Sunday, 9 September 2012

Beauty and the Feast

Carpaccio di Pera con Dragoncello e Pepe Rossi
Carpaccio of Pear with Red pepper Corns & Tarragon

I have to admit, I am not a fan of that school of cuisine that sets microscopic scraps of food artistically on a plate- it just isn't something that I can take seriously as cooking. It may make a beautiful photo or be more akin to a work of art than anything else, but I just feel more affinity to food that you would serve on a plate to your friends. Honest, sensible stuff that might actually "fill you up" at some point!

I love reading about cooks like Heston Blumenthal, who I think is s a genius and Ferran Adria, amongst others... but I may never actually be in a position to eat at their restaurants. Somehow I think I would just be happier hanging out and talking with them anyway- lol!

So what I hear you cry, is that, that you have created there? Well- ok- for a start, each of you would get served up a whole pear, as you can see here- so at least it would constitute a decent serving! And yes, I was being pretentious and fooling around at the time- and I did have my tongue set firmly in my cheek when I made this... but Oh My! Was my tongue ever in for a surprise when I actually came to eat it! What a revelation!

I started off by cutting the pear into quarters and cutting away the core. I then cut each quarter into very fine slices, cross-ways. One of the segments I kept together and the rest I covered in lemon juice to prevent them going brown. I set out the one quarter that was still intact in its shape, fanning the slices out just slightly and let this be the "center piece" on my dish. I drizzled it lightly with lemon juice too.

I then spread the remaining pear slices out around it decoratively, making sure they were nice and moist with lemon juice and then laid a few leaves of tarragon on top decoratively. At this point I had no idea just how wonderful this was all going to taste! I was just being silly and making it look pretty- it's true!

Next came a light drizzle of honey- just to counterpoint the sour lemon. Once there was a light glaze of honey on the pear I began to think,  "hmmm- nice and sticky! I wonder what I could stick on there?"- and hey-presto! The next thing I knew, I had opened a jar of red pepper corns and begun to spread them out and decorate my little creation. Again- at this point, I was kind-of smirking on the inside- thinking of how I would have some pretty pictures from this- but not thinking it was anything worth eating in real terms...

So the pictures were done and I was pleased with how pretty they looked- and I thought, oh well- may as well eat it now! And for want of a better expression, OMG! What a glorious combination! Yes, yes, in my own defense I of course do have a good sense of intuition when I combine foods and flavors... but even I wasn't expecting to have won the jackpot with this one!

The mild pear, tangy lemon, anise-flavored tarragon, zingy pepper corns and sweet honey all combined so harmoniously it was quite fantastic! This is one of those things that is hard to describe and that is best simply tried out for yourself. And thankfully, this is much more inexpensive, easy and do-able that my Michelin-star adorned heroes! And maybe you will try it too! I like to think that Ferran and Heston would approve. next time they come to dinner at my place, I might just try it out on them and see...

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