Take Five Cooks…a report

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Well it was a chilly Thursday and it was chucking it down with rain as I pulled into the Car Park at Redbridge College in Essex. Not my normal stomping ground but I was there to assist a long standing friend with his desire to host a charity dinner with his local college using students and a group of chef friends. Hence the idea of Take Five Cooks was born and Ian Samuels the lead chef was about to see it all come to fruition.

It had been some five months in the planning and Ian had asked me early on to help in the project in a number of ways. I agreed as it has always been my intention to use my supperclub format and connections for charitable purposes and have over the years done some varied charity events etc. This event was to be the most complex and ambitious yet as apart from the assorted egos of the various chefs the challenge was to make as much money as we could for the two charities we were there to support.

The charities are not big well known ones and were very personal to Ian and we had to try make sure that we could raise as much money as possible. The dinner was to be a five course affair, each chef was to prepare a course and then also a canapé as well that would be served with the welcome drink to guests on arrival. We even tried to auction a table for six in the kitchen where guests could see first hand the behind the scenes action (alas no takers)

Well we had managed to sell a total of 39 places that ensured we had a pretty full house for the night. As I checked in and joined Ian in the kitchen we leisurely got stuck into the prep work and with a bunch of willing students who eagerly were doing a good deal of the donkey work for us! As time went by the other members of the brigade arrived, Paul Blackman – pastry chef from Le Talbooth arrived in a massive van and his prepped dessert – his inability to open the van with his own car keys got us all panicked but once unloaded he got on with plating up his dessert of vanilla panna cotta ready for later. Next to arrive was a giant of a man with his hipster beard Jack Boast the Head Chef of Galvins Cafe au Vin along with a former student of the college who now works for him.

Jack then got a few of the students busy filleting fish ready for his contribution and he prepped up his assorted charcuterie for his canapé… the clock was ticking and main course chef Gary Lee of the Ivy was still yet to appear. It was not until almost 6pm just half an hour before the guests would arrive for the welcome reception that he arrived with his assistant. He was relaxed and calm as they quickly started prepping the main course dish of roasted Somerset lamb stuffed with Black Pudding.

One chef alas unable to make the dinner was Matthew Bare as his 2nd in command had broken his leg so he could not get away from his work place. Ian stepped up to produce his contribution a chilled cucumber and mint soup shot.

So wooden boards piled with assorted canapés were delivered to the assembled guests and the evening got off to a start. There was a calm chaos in the kitchen as the chefs went about their final preparations.

The guests then sat and each charity made a quick welcome speech and the food started to come out, first Ian’s dish of pan fried scallops with textures of cauliflower, followed by the chilled soup shot. It was then Jack’s turn as they plated up the assorted Escabeche of Brixham Fish, Mackerel, Red Mullet, Megrim sole and freshly poached clams on a bed of carrots… it was proverbial production line of hands placing items on the plates and waiting staff then delivering to the table.

In amongst this it was yours truly function to get the crowd front of house digging deep into their pockets as we ran a couple of Head & Tails which all added to the fun and ensured the kitchen had time to get ready.

Next came Gary Lee’s main course dish, he gathered all the troops around him and you could see his leadership skills kick in as he demonstrated the plating up of his creation, a pea and mint puree base, fondant potato, slices of meat, carrots and finally some jus and a deftly placed pansy last of all. It was poetry in motion and all the time he was cajoling the troops and the moment he finished he made sure they all gave themselves a round of applause!

There was a real camaraderie amongst them all, especially evident when they all paraded into the room for what is commonly known as the “Santé du Chefs” to genuine warm applause. It was then my turn to run the auction of a range of donated items from a pastry Master Class at Le Talbooth with Paul to meal vouchers for The Ivy and an added bonus of a couple of cookery books and a half day in the kitchen with Gary – it was hard work trying to get the prices up but with some hilarious moments we managed in a few short minutes and some very generous donations to raise just over £4000 from this alone.
Paul served up his very pretty dessert and I completed the meal with my two favourite cheeses, Winterdale Shaw and Stichleton. That was it we had done it… there was a genuine warmth from all and as I drove back home it got me thinking how kind and generous the hospitality industry is. The chefs had come together, given up their time willingly and also managed to get virtually everything they had cooked with and served donated.

