Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Bob Bob Ricard, Soho

Vodka shot glass

I know naff all about alcohol. When it comes to booze, I have the taste of a thirteen year old girl - apparently I am the only person left on the planet who still thinks Archers and lemonade an acceptable order. In fact for a very, very, very long time, the closest I got to a drop was an Asda Rum Baba.

So when I'm kindly invited to a complimentary Sunday Roast and Vintage Vodka Tasting at Bob Bob Ricard by
Kavey from Kavey Eats and one of the owners, Leonid Shutov, unlike 90% of the other guests, I'm genuinely only in it for the food.

BBR coasters

Bob Bob Ricard, so called because Bob (aka Leonid) put up 2/3 of the investment and Ricard (aka Richard Howarth) put up 1/3, is tucked away off Brewer Street in Soho. It's an absolutely stunning restaurant - like a technicolour cruise ship - but somehow manages to stay on the right side of OTT.

We sit down at the table where some teeny vodka glasses have been laid at each place-setting. Leonid has joined us to guide us through the tasting.

Vodka shot glass #2

He explains to us that vodka isn't meant to taste of anything in particular and is in fact downed neat as a heat-delivery system in cold climes such as Russia and Poland.

It also serves to sharpen the tastebuds like the ultimate palate cleanser - first you take a swig and then you eat the accompanying zakuski.

Jellied Ox Tongue with Creamed Horseradish


First up on the menu is the Kauffman Special Selected Vintage 2006 vodka which comes with Jellied ox tongue with creamed horseradish.

The Kauffman is a bit like being smashed in the face by an angel. I like it. I like the jellied ox tongue more. Despite having certain fanciful Medieval aspirations, I've never had anything in aspic before and it turns out it's ruddy good - like a posh version of the jellied bits of a pork pie.

Russian salt-cured Herring, raw onion rings and new potatoes

The second vodka is Stolichanaya Elit served with Russian salt-cured Herring, raw onion rings and new potatoes.

It's good but not as ethereal as the Kauffman and it makes the herring taste weirdly sweet. Followed swiftly by a bite of raw onion and potato however, it all begins to make sense.

Salmon Roe On Hard Boiled Quail's Egg

Next up is Imperia by Russian Standard served with Salmon roe on hard-boiled quail eggs. Decreed by Czar Alexander III in 1894 as “The Standard of Vodka” for the royal court of Russia, this is actually not half as interesting as the first two.

The double egg treat is fabulous though - I adore keta caviar anyway but combined with quail's eggs, I could pop dozens of these beauties in my mouth as if they were jewelled sweets.

Chicory, Pear And Cured Ham Salad with Olive Oil Jelly Cubes, Almonds and Olive Oil dressing

An interlude now as we get stuck into some of the other zakuski dishes. There's Chicory, pear and cured ham salad, with olive oil jelly cubes, almonds and olive oil dressing.

This is stunning but does not quite live up to expectations, though the jelly cubes are fun and more than merely decorative.

Wafer Thin Cured Orkney Beef with a Crunchy Celeriac Salad, Fresh Blueberries and Roasted Hazelnuts

Wafer-thin cured Orkney beef with a crunchy celeriac salad, fresh blueberries and roasted hazelnuts is much more successful.

Salty beef, peppery celeriac and zesty blueberries are a harmonious match in texture as well as flavour.

Wafer Thin Pickled Beetroot and Goats Cheese Salad

Wafer-thin pickled beetroot and goat’s cheese salad with fresh mint makes me unhappy - but then goat's cheese always makes me unhappy.

The slivered beetroot is beautifully sweet and zingy though and I pick it off and eat it by itself like a Philistine.

Potted Shrimp, Baby Watercress, Croutons, Lemon

The Potted Shrimp, Baby Watercress, Croutons, Lemon is outstanding.

Buttery shrimps spiced delicately with cayenne and nutmeg, savoury and comforting, I'm loth to share this with the others.

Quail's Egg Mayonnaise with Anchovies

More vodka now. The Beluga Noble Vodka is served with Quail eggs mayonnaise with anchovies.

