Category Archives: People

Tea and A Chat With: Michael Zee, Symmetry Breakfast

This piece originally appeared on The Holborn.

Like many of the best ideas, Symmetry Breakfast is beautifully simple: every morning, Michael Zee prepares a delicious (and photogenically matching) meal for two, which he shares with his boyfriend after taking a snap to upload to their increasingly popular social media pages. For many people, checking the latest Symmetry Breakfast Instagram and Twitter is as much of a daily ritual as the first meal of the day.

We couldn’t wait to find out more about the story behind Symmetry Breakfast…

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Thank you for joining us in the Pantry at The Holborn for Tea & a Chat, Michael. How do you take your tea?

Milk, no sugar

What would we find if we poked around in your pantry?

It’s absolutely rammed right to the ceiling, you’d actually find about 20 types of tea, countless packets of foods from China (my grandfather was from Shanghai) so probably some bone soup sachets. Lots of baking powder and dried yeast.

What’s your earliest food memory?

Round milk bread and chicken roll sandwiches. Hovis crackers also feature quite prominently

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Where did your love of breakfast begin?

I always ate breakfast as a child, Weetabix or toast that was so lightly toasted it was like hot bread. I remember being about 13 when I first saw a Full English in a tin and I was sold. (Not the best of beginnings!)

Have you noticed any trends with your posts; do some types of breakfasts or specific ingredients get more of a reaction from your followers than others?

Absolutely loads, an egg yolk is visually more striking that scrambled or poached. Red fruit is always popular as is a ‘classic’ Western breakfast like pancakes or a fry up. People do like things from further afield but they are more likely to be intrigued than ‘like’ it which I think is a shame. Coffee always gets more of a reaction than tea.

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What inspires you to cook and create new ideas for breakfast dishes?

Inspiration comes from everywhere. Holidays to new countries, or revisiting ones we’ve been to many times before and stopping to think, actually this dish could be better if we changed something (which infuriates the Italians)

Sometimes it’s the dish or plate itself that inspires a style of eating, a thali or bento plate almost encourages you to ‘deconstruct’ a dish in a way you might never do with a bowl.

What flavours do you not enjoy or find challenging?

I’ll eat anything. Mark doesn’t like things too spicy but that’s not so much of a problem first thing in the morning. We both hate Marmite because it’s the devil’s spawn.

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What is your favourite bit of kitchen kit?

Sage Barista Express, absolutely changed my life.

Where do you like to shop most for the best ingredients, cutlery and crockery?

I never include cutlery in my photos. Don’t ask me why because I don’t really know, it does make the aesthetic too cluttered though. Borough Kitchen have a beautiful range of tableware and the guys there have great taste. I love Triangle on Chatsworth Road too.

Foodwise I go absolutely everywhere, big and small supermarkets, specialist Asian supermarkets, Brazilian butchers, Fortnum and Mason, Wholefoods, my local corner shop, the Farmers Market at Imperial College on a Tuesday. The list is wide and does not discriminate.

Have you had any disasters in the kitchen that left your food un-sharable?

None at the moment, once I made a dish with baked apricots and photographed it. It was pretty bad but we did try to eat it. After the second bite we settled for toast.

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If someone wanted to make a special breakfast for a loved one, what would you advise?

Baked eggs is super easy and can be basic or luxe. It can also be prepped in advance too. I created a recipe for Borough Kitchen that can be found here.

I would be very happy with a bacon and fried egg sandwich and a cup of tea.

Tell us about how you fit in your dedication to symmetrical breakfasts around your life? What happens if you go on holiday, or eat out for breakfast one day? Or are really hungover and fancy something filthy and un-Instagrammable!?

Its actually not that difficult. I only post once a day and then go to my day job at the V&A. We do symmetrybreakfast on holiday and we eat out all the time but normally go to places that invite us because they want to get some exposure or simply love the concept. Luckily as much as I drink, I don’t get hangovers 🙂

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Speaking of travel, what country or cuisine has your favourite breakfasts?

Japan. They have an appreciation for flavours that most countries don’t. The Japanese food in Japan is nothing like what you get in London. The delicate balance of flavours, bitter and sweet, sour and salty, they’re all part of the breakfast experience.

When was the last time you skipped breakfast?

Honestly can’t remember. I do skip dinner sometimes though

What is your food guilty pleasure – time to fess up!

