Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Last supper and testament

I've been flicking through Heston Blumenthal's long awaited book (well by me, anyway) that arrived in the post today from It is certainly a fascinating book but wouldn't necessarily make me cry "bring your sharpest Global knife and a chopping board; I'm must cook this now!" It's not really that sort of book, it is more for considered study and absorbing and I'm sure they'll be plenty to learn from the maddest of mad professors. However I can't really see myself in the kitchen wearing goggles or decked out like I should really be inserting some nuclear fuel rods into a lead lined canister, maybe that's just a tad too macho for me!

Heston does pose an interesting question in his forward. He validated the use of 'perfection' in his book title and explained that he's not claiming his food is perfect because he's got three Michelin stars and won Restaurant magazine's 'best restaurant in the world' but that his quest for the perfect exponent of whatever dish he's dissecting compels him to further investigation no matter how fine the cuisine. He says that when asked to compose a last supper menu generally people don't opt for Alain Ducasse's tasting menu but simply roast chicken or a burger. He does qualify this with a reference to an entry in Scott’s “Food and Drink” listing the death row meals of previous inhabitants but acknowledges that the demographics of that group may influence the choices and also quotes Anthony Bourdain as saying he likes to play the game of pondering ultimate last supper dishes with his fellow chefs. And this all got me thinking, what would I select for my last supper?

Well firstly as it's the last supper, I guess you can be as indulgent as you want, there's no holding back!

Hmmm, okay I'd start with a little amuse gueule of the most perfect chicken liver parfait and bread. For my fish course would be a piece of smoked haddock on top of a creamy risotto topped by a poached egg. I might even have the poached egg inside a fresh ravioli after my recent successful quest to track down and recreate that recipe. I'm not sure it will work - the pasta and the risotto but I'd like to have them both anyway, if it's my last meal I won't have to have it again if it doesn't work! For my main course it would have to be a juicy rare steak, I've been toying with Tournedos Rossini but that may be overkill but I may swing towards Beef Wellington. I'd have both mash and gratin dauphinoise as I'd never be able to choose between them and also purple sprouting broccoli, leeks and cauliflower cheese. I'd probably be full to bursting by now but it is my last ever meal so I'd battle on to the cheese. They'd be the most perfect Brie and Flower Marie and some more bread. Finally there'd be a melting middle chocolate pudding and some raspberries. And of course I would finish with a wafer thin mint or two!

The problem with trying to choose your favourite meal is like Rob’s quandary of trying to select his top ten records of all time in “High Fidelity”. You know that tomorrow you'll have a new favourite and will want to rewrite the entire list again. So I guess it’s like a last will and testament; it needs occasional revisiting and updating. Obviously I hope that I won’t ever need to choose a final meal and if I was ever given a limited time to live I would hope I was able to embark on a Bacchanalian orgy of consumption. Or I could just eat fabulous meals every day – hmmm, if only!

I can’t have a photograph of my perfect last supper as I haven’t had it yet but I thought I’d put in a photo of ‘a’ perfect last supper from the estimable OFM (Observer Food Monthly) from way back in November 2003 taken by John Reardon. Can you imagine having a last supper with this lot, it would be totally amazing!

And I love the way that a ripe Brie was casually flung across the table at the moment the camera went ‘click’ giving Gordon Ramsay the immaculate cheesy halo! Just perfect!

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