I’m sitting in Le Café Anglais with five rather nice dishes in front of me. Also in front of me are two PR ladies and the man who cooked the dishes, Rowley Leigh the chef/owner. If anything is guaranteed to cause indigestion then it’s this, I feel like a retarded lab monkey under their unblinking gaze, but I suppose that’s what happens when you’re the only hack to turn up to an event.
To be fair I am merely the only person in this time slot, everyone else came earlier in the day but I cunningly left my visit to coincide roughly with lunch. The purpose is for Schwarz, the spice and herb people, to fill me up and fill me in on their flavour forecast for 2010.
The thing about spices of course is that you buy them fresh for that delicious sounding recipe, use them once, then leave them in the cupboard with the vague intention of using them again one day. That day tends to be another year and the spice has no taste or smell left, but you lob it into the mix anyway as it’s too late to go to the shops.
This is a shame because people like Schwarz have put an awful lot of effort into making those spices, employing state of the art methods and constant analyses of finished product that wouldn’t be out of place in a drug research lab. There isn’t much they can do about how you treat their product once you’ve bought it, but they can make sure its perfect when you do.
They’ve been teaming up with five top chefs and Leigh is one of them, as wells as foodies from around Europe, to work out what we will be eating in 2010 and what the culinary trends will be. Quite a tall order you might think but they came up with three trends nonetheless. These they have given names that even a shameless old copywriter like me winces visibly at and are
Coccooning cuisine – i.e. eating in not out, although they include the Supper Clubs within this definition
Flexitarian cuisine – healthy food, meat free meals that use herbs and spices to deliver original flavours
Leigh maintains an admirable deadpan expression through all this explanation. The example dishes of this trend he has made for me come from the five chefs, one being his own contribution. Small tapas sized plates, they are all rather good but the pork belly is particularly excellent and his own Poached Rhubarb with Ginger Panacotta is just completely wonderful. Obviously all the dishes use Schwarz spices and herbs and I see no reason why the chefs in general or Leigh in particular should not champion them.
So here are some of the pairing ideas followed by the full range of recipes to download with dishes by Rowley Leigh, Tom Kime, Gontran Cherrier, David Zuddas, Sergi Arola, Henrique sa Passoa and Traci des Jardins.
Herbes de Provence & Chorizo
A duo infused with all the heat and arid aromas of the
Mediterranean. This pairing harmonises the spice of
chorizo with the fragrance of Herbes de Provence. The
blend brings strength of flavour to simple chicken or
Roasted Cumin & Chickpeas
A combination to use all year round, the earthy, Middle
Eastern flavours of roasted cumin and chickpeas are
delicious in more traditional curries and tagine
Black Peppercorns & Citrus Fruit
A surprising blend of warm pepper and bitter sweet
citrus, for lively fish carpaccios, or stimulating zesty fruit
desserts and ice creams.
Bay Leaves & Preserved Lemon
A glorious taste combination from the Mediterranean;
tangy and aromatic, which can be used in both sweet
and savoury dishes. The duo works well with panfried
fish or chicken, and will add a new dimension to cakes,
sorbets and desserts.