All the Dishes
Specialty Equipment: food dehydrator – water bath – vacuum machine – digital thermometer – thermomix – fine digital scale – ice cream machine – mandolin – pastry cutters – PacoJet – refractometer – pH meter – electric slicer – pressure cooker – freeze-drier – rotary evaporator – (range of) molds – steamer – centrifuge
Specialty Ingredients: acid, citric – acid, malic – acid, tartaric acid – calcium chloride – carbonized vegetable powder, brown – crystallised violet petals – essence, leather – essential oil, almond – essential oil, Douglas Fir – essential oil, Frankincense – essential oil, grapefruit – essential oil, lychee – essential oil, mandarin – essential oil, rose – flojel 60 – gelatine (170 Bloom) – gelatine (200 Bloom), powdered – gellan f – gellan LT100 – gold leaves – gold powder – golden Frankincense tears – gum arabic – liquorice root, dried – liquorice root, sticks of concentrated – maltodextrin DE19 – milk powder, skimmed – N-Zorbit M maltodextrin – nitrite salt – oak extract – pectin, high methoxyl – pectin, nappage – pectin, yellow – popping candy – shimmer powder, blue – sodium caseinate – sodium citrate – sodium tripolyphosphate – soy lecithin – spray-dried apple granules – spray-dried carrot powder – sugar, fructose – sugar, invert – sugar, isomalt – tobacco, cavendish – transglutaminase – vitamin C – whey powder – liquid nitrogen – cacao butter – patience
Feel weird seeing all the work of 1 year and 2 months on 1 page. The funny thing is that I can remember a lot from every dish: preparation methods, what went wrong, what was difficult to make, stuff like that. I’m sure the information will be replaced by other pieces of info over time, but hell, I’ve got photos and accompanying texts to help me remember.
As far as the photos go I can clearly see I had no clue until the Orange and Beetroot Jelly, which I made during a photography course. From then on I tried to take better photographs, but didn’t have a tripod and lighting was a word I had not yet linked to taking pictures. The Roast Foie Gras ‘Benzaldehyde’ was the first plate I lid (with LED flashlights) with an end result in mind: replicating the shadow rich, dynamic quality of the photos in the book. I still wasn’t the proud owner of a tripod, so when taking the picture I juggled two flashlights and a camera, which would make every photographer chuckle. With the Beef Royal (1723), First Course recipe I owned a tripod and started to think more and more on the photos I was taking, leading in the end to makeshift setups with lights and boards that were lying around the house. I’ve never bought proper lights, or a proper (digital) camera for that matter, so am looking forward to buying some and see how the photos will turn out.
The purchase of a tripod went hand in hand with a change in my cooking. At a certain point you start to notice little details in the recipes and the presentations and this sneaks up in your cooking. The book will slowly and unnoticeably (to a certain point) turn you in a Fat Duck intern, afraid of a big bad chef who’s looking over your shoulder. The cubes of butter from the Flaming Sorbet are a prime example (forgive my ass for quoting myself): ‘During the crumble preparations I knew the cookbook had gotten to me. I’m at a point of no return. Precision is imprinted in my brain. My fingers act like somebody could strike them at any moment if I’m not precise. I was preparing cubes of butter for the crumble and noticed I was cutting them all in the same size and discarding the ones that weren’t. It’s only a freaking butter for a crumble mixture! In the end I got some control of myself and kept the ‘deformed’ cubes and chopped the rest of the butter with a slightly less rigorous regiment.’
I still feel very far removed from the level of the Fat Duck kitchens, but have definitely gotten a better understanding of the strict nature of translating these recipes to actual plates of food for paying customers (and a watchful world for that matter). I almost feel like making every recipe a second time to try and get better at this level of cooking (and do a better job on some earlier dishes), though I can safely say that feeling is squashed by the sheer fear of making the dishes again.
So, this is the end result that will have to make due. By the way I didn’t make the Eel Nichi recipe. Reading the introduction I get the feeling it was more of an experiment and going through the ingredients it probably was. I also found almost no information on this dish and wonder if it was ever served at The Fat Duck. I’ll consider making it if someone sends me all the specialty ingredients, but good luck finding them!