This is Leonid's favourite zakuski and the salty-sweet combination of flavours works well.

Meat Pelmeni

Meat Pelmeni comes with Beluga Gold Line Vodka.

You know, by now I have genuinely lost interest in the vodka (Philistine, remember?) and am focused on dunking the fat dumplings in vinegar and soured cream and jamming the gorgeous, meaty parcels in my mouth.

Salo on Rye Bread

Stolichnaya Gold Vodka is served with Salo on Rye bread. Salo is basically the same as lardo. I have to admit that much as I love fat generally, I'm unimpressed by the greasy mouthfeel and absence of any real flavour.

Moreover, the Stoli is harsher than the preceding vodkas so this is my least favourite pairing.

Sipsmith and Malosol Cucumbers

Sipsmith Vodka is the only English vodka we try. I rather like this although oddly it tastes a lot like gin (ironic considering).

It comes with lightly home-pickled Malosol cucumbers which I adore for their addictive crunch and tang.

BBR Sunday Roast

I'm flagging by now, but next comes copper pans of Sunday roast rib of 28-day aged Aberdeenshire Scotch beef, Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, caramelised carrots and parsnips.

It's bloody brilliant, especially the flowerpot shaped Yorkshire pud but I can barely make a dent.

BBR Dessert Menu

Thankfully, we have separate dessert stomachs (or something like that) and so after a bit of bickering we all order different sweets so we can try as many as possible.

We also order the signature Rhubarb G&T - these are heavenly.

Grand Marnier soufflé with chopped fresh orange in a Grand Marnier sauce
Bramley And Cox Apple Jelly with Cream, Corrugated Apple and Shortbread


So for puds we have: Grand Marnier soufflé with chopped fresh orange in a Grand Marnier sauce - tangy and fluffy.

Bramley and Cox apple jelly with cream, corrugated apple and shortbread - the jelly tastes like the purest cloudy apple juice and the shortbread melts into a sugary kiss. This is by far my favourite.

Warm Chocolate FondantRaspberry Sherry Trifle

Warm chocolate fondant with pistachio ice cream is perfectly judged, gooey cocoa joy.

Raspberry sherry trifle is well made but not particularly inspiring, although I'm awfully impressed by the generous smattering of hundreds and thousands.

Plate Of BBR Cakes

And last but not least is the Plate of BBR cakes comprising Battenberg, Victoria Sandwich, Rum Baba (Rum Baba! Rum Baba!), Cream Horn, Raspberry and Custard tart.

This wondrous platter makes me feel like a six year old - it's all so vibrant, I half expect them to jump one by one into my mouth Young Sherlock Holmes style.

Green Tea at BBR

And finally a pot of green tea is ordered to wrap things up - a very genteel way to end a delightful and rather fun meal.

I do like Bob Bob Ricard. And I still need to push that button.

Champagne Button at Bob Bob Ricard

Bob Bob Ricard
1-3 Upper James Street
London W1F 9DF
020 3145 1000
www.bobbobricard.com


Bob Bob Ricard on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Gaby's Deli, Charing Cross Road

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UPDATE 28/09/2011: Gaby's Deli has been threatened with closure - join the campaign to stop this happening at Save Gaby's Deli and sign the petition HERE.

I’ve just taken part in pudfest, but I’m still feeling grouchy and hungry. I pootle towards the Chandos near Charing Cross where the hubby and four friends are meeting me. They look wan and I ask what they’ve had to eat and they say, “Nothing - they stopped serving food at 7”.

“Ridiculous” I say, and I sigh and produce from my magic handbag a couple of prune and armagnac macarons which I’d bought earlier from Comptoir Gascon.

They pounce on them and, wiping the sugary crumbs from his face, the journo friend says, “This foodie thing you do is quite good, isn’t it?”

I smile at him fondly and then get up and say, “Right, that won’t sustain you - we’re off to Gaby’s”.

The civil servant friend says, "That's why I love doing things with you, MiMi - you always make sure we eat properly".

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Now Gaby’s on Charing Cross Road is what they call an institution. It’s been there since the beginning of time as far as I know and yet somehow, shamefully I’d never been (though the journo is a veteran).