Guests had dug deep and supported two local charities that as one later said to me “Cannot even start to thank you for last night! Home-Start Colchester is a small charity and we do not receive many donations, so it is just amazing to be included in your fantastic efforts to support vulnerable and disadvantaged families.”

We raised a total of £6,260 that I know Ian and all involved were immensely proud of. I am also very grateful to those customers of mine that supported the event by hiring a mini bus and venturing from deepest Kent to Essex, bidding for items in the Auction and then a special mention must go to Paul Meyer Photography who gave up his time to come and photograph the event – his pictures are stunning!

What more can we say…

The charities we helped

Home Start – Colchester

Healthy Living Projects

A wild one…

Wild Garlic FlowersWhere is this year going… cannot believe we are already nearly a third of the year through it…

For me the end of winter is signalled by the arrival of a wild food in the form of Wild Garlic or as known by it’s “English” name Ransom. The broad green leaves that poke their heads up in wooded areas from about mid march onwards remind me that warmer weather is hopefully around the corner and we should also start seeing more abundant seasonal produce in our baskets.

Posset's on Parade!!!This months dinners will feature the foraged herb in the starter and main course (to a lesser extent) and then a true spring fruit fresh rhubarb married to a tart lemon posset!

To book this event then please complete the booking form below and we will contact you normally with 48 hours to confirm your places.

Arrival: 7:30pm Welcome Drink & Nibbles

Dinner: 8:00pm

Suggested Donation: £40 per person

Service not included

Assorted Seasonal Canapés with a welcome drink

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Wild Garlic, Pea & Prawn Risotto

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Herb Crusted Roasted Rump of Lamb

with minted crushed Jersey Royals

Haricot Vert & Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

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Hari’s selection of assorted Cheeses

with Porridge Oat Biscuits & Banana Jam

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Lemon & Rhubarb Posset served with a warm home-made shortbread

Served with a glass of Muscat de Rivesaltes 

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Coffee & Petits Fours

Menu Subject to Ingredient Availability and Market Purchases

From Nose to Tail…a veritable collection of local charcuterie…

It was a bitterly cold Thursday morning when I swept into Shipbourne Farmers market near Tonbridge to collect some ingredients for a home brew from Moodley’s Beer and Wine Kits. At the entrance was a table laden with some rather good looking Salami and cured meats plus a plethora of smoked fish… It was a bit of a shock to then discovered they had all been produced in Kent and were the brain child of former Chef Paolo Rigoli and his partner Dalton Hopper. These were the real deal and Paolo willingly kept slicing a piece from each to let me sample… charcuterie overload or what….

I purchased some to take home and try and duly demolished in double quick time and then ordered some more to use at my pop up dinners in February when we did a small board of charcuterie to start off our Fondue parties. Their Tuscan salami was an amazing product – made with red wine, fennel seeds and some bigger pieces of fat the resulting salami is a real gem. I duly purchased whole lot more in readiness for my March Beer dinners as well. Including their small snacking salami aptly called a beer stick that is designed to go with a glass of beer!

Then recently I arranged to go over and see their production set up… It was an eye-opener and good to see how two passionate young lads have for a fairly modest sum set up a true artisan business. They have assorted Porta-Kabins that are the production kitchens and then an old refrigerated unit that has been adapted to be their curing chamber.

Then another area for smoking of the fish. In just over six months of production this set up is already not able meet sufficiently the demand they have created from the selling via the Farmers Markets they go to along with a growing wholesale demand as well. Plans to put in another curing chamber will mean they can then increase production of the larger joints they wish to cure and store such as the Parma Ham style legs, Coppa and Lomo joints. The legs taking up to eighteen months to reach their optimum maturity. The smaller salamis and sausage style meats taking less time means they would have greater capacity to meet the demands.

For Paolo it has been a steep learning curve as he gets to grip with the legislation and demands of running a new business. Dalton still works full time in his front of house role at a nearby restaurant so supports where and when he can. It truly is good to see such passion and dedication to produce what is a very fine product and I urge you to seek out their products at one of the Farmers markets they attend namely Shipbourne, Aylesford, Elm Court and Tonbridge and then also Horniman Market in south London.

Take a look at their web site for more details on the range of products http://www.kentcateringltd.co.uk/

March onwards…

We love a good glass of beer and we thought what could be a great theme for our March dinner event would be to pair up once again with Yudhistra Moodley of Moodley’s Craft Beer & Wine Making (we last hosted a dinner with Moodleyshim in January 2012) and this time are offering something a bit different. We have always loved using his beer especially in our beer bread.

