Stevie is an old friend who I met at Ballymaloe, rather a long time ago now. He is an amazing cook with a passion for exotic spices from around the world, beautiful ingredients and unfussy food. The result is a wonderful mix of simply presented food from around the world, never with too many ingredients competing for attention. His flair with spices produces some sensational marinades, delicious chutneys and daals and he makes a mean biryani. One day he is going to teach me how to make his chaat masala too.
He occasionally lets me come and play at the Dock with him. A coulple of weeks ago we cooked Mexican together. We sat down with three-week old Samuel, his first-born and devised a menu together which we cooked all of this week at the Dock (I only did Tuesday and Wednesday as had other menus to do at Wahaca).
It’s a delight cooking there, as like Petersham Nurseries, you can just pop out of the kitchen to the herb garden to pick whatever herb you think might make all the difference to your chillie paste, sauce or soup…
The kitchen is also completely open lined with glass, rather than the conventional walls. How Stevie moved from the River Cafe, with all that beautiful light, to the only other kitchen in London that I know of, that is also an ode to light, is beyond me, but fairly typical of his natural jamminess. On August 21st they are closing for a fortnight and building a souped up kitchen courtesy of Wolf/Sub-zero, possibly the sexiest, coolest kitchen makers in the world, and the restaurant will double the number of seats it has to 80. What excitement.
Meanwhile a brief sypnopsis of our menu. We started with some corn which we shaved off the cobb and sauteed with sweet onion, garlic, a chipotle paste I made and masses and masses of butter. The result, a sweet, smoky, fiery filling for a white corn taco. It was so popular that I think I am going to put it on the wahaca menu next summer. Yum.
Next up was courgettes, a thoroughly Mexican vegetable, sauteed with girolles and summer herbs…
And then a plate of octopus which we rolled in crumbed crisy pig skin, deep-fried and served with a fruity, fiery habanero salsa…
This recipe was thanks to a friend Roberto Solis of the restaurant Nectar in Merida. Totally yummy, thanks for the idea Roberto, I hope you are enjoying Noma this week, you lucky so-and-so.
We did a sopa de guia next, which is a broth flavoured with wild herbs and leaves, which I first had at Casa Oaxaca, cooked by the wonderful Alejandro Ruiz…
And finally a slow-cooked shoulder of saltmarsh lamb, marinaded in ancho, chile de arbol and pasilla de oaxaca chillies and slow cooked over a bed of carrots, celery and onions and served with the classic shredded cabbage, radish and coriander slaw.
The pudding, which I failed to capture (please excuse my crummy photographs) was blackcurrant, hibiscus and tequila made by the lovely Hannah (ex-Ballymaloer) and Mexican wedding cookies made by the equally lovely Lewen (also ex-Ballymaloer maybe?). I had to go back to take these picces on Thursday, when I was no longer cooking and bumped into Mary Portas, Queen of Shops, who was eating there! Quelle excitement! I love Mary’s love of independent shops, what a woman. She was looking as stylish as ever.
So all in all an idyllic week, cooking with Stevie’s amazing team (here is Stevie and Lewen).
Creating food, talking to great people and feeling that life is good.
Thanks so much for having me guys, good luck with the refurb and thanks for the cooking tips.
: Tuesday, 24 August 2010