 3-coloured ice-lolly and had all the taste of a Waldorf salad, the second was a cylindrical Salmon Twister, and the last one was a foie gras version resembling a small Magnum ice cream.

On Sweets and small spaces...

Before heading off and snooping around in the tiniest restaurant kitchen I have ever seen, (there are about 2 other small ones across the road, and a makeshift area in the back parking lot, as well as a small cupboard-like pantry area where the after-dinner sweets are made. In these areas 50 chefs work tirelessly to serve 42 diners for lunch and dinner. Mind blowing), we ended off our meal with Whisk(e)y Wine Gums. Five tiny golden gummy bottles, stuck to a glass map of whisk(e)y producing regions, that dissolve in your month and then fill it with the very distinctive smoky tastes of various whiskeys. And then the pink and white striped bag of candies arrived containing, amongst other things, the Apple Pie Caramel with its edible ‘cellophane’ wrapper, or the Queen of Hearts chocolate card which tasted of jam, and the coconut tabacco and eating it I felt exactly Like A Kid In A Sweet Shop. As Heston Blumenthal intended. In a single afternoon, I had gone back in time; my inner-child had come out to play. And my adult-self will be forever grateful

And the websites to end all websites...


  1. it seems the sous chefs in the back kitchen were making such a noise that Heston had to tell them to shut up! The whole show was a shambles, and I wonder how long it will take for them to get it right :)

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