I’ll honestly eat anything. Takeaway of any description. My diet can be pretty bad sometimes.

We’ve heard rumours about a range of homewares and a book – can you tell us what the future holds for Symmetry Breakfast?

Homeware is still in the planning. As for a book I’ve decided to leave it for the moment, there are so many cookbooks on the market right now and despite all the hype and endorsements none are any good. Nice photos but I find them more intimidating than empowering. I want to explore more events that help bring people together over food in exciting ways never thought possible, watch this space.

 

 

Brazilian Supper Club with Tilda

All good food is made from good ingredients and it is a mistake to assume that all simple ingredients and basic staples are created equal.

Consider bread: the difference between a pappy, bleached white plastic loaf compared with a freshly baked artisan sourdough with a crackly crust and perfect crumb is obvious.

The same spectrum also exists for rice. On the one end you have the mushy, gluey, bland stuff that probably comes out of a packet with the words “easy cook” on it. On the other, you have beautifully fragrant, elegantly long grains of aged basmati.

As someone who grew up on Persian cooking, rice is a serious business. It’s at once the foundation and the star of most meals. With Persian polo, you get a heaping mound of perfectly separate, steaming grains, laced with saffron and a encased by a golden crust of tadig – the best bit.

When I first met my other half, he used to buy some cheap “easy cook” monstrosity, adamant that “rice is rice, isn’t it?”

He now gets it: you need the best possible quality to make dreamy polo (or any rice dish) and you can’t get much better than Tilda.

So I was thrilled to be invited to an evening hosted by Tilda, supperclub hero The London Foodie aka Luiz Hara, Brazilian blogger Hot and Chilli aka Rosanna McPhee, and Masterchef 2010 winner Dhruv Baker.

With the World Cup on and Rio 2016 around the corner, all eyes are on Brazil and Tilda is celebrating with their Limited Edition Brazilian Samba rice.

Luiz handed around drinks and pao de queijo

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…while his dog worked the room…

Luiz's adorably sociable dog

Having spent five wonderful weeks in Brazil last year, I knew that rice or arroz is a big deal for this cuisine too. The Brazilians are generally fans of starchy carbs; roots such as manioc and cassava are often part of meals, and dishes of farofa (flour made from manioc) are left on tables as a condiment to sprinkle over your food for texture and a little crunch.

For our Brazilian party, rice featured in a number of ways which showcased how versatile and delicious this staple can be.

Dhruv and Rosanna made bolihnos, rice fritters with dried shrimp which they served with lime and saffron mayo – a perfect canapé or bar snack.

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The special Samba rice, with its zingy flavours of chillies, lime and tempero baiano herb was a perfect foil for the deep umami richness of classic Feijoada, the national dish of pork and bean stew…

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…and the creamy spiciness of seafood dish Mocqueca…

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Brazilians are famous for their love of meat so of course there were hefty slabs of barbecued picanha (rump cap).

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Dhruv sliced these thinly and served them with pimenta de bico (tiny Brazilian pickled chilli peppers which pop delightfully in your mouth) and whole roasted garlic bulbs.

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Equally delicious was the side salad of palm hearts, tomato and red onion. Summer on a plate.

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Thanks to our hosts Tilda, Luiz, Rosanna and Dhruv who all certainly displayed true Brazilian hospitality; we all left happy, well fed and warmly tipsy.

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I look forward to recreating the same vibes this summer and beyond with special Tilda Limited Edition Samba Rice!

Fondues and don’ts (guest post by Alexa van Sickle)

A timely post to celebrate the cold season, the awesome Winter Olympics and all things Alpine. Over to Lex, a self-proclaimed “fondue aficionado” whose skills I can vouch for firsthand; I lived with her for a couple of years and before long my veins ran with melted cheese.

(NB: this guest post malarkey is a bit of all right – yay for someone else doing the words and slightly shaky smartphone photography! I dare say I will be “delegating” more blog posts in future…)

Strangely, I had to move away from Austria to the UK to become a fondue aficionado.  I was living in Shepherds Bush and working in Wimbledon in 2006 when I purchased my first set at the Centre Court shopping centre, and ferried it home on the District Line.

I’ve since had to replace many of the forks that came with the original set, as they have a habit of getting lost in the kitchen in the same manner that socks get lost between the washing machine and my bedroom – but the set I bought is still very much in use.

