At the beginning of August, the kitchen staff is away in London, working the pop-up at Claridge’s. Lars and Thomas are the only ones left, working away in the test kitchen.
Usually, on Thursdays or Fridays, they present new ideas from the week and René and Matt critique. But this week they are alone. Lars invites us over to taste some works in progress.
These are my notes. I had no camera or notebook. Bear with.
parsley purée with grasshopper garum; beetroot redux; juniper vinaigrette; salt
folded over bronze fennel, coriander
stuck upright with liquid nitrogen
over nasturtium ‘snow’ with horseradish, parsley
[the intuition, the implicit knowledge of how it asks to be eaten: the swipe, the bite]
on hay cookie
new apple compressed with juniper berry brine
spinach compressed with grass brine
nettle seed, elderflower salt
served on bone
[the ultimate one-bite snack. such layered complexity, literally manifest in the structure. they fall apart, at different rates, diffusing from one unified bite into flavours, sheets of texture that hit and disperse. they linger long.]
steamed in shell
arranged in bowl with dots of peaso, grilled cucumber-parsley purée, dill oil
green oxalis (wood sorrel), beach mustard, samphire salt
broth of buttermilk and chamomile tea infused with juniper
[so many types of green in flavour. robust savoury flavours, and singing astringent, sour ones. the broth is remarkable, and turns a progressively greener hue with each spoonful dispersing the drops of dill oil.]
grilled cucumber + berries
blackberries, raspberries, cooked blueberries, black currants, all misted with lacto-fermented red currant juice
arranged with sliced, grilled baby cucumber
a broth of diluted peaso liquid and lemon verbena
with lovage, oregano, marjoram, thyme, angelica seeds, tjedegic, cooked chamomile
[ingenious and satisfying blend of savoury and sweet. it could go early or late. soft, crunchy, crisp textures. and that broth – the most unlikely yet perfectly sensical pairing. softly bold, very confident, and delicious.]
blueberry shortbread crisps
wild blueberry sorbet, blueberry compote with dried fermented cèpes, bitters ice
with thyme flowers, spruce, lemon thyme
served with meal flower-infused cream, chamomile, and live ants
in a paper pirate hat
[first off, just plain delicious. perfect how the composite falls apart, the crisps begging to shatter and the flavours melding with the swipe through the cream. an underlying umami presence. the cream is exceptional – like almond, muskier.]
bread + butter
yeast fudge, vacuumed to cause expansion, and freeze-dried; dusted with malt powder to resemble rye bread and cut
served in folded cloth with skyr and chamomile salt.
[this is a mind blow. the texture of the bread – it crisps and crunches at first bite, then, in the mouth, turns chewy, and remains toffee for minutes. itself it is highly flavourful – all the sour notes from the ferment, and malty, deep-sweet and bitter notes from the powder. the skyr elevates it further, adding a creaminess, a lightness, and a new, different sourness – floral almost, enhanced by the chamomile and bursts of salinity. utterly virtuosic and completely commonplace.]
after clean-up, talk and a cocktail of parsley, elderflower vinegar, chamomile tea, and gin (a ‘biksemad’, mixed of odds and ends)
It is fascinating to see how these dishes went onto and off the menu – the iterations and adaptations. And how things generated at the lab find context and life in a dish. A lot of learning. The meal is thrilling but the best is seeing the process at work.