Sunday, May 22, 2011

Rhubarb, ricotta, strawberry, honey and lavender.

Rhubarb, fresh from the garden was my inspiration behind this dish. It's very exciting to see the season starting from all things delicious and local. One thing that's interesting is that rhubarb which is commonly used in dessert applications is actually a vegetable. It's tart and fibrous flesh is versatile for other uses besides pies and tarts. One thing that I really enjoy about rhubarb is it's freshness and refreshing qualities.

Rhubarb was peeled, trimmed and poached in a red bush tea syrup until tender. Poaching should be quick as the rhubarb loses it structure quickly and begins to turn mushy.

Ricotta ice cream was made with a combination of egg yolks, milk and sugar to form the custard base. Afterwards ricotta cheese was folded in and the mix was strained and churned, then frozen.

Equal weights of honey and water were combined with 0.6% Sodium Alginate, then spherified in a 1% Calcium Lactate bath to produce honey caviar. Alginate is kind of tricky to work with because and presence of calcium will trigger the solution to gel. After spherification, the caviar should be rinsed then removed from water to prevent any more "cooking".

Chopped almonds and coconut were candied in hard caramel. Addictive, crunchy and nutty.

The poaching syrup was reduced, the rhubarb chilled and some other garnished prepared before the dish was served.

The poaching syrup was the absolute highlight of this dish. Sweet, acidic, refreshing, with the nuanced flavours of the tea that mingled with the tartness and the rhubarb. The poached rhubarb was tender, sweet and sour - it balanced the flavours of the strawberry nicely. The honey caviar was interesting but somehow got over spherified and became too solid. The ice cream was incredibly thick and contained the lightness of the ricotta while attaining a smooth texture. The lavender flowers added a herbaceous note that uplifted the dish. Really good all together, although I tend to over-think dishes often. Flavour and texture in the end are the most important.

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