Yudhistra only brews his beers to  order now commercially but he is however now selling “The Simple Beer Kit” mostly through Farm Shops  and local farmers’ markets including Tunbridge Wells Town Hall, Tonbridge, Aylesford, Hildenborough, Lamberhurst, Shipbourne Horsmonden , West Malling & Robertsbridge and then his web site on the Internet. All so you can brew your own high quality home brew using brewing quality ingredients. You can follow him on twitter @moodleyslimited or on Facebook at Moodley’s Limited

We have teamed up with him for our dinners on Friday 13th & Saturday 14th March when we will be serving a simple beer themed supper to our guests. We will also for each pair of guests be providing a simple beer kit for you to take home and try brewing yourself. Yudhistra will also be on hand each night to answer any brewing questions you may have on how to make a successful brew.

musselsFollowing a welcome drink and beer themed nibble we will kick the evening off with a bowl of freshly cooked fresh mussels cooked in a home brew and served with our now somewhat infamous beer bread.

We will then go onto the main course dish a classic pork shoulder stew braised in beer with carrots and onions. We will serve this with a herby bulgur wheat and some purple sprouting broccoli – a good warming bit of comfort food

Decadent Chocolate TorteFinally we will then serve a classic chocolate cake made with a dark beer that will be served with a compote of blood oranges and some mascarpone cream.

Then with coffee and we will serve some petit fours.

We think it will be a fun night with the added benefit of a take home beer kit with full instructions on how to make your own home brew, what could be better?

Arrival: 7:30pm Welcome Drink & Nibbles

Dinner: 8:00pm

Suggested Donation: £40 per person including for each pair a Moodleys Simple Beer Kit (retails at £30)

Service not included

Menu

Poached Fresh Mussels in Beer with Hari’s Beer Bread

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Beer Braised Pork with Carrots & Onion

Herbed Bulgur Wheat

Purple Sprouting  Broccoli

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Chocolate & Porter Cake, Blood Oranges & Mascarpone

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Coffee & Petit Fours

To reserve your places please complete the booking form below and we will contact you normally within 24 to 48 hours to confirm  your places with a credit card number.

Fondue Party… our February dinners

fondueGreuzi!

Well we thought we would set the year off with a bit of a party and what better way to kick start the year than with a “Swiss Cheese Fondue Party”!

We will be in central Tunbridge Wells at 8 Chapel Place (a vacant retail outlet) between the High Street & The Pantiles that we will take over for two nights (6th & 7th February) and be serving up a classic fondue menu.

It will be a little early for Swiss Faschnacht (Carnival/Mardi Gras) but what the hell let’s really get the party started with some good food and convivial conversation.

There will be three tables of six (so sharing is compulsory unless a whole table is booked) and we will welcome guests with some nibbles and glass of something!

The meal will kick of with a selection of assorted Charcuterie served with some rye bread (Veggie option available – please pre-order in the “any other info” section of the form below) and then we will serve each table with a classic Swiss Cheese Fondue. Melted Swiss cheese and wine is then served bubbling on a heater and you all dive in with your bread. We will have the addition of some wild mushrooms as well to add to the fondue if so desired!

Finally the meal will be completed with a platter of fresh fruit and fruit sorbet (Taywells) that we will serve with a small glass of schnapps.

We will then serve up coffee and some petit fours to round the evening off.

If you want to come in your best carnival outfit then feel free, (not compulsory though) we plan to have some Guggenmusik playing in the background ! The menu includes a welcome drink on arrival but you will need to bring your own drinks to have with the meal. (Water and Ice Buckets provided) Please note Red Wine with hot cheese is not a good idea as it tends to clot the cheese in your stomach.

So why not join us for a fun couple of nights re-live those nights on the ski slopes and let’s party!

Place: 8 Chapel Place, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN1 1YQ

Time: 7:30pm Welcome Drink and Nibbles

Dinner: 8:00pm prompt

Suggested donation £35.00 per person (service not included)

Menu

Assorted Charcuterie served with pickles and Rye Bread

(Vegetarian option: Nussli Salat Mimosa mit Baumnussen)

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Classic Swiss Cheese Fondue

Melted Swiss Emmenthal & Gruyere in white wine served with cubes of bread

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Fresh Fruit Platter served with a Taywell Fruit Sorbet and a chilled schnapps

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Coffee & Petit Fours

Happy New Year…

Well here at “Covert Towers” we have been enjoying the festive season in our warm and dry home… a bit different to last year when we evacuated on Christmas Eve and did not return until early July!

imagesIt was a challenging year in 2014 for a number of reasons and we are now looking forward to a what will be our 5th year of secret dining.