This is a standard Swiss cheese recipe, using four cheeses. But using only Gruyere and Emmental works pretty well too if you can’t find the other two, more obscure varieties. There are many ways to jazz it up; using different cheeses, including tapenade, using beer, or champagne, spices, etc. I found this recipe years ago on Kirchenweb.at, (‘Churchweb’) an Austrian website that bills itself as a forum for ‘religious matters, cooking recipes, infos and fun’.

Nerdy bits: ‘Fondue’ from the French verb fondre – to melt – is associated with Switzerland, but also to the French Savoyarde Alps. The earliest printed recipes come from regions that were independent of both France and Switzerland, so it’s not clear who owns the rights. Despite its association with hardy Alpine life, fondue was more common in lowlands and in towns; peasants would not have been able to afford rich cheese such as Gruyere. Later, the wonderful-sounding Swiss Cheese Union promoted fondue as the Swiss national dish as a way of increasing cheese consumption. (No complaints here.)

RECIPE

200g Appenzeller
200g Emmentaler
200g Gruyere
200g Freiburg Vacherin
350 ml dry white wine

(Equal parts Gruyere and Emmentaler works too if you can’t find the other two).

1 garlic clove
4 tbls ‘Maizena’/ cornflour/or normal flour
1 small glass Kirsch (cherry brandy)
1 tbls Lemon juice
pepper
nutmeg
White bread diced (Should be about a day old; fresh bread is harder to digest)

METHOD:

Rub the fondue pot with the garlic clove

Grate the cheese and soak it in the white wine for at least 2 hours

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Put the cornflour and Kirsch in a glass and mix. This mixture functions as an emulsifier so that the cheese and wine melt together properly.

Put the cheese and wine into the pot, and stir as it melts over heat. Include the lemon juice, the kirsch/cornstarch mixture, and season. Also, some grated nutmeg.

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The challenge is getting the texture right; you want the cheese to be runny, but to stay on the bread.

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When you are melting the cheese on the cooker, sometimes it can seem too thick or too runny. You can use the kirsch and the wine to make it less thick, and the cornflour to make it less thin – but try to wait until it is all melted before you do this.

Once it’s all melted, it’s pretty much done; transfer from hob to the set, and light the thing underneath.  When  about two- thirds of the cheese is gone, crack an egg into the fondue pot and stir. I like to have a pack of the ready-made fondue cheese just for a top- up if you run out of cheese before you run out of appetite, but the real stuff is far superior.

At the end of the fondue, a thin crust of toasted –not burnt – cheese forms at the bottom of the pot. This is called the religieuse (‘nun’) and can be eaten like a cracker.

To drink: dry white wine to serve, something not heavy. Traditionally, people have schnapps or tea for digestion – although some spoilsport pointed me to an actual medical study of fondue, that found no correlation between certain drinks and optimal fondue digestion.

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According to the Swiss tradition, if a man loses his bread in the fondue, he must spring for a round of Schnapps. If a woman drops her bread, she must kiss all the men at the table. (Perhaps this is why fondue was so popular in the wife-swapping ‘70s.)

Ruby’s red cabbage

My paternal grandmother Ruby died when I was just four and I retain only a few flashes of memory. I remember a family Christmas when she sewed matching polka dot dresses with pretty shirred fronts for my cousin Alexandra & me, and some visits to my grandparents’ cottage in Suffolk.

Yet Ruby is a strongly characterised figure that lives on in our family. Above all, her cooking has kept her memory alive.

Ruby was famous among family, friends and neighbours as being an adventurous and accomplished cook in a time when the word “foodie” hadn’t been invented. She kept meticulous boxes and folders of recipes, either snipped from newspapers or pencilled onto index cards. My grandfather lovingly kept every scrap she left behind when she passed away, and I’m blessed to be able to sift through her collection. Grandma’s words are a window to a different time and reading them connects me to a lady I wish I could have known better.

I often assume my passion for food comes from the Persian side of my family but actually Ruby, a good Lancashire lass, shared the same appetite for preparing and sharing large family feasts.

Ruby’s red cabbage is the best braised cabbage I’ve ever had; I have converted many brassica haters with this and am often asked for the recipe.

The method is very simple, adaptable and forgiving – the dish can be left for ages on a low heat on the hob, which makes life much easier if you are preparing this as part of a big roast.

