Friday, 24 May 2013

GOURMET LOVERS HENS PARTY II & TERIAKI AUBERGINE PARCEL RECIPE

Hey there Lovers,

Exciting times at GL HQ! We're back after our winter hiatus we've been working on some private catering events, rustling up delicious menus for discerning gourmet connoisseurs. We continue to pop-up in various locations whilst we continue our search for a new home.  More updates to come soon as well as some exciting collaborations to announce!

Up first, that most challenging of social gatherings: the hen party.  With a large group of sophisticated ladies to cater for as they prepared for their evening's activities, professional make-up & hair stylists on site ensuring the girls looked their best, the pressure was on to entertain.  Having plumped for an Asian style menu and with a lot of vegetarians & pescatarians in the audience we decided to go for a light and flexible menu, keeping the flavours in the veg & sauces with nothing too meaty.

To kick things off we wanted something with a bit of wow, a bold flavour and exciting textures. Teriyaki Aubergine Parcels in Chinese Leaf seemed to fit the bill; the smokey & rich aubergine, cooked off with teryaki marinade, was mixed with diced water-chestnut for crunch & a hit of ginger for heat.  The mix was wrapped in the blanched leaf and then topped with toasted peanuts, a delicious combo that went down a treat!  Recipe below for interested parties.

Teriyaki Aubergine Parcels

Making up the Summer Rolls
Up next was a bit of a twist on a classic; Anise Poached Prawn Summer Rolls with Mango & Papaya. The delicate prawns worked really well with the sweet fruits, and a big handful of Thai basil, mint & coriander really lifted them!

A little blob of fragrant satay sauce finished the dish perfectly.  The rolling technique required plenty of practice to create that neat parcel that holds all the flavours together.

Anise Poached Prawn Summer Rolls with Mango & Papaya

Sweetcorn Fritters with Avacado Salsa
Working with a Gourmet Lovers classic, Sweetcorn Fritters, we created a scaled down, bite size version perfect for circulating through the ladies as they got ready.

A winner as always with the foodies the trick was to get them cooked to the right consistency, firm enough to handle being picked up whilst maintaining a delicious softness. 


Picking things up a notch we went for a riff on a renowned Nobu dish next, Miso Cod Skewers with Pickled Ginger.  The slightly sweet, umami glaze works fantastically with the firm, flaky fish but the real revelation was the veggie alternative.  Replacing the fish with a baby Thai aubergine worked a treat, soaking up the glaze & making a deeper counterpoint for the miso sweetness. The heat was on so we failed to get a good photo.

Usually a walk in the park for our Gyoza Guru Mel, her absence left the two of us with another technique to perfect for the next course, Traditional Fried & Steamed Pork Gyoza.  Getting the spice mix for the meat right was the easy part; sesame oil, rice vinegar, ginger, garlic & plenty of white pepper.  Making the parcels with the trademark fold however proved to be a talent a little out of our reach!  Opting in the end for a simple half-moon fold they cooked up nicely and vanished from the serving plates in seconds as they went out to the hungry hens.

The Gyoza production line

12 hour Slow Roast Pork Belly
For the main course we wanted a bit of a show stopper and, not being afraid of a bit of challenge, decided to take on the recent trend for open style Chinese street food, xiao chi (or steamed buns).  The key to the dish is the sweet, feather soft bun.  Having researched various bun recipes it was a pretty daunting prospect, multiple stages of kneading and proving and the steaming itself was critical.

Plenty of testing was involved to get it right, some successful, some less so but in the end we think we got pretty close.  With all the work done on the bun we needed a suitable filling.  We slow roasted spiced pork belly for 12 hours, giving it an incredibly delicate texture as the meat just fell apart.


This was then glazed with hoi sin and finished with shredded spring onion & cucumber.  They may not have been the prettiest dish we've ever produced, but mixture of textures and flavours our tribute to the amazing 'yum bun' recipe was certainly a crowd pleaser!

Green Tea Crepe Sushi
To finish off we went with one of Nick's party tricks, Green Tea Infused Crepe Sushi.  Rolled up like little sweet maki, the tea is infused through the butter in the crepes and the cream in the chocolate ganache.  Each little roll is finished off with slivers of ripe strawberry & for extra bite can be rolled in chopped nuts.


It may have taken a while to knock the rust off but the night was a success!  6 courses of delicious Asian treats and 19 hungry hens fed before they headed out for drinks & dancing.  Fingers crossed our search for a new venue goes well & the club will be back up and running soon.  Stay tuned for more updates soon.



Teriyaki Aubergine Parcels Recipe

A real winner with the ladies, we thought we'd pass on our recipe for the Teriyaki Aubergine Parcels.  They're pretty simple to make but look the business, deliver a serious flavour and are veggie friendly!

