Oh happy brunch clubbers - weren't you lucky this Sunday. I for one was wishing I could sit down and eat this with the rest of you. We were very privileged and honoured to have been joined by our friend Douglas Santi in our little kitchen.
A talented chef originally hailing from Bergamo in Northern Italy, Douglas has worked with some of the most esteemed names in cuisine including working as a sous chef for a particular fellow called Alain Ducasse at the renowned Louise XV in Monaco.
Whilst Douglas' cooking is Italian to the core he has lived and worked in kitchens around the world including France, Brazil, the U.S and the U.K and you can really see all of those global influences come through in his food. A recent convert to supper clubs Douglas offered to come along and help out and bring some magic to proceedings.
As well as that we had such a great bunch of people joining us from all over the place from as far afield as Sweden, Italy, New Zealand and Australia as well as Britons of course. These lucky sixteen enjoyed what I believe to be one of our most amazing brunches yet.
Our menu included:
Brazilian Bread with Chive Butter
Potato Rosti with Mushroom and Sausage
Pork Belly Croque Madame
Lobster Royale with Scrambled Egg Mousse
Fruit Sticks in Donut Batter
Yoghurt Panacotta with Berries and Museli Dantelle
A couple of my favourite new tips - cooking 16 fried quails eggs at the same time. Douglas took a muffin tray, greased with oil and cracked a quails egg in to each mould cooking them over the gas stove, turning out perfectly round quails eggs to top the croque madame. The croque, filled with a pork belly so succulent it melt in your mouth, it was the best pork belly I'd ever tasted. 10 hours of slow cooking was all it took to produce that! Sliced thinly and served on soft white bread, slightly warm, its bliss. Watch out arteries!
Another of the standout dishes would have been the Lobster Royale with Scrambled Egg Mousse. How was the mousse so perfect?? Douglas made a type of a savoury sabayon whisking the eggs over a bain-marie and then with the addition of herbs and whipped cream turned it into a silky smooth mousse to adorn the lobster. Accompanied by a little salad with just the right amount of olive oil and salt and pepper to give it a bite and some freshness over all. Its the little things like this that really separate the amateurs from the pros and why we enjoy so much having someone to learn from.
Douglas lived in Brazil for many years and said bread fried in butter accompanied with milky coffee is a traditional breakfast in Brazil. His dough was made a day in advance and left in the fridge over night to proove. In the morning he sliced down the middle of the dough and inserted a generous few dollops of butter which melted through as the bread cooked and made this a delicious moist and creamy bread. Served with a little salted butter and scattered of chives. Perfect with coffee. There's nothing like freshly baked bread. The smell permeates!
I think I was in food heaven with the first sweet course, the fruit stick in yeasted donut batter. Strawberry, pineapple and banana, dipped in a fermented batter and deep fried. Parcels of cinnamon sprinkled dough filled with a juicy sweetness. They were exceptional, only topped by the Panacotta, made with yoghurt to cut the sweetness and give it a tang that was so moreish one brunch clubber didn't want to finish hers as it would then be all gone! The museli dantelle, a bistcuity batter smeared across grease proof paper, topped with museli and cooked to a thin and crispy biscuit to serve along side the yoghurt pannacotta. The perfect accompaniment.
I want you to watch this space carefully people, in consultation with Douglas we're going to be collaborating on some exciting brunch and supper events over the summer in secret locations across the capital. Think 4 courses of Gourmet Lovers Gastronomique with a little music to dance the night away.
Some exciting times a ahead for Gourmet Lovers and for those who choose to get involved. Thanks for the support!