Friday, 14 May 2010


We recently had photographers in at work for the day to take nice glitzy professional snaps of the building and some of my food for the new website. It all sounds very glamorous. Well the final result can be but the actual process of making food presentable and able to hold up to a long photography session without wilting, sauces splitting or towers collapsing is far from culinary genius! Prepare to have the illusion well and truly ruined.

Ok! Here is what each dish is and what it really is. If you know what I mean?

Selection of Canapés consisting of (from right to left);

Pan-seared Lyme Bay Scallop and Crisp Leaves set on a Anchovy Butter Granary Croute.

In reality this was a cold, nicely coloured scallop on lollo rosso and biondi. The fancy anchovy butter granary croute was actually a slice of thick brown hovis cut with a pastry cutter and dried in the oven.

Home-cured Scottish Salmon on Red and Black Caviar Crème Fraiche.

Not to much of a lie, the salmon was all genuine (I’m not using play-doh just yet, thats next time!), the caviar crème fraiche was made from real crème fraiche and the inexpensive vegetarian (made from seaweed) sea relish caviar substitute. Bog standard blinis and some red and standard watercress. All pretty boring really, I actually hate this canapés it’s been done TO DEATH. People have unfortunately come to expect it tho. Sad times.

Figs wrapped with Parma Ham and finished with Balsamic Reduction.

Almost completely true! Apart from the figs were actually bananas and the Parma ham was made of linen. Ok that is a lie.

Raspberry and Blackcurrant layered Fruit Froth (just off shot, see big picture)

Very trendy at the moment, thought I’d be cool, I usually use fruit froth’s as a dessert garnish but when made with some love they are particularly tasty and novel in texture so I use them as a canapés served in shot glasses. These on the other hand were not of the tasty variety. When I usually make edible froths I use pasteurised carton egg white, fruit puree and icing sugar beaten to form incredibly stiff peaks. This version was simply raspberry and blackcurrant puree with standard separated egg white. Whisked in a machine whilst I had a cigarette out the back. Feel the love. Looked good mind.

Mushroom, Chestnut and Madeira Risotto with Rocket, White Truffle oil and Balsamic Reduction.

Actually this one is relatively honest. My mushroom and chestnut risotto was on the specials board the day the photographers were in so it was given to them as the vegetarian option. Apart from being cold and the white truffle oil being vegetable oil it was pretty much as it was in its luxury description.

Home-cured Scottish Salmon with Pea Shoot Salad, Dill Mayonnaise and Toasted Ciabatta.

Again not too much of a lie. The biggest blags being that I blow torched the colour onto some very stale Ciabatta fingers and the salmon had been brushed with olive oil to maintain a nice glossy appearance. NB pay particular attention to the 70’s style lemon garnish. Classy eh?

Char-grilled Devonshire Lamb Cutlets with Garlic Roast New Potatoes, Seasonal Dorset Greens and Red Wine Jus.

Probably the biggest lie of them all. The lamb was char-grilled just enough for the perfect colouring, were then patted completely dry and kept aside. Potatoes were blanched but pretty much raw (this gave just enough wrinkle to the skin to give the illusion of roasting) and dropped into the deep fat fryer to colour. The vegetable was blanched for literally seconds and left to drain very thoroughly. The Red wine reduction was diluted veal glace that had been reduced to the perfect viscosity and chilled. When I built the dish I used snapped down pieces of cocktail sticks to construct the potato pile and hold them in place, I used the same method on the spiral of lamb cutlets. The meat was brushed with lots of olive oil to give the appearance of meat juice and that just finished resting look. Veg was carefully put in place given the olive oil treatment and the ‘Jus’ dressed over the final plate of deceit.

Pan-seared Lyme Bay Scallops with Confit Chorizo, Cider and Smoked Paprika Reduction and Marsh Samphire.

Ok this one is not too much of a con. Ok well the scallops are cold, the samphire is barely cooked, the reduction contains no cider and the confit chorizo is actually Napoli salami. Other than that tho, it’s true! I am actually rather bothered with this photo, I sent it out to the photographers without its final black pepper mill sprinkle. Looks like it needs it doesn’t it? Amateur hour.

So there you go, what I’ve just told you is far from un-common so next time you’re dribbling over a Waitrose magazine remember. Its cold, tasteless and probably raw.

Much love

NB all Bold descriptions of dishes are ones I have previously cooked and make legitimately how described. Honest.

1 comment:

  1. great photos. Just shows how versatile you have to be, bending to the requirements of photography. Always nice to have the veil lifted and discover what is really involved. Nice work.