For the filling:
1 Large aubergine
1/2 Tin water chestnuts chopped
6 spring onions sliced
Thumb sized piece of ginger
Teriyaki marinade

Dice the aubergine to about 1cm cubes, though a little bigger is fine to add some texture, then brown in batches in a large frying pan with a little oil & seasoning.  Don't crowd the pan to make sure you get good colour.

Once all the aubergine is done soften the spring onions in the pan.  Add the aubergine back to the pan, dress with plenty of the teryaki marinade and cook off for 2-3 minutes to help it infuse.  Lift the mixture out of the pan into a bowl with a slotted spoon, leaving the excess marinade in the pan.  Add the water chestnuts to the bowl and grate in the ginger.

Reduce the remaining marinade in the pan by half, add to the bowl & mix thoroughly.

For the parcels:
1 Chinese leaf cabbage
Salted peanuts
Ice for blanching

Peal out the larger leaves of the cabbage and de-vein the thick stalk.  Blanch the leaves in salted boiling water 1-2 minutes and then refresh in a bowl of ice water.

Dry the leaves with a clean kitchen towel & slice in half along the central vein.  Spoon out some of the aubergine mix into the centre of the leaf and fold into a parcel.

Chop the peanuts into small pieces and toast in a dry frying pan.  Slice the parcels in half, sitting them on end and top with the toasted peanuts.  We find these work really well served bite size on a Chinese spoon.

Stay tuned for further announcements about Gourmet Lovers Brunch Club and Supper Clubs during summer 2013.





Thursday, 13 September 2012

GOURMET LOVERS BRUNCH CLUB : UNEXPECTEDLY AWESOME FLAVOUR COMBINATIONS

Why hello lovers. We're back on the air after a brief summer hiatus moving house and other crazy stuff. Although we have squeezed in a few sneaky private events in that time. For those of you who have emailed not to worry we will have some exciting new dates (and venues) to announce in the coming weeks. Stay tuned Gastronatus!

Just wanted to share some of the photos and menu from probably one of our greatest brunch clubs yet. Fearlessly avant garde this was led and styled by our masterful mash-up masticating magician James. The brief? Unexpectedly awesome flavour combinations. Think Mackerel and cherry. Raspberry and blue cheese, Salmon roe with truffles and pork with rhubarb. The menu as it was devised included: 


Pickled apple pancakes with slow cooked bacon 
and an orange and cardamom syrup
A fairly modest start - so as not to scare the horses. The secret was the intense and zingy syrup which carried and married all of the flavours together. The slow cooked bacon joint was moist and tender and deliciously salty to balance out the sweet and sourness of the pickled apple and spicy syrup. A lovely dish. 

Tea smoked mackerel and cherry tart

Not going to lie. This dish caused me mild consternation on paper. As it did a few of our guests going on the early discussions in the room. But it really delivered - and turned out to be several guest's favourite. James had done his testing and confirmed it was awesome and we trust him implicitly in such matters so we went with it and my god was it good. I guess it felt intimidating because Mackerel is a fairly intense and oily fish and pairing it with cherry seems unusual. We smoked it ourselves which was novel and rather fun but I'm afraid to say the smokey tea got lost in the larger flavour profile. But making up the mackerel mousse with creme fraiche and a few other secret ingredients we did a lot of work to balance and season and draw out the relative flavours of each component. Results were epic.   



Secret blue cheese raspberries 
with watercress and hazelnut

Going with the surprising element - we hid little bursts of creamy blue cheese wonderment inside some of the berries as well as using a combination of frozen and fresh berries to change up the flavours and textures with a nice hazelnut oil dressing to pull it together. A nice and light cleansing dish to prepare for the final three rounds. 
   



Deep fried mushroom with truffled quails egg and salmon roe 

Ok ok so truffles, mushrooms and poached egg aren't the most surprising combinations! Of course they go together and my god are they good. However adding a little zingy fishy salmon roe and it took on a new dimension. 



Pork & Rhubarb crumble 

Right so onto the main event. It immediately grabbed your eye on the menu and the whole room was buzzing once it had been served. It was our playful take on a rhubarb crumble. Rhubarb being a surprisingly good flavour combination to pork being somewhere in between apple and lemon. We slow cooked a pork shoulder for five hours with fairly neutral marination to ensure we had a good solid pork flavour as a base. We pulled that apart with a fork and put in a hearty layer in the base of the glass with some pan juices. We then had some roasted rhubarb which was on the verge of becoming a compote. A nice generous layer of that on top of the pork. 

The crumble? We made our own crunchy pork scratchings by deep frying some pork belly skin (a highly dangerous and terrifying prospect for the uninitiated- make sure you cover your oil!) We added some deep fried bread crumbs and crispy shallots for good measure and crumbled the combination on top. If this is making you salivate then you are not alone. I'm drooling just typing this. Needless to say this dish is a keeper and will be making a re-appearance at an event very soon. 



