Friday 30 June 2017

A catch up and my Michel Roux Jr experience - it has been a while!

I cannot quite believe how long it has been since I’ve posted on here (I’m also pretty sure I say that quite a lot as I end up posting a series of recipes and then not doing it for months for one reason or another). So anyway, life got in the way again! A lot has been going on since my last post, namely the fact Adam and I went to Italy on one of the best trips I have ever had – The Amalfi Coast; culture, language, unlimited pasta and wine, all coupled with the iconic 1950’s glamour that is still ever present as you wander the tiny streets of Amalfi or Capri. We also met some pretty awesome people - the most genuine and friendly people who made you feel like you had known them years rather than hours. It is the closest thing for me to heaven on earth and there is no way that’s going to be my only trip there. It is a food lover’s dream with the freshest seafood, a mind boggling selection of local wines and the best Limoncello you will EVER taste; in each restaurant they have recipes for Limoncello that have been handed down through the years and each recipe is slightly different (trust me, I tried most of them!)

So anyway, basking in the afterglow (I’m calling it afterglow, it was probably just the fact I had gotten fatter whilst I was away and I looked fuller in the face), we decided it was time we started looking at new houses and have found a place and sold ours. With the stress of selling and the constant stream of viewings at 6pm most weeknights I’ve not had much of a chance to cook very much. Fortunately now that we only have to play the waiting game until the house is ready I’ll be very much up and running again in my kitchen; glass of wine in hand, music on and several recipe books strewn over the kitchen table.

So this post isn’t a recipe but I did want to be sure to share a recent cooking experience I had with someone called Michel Roux Jr (maybe you’ve heard of him? You know, the 2 Michelin Star chef?). So I tootled off to London for a day cookery experience with 10 other people and the wonderful Michel. What a gent he was; so welcoming and knowledgeable – he made each of us feel like it was a pleasure for him to host us and teach us and I could not have wished for a better day cooking with my culinary hero.

We started the day by making crème caramel to leave the custard time to set and cool in the fridge. Following the demonstration by Michel we were told to go back to our stations and copy the recipe (by this point all 11 of us were still just quiet bags of nerves so it was a very concentrated quiet affair to start off with). Fortunately there were no issues with burned caramel and no curdled custard so feeling pretty proud of ourselves we went back to the dining room to enjoy a bowl of pea & mint soup and a glass (or 3!) of champagne. We dutifully left the table and took our champagne upstairs to make the starter of Croque Monsieur – “you travelled all the way to London to cook with Michel Roux Jr and you made a ham & cheese toastie?!” I hear you cry – but this was no ordinary Croque Monsieur, it was made with garlic sourdough bread, smoked duck and comté cheese and we served it with charred asparagus and balsamic caramelised shallots. Not exactly your average Costa Coffee toastie…

After having dressed the plates as “chef-ily” as we could, we went back downstairs to eat our creations with Michel and enjoy another couple of glasses of wine before heading back upstairs to cook our main course of pan roasted guinea fowl with roasted cauliflower purée, courgette ribbons and a black truffle sauce.

Once again, the food was to die for (even if I do say so myself) and I quickly realised as the smell of garlic and thyme butter wafted through the kitchen stations that this, second only to my wedding day, was absolutely the best day of my life. Michel made the purée for all of us to use and we pan roasted the guinea fowl first before using the same pan to create the truffle sauce. We had to wait a while for the sauce to reduce so I made sure to grab a selfie with Michel whilst my sauce reduced. We blanched the courgette after slicing it into strips using a mandolin (3 glasses of champagne and 2 glasses of wine in, I was convinced I was losing a finger on that thing…). Limbs in tact we blanched the courgette ribbons and popped them into ice water until we were ready to serve them. Again, we plated up using our best plate dressing techniques and I got told by Michel that my cauliflower swirls were good; “very Ying & Yang” *beams*

So after yet more wine and food the only thing left for us to do was turn out the crème caramel, and watch Michel make some Palmiers to go with the dessert. We had some group and individual photos and he signed books for us before we all left for the day. Hearts and tummies full to bursting. As days go, it was as close to perfect as it could have been.

If you ever get chance to go to this cookery experience, grab the opportunity. It will honestly be one of the best days of your life. I promise you that.

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R x

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