Archives for posts with tag: Ember Yard

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You know the joke… from Pulp Fiction…

“Three tomatoes are walking down the street- a poppa tomato, a momma tomato, and a little baby tomato. Baby tomato starts lagging behind. Poppa tomato gets angry, goes over to the baby tomato, squishes him… and says, catch up!” – Mia Wallace [Uma Thurman]

Ember Yard smoked Basque beef burger with idiazabal and chorizo ketchup

Ember Yard smoked Basque beef burger with idiazabal and chorizo ketchup

I was reminded of it this week because there is clearly a ketchup revolution going on. It started with the Ben Tish’s chorizo ketchup before Christmas which literally transformed a rather basic burger into something oh so much better. That then got me thinking about where else I had an alternative ketchup moment. It has certainly featured strongly on Masterchef the Professionals menus with broccoli ketchup created for the UK show this season and shrimp tomato ketchup on the Australian version. Both were made at the mystery box stage when the contents were from the waste bin. It just goes to show how cost effective such a relish can be. Then I went back to our meal at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal and realised that ketchup features strongly on his menu, with both cockle ketchup on the fish main and also mushroom ketchup accompanying all his steaks.

mushroom ketchup

Tomato ketchup started life neither as ketchup nor from tomatoes. In fact it was a Chinese pickled fish sauce called ketsiap which then evolved through Malaysia into ketchap before landing some 200 years or so later into the Heinz version we know of today. The meaty mushroom ketchup is probably more true to the original concept and I guess that’s why Heston chose to focus on that at Dinner which harks back to an historic 18th century recipe. It reminds me of a somewhat senior colleague I used to work with who always had a bottle to accompany every single meal he ate, but I guess under Heston it can be brought back into the 21st century.

Foxlow crop

As if to prove the point, the latest version I tasted was this weekend when we tried the somewhat underwhelming Foxlow restaurant. It is fascinating to wonder why we didn’t get excited about this place. The menu is interesting, the drinks creative, the staff friendly enough and the decor was OK, but somehow the whole experience didn’t connect.

But what did wow was the kimchi ketchup. This little pot of perfection certainly had a kick and was the ideal accompaniment to cut through the fatty meat-centric mains. Talk about finding a ketchup that hits the spot of today’s trends.

We went to newly opened Ember Yard yesterday for lunch.

A blurry pic of the kitchen and Mr Tish at the helm

A blurry pic of the kitchen and Mr Tish at the helm

I have always been a fan of Ben Tish’s food especially at Dehesa. He keeps it simple with good ingredients and nice combinations. His courgette flowers stuffed with goat’s cheese and drizzled with honey is a dish that is truly memorable. Amazing how a small drizzle of honey can transform something.

I have seen him on Saturday Kitchen a few times and can honestly say he is one chef that leaves me wanting to make what he has presented. I replicated his pan-fried hake on the bone with Arbequina olive oil mash, surf clams, chorizo and flat parsley for Mr & Mr Jones to much applause and loved making the Chorizo-stuffed squid with sage, potatoes, peas, capers and aïoli with my niece for dinner one weekend. Both were easy to make and tasty classic combinations.

So I have to say I was excited to see what the impressive Mr Tish was going to do with his new place. As ever, it was Spanish influenced tapas, which is always a good thing but the hook for this new opening is the custom built charcoal grill. It seemed to me that the chef is, as ever, spot on with the concept as this year has to be the year of smokey flavours and simple charcoal cooking.

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The interior was lovely with more vibrancy than some of the other concepts and a nice sense of Spanish colouring.  I really loved the vibrant oil painting covering the main wall, copper lighting and nice mixture of tables supported by pink/red leather seating. There was a buzz in the place and the open kitchen was there for all to see. The lovely Mr Tish was also at the pass taking a hands on approach to his new place.

Anchovies served on a hot coal with a waft of sherry

Anchovies served on a hot coal with a waft of sherry

The menu has may of his classic dishes plus some new ones to showcase the grill. We tried a few of the smokey centred dishes and liked some of the presentation such as these house smoked sherry cask anchovies which were served on the hot coal. The star of the show was the wood roasted gratin of root vegetables, smoked ricotta and idiazabal cream quite simply because it had a strength of smoke which other dishes were missing.

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But the new thing for me, and the interesting fashion which I think will be coming through more and more is the grocery element. Just as that honey brings out the flavour of the goat’s cheese in the courgette flowers, so the chorizo ketchup literally transformed the smoked Basque beef burger. I think alternative ketchups along with other preserves that add a sweetness or heat or indeed sourness are going to be gracing more and more menus. It is the very essence upon which Asian food is based to combine sweet, salty, sour and bitter in perfect partnership but the European style doesn’t tend to pack the punch over all those elements….until now, that is.