Though it’s ten o’clock at night, I’m sure it’s still open and yes, wedged in the front door is a cheerful guy wearing a cycle helmet covered in 12 flashing red lights who waves merrily at us as we walk in.

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We sit at a large table right at the back and stare at the two identical framed photos of Matt Damon before having a look at the menu.

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I’m going for the legendary salt beef special, the husband is having falafel, the journo is having a bottle of red wine (seriously), and the others are having goulash, meatballs and a chicken kebab.

It’s not long before these enormous platters start winging their way towards us. And you know what - it’s all startlingly good (can’t speak for the wine though). It’s the very first time I’ve seen the point of falafel and that salt beef is juicy yet crumbly - pure bovine joy.

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I’m especially taken with their chilli sauce though - a rich, spicy, tomatoey concoction which I dollop liberally onto everything - and even onto my companions’ plates as they look slightly askance (hell, they should be used to me by now).

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Despite the vast portions, I'm happily wolfing everything down and finally I push myself away from the table and sigh. But suddenly a member of staff appears with a grin and a plate, saying, "These are on the house".

"These" are squares of carrot cake, whimsically garnished with squirty cream. As comically enticing as they look, I really can't face another bite, but once more my friends swoop and once more they give the thumbs up.

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So it's late and we're stuffed and we're happy. Time to wend our way home, but before we do, I ask the guy at the counter, "Will you sell me some of your chilli sauce?".

He looks surprised and says, "No, I won't - but I'll give you some" and he ladles the spicy nectar into a huge lidded, poiystyrene cup before wrapping it carefully for me in a paper bag.

I'm giddy. Good times at Gaby's.

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Gaby's Deli
30 Charing Cross Road
London
WC2H 0DE
020 7836 4233


Gaby's on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Sakana Tei, Maddox Street

Chirashi Sushi

I've been meaning to go to Sakana Tei for what seems like aeons.

I'd read good things about it on a blog called Food for Stomach, which I'd followed avidly until one day it was made private - "for invited readers only".

I was too embarrassed to ask for access, but I never forgot the vivid pictures and descriptions, so when I found myself on Regent Street, I made a beeline for Sakana Tei.


Sakana Tei counter

First impressions were very promising.

Japanese clientele, check. Itamae at the bar, check. That intense smell of dashi, pickles and fried goodness that brings a natsukashii tear to my eyes, check.

As soon as I sat down, a cup of complementary green tea appeared. I browsed the set lunch menu and, though tempted by the lot, I went for the chirashi teishoku as it came with dobin mushi which I can never get enough of.


Dobin Mushi and Appetizer

The appetiser was a nimono dish of squishy fried tofu, daikon, carrot and green beans, lightly simmered in stock.

Sweet, light and juicy, this was a refreshing, well-judged start.

Dobin Mushi insides

The dobin mushi was equally delicious. A teapotful of consomme packed with flavour and bits of goodness to fish out like naruto fishcake, ginko nut and shimeji mushroom.

I dearly missed having a wedge of lime to squeeze over the top though.

Condiments

First course done, I eagerly awaited my chirashizushi whilst fiddling with the nanami togarashi and sansho pepper pots in front of me.

Occasionally I'd perk up as I recognised the odd word in Japanese. I'm trying to learn but it's going quite slowly - pretty much all I can decipher is food terms and numbers.

I didn't really mind waiting as I could watch the itamae at work, but every time a dish of gem-like morsels flashed past me to another punter, little pangs of disappointment stabbed me.

After about twenty minutes, it was finally my turn and boy, was it a sight for sore eyes.

Chirashi Sushi

I counted at least 12 different types of sashimi including salmon, octopus, squid, ebi, tobiko, some medium fatty tuna, mackerel. There were also lashings of gari (sushi ginger), shiso (perilla leaf) and some tamago roll and even crabstick for luck.

The fish was all sparklingly fresh and disappeared in moments. The omelette was less sugary sweet than usual and provided nice contrast.