We cannot thank our supporters enough for sticking with us during such trying times. We cooked in new venues provided by generous hosts and then we returned to our refurbished home and new kitchen and have been cooking up some storming events since then.

Now as we start off in 2015 we have set dates right through to the end of the year. We have some exciting themes planned for the year and we will publish more details in due course but for the moment we have two dates on February 6th and 7th when the menu will be based around Fondues. We will publish full menus in due course.

On Thursday March 26th we will also be taking part in a charity dinner called “Take 5 Cooks” plus one (a late entry) This will be held 5at Redwood College in Essex and the profits from this dinner is to be shared between Home Start (Essex) and the Welcome Project (Ilford) two small local charities. We will share more details soon as we are just awaiting confirmation on booking details and price per head. Feel free to use our booking confirmation form to register your interest. We Promise it will be a real fun night!

We will publish more details on our other events as soon as we can just keep checking back. In the meantime we wish all our current and potential new customers a very Happy New Year.

Hari Covert

The final “O come all ye Faithful”….

dec

Cancelled – sorry for any inconvenience

Our final supperclub event of 2014 is something a bit special for us… We have always wanted to do a “Pop Up” in central Tunbridge Wells and we can now announce we are coming to the town on Saturday December 20th.

We will be located in a space in Chapel Place (8a to be precise) where for one night only we will serve a special dinner. It will be a big challenge for us as we will have to transport a kitchen into the site and all the associated equipment.

We hope you will come along and support us and get yourselves intosanta1 the festive spirit…

We will kick the evening off with a welcome drink and some festive
nibbles then diners will sit down to a sumptuous four course dinner

Arrival:  7:30pm

Dinner:  Served 8:00pm Prompt

Suggested Donation £40.00 per person (service not included)

Bring your own Alcohol – we provided water and ice buckets

Menu

Homemade Pork, Apricot & Hazelnut Terrine

with a home-made Seasonal Relish

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Crispy Confit Duck Leg served on a

mixed bean & Spicy Chorizo Stew

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Hari’s Selection of Cheeses,

Porridge Oat Biscuits & Homemade Banana Jam

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Christmas Pudding Iced Parfait with a Red Berry compote and holly tuile biscuit served with a glass of Muscat de Rivesaltes

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Coffee or Hari’s Tea Blend with Festive Petit Fours

Menu subject to market purchases and ingredient availability

 

Memories of China… a report

IMG_6646

Well it was the third time we had invited Chef But to “Covert Towers” to prepare a sumptuous Chinese Banquet … It was well subscribed with two nights fully booked with new and returning guests.

I duly collected Mr B and his wife Sue from South Croydon after he had travelled down from his home in Wembley London and we headed off to nearby Wing Yip Chinese supermarket to purchase the more specialist ingredients we required for the dinners.

We sat down in the adjacent restaurant for a quick Dim Sum lunch before we went round the Supermarket picking out what we required… everything from a pile of Spring Green leaves and Chinese Bak Choy to tins of Yellow Bean Paste and jars of chilli sauces were piled high into the trolley.IMG_6593

As we paid up we headed back round the M25 to Kent and got stuck into the job of preparing food for the impending dinners… Legs of Lamb were butchered and prepared for poaching as they were to be used as the Mongolian Crispy Lamb, Beef Shin was chopped and poached off ready to be slowly cooked with a piquant sauce and water chestnuts. Dried Bean Curd was deep fried and then placed in a bucket of hot water to soften and then cut into bite sized pieces.

B then seemed to magic a pork and chicken minced meat mixture ready for stuffing into the dumplings and then within about one hour and twenty minutes he had made over one hundred dumplings. Blocks of Prawns were left to defrost… it was a late finish and then the next morning it was an early start as we prepared so much food for that evenings dinner. Prawns were made ready for the stir fry and then others were minced to be made into prawn toasts.

