The choice of restaurants and bars in London is fantastic, but at times, can seem somewhat overwhelming. It was in this context, last Friday afternoon, that I found myself trawling the Internet for dinner inspiration and came across a Mexican event run by Kitchen Theory.
Kitchen Theory is a collaborative gastronomic project founded by Jozef Youssef, a chef with a great pedigree; The Fat Duck, Helene Darroze at The Connaught, The Dorchester Hotel... He's also written Molecular Gastronomy at Home.
The organisation began as a website aimed at sharing gastronomic knowledge covering topics such as food science, food culture, food history, multisensory flavour perception, neurogastronomy and molecular gastronomy. They now run Central London events that range from experimental dinners through to seminars, workshops and classes.
With a promise of an enjoyable and memorable experience based around culinary appreciation in all its sensory aspects, I went along with my partner, excited about what we would taste, see, hear, touch and smell!
The meal began with some proper corn tortillas with a lovely green salsa of tomatillo, garlic, coriander, a little lime, salt and black pepper. Simple but delicious.
We then went on to 'The holy trinity', an amuse bouche of the 3 essential components of Mexican food; corn, beans and chilli; a delicious cornbread base was topped with sweet corn kernels, cuitlacoche, the 'Mexican truffle' that grows around dead corn plants, chilli oil and a creamy corn reduction. The picture doesn't do it any justice!
Mini blue corn tortillas followed topped with diced nopal (a type of cactus), avocado, and Oaxacan cheese. Little spheres of tomato caviar sat delicately on top masquerading as salmon roe.
'Memories of Oaxaca' came next; tender pieces of grilled octopus served with a lime and epazote dressing alongside a delicious creamy corn and shellfish bisque. I wasn't personally convinced by the medicinal qualities of the epazote, but the octopus was delicious and the creamy soup spot on.
El Chapulin Colorado was the first of 2 insect courses; mini black tortillas came topped with hearts of palm, raw marinated octopus, cucumber, jalapeno a side of cricket, just a small one! More crickets were apparently incorporated into the dish but they weren't at all noticeable. As far as chowing down on an insect goes, it was fine, once the first crunch had passed...
The final savoury dish consisted of tender slices of pink venison loin covered in a wonderful dark mole sauce with a sweet pumpkin mash and crunchy 'burnt' tortillas. Some Mexican spiced ground worm was served alongside, a little sandier than i expected and, for me, didn't add much to what was otherwise a delicious dish.
Dessert, 'vanilla and the bee', was a triumph; a square of moist sponge soaked in delicious sweet honeyed syrup topped with a dulce de leche-esque cream infused with camomile (I think), some bee pollen to the side and a crisp chia seed shard - this was truly delicious and I could have happily devoured the same again.
The meal was educational, lots of fun, delicious and beautifully presented with anthropological stories, art and music separated each inventive course.
Altogether a great night.