The only disappointment was the octopus which was jaw-achingly rubbery. The sushi rice was pleasingly tangy, but there was just too much of it and I worried that I'd be struck down for leaving so much (it's offensive to leave even a grain of rice).

As I ate, the grey-haired Japanese gentleman who had greeted me upon entry came up to me and apologised profusely for the wait. This unnerved me a little - I wondered if he was merely being polite or thought that solo diner me was a restaurant critic (imagine).

Anyway, I finished my meal and I went up to pay said gentleman at the front desk. He looked at me warmly and suddenly stuck out his hand and squeezed me gently on the arm, saying "I really am very sorry. I hope you come back".

Somehow this didn't feel like an invasion of personal space - in fact I felt a foolish grin suffusing my entire face which stayed as I walked out the door.

That's natsukashii for you. I miss Japan.

Sakana Tei frontage

Sakana Tei
11 Maddox Street
London W1S 2QF
020 7629 3000

Sakana-Tei on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 8 April 2010

MasterChef Final 2010 - Part 3 (TV Review)

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Sorry this is late - at the end of last night’s episode, I actually exploded into 27,000,000 overwrought little pieces and have had to be reassembled by a crack-force of technicians into a mere vestige of my former staggering beauty.

It's finally the final final of MasterChef - those first two were massive red herrings. We have a flashback to previous MasterChef winners to see how they've fared - I shall call them Curly, Curly, Ming.

Tommi Miers is now squadron leader of Mexican chain Wahaca (*cough* Oaxaca), James "I hated being a lawyer and now I'm a surfer" Nathan now works at Padstein's and my favourite Mat Follas is living the dream running The Wild Garlic in Dorset. Where are Peter Bayless (2006) and Steven Wallis (2007)? We love you Stevo!

Voiceover lady begins her aural onslaught "Tonight Droooov, Alex or Tim will be CROWNED MasterChef champion". Seriously, India love, I think we already established there is no crown - just a crappy trophy based on the @ symbol.

GREGG FACE! "I can’t separate these three right now"
JOHN FACE! "Never before has a competition been so close"

FINALIST SOUNDBITES!
“There's no grey area, you either win or lose” (Hard-talking Dhruv)
“I want that little bit more. I want to win this” (Dr Gina G, I mean, Tim)
“Whoever cooks the best today is going to win” (Master of the obvious, Alex)

SOBSTORIES!

Except, pish, there are no sobstories here. They’re all really nice-seeming, well-balanced folks.

Tim Kinnaird is a consultant paediatrician in Norwich with a lovely wife and cute sproglings who wants to open a local, family-style restaurant with an emphasis on cakes. He's impressed with elegant and technical dishes, but hasn’t always hit the mark.

Ahh Perpetuum Mobile, our old friend, begins the tale of South Londoner Dhruv Baker. An uber-funky shot of his ma and pa and we hear how, inspired by his beautiful mother Uma Thurman (who looks better than she has for years), Dhruv has been cooking since he was in the womb. Dhruv loves feeding his friends and family and excels at fusion dishes, but can give himself too much to do (don’t cry, Dhruv). Aww, now Mrs Dhruv is crying too :(

Occasionally-bearded Alex Rushmer is a freelance writer in the beautiful Cambridge countryside who lives with his girlfriend Charlotte. "I cook and then I write about what I cooked" (massive blog plug AWOOGA AWOOGA). His modern and truly experimental style is memorable ("AAAAAAAAAAAH!" belches Torode in approval), but can often divide the crowd.

BACK TO BASICS:

We're going right back to the Invention Test - the challenge which sorted the wheat from the chaff at the very beginning (a bit like Ready Steady Cook). The random list of ingredients are rack of lamb, langoustine, spinach, pears, chillis, jerusalem artichoke, lemon sole, anadin, blu tack, witchazel … I dunno, voiceover lady speaks too fast.



Slide1


Tim has made fish soup with langoustine tails, and pan-fried fillet sole served with rouille.
Gregg says it looks "absolutely lovely", but I'm getting orange flashbacks of Andy Oliver's 2009 seabass dish.

