Friday, April 13, 2012

Espresso Express: The Harvest Review

Wow, it's been a while since I posted, hasn't it? Time flies when you're, I dunno, doing other stuff.

There's still been plenty of eating and cooking and baking, but somehow I didn't feel as though it was worth sharing. Which is silly, really.

This week, however, included something worth reporting: the latest Harvest Review dinner. We've previously been to the Harvest Review Taza Chocolate dinner and the apples and oysters dinner, both of which were inventive, creative, and delicious.

This one was hosted by Espresso Express, a Brighton-based coffee supplier that provides Harvest with their brews.

Was it possible to do a four-course meal around coffee? If it could be done with chocolate, why not?

We started with dirty vegetables.

Harvest Review espresso dinner

Okay, not exactly; these were baby veggies, lightly steamed, and served in a "soil" of brown breadcrumbs, blended nuts, and coffee grounds.

Harvest Review espresso dinner

I dare you to find me a cuter appetizer.

Harvest Review espresso dinner

Next up, coffee soup. Or, more accurately, espresso consommé, a light broth with a satisfying mouthfeel, seasoned with lemongrass, in which sat agnolotti stuffed with carrot and ginger.

Harvest Review espresso dinner

At the start of the evening, chef Mary Dumont noted this was a tricky one to pull off: How do you maintain the positive characteristics of coffee without overplaying its bitter aspects? Lemon and ginger seemed to be the answer. And coffee works well with parsley; who knew?

For the main course, there was rare-roasted lamb loin with a coffee rub. Coffee goes well with roast beast, so this worked: strong, dark, earthy. Alongside were sweet parsnips, a schmear of yogurt, and a garnish of bee pollen, the flavors giving the whole dish a slightly Middle Eastern tone.

Harvest Review espresso dinner

And then, dessert. Ohhhh, dessert. Pastry chef Brian Mercury, whom I have decided is a genius, went with a coffee-and-doughnuts theme that involved a sugar-coated doughnut, cream and cashew sauces, and (this is the genius part) a doughnut mousse. Which means he made doughnuts, and then used the doughnuts to make a fluffy-but-substantial cream.

Harvest Review espresso dinner

Freakin' geee-nee-uss.

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