Ruby’s red cabbage

• Thick slice of butter
• Olive oil
• 1 red or white onion, diced
• a large cooking apple, diced
• 2 garlic cloves, crushed
• 2 inch/ thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped
• 1 head red cabbage, shredded finely
• 4 tbsps dark brown sugar
• 4 tbsps red wine vinegar (or balsamic)
• 1 star anise
• 1 stick of cinnamon
• 3-4 cloves
• 1 bay leaf
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large saucepan, melt the butter in a dribble of olive oil. Sweat onion, garlic, and ginger over a med-high heat for a few minutes.

Add the apple and red cabbage to the pot. Stir around and cook for a few minutes until they are glossy and have softened slightly.

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Add the sugar and vinegar, tuck in the herbs and bay leaf, put the lid on, turn the heat down low and leave it!

Cook for at least 60-90 mins, longer if possible. Check every now and then to make sure it’s softening nicely and whether it needs a stir – you may need to add a touch of water if it’s too dry. Taste to check the balance of sweet/sour and add more sugar/vinegar if needed.

Season well with salt and pepper.

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For me, a Christmas or Boxing Day meal is incomplete without Ruby’s red cabbage – and at other times of year, one of my favourite meals is this with roast pork & crackling and dauphinoise potatoes.

French Polynesia: Tahiti and Moorea

The long flight from South America to New Zealand can be broken up by island hopping via Easter Island and Tahiti in French Polynesia. Unbelievably, this route cost little more than the direct option, even though it allowed us to see some of the most beautiful and remote islands in the world. When planning the trip, we also thought a bit of beach lounging would be welcome after the chaos of South American cities.

When the time came after four months of solid backpacking, we were looking forward to Tahiti more than ever. I realise this is a disgusting “first world problem” but the truth is, we were starting to feel travelling fatigue, particularly in the increasingly wintry weather (i.e. “not ANOTHER historic Catholic Church/plaza/viewpoint/museum…I suppose we should really leave the hostel…go on then, let’s take a bloody photo and get it over with”). We were losing our mojo and and aching for the chance to kick back.

Although travelling gives you an unmatched sense of freedom, it rarely feels like a restful vacation: usually you’re knackered from sleeping on busses, hiking up mountains, lugging your bags around etc. Maybe it’s just us, but we both (especially Mark) feel a need to justify taking so much time away from work, family and friends and make the most of a once in a lifetime experience. It is classic “FOMO”- fear of missing out.

So Tahiti represented a hiatus; a few days of high end holiday time in the middle of months of backpacking on a budget.

Mark decided to go all out and treat me to a few nights in a five star hotel (thanks to his friend Ed for hooking us up with his Intercontinental connections).

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In hindsight it was clear what he was up to – he wanted to make sure we were in the lap of luxury so he could pop the question. Knowing how my mood is directly linked to hunger, he waited until I was in a blissful state and guaranteed to say “yes”: reclining in a hammock, digesting after stuffing myself silly at the extensive breakfast buffet on the first morning.

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No ring to show off yet; Mark proposed with a bit of costume jewellery to avoid carrying an expensive real stone in his backpack. We celebrated as is only right when in Tahiti – with a couple of luminous cocktails and a dip in an infinity pool.

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Mark with a flower behind his right ear, which means you’re attached (left ear means looking for love)…

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Oh, and later that evening we went into town to continue celebrations and happened to bump into Seb Coe and his lovely wife, who were in town for a local athletic competition. Mark was feeling bold and went up to say how brilliant the London 2012 Olympics were. Before long we were invited to join their table and our new pal Seb was getting the drinks in! Surely a good omen for our betrothal.

Actually this was one of several good signs and happy coincidences: Mark and I first met in the same week five years ago. And we discovered later that some dear friends also got engaged at the same time we did. Love was undoubtedly in the air!

My fiancé (eek!) and I are loving simply being engaged and wholeheartedly enjoying the last weeks of our travels; any wedding planning will wait until we are back to reality (sorry mum).

Another dance show, and another opportunity to be pulled up to embarrass yourself onstage. This time it was both of us!

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The days following our engagement (after we had to leave the five star hotel room, boohoo) were spent on the stunning island of Moorea, which is also a surf and dive paradise and where I completed my PADI Open Water course. Mark was pumped after a 4 metre tiger shark turned up on one of his dives! I made do with cuddling some friendly stingrays.

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You don’t need a five star hotel to take in views like this.

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Happy days indeed.