After tasting, he says “Sweet almost caramel sweetness, but too watery” and John agrees that though it tastes absolutely fantastic “there's nothing to hold onto” (NO, John. Do NOT offer to pull Tim off again).



Slide2



Dhruv's dish is roasted rack of lamb, spinach spiced with fenugreek, celeriac puree with cardamon and chilli, spiced poached pears, and a red wine and lamb jus.

Gregg says the fenugreek against the lamb is delightful, but opines the pear an unnecessary step. Torode flat-out contradicts him by saying the lamb is soft, the spinach full of flavour and that the pear is a risk that has paid off so the whole dish works really well.

Suck on that, Gregg.


Slide3



Alex has made mustard-crusted lamb with Dauphinoise potatoes, spinach, glazed carrots, Jerusalem artichoke puree and a sauce made from the lamb juices.

John says the vegetable side is all perfect, but the lamb which was undercooked is now overcooked and the sauce has split: “I like it, but it's not right”. Gregg says "It's a greasy finish". And then says something about the food too.

The two judges withdraw to deliberate, cogitate and digest (off-topic - I had no idea Loyd Grossman was American when I was a kid - I thought he was simple) or at least to sit opposite cameras in completely different rooms to pretend to discuss what just transpired.

"There is mistakes throughout their cooking" says Gregg, and then he sums up their strengths thus:

Dhruv = Asian spicing, great fusion food
Tim = Everything cooked almost to perfection
Alex = Presentation very good - best thought-out plate

John says "F*ck it, let’s send them to Europe!"


Slide5
The boys get teleported to Europe



FRANCE!

Tim's off to Alsace, northern France to study under Chef Marc Haeberlin at his restaurant, l’Auberge de l'Ill.


Slide6



ITALY!

Alex is off to Le Calandre in Rubano, Italy to cook with Chef Massimiliano Alajmo.


Slide7


HOLLAND!

Lastly, Dhruv is studying under Jonnie Boer at De Librije in Zwolle, Holland.


Slide8
Schtop! This beer is not ready yet


John, stuck in a studio somewhere in London, says "There’s no way they’re not going to be nervous, BUT they have to hold their nerve". Yeah, thanks for that.

FRANCE AGAIN!

l’Auberge de l'Ill was opened 170 yrs ago by Haeberlin’s grandfather (do those dates work? Shome mishtake surely?). It’s held 3 Michelin stars for 42 yrs and some original dishes still appear.

Tim’s task is to recreate cotelet du pigeon with truffle and cabbage. This apparently requires absolute precision and the wearing of a jaunty cap.

Slide9



Chef Haeberlin is mighty impressed as a woman with compound eyes declares that Tim’s pigeon “smells and tastes very good”. His verdict “you can stop medicine and begin cooking hurr hurr hurr”

ITALY AGAIN!

Le Calandre has been renowned for its reimaginings of traditional meals for three generations and Chef Alajmo achieved 3 Michelin stars at the tender age of 28. Alex is there to make grilled rabbit sandwich with mozzarella spaghetti, aubergine sorbet, oregano caper sauce. The sorbet is made using liquid nitrogen, making it “taste more like an aubergine than an aubergine”.

Alex says of the dish “it’s like a symphony, it’s so well composed”.

I’m wondering if we’re looking at the same thing, cos the dish I’m looking at is:

(a) fugly and (b) not a sandwich.


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Fugly


But it's okay, a robotic-sounding woman says “Very, very good and tender. Eggplant sorbet very, very nice”.

HOLLAND AGAIN!

This place must be magical cos the pseudo Danny Elfman music has begun.

The brutishly sex-ay Johnny Ball and his wife Therese are so adamant that the produce at their 3 Michelin star gaff reaches exacting standards that they have a glasshouse complex stuffed with microherbs and suchlike.

Jonnie says “Everybody who comes in the restaurant gets a little ice cream” and shoves it into Dhruv’s mouth before he knows what’s hit him. Then he tells Dhruv to smell the cheese, before giving him the daunting task of making his complex interpretation of crab and shrimp cocktail.