Poached pears with shaved cheddar and red wine jelly

That crumble was a hard act to follow, but we kept surprising our guests with a slightly savoury dessert that wasn't too challenging. Hints of christmas in this dish we poached the pears to soft firm texture in a light red wine syrup and then served with aged cheddar and red wine jus jelly. And that was that! 

A nice way to round of an epic menu. The feedback we got on this menu and event was fantastic. We've certainly got some adventurous gourmet loving fans out there who just lap this stuff up so we promise to be ever bolder and braver with our food in the future. 

Heartfelt thanks must go to one of our guests James W. who took the wicked photos for this post. Look forward to having you back buddy!  

Keep an ear and an eye on the FB community and your emails as we've got some exciting events popping up in London and Barcelona soon. 

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Tuesday, 3 July 2012

HIP HOP SUPPER CLUB: VOL 1



Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity. To seize everything you ever wanted in one moment. Would you capture it or just let it slip? Yo... 

On Friday 8th of June as promised the Gourmet Lovers crew pulled out all the stops to put on a gastronomic event like no other in the capital.  Following on from our ever popular theme Hip Hop Brunch theme we thought we'd extend the idea to a more debaucherous night time affair complete with DJs, hilarious Hip Hop games, a b-ball hoop and a fair few gin and juices.

We were excited to collaborate once again with the amazingly talented Douglas Santi. The guy has cheffed in renowned three star michelain kitchens and has worked in and led kitchens all around the world including Brazil, France, U.S, UK and Italy and brings an amazingly varied set of influences into his food.

When we told Douglas the Hip Hop concept his eyes lit up and and started speaking about his experience working in New York and together we devised a fitting menu of American style hip hop inspired food with a signature Douglas Santi 'Gastronomique' twist.

The menu was five courses and with three tables of 20 people (appropriately named 'East Coast' 'West Coast' and 'Dirty South') and around 7 staff to feed this was by far our biggest and boldest supper club yet. Our Hip Hop Supper menu comprised of:

Lil' Wangz
secretly-spiced fried chicken wings with wild garlic pesto

De La Soul Food
authentic pork and prawn jambalaya New Orleans style

Moo Tang Clan
marinated spiced grilled rib eye, slow cooked pork belly with chargrilled vegetables

Ghetto-Soup-a-star
strawberry soup with cristal jelly

Choc it like its hot
cheeky chocolate petit four

'Lil' Wangz' - these were slow cooked in a stock pot for four hours before 
being lightly battered with a spicey flour blend which included za'atar 
and flash fried. Crunchy on the outside and falling off the bone inside
'Moo Tang Clan' - we had one of London's best meat suppliers bring us two 
whole 28 Day aged Angus Rib Eye. Absolutely stunning. With meat this good
 some gentle marination and speeding grilling over coals keeping it very rare 
was all that was required 

Shout outs of course must go out to our entertainment, kitchen and floor crew. On the kitchen side our long time trusted Brunch Club collaborators the amazing James and Mel and last minute addition Mohammed put on the apron and worked their asses off led by Douglas. Not quite a 'proper' kitchen as Douglas might define it, but fark me if it was a totally badass cool one. Five courses for 70 people has its own challenges and they rose to it magnificently.

The Gourmet Lovers? We were working the epic floor with the amazing Francesca. Despite a range of late shows, last minute additions and moving tables and a complex layout of special dietary requests we managed (almost I think) to get everyone fed properly. One guest even endured an emergency landing at Stansted with the plane having no brakes and still made it for the main course! That's Gourmet Loving dedication right there!

Its not just food that we drew on to create a great night, its about atmosphere as well and keeping the guests all in good sorts between courses. The fresh hip hop beats of Paulie who worked the decks all night and had the crowd jumping up and down until 2am kick out time.  Resident b-girl Si├ón kept everyone guessing with 'Whose Rhyme is it anyway'...what the mystery 'Flavour Flav' was...  as well as B-Ball competitions between courses. (In the end the ultimate prize of a jug of shots and bragging rights for the unofficial 'Hip Hop Olympics' was won by 'Dirty South' table.). Thanks to Guy for rocking up at short notice and taking some photos for us as well.

The venue was amazing, an old pub turned art gallery party space and now supper club venue is a perfect fit for 70 people and nestled inside the N1/E2border nicely meant it's really perfectly situated for those coming from around central, north and east London. Thanks to Nunzio for sorting it out for us.

We've had many emails and comments since being asked to repeat this Hip Hop event again. We'll never say never but but as is the Gourmet Lovers style we always evolve and re-define our dining concepts. We've already started planning our next exciting supper club escapade... if you missed out this time well you better just listen out for the next one and get on board!

