Well what a week that was! It had been a few years since we had done a Vegetarian themed dinner and we could not have done a more ambitious one this time without the help of fellow chef Peter Pickering and his Vegan & Vegetarian inspired Sprig of London Pop Up concept.
Peter a graduate from Oxford Brookes University has had a stellar culinary career working with some great chefs as well as some tough assignments. He really put his heart and soul into this series of dinners and road tested his recipes beforehand and also spent a fair few hours in their preparation!
It was a real pleasure to have Peter and the comments we had from those attending were very rewarding. We had “Vegetarians” and “Meat Eaters” – all seem to be tucking in to a diverse range of dishes and what was more fascinating was the the fact that certain dishes really did provoke a reaction.
Peter’s Sprig of London concept is planning to open a series of pop ups in London early in 2016 and his visit to Hari’s was a great way to trial some of his ideas.
The dish titled “Turnip, Radish & Orange” was for me a revelation of cooking and curing processes along with some great flavour combinations.
The main component of turnip was a whole roasted turnip that was baked in tin foil with just a little bit of oil for some two hours, peeled and then thickly sliced. It was then fried in vegan margarine and finished with a drizzle of maple syrup to help caramelise and colour it.
The resultant texture was soft and unctuous and as one guest remarked like a succulent ripe peach. The bitterness of the vegetable softened but married well with the orange juice reduction with the salty soy and the the addition of pickled sliced radish and a turnip and orange puree bought it all together. It was a truly masterful dish!
The dish that seemed to raise most discussion however was the second dessert, namely the “White Chocolate Coconut Porridge”. Here he firstly toasted some white chocolate (baked broken up pieces in a hot oven till they started to caramelise) He added this to toasted desiccated coconut and nibbed almonds to create what could be described as a crumble mix.
A tin of coconut milk was reduced and then thickened to make a cream. Coconut Water was then used to make a porridge in the normal way and lightly sweetened. When then the Coconut Cream, Porridge and Crumble was layered in the serving bowls it made for a real rich and luscious eating experience but did split the diners. It was a real “Marmite” dish, some thought it was more breakfast than pud and those that do not like the coconut flavour were equally vocal.
There were some converts but overall I think it was a hit… I certainly liked it, it was a great way to complete the dinner.
I had tried to showcase some great local produce from the local Cobnuts from Hurstwood Farm and their cobnut oil that was then combined with the dried green beans I had specially obtained from Switzerland making this a truly international combination.
The “Sweet Rebellion” Vanilla Ice Cream from Taywell also was a hit and proved that great tasting food can be without certain ingredients.
We felt we had provided a series of dinners that was imaginative and thought provoking and Peter with his Sprig concept illustrated well his talents!
As you can see the guest book signed by the diners illustrates well what our guests though of it all! Thank You so much for all your lovely comments….