On our eating and drinking extravaganza over the summer, we met the chefs at nearly every restaurant where we dined. Plus, at the end of each meal, we tried to buy a cookbook that we asked the chef to sign as a more lasting memory (and perhaps to help us recreate one of our favorite dishes at home if we were feeling really ambitious).
One of the only exceptions was at the Fat Duck outside of London, where we figured the chef (Heston Blumenthal) was cooking since we had read he’s nearly always in the restaurant, but we didn’t see him. And we opted against buying the cookbook since it cost something like 160 pounds, or a whopping $300. (Most of the other cookbooks we bought were around $60.) After the most expensive meal of our lives, we couldn’t justify spending even more on the book, nice memento though it would be.
So we were totally excited when we read last week that Heston would be signing a less expensive version of his book that had just been released for a much more affordable $50. Jay and I headed after work to the Alessi store in Soho where, champagne in hand, we finally met the man himself and told him the story of how we managed to eat at his restaurant in July due to a fortuitous last-minute cancelation.
He said it was lucky indeed that we arrived on a Saturday because that’s one of the only days when people at the restaurant actually answer the phones — from Monday through Friday the number is reserved for people making reservations, which likely means that the phone will either ring and ring, or you’ll be subjected to an Alice in Wonderland reading for an hour or two (as Jay experienced).
Now that I’ve skimmed through the cookbook, I’m even more excited to see that it includes a recipe for one of my favorite “dishes” at the Fat Duck — the Hot and Iced Tea! Of course, it involves ingredients like gellan, calcium chloride, and malic acid, so we won’t be whipping up any tonight. But perhaps when we have a tasting party later this year with selections from each cookbook…
– by Liz Humphreys, Winederlust Eater in Chief