IMG_6592It was a long day as we prepared for the full house… we had a big menu. It was a full on service as we served everything from the Red Lotus Cocktail to the finale of some Taywell Sorbet and Ice Cream… and some rather yummy Silver Tipped Jasmine Tea supplied by Blends for Friends. Popular dishes seemed to be Sesame Prawn Toasts and then Slow Cooked Beef Shin with water chestnuts and dried bean curd. All dishes were quickly consumed and as last guests departed it was a quick clear up and off to our slumbers for another busy day the next day.

The Saturday night always seems a great deal easier… something to do with lessons learnt from the Friday I suspect. We still spent most the morning prepping and then after a quick visit to  a local cafe for some lunch we were back in the kitchen to finish off and get ready for another full house.

IMG_6651Mr But and his wife Sue had with the rest of the team worked so very hard to make it a very special couple of nights… Guests seemed to enjoy themselves and it was a lively couple of days … we hope you all enjoy the videos we have posted on our You Tube channel

We will have some photos to share with you all in due course and will create a gallery when we have.

Cheers

Hari C

O Come, All ye faithful…

Well it will soon be that time of year again when we will all start getting festive and excited about the big celebrations of Christmas. As the title suggests we do hope to see some of our regulars and also welcome some new guests as well.

Here at “Covert Towers” we too will be trying to celebrate in style with our Hari Covert suppers on the following dates…

santa15th ,  12th , and 13th December 2014. This will give you plenty of choice to come and celebrate with us. We will be serving up the same menu at each dinner all you need to do is choose the preferred date and complete the booking form below!

We will be serving up a tasty and traditional four course menu that will reflect the festive season and we hope some imaginative combinations.

The evenings will kick off with a welcome drink along with some festive nibbles. We will then commence the dinner with a home-made terrine of pork studded with apricots and hazelnuts and served with a home-made seasonal relish  and simple salad garnish. We will also serve a vegetarian alternative of a warm Onion & Goats Cheese Tart.

santa2For the main course we will go slightly traditional and serve turkey…
I have to admit not always my favourite meat but we will do a slight twist and serve an individual turkey roulade. A turkey escalope stuffed with a light forcemeat and chopped chorizo to provide a slight kick, each roulade will be wrapped in air dried ham and we will serve them with a light sage cream sauce and seasonal vegetable garnish, maybe even the odd Brussels sprout as well. We will serve a salmon steak as the veggie alternative as well with a similar garnish but a wild garlic pesto cream sauce….

In true Hari fashion we will then serve a selection of cheeses with our much admired Porridge Oat biscuits and home-made Banana Jam.

decTo finish the meal we will then serve a slightly different version of a Christmas Pudding, namely a Christmas Pudding Parfait, a home- made iced parfait that will come served with a tart red fruit compote and then a holly shaped tuile biscuit.

Coffee or our own blend of tea will be served along with some mini stollen and Christmas biscuits maybe even a mini mince pie will complete the dinners.

We ask guests to arrive at 7:30pm and dinner will start at 8:00pm

Suggested Donation is £35.00 per person (Service not included)

Menu

Homemade Pork, Apricot & Hazelnut Terrine with a home-made Seasonal Relish

Vegetarian Alternative:

Warm Onion & Goats Cheese Tart with Salad Leaves

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Turkey Roulade with a chorizo stuffing, Roasted Potato & Parsnip Rosti and a Sage Cream Sauce, Seasonal Vegetables

Vegetarian Alternative:

Roasted Salmon Fillet, Roasted Potato & Parsnip Rosti and a Wild Garlic Pesto Cream Sauce, Seasonal Vegetables

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Hari’s Selection of Cheeses, Porridge Oat Biscuits, Banana Jam

*****

Christmas Pudding Iced Parfait with a Red Berry compote and holly tuile biscuit served with a glass of Muscat de Rivesaltes

*****

Coffee or Hari’s Tea Blend with Festive Petit Fours

Menu subject to market purchases & ingredient availability

To Book your places please complete the Booking Form below. We will normally contact you within 24/48 Hours to confirm your booking with a Credit Card number.

Please also indicate how many of your party require the Vegetarian Alternative dishes.

