Monday, May 21, 2012

Getting closer to Heston, literally.

Pic thanks to :
So for Christmas this year, I received a ticket to go and see Heston Blumenthal speak when he came to Perth.

I had to wait all the way until May to do it, but the day finally came! Now, the pictures in this post will be a little light on, since I was in a dark theater so not a lot of point.

Now, to say I was excited would be an understatement and some small part of me worried it could only be disappointing after all that build up. And perhaps if I hadn't read previous people's reports of the event, I may have been a little disappointed.

It was really enjoyable - but different to what I had anticipated when buying the tickets.

When I got tickets I was expecting a cooking show - whereas in truth it was more a autobiography of sorts. As I'd read reports that this was more of the flavour, I was able to enjoy it immensely for what it was, rather than some other idea I'd had in my head.

The start of the evening was very positive as I met up with my good friend (who happens to be a chef) for dinner at the Greenhouse. Reviews of that place had been mixed but we both enjoyed our tapas style dinner.

Arriving just before entry, we trekked up the two flights of stairs to our Upper Gallery seats (we could wave at the gods from there). Thankfully however, we got 1 row back from the front edge, in the center and had a clear view of the stage, with its large screen and kitchenette off to one side.

The downside of the evening was that there was a compere (provided by a TV station), who seemed mostly to exist to provide as with advertising periodically, by repeatedly telling us who the sponsors were. Doing so once I could have forgiven, but this happened around four times. If I'm paying significant dollars (and it was) I don't expect to have to put up with advertising. Very irritating, but the only real annoyance of the evening.

On to the show: Heston basically spoke through his history, interweaving the stories with anecdotes or explanations of concepts that related to the story at hand. Occasionally, food would be cooked to demonstrate a point and sample lucky people in the plush front seats got to eat some of it. (Yes, I was totally green with envy.)

He spoke of his first experience of a Michelin Starred restaurant at age 11 in France on holiday with his parents, and then linked that to a story about how we perceive (and recall) taste as a function of the experience as much the food - the company, the sights and sounds, the event and so on.

He then went on to discuss opening his restaurant, The Fat Duck and different amusing anecdotes about starting with all secondhand equipment and just him and a dishwasher guy and so on.

For me, the highlights were him showing footage and talking through the Fat Duck both front of house and behind the scenes, including explaining some of the more unusual technology that they use to achieve certain effects.

One that stuck in my mind is his explanation of how they make the fob watches filled with consomme for a Mad Hatter's tea party dish. He explained how the make a consomme, then reduce it by freezing, using a centrifuge and other cool toys (or as he called them "kit") to be able to make a jelly solid shaped like a watch that would restore to a drinkable consomme without affecting the flavour. Very cool. I'd seen this in his Feasts show, but it was cool to see more detail on this (and to find out you can order them in the restaurant!)

He also spoke about the inspiration for different dishes, why you need to rest your steak, why searing steak doesn't seal in the juices and how your sense of smell is most closely related to memory of all the senses.

But the one that got me; that, more than anything made me desperately want to be able to eat at his restaurant - was the Queen of Hearts playing cards made from white chocolate with a jam tart filling!

But, it would seem my own seat at the Fat Duck is but an unlikely dream - besides being on the other side of the world, and having no budget to do so, Heston noted they receive 25, 000 or more calls a day to get a seat. So if I ever do win lotto, it will take an awful lot of phones calls to secure a seat before I'd be booking my plane tickets sadly.

We did get a nice carry away (which is used right at the end of the show) - a little atomiser of essential oils that smells like a memory of a lolly shop and appropriately labelled "Like a Kid in a Sweet Shop"

Reflecting, as a follower of his for some time much of the information I had heard before and I can understand why some people were disappointed. Personally, I found it  very enjoyable and inspiring.and it left me, if nothing else, dreaming of making inspired food - that I have some chance of actually being able to eat!

1 comment:

  1. This post made me smile. :o)

    I think there is always something great about watching somebody you admire tell stories and explain how to do stuff you're interested in doing, whether or not you already know how to do that stuff. It ~is~ inspiring, and reminds one of the reasons for loving to do what you love to do.

    And I'd love a sniff of that Lolly Shop! What a great memory-jogger!