Cooking for the critics - Luxurious Langoustines
The next challenge we faced was cooking for the critics. I was daunted... I had only made my 'ultimate starter' once before so I knew I was taking a gamble. But my husband loved it so I went with my gut and his approval!
This dish was inspired by a skiing trip last year - one evening, after a frost bitten day in the snow, we trundled into an unassuming restaurant in Val d'Isere called 1798. Food in ski resorts is usually like food in airports - serves a purpose but rarely excites. But not 1798.
For starter we had eggs baked in cream with morels and prawns. While the dish looked rustic, I was blown away by how these ingredients worked so well together - magic. I had never thought of combining prawns, egg and mushrooms like this but it felt like a forgotten classic. I find the same thing happens with music - when it's really good you could swear you'd heard it before.
The original dish had killer flavour and taste but I wanted to create something more luxurious. This is not a recession friendly dish!
Langoustines provided delicate softness and wild mushrooms added substance and shape. The quail's egg created a velvety, rich texture and flavour, while the truffle enhanced the flavours of the mushroom. A rich sauce made from fish stock and vermouth, enriched with cream brought the flavours of the dish together.
All that was needed now was soakage. In a more rustic setting crusty bread would have fit the bill but for fine dining a silky pasta was just the ticket - so I settled on papardelle...
While the taste was right, there were problems with this dish - not least the fact that I would have to prepare sufficient pasta for 12 people and shell a heck of a lot of langoustines! I threw caution to the wind and found myself seriously up against it on the night. Even now I can't believe I actually managed to shell 50 langoustine and prepare pasta for 12 people in the time available- my hands were bleeding from shelling!
Fortunately, my gamble on the dish paid off and the critics enjoyed it. Phew - the ski trip saved the day!
The recipe for this dish is available here.