Chocolate heaven…

Restaurant Mimo d’en Damian – Girona

Well it was blue skies and a warm autumn afternoon when I set off from my house in France and I basked in the glorious scenery as I whizzed down the motorway towards Spain. Once through the peage at Le Boulou you climb over the mountains before dropping into Spain and the commercial “duty free” shopping conurbation of La Jonqueria – it was all going swimmingly well and I was excited at the prospect of dinner on the opening night at Damian’s new venture.

It was then a wall of traffic in front of me and flashing indicators that bought me to a sudden halt and I then began to panic I might not reach Girona in time for dinner! Well a lorry had shed it’s load and police were busy trying to reopen the motorway… some 45 minutes later I was motoring and my expectation was rising yet again.

I arrived in Girona just as the sun was setting and the birds were all coming home to roost! The cacophony was deafening and as I wandered around the old town I found myself sitting on Independence Square with it’s plethora of restaurants and bars and a real buzz as the locals were beginning to unwind at the end of their working day.

My table was booked for 8:30pm early by Spanish standards for a dinner reservation and I was to be joined by some friends who had motored up from Barcelona. They were running a little late having got stuck in the commuter traffic of Barcelona but as I sat at my table waiting I perused the decor. Simple understated table decorations included a chocolate cube sculpture on each table, a wall mounted chocolate sculpture in the shape of a cocoa pod and then some wooden tree branches also covered in chocolate sculptured facsimiles of cocoa pods all added to the statement “it is all about the chocolate”.

Damian is a renowned chocolatier and holds the mantle of the fourth best in the world and was mentor to Jordi Roca of the local El Celler can Roca.  He has, with his partner Anna, her sister and her husband formed a partnership that has seen the rebirth of Restaurant Mimolet as Mimo d’en Damian. Located near the cathedral in the old part of the city it is a perfect location for Damian to showcase his creations with a small boutique shop and a modern understated simple decor within the restaurant.

So my guests arrived and settled and then the meal commenced… the menu is divided between fundamentally two choices of menu. The Plantation Menu – a degustation menu of either five or eight courses that reflects the varying chocolates that Damian likes to work perfectly illustrates the natures of their provenance. The use of a different chocolate in some form or another at each course is very much a feature.

The other menu choice on offer is named “La Finca”  a menu that provides a simple 3 choice three course menu that with seasonal influences of home inspired dishes often without chocolate except for the dessert!!! Then for groups of four or more Damian has also introduced a menu titled “LA  XOCOLATADA“. This is a selection of a lot of the dishes reflected in the other two menus.  Complemented by a simple main course of roasted chicken ballontine with garnish and to complete the sharing meal effectively a chocolate fondue served with assorted accompaniments to dip and dunk accordingly! The ethos is the re-invention of the sharing of a meal.

So we plumped for the Plantation eight course degustation (one wimped out with the 5 courses) and we decided to go that extra bit with the wines included chosen by the restaurant for an amazing 45 Euros per person. (more about that later)

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First up was what was described as snacks and were presented on a wooden board with a balloon whisk. Little miniature croquettes with capers, little coca biscuits (a local cracker) topped with a smooth velvety pumpkin mousse topped with chopped walnuts and then nestling in the whisk where what were described as Sweet corn Crisps – looking like giant onion rings these crisp little confections just melted in the mouth… all went perfectly with the lovely chilled glass of Cava that appeared in front of us.

Bread then arrived. It was intriguing and Damian explained had taken much experimentation to perfect. Fundamentally an olive oil bread that used cocoa butter these little rolls had a lovely crispy exterior and a very stringy moreish texture within…

The first course up was the described as the Santa Pau Bean Soup, a dry plate duly arrived with an arrangement of diced carrots and beans in the bottom – a sliver of dried bread that Damian describes as using a cocoa ferment in its making process and a spherical scoop of bacon ice cream before a dark chocolate coloured broth was poured into the bowl. Intense depth of flavours and balanced seasoning combinations ensured this was a great start to the meal, the ice cream melted to provide a creamy edge to the soup and the delicate bread softened within the broth – masterful.

Next came the Cep Royal, Onion Foam and a garnish of camomile and cacao soil, a shallow glass bowl had a dark warm set mousse in its base with that distinct earthy boletus flavour of the wild mushroom, a delicate light sweet flavoured onion foam had been squirted onto this and all garnished with a crunchy decoration of cocoa nibs. Textural and flavourful combinations that were truly magnificent and equally memorable. Flavours zinged in the mouth and lingered with every spoonful!

