Flatmates or not, Choux Boy has always been a fan of the home cuisine rather than haute cuisine in a restaurant. Now in the beginning (aka our first Valentine's meal, date four) I thought this was because Valentines in a restaurant are always an awkward disaster, especially when you have timed the beginning of a relationship to unfortunately coincide with this smultz-fest. As the relationship went on I thought it was through thirftiness, then discovered his freakish inability to sit at a table after the last course has been taken away (bill, door, gone) and have laterly realised it is actually the real meaning of labour of love (aaah) as the poor boy spends at least 24 hours, many cross London trips for specialist ingredients and blood, sweat and tears (ok, I haven't seen the tears) preparing the masterpiece. I mean how long did it take me to call Roast and book a table for his birthday?
Anyway enough relationship chatter, on with the important stuff: the food. So it was supposed to be a surprise. But it is very hard to keep a surprise when it is a 24 hour epic, so short of banishment I was able to get some clues. "It involves oysters." Mmm I love oysters. "You can meet me at Borough Market for lunch after I've done my shopping." I see a lot of herbs.
And my oysters!!
Half a pint of strong but delicious perry from New Forest cider down, I was allowed to be in on the cheese choosing, and most importantly the sampling... we settled on a strong hard Grand Juru and the tangy soft Perail.
Then banishment again. I was under strict instructions not to return to the house until at least 6pm. With ETA on bubbles (what's a birthday without bubbles?) at 7.30pm.
Back at the flat it was a chance to sneak into the kitchen to see Choux Boy at work in his mess, and a chance to peak at the open cookbooks (I am rubbish with surprises).Breaded and fried oysters with sauce gribiche courtesy of Gordon Ramsay's Cooking for Friends.
Followed by ostrich fillet with triple mash and caramalised parsnips from Modern Moroccan by Hassan M'Souli. Oysters and ostrich! Ooooo! This is not how we eat normally...
My camera skills deteriorated from here on in thanks to some deliciously fine bubbled Casa Coste Piane prosecco from Artisan and Vine and candlelight... However I couldn't help myself getting invovled in the kitchen. Oyster opening defintely requires a bit of kit buying as I won't like to have seen Choux Boy try with a kitchen knife. I think blood and tears would have been on the cards to go with the sweat. Oyster knife is essential (and only 8 quid from Selfridges).
I'll post the recipes - but the oysters tasted like a very intense bizarre scampi. But in a great way. It was an explosion of beautiful flavours in my mouth - having only had oysters raw before I was a revelation: oystery, salty, bready hotness with capery, lemony, eggy goodness. Yum. And I think, if it's possible, even better than slurping them raw.
The ostrich was marinated in all the herbs (recipe to come!) and then cooked rare to seal the flavour - artfully balanced on top with the green pea and artichoke, sweet potato and rosemary and potato multicoloured mashes in a pool of red sauce made with the juices, stock, pomegranate and raspberry. It might sound like a lot but the sweetness of the sauce brought out the flavour of the meat - and that green pea and artichoke mash, lets just say Choux Boy was eating the leftovers cold out a bowl the next morning. That good!