For his Victorian Feast, it would have been easy (and boring) to simply cook the type of food that was actually eaten in those times, so instead chef Heston Blumenthal decided to recreate the experience of the mad hatter's tea party from Alice in Wonderland. It was on TV yesterday, and I'm still astounded.
For his soup, he did actually catch a wild snapper one-handed, but eventually decided that real turtle meat was too stringy. So instead he just made soup from stock. In order to make his stock, after extracting the juice from his mock turtle, he froze it, filtered it, froze it again (at -80 degrees) , whizzed it around in a centrifuge, froze it yet again, set it in specially-made watch-fob-shaped moulds, then individually covered each one in gold leaf.
That was the simple soup starter. His main course seemed to be a complete Victorian garden, with everything from the "soil" to the borders to the plants to the "rocks" to the decorative insects having been carefully placed there as part of the whole culinary experience.
To drink - a single beverage that would have the flavours of toffee, hot buttered toast, custard, cherry tart and turkey. But that description was from a book of fiction, a fantasy story created by Lewis Carroll as an exercise in lunacy. It was not a recipe, and obviously it was not meant to be taken seriously ... except by Heston. He really created it. A single drink, together with a custom drinking vessel, that sequentially offered each of the flavours described in the book. His guests were gobsmacked.
And for desert, a giant vibrating jelly made of absinthe, mindblowing.
Heston Blumenthal already runs what is arguably the best restaurant in the world. He takes your senses to the limit, and then that little bit further. He is polite and courteous in his demeanor, yet outrageous and over the top in his creation. He takes the fictional cliché and makes it real. So the punchline: he is the Jim Steinman of food.
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