Our next course was described as White Fish, Saffron veloute, fennel & orange on the menu. We were served two fresh shell on prawns that were perfectly cooked. The sauce had a delicate aerated texture and had the addition of cacao butter to provide a richness to the dish. It was a accomplished but for me perhaps the weakest dish of the night and perhaps still a work in progress, nonetheless still very enjoyable.

Next came the main course and one I looked forward to as I am a massive fan of the “Pork Cheek”. It is something of a local favourite in the region and often found on menus both in Spanish Cataluña and French Catalan eateries. Damian interpretation was for me totally inspired. The presentation was simple but effective the pork cheek had been cooked perfectly and then shredded and formed into what effectively looked like a chocolate brownie.The garnish of unctuous smooth potato puree and then a masterful finely shredded acidic yet sweet addition of bright pink red cabbage provided the necessary foil for the richness of the meat… This was truly magnificent and for me the revelation of forming the shredded meat into a brownie shaped form on the plate was inspired and the addition of the classic mole sauce using Michel Cluizels “Los Ancones” 68% chocolate just delivered the whole dish to stellar heights. The Brueberry Negre wine from Monsant was the perfect choice to go with dish as well… I loved it

A short pause to allow us to digest the richness for the main dish was then broken by the arrival of the final stretch of the meal! The fact that Damian is formerly a pastry chef meant we were then in for a treat as he presented the three desserts on his menu.

Firstly as a palate cleanser he served up what he describes as a Grapefruit and Basil Sandwich. It was a slab of pink grapefruit sorbet of such a lovely intense flavour sandwiched between two thin pieces of crispy meringue that had the addition of basil within. Simply placed on a plate with an undercarriage of Jordi Rocas milk chocolate “Rocalat” effectively milk chocolate shavings as used within the local infamous “Roca” ice cream parlour. God this was good and got us all excited as what else was going to be served up.

Next came what the menu described as Original Beans Virunga 70% – Forastero Beans from the Congo, a lactic free Cremosa of Cru Virunga served with Olive Oil financier, sea water and blackcurrant crisps. This was pure artistry in the visual sense as well as the eating sense. The Cremosa or mousse like chocolate quenelle in the centre of the plate was surrounded by two little olive oil cakes with the addition of little round discs of crispy sea water and then a wafer thin scroll of blackcurrant that melted in the mouth and provided an amazing combination to the fruity flavour of the chocolate. The salty flavour of the sea water crisps were revolutionary.

I know Damian has recently developed a chocolate ganache that also uses the sea water sourced from a natural marine park off the coast of Ibiza. It was another level from the previous dessert and got me thinking how do you follow this!

Well only Damian could follow it with yet another chocolate dessert and this was showcasing a chocolate I know Damian is very passionate about. Listed as Pacari Raw 70% it is a chocolate he imports himself direct from the plantation. He served it slightly warm in a glass plate bowl aerated using a nitrogen dioxide siphon, garnished with chopped pieces of raisin biscuits and a delicate jasmine tea sorbet to cleanse the mouth between each mouthful  it was inspired and whilst simple to look at has taken many months of tweaking and re working to achieve such a memorable finish to what had been a stunningly good meal.

Coffee served with a trio selection of the water ganache chocolates Damian is famous for completed the meal – spherical white chocolate & raspberry truffles and a dark chocolate and mint truffle came served on little white spoons and a oval salted peanut chocolate completed the trio.

At the 45 Euros per person including the wines it was amazing value for money and well worth the trip. In fact I can not recommend the region and the city enough, it has such a diversity and the arrival of Damian within the city has rekindled his love affair with the area and means even more can now experience the passion he has for chocolate. The small boutique within the restaurant means you can purchase his chocolates directly and the meeting room adjacent will also be used for private parties and tutored tastings. I felt privileged to have been there on their opening night and I know my friends from Barcelona were equally impressed.

I cannot wait to return again in February when I will be back in the area… just go and check out the flights to the area , book a ticket and get yourself there to sample what has been the best meal experience I have had in a while.

I wish the team the best of luck and hope they survive and prosper in a competitive market as well as testing times in Spain – when you get there just tell them Hari sent you!

Mimo d’en Damian, Pou Rodo. num 12, 17004 Girona

Tel +34 972 202 124   email : restaurant@mimodamian.cat

www.mimodamian.cat

Kent's first Underground/Secret Restaurant…

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