Slide11


These guys are deadly serious - Dhruv is even made to check crabmeat under ultraviolet light to make sure there are no bits of shell left. Please tell me I’m not the only person to have lewd thoughts at this point.

Next Dhruv preps wild rice to look like the soil in the glasshouse - it reminds me of Heston’s edible garden. I want.


Slide12
Don't headbutt the salad, Dhruv


It’s fiddly and meticulous work but Jonnie is pleased that Dhruv’s working well “you say it once and he does it”. Grrrrr.

Dhruv’s dish dubbed “Cocktails and Dreams” is going to a customer even scarier than Tim’s Flywoman or Alex’s Terminator - 2 Michelin Star holder Russell T Davies. Russell is happy though and says the dish is “really sexy and gives him goosehair” O_o

Slide13
This man destroyed David Tennant


And now - Tim, Alex and Dhruv have to recreate a signature dish from each restaurant.

FRANCE AGAIN AGAIN!

Tim’s making Haeberlin’s best-known pudding of pork pie, mash, baked beans and parsley.

Slide14


No, apparently I’m wrong, it’s warm chocolate mousse in thin filo pastry shell, caramelised mango and vanilla ice cream sprinkled with pistachio pieces.

It’s not attractive.

Slide15


Haeberlin gives the thumbs up though - it’s “perfect, not too sweet, sure you will win, hurr hurr hurr” and declares Tim “very clever and very talented seems to have been cooking for years and years”.

ITALY AGAIN AGAIN!

Alex has to impress Chef Alajmo and his brother Raphael with his interpretation of their saffron risotto sprinkled with liquorice root powder.

Slide16


It looks like a dainty sick, but Alajmo says “you understand what it means for me this dish; you can work with us”.

So that’s good then.

HOLLAND AGAIN AGAIN!

Dhruv has to make the irritatingly named and constructed “2 dimensions 2 spaces” - a salad of white fish cooked four ways with pickled mushrooms and baby vegetables.

Slide18


Jonnie and his wife take some Dutch Courage (boom boom), before saying that it’s exactly the same as what they serve in their restaurant.

Slide17


Therese says “You were born to be a cook, it’s in your blood, you can see it”.

Then a gaggle of urchins are coerced into clapping for Dhruv as he leaves the restaurant.

Slide19


FINALLY, THE FINAL ROUND. I’M NOT SH!TTING YOU. IT ACTUALLY IS.

DRAMATIC WALKING!


Gregg and John are released from their carers to shout “Right now, 3 plates of food divide you from MasterChef title - let’s cook!”

Alex’s final three dishes:

I’ve finally managed to work out what my style is. Classic dishes with a modern interpretation


  • Pheasant saltimbocca, beet leaves, sage, beetroot jus and spheres of butternut squash

  • Loin of venison, porcini, celeriac chips, braised red cabbage

  • Pear and star anise tarte tatin with blue cheese ice cream and walnut and tobacco brittle

Gregg is uber-excited about this culinary magical mystery ride.

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The pheasant has extraordinary flavour and the sage brings it alive - it’s really tasty, really lovely, and the sweetness of butternut and beetroot is an interesting combination.

The venison has appropriate beefiness, creaminess and softness and other words that make me throw up a little in my mouth when I hear Gregg utter them, but for John the balance is not quite there and the sauce too sweet .

Gregg dubs the “tatatan” absolutely delicious, but his reaction to the blue cheese ice cream is “Please no”. John says, “Your tarte tatin is just lovely, but the salty cold cheese ice cream does detract from what is otherwise good”.

Hmmmm.

Dhruv’s final three dishes:

I’ve got to show that I’m worthy of that title; everything I’ve learnt will be on those three plates of food. Maybe I need more than friends and family saying I can cook very well”.