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Wednesday, 16 May 2012

HENS PARTY BRUNCH IN LONDON: PRIVATE HIRE HENS SIX COURSE BRUNCH WITH SUPER SPECIAL PENIS CAKE

So if I said the words 'Hens party' what would immediately spring to mind? Would large packs of drunken ladies in matching shirts, feather boas stumbling around town in the middle of the night pop out at you? Yep : me too. So was I nervous about hosting a private brunch club hens party? Nope not at all, bring it on. 

16 lovely, stylish cultured ladies ( and not an L plate in sight ) from around the UK and as far away as Melbourne all come together for brunch at the start of a Hen do for Josie, who is getting married in just a couple of weeks. We created 6 bespoke dishes with a 'Wedding Theme' and served them along with a welcoming Gin and Juice and plenty of prosecco bought along by the ladies. Needless to say, it was a riot. Plenty of laughter and tears as we took a more leisurely approach to serving the courses interspersed with the girls playing Mr & Mrs and as an added bonus playing with our six baby kittens who have recently appeared after adopting a stray cat. 'Best hen do ever, you even have kittens!' was one memorable reply. 

I'm pleased to say it seemed everyone had a great time and we were happy to have such enthusiastic attendees throughout the day. Heres the menu we created for Josies Hens Brunch...


Breakfast at Tiffanys

Raspberry Pan au Chocolate


The Rules of Egg-gagement
Eggs two ways

This amazing contribution came from our foody friend and guest chef James. A surprise soft boiled quails egg on panchetta and crunchy toast was revealed beneath the egg shell jacket. And baked eggs 'en cocotte' with asparagus and creme fraiche.  So creamy and delicious.

A Nice Day for a White Wedding
Grilled White Peaches with Almond Mint Pesto

Ok so finding ripe white peach were harder than we thought! So some traditional peaches were promptly drafted in.  Regardless, grilled peaches and a punchy almond mint pesto and a little dollop of marscapone cheese hit the spot. 



My Best Hens Wedding
Marinated Poussin with Pomegranate and Mint Cous Cous

One of our favourites which we featured at our previous Middle East London brunch club. Pouissin marinated in yoghurt, pomegranate molassas, lemon juice and ras el hanout spices. Grilled on the BBQ and served with a roast vegetable cous cous this dish was a welcome hearty dish to set up and soak up what we supposed was a marginally heavy afternoon of drinking. 


Something Blue
Blue Cheese Ice cream, Walnut, Pear, Grapes and Filo


Our 'mock' cheese board course as a lead in to dessert -  blue cheese ice cream with caramelised filo crackers, semi-frozen grapes and walnut. Being an underground supper club we always try and push people's boundaries beyond what they would normally eat. Certainly the savoury blue cheese icecream was the most challenging of the lot - but we got some good feedback. Just not to everyone's taste ;) You either a love or a hate blue cheese but I think this was subtle enough to surprise even the skeptics.


Indecent Proposal
Cheesecake on a Million Dollar Caramel Shortbread Base


Okay so regardless of the fact this was a more 'elegant' take on a Hens party the chief organising hens asked that we create a little naughtiness with the cake course. Whilst Nicks original suggestion of hiring Butlers in the Buff was strongly rebuffed by both myself and the party organisers I was requested to make the dessert in the shape of a gentleman's privates. Playing on the 'indecent proposal' movie idea we devised a millionaires short bread base (covered in caramel and chocolate) and then topped with a vanilla cheesecake. Needless to say this caused much hilarity, raucous laughter and flash photography when Nick presented it to the hen at the end of the meal.

So that was yet another original brunch menu and sadly one of our last brunches probably for the next month or so but in 4 weeks time we are hosting a super duper supper club for 40 people and the theme, HIP HOP SUPPER CLUB.

Building on our wildly popular Hip Hop Brunch series - we're taking it supper-side. We've got a sweet new converted pub / art gallery crib (EC1) and have partnered with some serious gourmet playas to bring you a gastronomic event like no other in the capital.
Expect a complimentary gin & juice on arrival, sit down four course dinner to blow your mind partnered with vintage 90s hip hop tunes, interactive entertainment and the opportunity to kick on and dance with a licensed bar until the wee hours. 
On the food side of things we're collaborating with the amazingly talented Douglas Santi. The guy has cheffed in renowned three star michelain kitchens as has worked in and led kitchens all around the world including Brazil, France, U.S, UK and Italy bringing an amazingly varied set of influences into his food. We are humbled that Douglas is such a great fan and supporter of the supper club scene and is partnering with the Gourmet Lovers crew to bust out some seriously awesome food for this event. 
Suggested donation of £45 for an indulgent amuse bouche + three course dinner. It's BYO wine but there is also a licensed cash bar available to keep you lubricated until 2am. 
Get your tickets here! Do iiiiit!