Wednesday 14 January 2015

Historic Heston - book review and Earl Grey Tea Salt

I love Heston as does my niece who maintains that he is her future husband.  Never mind that he has a girlfriend already!  This does not faze her; she is prepared to wait till he comes to his senses.  He is a philandering husband though so maybe she just shouldn't trust him to have any senses at all.  Well, we will try to forgive him his naughty ways and just enjoy his wonderful food and TV shows.  We tried to get a seat at his temporary restaurant in Melbourne this year but were not successful in the ballot.  I hear there was a lot of skullduggery around that ballot, and scalpers selling tickets for many thousands of dollars.  Darn, if only I knew a scalper!:)
I am in the thick of reading his amazing book Historic Heston which is as heavy in weight as it is beautiful and fascinating in content.  The photography is absolutely splendid, rich in colour and with stunning dishes displayed.  You could just sit and drool over the photos and nothing else if you wanted.  I really love history, and I am a keen reader of food history.  Heston (or his minions) have done extended research, and it shows in his prose and the truly amazing dishes he and his crew have come up with.  I can hear his voice as I read the book, and it does sound like the language he uses in his shows.  I have made one wee thing from the book - Earl Grey Tea salt which I think I will use sprinkled over baked salmon fillets, or chicken.  He uses it in a sweet dish in the book, where he sprinkles it over a strawberry tart (which has 9 elements to the dish).  He makes a gel, and this salt, and yoghurt cream, and chamomile sugar, and crystallised mint, and biscuits, and tuiles, and poached fruit and a strawberry sorbet.  Eek!  I am exhausted just writing it down.
Basically this book is great if you like Heston, if you like food history, and if you like fabulous photos of amazing food.  I don't think it is in the least bit practical or useful as a cookbook but who cares?  That is obviously not the aim of the book.  It is a splendid read (though a bit heavy for bed-time reading unless you have a servant lad with hefty muscles to hold it up for you).   It also has lovely sketches and drawings along with the text and the photos, so it is a real feast for the eyes. Heston throws in some of his scientific knowledge which I found really interesting.  The more I cook, the more I realise you need to know a bit of the scientific basis for cooking.  It helps you to understand how ingredients react to each other, and how to obtain the results you want from a dish.

2 simple ingredients

Take 20 grams of sea salt flakes and 5 grams of Earl Grey tea leaves (not tea bags) and pound them together in your mortar.  Store in a glass jar with an air-tight lid.

pound them up in your mortar and pestle

gently pounded 

The last dish in the book is Mock Turtle Soup from Alice in Wonderland.  It has (if I have counted correctly) 12 elements!  It has 2 different stocks and a consomme, and numerous other elements with varying degrees of difficulty.  Clearly I am not going to be making this any time soon and nor I think will you!  But oh it is lovely to look at and dream about.  I just have to get myself to The Fat Duck in Bray and eat it there!

File:Alice in Wonderland by Arthur Rackham - 13 - That's very curious.jpg
the Mock Turtle (public domain image)


  1. I love reading about the history of food. It is so fascinating! Have you ever read Deana's blog It is fabulous reading!

    1. hi lorraine
      i must look up that blog you mention. i do love food history - so interesting.

  2. That's the sort of book I like to bring on holidays. :)

    1. it is a fab book maureen. lots of good stuff in it.

  3. I have Heston's Big Fat Duck Cookbook - it is also a tomb, but very interesting. Must look out for this - I too love the history of food, it was one of my favourite subjects at Uni.

    1. what course did you do at uni rachel? sounds great.


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