  • Saffron and ginger poached lobster tail with celeriac purée on blanched fennel with a beurre noisette foam

  • Venison with a potato, brunoise and fenugreek crust, sugar glazed carrots on a carrot and cumin puree, confit chestnuts and a venison jus

  • A trio of desserts poached pear in sauterne and star anise, masala chai ice cream and a chocolate truffle with a pistachio topping



Dhruv's starter in the Final (copyright BBC/SHINE LIMITED)
Dhruv's main in the Final (copyright BBC/SHINE LIMITED)
Dhruv's dessert in the Final (copyright BBC/SHINE LIMITED)


Gregg is knocked out by the warmth of the ginger and mellow flavour of celeriac “I love it, love it, it’s gorgeous”. John simpers “This is v v accomplished cooking”

As for the venison, John feels everything on the plate is beautifully cooked and really lovely, but as a whole needs more oomph. Gregg says it looks fantastic “like a piece of pop art” but despite its spangly looks it’s again “a subtle dish”.

Then it all goes soft focus, and slow jazz starts up, as Gregg suddenly confesses to Dhruv ”I don’t know where you’re going with this, but I’m rapidly falling in love with you”

F*cksocks.

RUNNNNNNNNNNNN DHRUV RUNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN.

But Dhruv doesn’t run - instead he feeds them some pudding which is one sure-fire way to get Gregg to shut up.

Except Gregg’s ardour is far too powerful to be dampened and he’s now saying words like “very exciting” and “sticky cocoa”.

Thankfully John chips in at this point “Although stone cold, the whole thing left me with warmth on my palate. The whole thing looks stunning. The whole thing, I love it”.

I think they liked it.

Tim’s final three dishes:

I’m going to go for it, show I can cook worthy of a winner - it’s still core Tim food, just a bit better at it now

  • Open lasagne of butternut squash and wild mushrooms and sage

  • Roast pheasant, Savoy cabbage, pommes anna, bread sauce, and sloe gin and blackberry and quince jellies (uh-OH)

  • Mont Blanc, chestnut puree, pear poached in coffee


(all three of his dishes are truly stunning)

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They love the beautiful textures of the lasagne, the woodiness of mushroom, the sweet pumpkin - it’s elegant, sophisticated and moreish.

As for the pheasant, Gregg says it’s fantastic and beautiful and what really makes it different is the flavour bursting out of those (successful) jellies. John’s raving about the beautiful buttery bits and finally decides “I want to sit there and eat the rest of it right now”.

Gregg thinks the dessert is stunning and fundamentally fantastic, though there are a couple of little things he would tweak and change.
John is less happy - he says ”that coffee and those pears are extremely strong; the coffee is a mistake. But the skill that has gone in should be applauded - I think it’s extraordinary”.

And then Gregg and John retreat to their cave to sling rocks at each other/decide who will win the title.

FINAL VERDICTS FROM THE GESTALT ENTITY THAT IS GRORODE:

I am really proud of these three - they excelled - all created great textures and flavours

Alex is one of the bravest – really daring, extraordinary style

(cut to Alex saying “Winning the title would be the icing on the cake but I still have the cake” - I don’t know what that means exactly, but it sounds adorable).

Tim is truly delivering great, great food - his main course set my toes on fire - such style - such precision

For crying out loud - Dhruv’s food is just pffffffffffffff” (at this point Gregg deflates like a ragged balloon or Phil Mitchell - but it’s a positive gesture, genuinely).
That’s three of the nicest dishes I have ever had
Tasted amazing - little touches there that I think were brilliant

ME:

I’m sitting there going Drooooooooooooooov partly because I want him to win and partly because it’s by far the best name for chanting.

My mum’s going “Oh, you know he won’t win, don’t you? Everyone on telly is racist. Inherently so. Remember what happened with that nice Hardeep Singh Koli?”

I’m batting her away like that will make any difference to the outcome.

The music builds, I can feel myself going redder and redder.

I might actually pass out from excitement.

And the MasterChef Champion for 2010

finallyfinallyfinallyfinallyfinally

is Dhruv”.

And that’s when I explode.

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Dhruv Baker, MasterChef Champion 2010

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ps the other day, someone suggested to me that there was a clue in Dhruv's Twitter name all along.

DhruvBaker1. Dhruv Baker One. DHRUV BAKER WON.




Part 1.

Part 2.

Interviews with the 2010 Finalists.



All photos/screencaps copyright BBC / SHINE Limited