Attending a chocolate masterclass with Gerard Coleman at the Dublin Cookery School is really one of the nicer Saturday things to do.
Irish-born Gerard is the founder of the London-based and highly regarded Artisan du Chocolat. He’s one of the very few chocolatiers in Ireland and the UK who produces chocolate from bean to bar, and his wares have won the praises of such cheffing luminaries as Gordon Ramsay and Heston Blumenthal. I also happen to think that his chocs are rather good, so you don’t just have to take their word for it.
The masterclass was not only an opportunity to see Gerard at work, but was also a window into the world of quality versus not-so-quality chocolate. Gerard observed that while Irish consumption of chocolate is one of the highest in Europe, we don’t necessarily have a palate for the high quality stuff. Much of what is sold here, even at the fancier end of the market, actually uses the same base chocolate from a very high volume industrial production house. So most of the chocolates we buy essentially taste the same. We are not tuned into the fact that different chocolates can actually taste different, not because they have been flavoured differently, but because they taste different in and of themselves. It was food, and chocolate, for thought.
Gerard Coleman: artisan at work
And so, for those of you who have been following along, my Project Food Blog
odyssey has come to an end. The world, it seems, was not ready for boiled boxty
. That, in my humble opinion, is their loss. Now, though, it’s high time I returned you to your regularly scheduled Spud programming where, this week, Spud goes Indian…
People who follow the recipe to the last word are the most boring people. Use your instincts. Chefs may have created combinations which (they think) are fantastic but you, you create your own fantastic.
I scribbled furiously. Those words just uttered by Atul Kochhar were words to cook by.
I had been waiting a long time for my date with the Michelin-starred Indian chef, but last weekend’s one day course with Atul at the Dublin Cookery School was worth every minute of that wait.
In truth, the menu for the day, which included naan bread, pulao rice, dal, lamb rogan josh, homestyle chicken curry and mango chutney, sounded like bog-standard Indian restaurant fare. And that may have seemed, to some at least, to be at odds with the chef’s Michelin stardom. But to think that was to miss the point. Absorb what the man had to say about spices and oils, about onions, garlic, ginger and lentils, and you could begin to make that Indian menu your own.
Clockwise from top left:
assorted spices; homestyle chicken curry; bombay aloo; fresh mango chutney;
Centre: the chef himself
It’s a conspiracy. No doubt about it. A conspiracy I tell you.
The fact of the matter is that London-based Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar is being thwarted in all of his attempts to meet me.
First, it was the January snow that scuppered travel from the UK and resulted in the cancellation of Atul’s one day course at the Dublin Cookery School, which I was due to attend. Then it was the preponderance of volcanic ash in the airspace hereabouts that meant he was unable to travel for the rescheduled date this weekend.
Much admired for his masterful use of spices, I had really hoped, by now, to be in a position to reveal Atul’s thoughts on the subject of spices for spuds, but there are forces at work that have determined otherwise. Perhaps it is the case that Atul is simply not ready to meet me yet – it’s a naturally big step in any chef’s career – but I rather fancy he can handle it.
And so, while I wait to hear of a new date for my tuition in the ways of Indian spicing, I content myself with using Atul’s rather wonderful book, Indian Essence, as my spicy guide. These potatoes with cashew nuts are a great example of where that can lead. Continue reading