So maybe I don’t care much for being marooned in the country with little ability to communicate with my family or friends. And perhaps there is not a lot to do here but watch movies and bad British television or go stomping in the mud to watch the sea tractor leave shore without being on it.
Do I miss London?
I do not.
I miss writing my blog while drinking a flat white and enjoying a cream tea in Euphorium Bakery. A part of me misses the excitement of tube travel (mainly the shoving and feeling as though you’ve won the lottery when you get to a platform just in time) and the beautiful architecture. And surely I am sad to be missing out on the pine flavoured ice cream at Chin Chin Labs.
The other day I feared for my life a bit as we three chefs barreled down a single-width devon road at 25 miles an hour in an attempt to get to Plymouth for some fried chicken before closing time. I felt as though we were actually traveling to Middle-earth, not a KFC, as the winding, hilly road sheltered by untrimmed hedges and towering, windblown trees was more akin to a roller coaster or the horror of Mr.Toad’s Wild Ride at Disneyworld (which, when you are 7, is terrifying). After our meal, we popped into the gigantic 24 hr Tescos, which is like a Superstore, and ran around like kids in a candy shop. It was as though I’d forgotten what stores were like.
Being cooped up has indeed inflated my sense of appreciation for everything. Spending Christmas away from my family for the first time ever is rather upsetting, especially given my new-found appreciation for all things x-mas (ie. Snow, as Devon has none). It’s sad that I cannot see my family and amazing friends the first year I have free time during the holidays. I miss them so.
Despite not having a home
Or contact with my loved ones
Or working in the restaurant I signed up for
I haven’t been this happy or comfortable with my existence in a long time, if ever.
Before I left, a friend told me that moving to another country is very lonely but also very freeing. She was right.
I thought this post was my 50th, which in a year is not so impressive, but I don’t really care about being impressive, which is good because it is my 44th. In honour of this, I bothered my mother into pulling The Modern Cafe out of storage and sending me the recipe I intended to do right at the start of this business but kept putting it off. Mainly because I wanted to find edible ink to print some image on rice paper to garnish it just like Migoya’s. Finally I was like, fuck that. I do it my way.
So since I am in England and English people love things Canadians don’t have access too, and because the Sous Chef keeps chickens that produce the most beautiful and delicious eggs I have ever seen in my life, I decided to make the Chocolate Pot de Creme, served in the blue and brown egg shells as is suggested, but with an English twist.
It is a sponge base with a disc of orange jelly and topped with a thin layer of dark chocolate. English people love Jaffa Cakes. I bought a box when I first arrived and ate the entire thing in front of the telly.
I wanted to make my own, like the Hobnob attempt, and I did bake some sponges, purchased the orange jelly and chocolate, but quickly lost interest.
Instead I used local ingredients (Devon Chili Chocolate from the chili farm 10 miles away), those award winning eggs (did he say that chicken breed beat Prince Charles’ hens?), and some chocolate covered honey comb — toffee to Canadians (the bubbly kind) seems to be a very popular confection around here.
Chili Chocolate Pot de Creme (pg. unknown, oops) – Makes 12 eggs, 8 if no jelly is used.
218g Heavy Cream
40g Egg Yolk
92g Chili chocolate (or regular chocolate, 64%)
Migoya instructed me to throw it all in a pot together and whisk over low heat until 82 degrees, but I don’t want to stand over the stove for that long, nor do I want to aerate the mixture that much. Instead I heated the milk, cream, half the sugar to below a boil, whisked the rest of the sugar with the yolks, tempered them, then cooked it like an anglaise with with a spatula. He says one must pour over the chocolate and blend with a hand blender, but if you chop the chocolate finely, you can just stir them and pass through a sieve.
I’m just gonna say right now that this recipe is fucking epic and I may use it for all things from now on.
I topped the eggs like so then boil for 10 minutes and peel out the membranes:
You can also use a very dull bread knife to carefully slice the top off (the one in the photo with the clean edge, note I did not do that as I am not so skilled).
I used the scary faux orange jelly that comes in dense jelly blocks instead of flavoured powders as in Canadia, but watered it down with Cointreau. The shop owners seemed happy to sell the bottle to me, as it had been sitting there for several years. Apparently Cointreau isn’t popular in St.Ann’s Chapel. Considering I’d never used these weird jelly cubes before and really just made it up, the recipe is sketchy and mostly useless:
2 Scary Orange Jelly Cubes
Heat water and jelly in microwave to melt (burns very easily!), stir in Cointreau, pour into eggs halfway, let set in fridge. Top with chocolate cream and Honeycomb bits.
I wanted to know if you could masse (sugar coat) chili flakes, so I tried and it worked. Totally weird but less weird than garnishing a teeny dessert with plain flakes. To masse, just take the weight of flakes (or whatever you want to sugar) in sugar, add enough water to moisten the lot, bring to a boil, throw in the flakes and stir over heat until the sugar crystalizes and dries out. Bam, sweet heat.