February 19, 2012

Rich man, rich sauce...


The story goes that the dish, oysters Rockefeller, was created by Jules Alciatore at America's infamous and oldest family-run restaurant, Antoine's, and named after oil industrialist and philanthropist John D Rockefeller, at the time America's richest man and now quietly regarded as the wealthiest person in history. Mystery surrounds the original recipe on account of Mr Alciatore purportedly taking this with him to his grave, but this has not stopped many chefs from making their own attempts at recreation, thankfully allowing this wonderful concoction to be shared the world over.




That a rich sauce was named after a rich man isn't a particularly glamorous story, which is quite fitting as in certain respects, neither is the dish itself. Trademarked by its iridescent green colour, the multitude of Rockefeller adaptations tend revolve around a vibrant herb puree, usually involving shallots and Pernod, and more often than not including a healthy dose of spinach. One particular adaptation I'd had my eye on for quite some time was Simon Hopkinson's mussels 'Rockefeller' style, and with the last of the summer sunshine streaming through the afternoon, there seemed no better time to get things underway.





Fun to prepare, a sight to behold and fabulously messy eat, the combination of the pungent aniseed-flavoured puree and sweet and salty mussels was simply marvellous. While you do miss the crunch of baked breadcrumbs, a side of toasted baguette to facilitate mopping and your guests will be none the wiser. Be it used to impress or indulged as a private guilty pleasure, this dish is the business, right down to the coordinated socks and pocket square.




But while the days are undoubtedly shortening, and summer seems to be offering its last hurrah the good news is, it's blackberry season.




I was neither intending to bake nor blog this weekend, but you know how it is...





The combination of olive oil, vanilla and saffron in Béa Peltre's upside down blackberry cake was certainly interesting, and I think the earthiness of the quinoa will take many the morning tea feaster by surprise. But it's different, and it works, and there's a lot to be said for experimenting with something a little more adventurous from time to time...



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