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As the great Buddy Rich once said, the notes you leave out are as important as the ones you put in. It’s a lesson worth remembering when attempting to create a dish that’s both harmonious and attractive. Diner expectations do vary depending on where they eat – complex food is expected at a Michelin-starred joint focusing on tasting menus, for example, while the same grub would be deemed too fussy in a bistro. But there’s a fine line between too many flavours, textures or temperatures and too few… and that’s before you even begin to consider the interplay between each of the ingredients, including how they complement or play off against one another, to provide an overall balance or push one element to the fore.

It helps when you’re working with pristine ingredients, of course. With a great selection of tomatoes available at this time of year (does anybody even know what the hell heirloom really means anyway?), all that’s really needed is a helping hand.

So, no gels. The pea soil? Wasn’t needed. The tuile? Ditto. Even the cheese curds that were planned as an addition ultimately proved unnecessary. The only adornments required were a few freshly picked herbs and flowers (marigold, pansy, and borage), some seeds, plus a little dressing. And the tomatoes? Half were simply seasoned, and then the rest were given a range of quick treatments to enhance and accent their contrasting properties. One was given a rapid vacuum infusion of blue cheese, another compressed and infused with espellete oil, a third compressed and pumped with basil, and finally another tweaked with aged balsamic vinegar and a touch of maple.

Subtle techniques. Familiar flavours. Simple, even pedestrian plating. Bloody perfect taste of the summer.

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Scribbling, ponderings, and maybe a little food porn…

by Mark Ramshaw

owner at feast for the senses
food design, private catering, consultancy

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