Alcino’s legendary breakfast, Lencois, Bahia, Brazil

As soon as my friend Maxine heard I was going to Brazil, she kindly sent me a wealth of info and advice from her own travels. She was especially adamant that I should experience one thing in particular – the legendary breakfasts at Alcino’s pousada in Lencois, the gateway to Chapada Diamantina national park.

Maxine’s recommendation wasn’t just because she knows me, my voracious appetite and willingness to travel far for exceptional food. Alcino and his breakfasts are renowned in Brazil and beyond. People travel for hours to stay at his small, chic yet welcoming pousada, and claim the breakfast is better than any other in the world, scorning famous names like the Ritz. Friends we met in Rio and Salvador were instantly jealous that we would be staying there. One proclaimed that the 7 hour bus journey from Salvador to Lencois would be worthwhile for breakfast at Alcino’s alone, even if we didn’t bother with the region’s main attractions of magnificent waterfalls, jungles and hills.

Upon arrival, knowing we would be feasting on the Breakfast of Breakfasts in a few hours, Mark and I went to bed as giddy as children on Christmas Eve. We had purposefully planned little else; Alcino’s website asks his guests to forget about two things – dieting and haste. My kind of guy…

It didn’t disappoint – every detail was glorious. The table was laid elegantly with china hand-painted by Alcino and a large platter piled with freshly cut fruit at the centre.
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As well as cooking and ceramics, another of Alcino’s talents is horticulture. At the back of the pousada is a large orchard where all sorts of tropical fruits grow, which invariably end up on the breakfast table.
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An assortment of home-made jams, jellies and chutneys were offered to accompany fresh, hot rolls, cakes and breads. We also had a few different flavoured salts, home-made herb butters, ricotta, mozzarella, and yoghurt to play with.
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Soon a steady procession of little plates started filling every spare bit of tablecloth. Many dishes seemed surprising choices for breakfast, but worked well.

We had kibbeh flavoured with mint and stuffed with oozing cheese:
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Pastry tart with cashew fruit and nuts
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Circles of squash topped with blue cheese and a zesty orange glaze
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Plus much more we were too busy enjoying to photograph: perfect scrambled eggs, curls of ham, sticky banana and chocolate squares, spiced poached apples, toasted granola, manioc pizza, etc etc.

All this was washed down with plenty of fresh juice (forget boring orange – at Alcino’s you get things like acerola or umbu juice), fine loose leaf teas and high quality coffee.

Not your typical backpacking fodder at all but Mark and I justified the extravagance because we were about to head into the jungle for a three day trek, where meals would be simply fuel and only what we could carry. This was definitely the right decision – the trek was incredible and allowed us to see some absolutely tear-jerkingly beautiful sights, but tough. Our guide told me I was “very strong” but the combination of the heat, steep climbs, heavy backpack, sleeping on rocks and drinking river water nearly broke me!

If you’re going to Lencois (or anywhere vaguely close) I highly recommend you visit Alcino – it’s a well deserved treat to offset the bootcamp-like bits of trekking in the stunning Chapada Diamantina.

(We paid 200 Brazilian reals for a double room at Alcino’s, which includes his legendary breakfast).

http://www.alcinoestalagem.com/

Kitchen Table at Bubbledogs

“It takes all sorts to make a world.” – Badger, The Wind in the Willows.

It’s essentially my job to meet people and talk about food and restaurants (hard life, I know) and I have never had the same conversation twice. Whether discussing tastiest cuisines, best chefs, most memorable meals, top places to treat your brother/mother/lover, what you’d have for your last meal if you were on death row – people choose very differently but feel just as strongly about their choices. It’s what makes both what I do for a living – and being a food lover in London in general – so varied, surprising and interesting.

This thought struck me following my visit to Kitchen Table with Chris Pople, aka Cheese & Biscuits. His write up of the evening is excellent; he clearly describes the stunning tasting menu and explains his conflicting feelings of discomfort at witnessing a tense moment between the staff.

Yet my own impression of the evening is almost completely different – amazing that we were companions dining next to each other, who ate the same food and shared a bottle of champagne.

I visited Bubbledogs towards the end of 2012 and was disappointed by the execution of the exciting sounding junk-food-meets-posh-booze concept. I thought it could be an instant favourite and it just wasn’t; although I had fun with a great group of people that evening, the food did not live up to its hype (stale buns, gimmicky toppings, small portions and high prices did not fill me with joy). The champagne was top notch but, frankly, of course it would be. I would go again if a friend insisted but honestly I would rather visit dear Abe’s Big Apple Hot Dogs stall with a bottle of Bolly stuffed in my handbag.

