Oh Fanatic Kitchen Studio…I just can’t quit you. Ha. Jk. I never tried to quit you.
It’s time for a run down of round 2 of that delightful dining experience – Off Menu. Chefs Peru and Juman had an interesting ingredient combination to tackle this time around with nutmeg and mango being the two selected by the previous audience. Mango, I was excited about, nutmeg…not so much. But as it turns out, I needn’t have worried, because the nutmeg proved to be a very quiet accompaniment to the dishes served, letting mango be the aggressor for this tasting.
The format was switched up a bit from the last time – instead of plated service from beginning to end, the first three dishes were served cocktail style, while guests were invited to mingle and chat over some delicious piña colada creations with just a hint of mango. The first course was probably my favourite morsel of the night – a nutmeg scented chicken in mango summer roll with a nutmeg gastrique. Seriously tried going back for as many of these as possible and eventually got cut off. Something about ‘other guests’. Bah. Humbug.
The next passed item was shrimp poached in zesty nutmeg infused starch water with a pickled mango slaw. I recall really enjoying the slaw up top. It was basically like julienned mango chow. The shrimp, also quite good. I fear though that my palate is not developed enough to distinguish nutmeg flavours, so I can’t comment on what effect, if any, the nutmeg infused starch water had on the overall taste profile.
Next came an item that I think everyone was really looking forward to. Always ones to experiment with new and interesting techniques, the Chefs created a mango chow foam (yes…mango. chow. foam. Let that sink in) topped with nutmeg scented cotton candy. A fleeting but tantalising sensation on your tongue. The mango chow foam was light and tangy, and dissipated almost immediately once you put it in your mouth. As for the cotton candy…well we know that doesn’t last very long either. I won’t lie…I had more than a few of these – I made Chef Peru keep plating mango chow foam under the guise of needing a better picture and oh well, someone had to eat it after the picture was taken right? A really unique and interesting presentation of mango chow, 10/10 would try it again.
The main course was served a little differently from the last time. This time we dined ‘family style’ with all the sides set out on the two tables, and guests free to serve themselves. Sides included roasted cherry tomatoes, string beans, green and white cauliflower, baby carrots and orzo tossed in a parsley pesto. The protein for the entree was phyllo encased striploin with blue cheese and mango, coconut mango curry sauce and nutmeg, balsamic and herb salmon. I can’t say how that tasted because, always the debbie downer, I don’t eat beef. Instead I had nutmeg, balsamic and herb grouper. Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of grouper, so I left quite a bit back on my plate, but the reports around me indicated that the striploin and salmon were delicious. I totally enjoyed the sides, funny enough, and perhaps had more than my fair share of orzo, because that orzo was ah-mah-zing.
To top it all off, the dessert! Oh what a dessert it was – A mango crème brûlée with a mango and nutmeg reduction, fresh brunoise fruit salsa and mint. Delicious. Hands down the best possible way this meal could have ended. You might be saying…”Well that doesn’t look like a crème brûlée! Where’s the caramelisation?” Well…you see… the caramelisation lay under that delightful top layer of mango. The custard was sweet, but not too sweet, with a distinct mango flavour. The fruit salsa was a lovely tangy contrast to the overall sweet notes in the dish. Needless to say if I didn’t have room for this dessert, I found room and cleaned my plate.
And so ended a night of fantastic food and great company. The next signature ingredient will be…wait for it…chocolate! I know there’s some folks who only just perked up reading that. Ha. You’re welcome.