|Just got back from Tarragona late last night. I'll tell you something about my visit in a few days when I've got my thoughts (and photos) together. Meanwhile...|
If I told you that I made a sauce the other week that I served with a fillet of beef for dinner... and then served afterwards with a meringue and ice cream dessert, would you believe me?
The more scientifically-minded gastronomes amongst you will spot two essential problems (quite apart, that is, from the difficulty of getting your lunch guests to put aside their inbuilt prejudices and wrap their heads around such a prospect). The first challenge is that the beef wants a strong umami element to its flavouring, whereas this is the last thing you'd want in the dessert course. Mind you, I'm being very conservative here, as undoubtedly both Ferran and Heston would be more than happy to go the whole hog (or should that be the whole roast hog ice cream?) The second challenge is developing a sauce that won't drown out the delicate flavour of beef fillet, but will give body and intensity of flavour to an otherwise relatively insipid sweet dish.
As part of our 3rd-year Development rotation at college, we are given the opportunity to create and implement our own à la carte and tasting menus. As most frequent restaurant-goers will know, the concept of a tasting menu is based around showcasing one's cuisine by taking elements of existing dishes with the intent of creating new combinations. And because a tasting menu offers many courses and therefore provides much smaller individual portions, here arises the opportunity to be far more adventurous and thought-provoking with such dishes.
Now I won't for a minute hesitate to explain what I found absurd about this communal thought process. What my fellow students had voted for - with me in a very small minority opposition camp - was a bog-standard, no frills, meat, spuds, two veg and gravy dish... for a tasting menu?!?! Now I have difficulty wrapping my head around this idea because I don't see how making a slightly smaller version of a main course constitutes a dish fit for a tasting menu. Showcasing one's cuisine? Showcasing one's ability to miniaturise, more like it. We might as well have been making dolls houses. Fortunately for me, we didn't sell all of the beef tournedos that day (I can't imagine why) and as I was running the meat section, I was kindly offered the two remaining steaks to take home. And so I did.
So what's this got to do with anything, I hear you ask? Well, if you've been paying attention you'll know by now that this was the sauce I brought home to pair with beef tournedos for my own tasting menu.
Don't you think it's strange that the sauce tasted great with both dishes, one after the other? I sure do.
I guess the moral of the story is this: If you're willing to challenge the judgment of others and, more importantly, to challenge your own judgment, you might just learn a thing or two. Some people are just more open to that suggestion than others. I guess the old saying is true: it's horses for courses. Or, in this case, it's sauces for courses.