Kitchen Table, then, was a second chance to fall in love with the goings-on at number 70, Charlotte St. And throughout the procession of thirteen artfully prepared dishes, I did – head over heels.

We took our seats at the small table (actually the pass) around the kitchen at the back of the restaurant. The industrial metal had been covered by a carefully folded tablecloth taped to its top, as if it had been decided on a whim that it would be a wheeze to invite punters behind the scenes.

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Handwritten menu

The hand-written menu was a shopping list of January’s best ingredients. We started with “Razor Clam” served raw with cucumber, fresh horseradish, and a vivid green mint oil: lovely clean and cleansing flavours.

Razor clam

Razor clam

Then came “Sea Bass”: belly cured in fennel salt, with the skin charred by a quick blast with a blowtorch over wood-coal. Because the flesh remained raw its texture was surprisingly chubby and chewy, which contrasted pleasantly with the fennel marmalade topping.

Sea Bass

Sea Bass

Next up was “Chicken”, a slab of glossy, crisp crackling smeared with rosemary mascarpone and topped with chunky bacon jam. A holy trinity of transfats and the stuff of dreams. I spared a thought for the poor Bubbledogs lot on the other side of the leather curtain making do with tater tots.

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Chicken

I’m going to do my best to recreate “Kale” at home – such a good idea. The tight, frizzy structure of the single raw kale leaf was an inspired vehicle for a creamy, salty parmesan and anchovy dressing. Very pretty too – a snowy woodland scene decorated with delicate shavings of pickled radish.

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Kale

The wood smoke came out again for “Cod”: fresh cods’ roe with light gnocchi and crunchy, nutty slivers of raw chestnut – impressive.

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Cod

I’m a bit of an allium freak so the “Calçot” dish would always have been a highlight – the stunning almond-studded romesco sauce on the side ensured it was. They could sell that stuff in jars and make a fortune.

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Calçot

There were no dud courses but my least favourite dish of the evening was “Duck” – wild mallard was tasty but I craved more texture than you get from sous-vide cooking method. I love the flavours of chard, blood orange and olives individually, but they didn’t thrill together.

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Duck

“Venison” vied with the calçot dish for best of the night – an eight month old Roebuck shot by chef James Knappett’s pal and served with beautifully roasted cauliflower, chickweed, yoghurt and damson sauce.

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Venison

Extra venison was made into a rich ragu, topped with a smoked egg yolk and covered with a thin sheet of pasta and a sprinkling of tarragon panko breadcrumbs for the “Pasta” dish. I could eat this every day, especially in winter.

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Pasta

“Stichelton” indicated the fun was going to be over soon as we neared the end of the menu. The cheese was served with linseed biscuits, wafer thin curls of champagne-compressed (of course) green apple and a sweet, spiky apple & mustard jam.

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Stichelton

For the “Mango” course, a garish plastic pink contraption was brought out for shaving ice (I was reminded of a childhood Mr Frosty). Alphonso mango puree (frozen when in season) was combined with jelly-like young coconut and yoghurt ice cream. The chef joked that the spoon was carved from unicorn horn – cute.

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Mango

The penultimate “Lemon” dish let James Knappett tell how he transported a suitcase full of Maya lemon peelings from his father-in-law’s Californian tree to make the dish. No flavour was lost in transit. We finished with a shiny “Tunnocks teacake” served on its own mini pedestal: a crisp chocolate shell with a gooey rhubarb centre.

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Lemon

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Rhubarb

So in all, I was delighted by Kitchen Table and the theatre provided by the interactive open kitchen format. I thought the staff were charming, talented and approachable. Maybe I’m more nosy than average and enjoy watching skilled professionals busy creating sensational dishes in full view; maybe I have a thicker skin that can deflect uncomfortable moments; maybe I was simply so engrossed in whichever fabulous dish was in front of me to notice or be particularly bothered by any shouty bits.

Either way, the parade of plate after plate of stellar food I enjoyed at Kitchen Table will be what I will remember and rave about.

Thirteen courses – lucky (for some) indeed!

(Cost: £68 per person for the tasting menu. With drinks we paid just over £100 per head.)