Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A black and white picture

Today I have mostly eating and thinking in black and white.

In between all those work things I have to do, I have been trying to decide what I want to conjure up for the eighteenth blog party - which is all about black and white and I need to RSVP by tomorrow . I haven’t take part in one of these events before but the idea seems to be to produce some food and drink in keeping with this month’s theme. And this month, when the wonderful Stephanie of Dispensing Happiness suggested “black and white“, I immediately thought that was totally up my boulevard. Well, if the event was only about table decoration this would just be a page from my diary but I had to think about black and white food also. And M’s suggestion to eat whatever I like and take the picture in black and white is not the spirit!
It could have whipped up some little predictable mash potato number, perhaps with some very rich beef dish (like the fabulous daube I had at Le Pont de la Tour which looked almost black) but that‘s too obvious. I guess black olives might have been a good idea, but there only slightly behind tomatoes in my revulsion list and I didn't want to prepare something that I couldn't face eating. I had considered some of my favourite scallop soup with a little caviar flourish as an exotic garnish but it seemed a scallop overload as I'd already decided to see if I could get some fresh scallops for the main feature.

And then of course it was all the decisions regarding crockery. I have black, white, black with white, white with black, black shiny both square and round, black matt, white square, round and with a variety of different rims. Hmm maybe I’ll admit to having a lot of crockery! So decisions, decisions! In the end it was espresso cup and saucer, plate then cappuccino cup and saucer. Particularly odd as I don’t drink coffee!So after due consideration, I got out the black table cloth, the white table runner and napkins, black beaded table mats, the black and white sequinned flowers and then hit the kitchen.

For my starter, with the aid of my trusty shiny Bamix I turned a neat little organic cauliflower into a pale creamy concoction. Though I didn't actually add any cream as I thought my extravagant garnish would be decadent enough. This white onion and cauliflower soup was topped with a few black truffle shavings and served in my new Rosanna “la petite black dress” espresso cups. I’d been hankering for Nigella’s liquorice espresso cups ever since Christmas but they are incredibly tiny (I still really like them though!) and thought these slightly more substantial Rosanna cups would be nice. Though, I should really mention that I don’t really approve of the shameless Franglais range name of “la petite black dress”. Obviously it should be “la petite robe noire” or “the little black dress” not a bizarre mixture of both. But that aside I do rather like these cups, each one is a different black dress and a different phrase written in script in each. I'm using the “femme fatale“ one, there’s also “c’est chic”, “bèbè doll” and again “la petite black dress”. Très chic!
The black truffle wasn’t maybe the most usual accompaniment to the cauliflower, but it was okay.

And then I had some extremely delicious scallops and black pudding on the black damask plates accompanied by a glass of Orange Muscat & Flora sweet white wine.
And in deference to the theme, in a black wine glass! It was either that or Guinness and wild horses wouldn’t persuade to consume stout. I’ve always thought that scallops and black pudding go particularly together, it wasn’t just to fall in with the theme; the translucent sweetness of the scallops is a good foil for the dramatic earthiness of the black pudding. I can assume it’s my Northern roots coming to the fore here as this black pudding came from fine Bury in Lancashire stock (some say home to the black pudding). I suppose I could kind of say “I’m a lassie from Lancashire” though I normally say "Manchester" but I been told by M I should say neither, as I’m actually from Cheshire. The problem with Cheshire is that is used to be famous for two things - one, the perma-smiled cat in Alice in Wonderland or two, the mild white cheese that’s often overlooked in favour of Wensleydale.
But now it’s all about the Cheshire set – the WAGS (wives and girlfriend of highly paid generally England footballers!) spending their days playing golf, in the gym of having their perfectly manicured nails rebuffed at ‘the’ salon of the moment. And is that me? Er no, no and no though I do tend my own talons – Chanel "Noir Ceramic" today in case anyone’s interested! So I’ll stick to saying "Manchester" unless a serious handbag habit forces me to seek a footballer of my very own!

For the finale I plumped for a great new discovery - this rather wonderful white chocolate ice cream that I studded with plump frozen blackberries and blackcurrants. I particularly liked the fact that as the berries defrosted they spread a vibrant purple streak to mingle seductively with the melting white chocolate ice cream. This was seriously fine and was served in my black and white “Baci di dama” Harvey Nix cappuccino cup.
I would never have picked white chocolate ice cream normally as I would always go for Belgian chocolate, raspberry, ginger, mint chocolate chip or strawberry. Also I’ve never been a massive fan of white chocolate per se but it works incredibly well in an ice cream, I guess the inherent vanilla characteristic of good white chocolate really shines in an ice cream.

Clearly I’ve been more than eating black and white today; I’ve also been living it. I unintentionally dressed in black and white this morning; I can only assume it was the subliminal thoughts that drew me to that selection but nevertheless am I well coordinated with my table and the food?
Thank you Stephanie for organising this; I had great fun pondering some sort of liquorice allsorts creation or cod with vanilla or even squid with some sort of squid ink sauce. Thinking of squid ink I considered making some stripy pasta. I would leave half the pasta dough plain and dye the other half with squid ink. I would then cut the black pasta width into fettuccine and then lay the strands on the rolled out white plain pasta. The resultant creation is re-fed through the pasta machine and hey presto, stripy pasta! It looks totally fantastic as say an open ravioli. But I promised to make MC and D some fresh pasta to prove that the so-called finest abomination we had on New Year’s Day is not really how fresh pasta should taste and as they’re staying this weekend, I decided to hold off.

If you want to read how everyone fared in the latest blogging party escapade, check Stephanie's round-up here.

I think my little black and white heart has been sated tonight and tomorrow I might add a bit of colour to my food again!


Brilynn said...

Very impressive! And your dishes are great.

Elle said...

You have the best photo at the party and the scallops and black pudding is not only a lovely photo but sounds wonderful to eat. I'm envious of your array of black and white plates, cups, etc. and amazed at the perfect way you combine them with the foods. Does the white chocolate ice cream come with the blackberries and currants?
Don't feel bad about the Manchester - Cheshire thing. My son was born in Berkeley, CA but said he was born in Boston, MA because he said Berkeley people were too weird. We moved from there when he was 4, so he only saw it when we visited and I guess it does have a nickname of Bezerkeley.
Hope to see you at the February Blog Party.

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