This post is long overdue, but it took me a while to figure out how to approach what, to me, seemed–and still seems–like an odd match: beautiful taster courses conceived by a MasterChef winner and… a car company.
Normally, when one associates food with cars, you’re thinking of something handed to you in a paper bag from a bored-looking teen waiting for their shift to end so they can go home and play video games or go to the mall. You think of an assortment of random food you’re picking up at the petrol/gas station: bags of potato chips, dismal hot dogs that have been cycling around a red lamp, burritos full of mystery meat and a bucket of brightly-coloured SLURPEE to wash it all down–a beverage that ends in the three letters you will wind up needing to do a few miles down the road when there are no facilities in sight.
If you’re thinking a bit more retro, you might think of car hops and drive-in diners, which are a little bit better than contemporary attempts at dining in one’s car. Either way, none of these examples really have anything to do with Tim Anderson‘s menu for Delicious by DS5, a pop-up that popped up in Shoreditch (of course) last month. There were no burgers, no suspicious hot dogs, no retro Americana rolling past on roller skates serving up curly fries or milkshakes.
Instead, there were “visions of beetroot” and “sounds of bacon.”
I shall attempt to explain, but this might take a while.
I was invited to a preview event by a very lovely contact at FareShare, a worthwhile charity that helps distribute food to people who need it in the UK. This contact knew me as a food blogger and I had previously promoted an event held in FareShare’s warehouse in Bermondsey done by Tom Hunt and The Forgotten Feast. She thought it would be great if I could be around for a preview event to help promote a pop-up event that was coming up, as FareShare would be beneficiaries of the event. I was totally down, as I really respect what FareShare do, and, oh snap, there’s gonna be food at this thing? I’m so there, wherever “there” is. I looked at the address where the preview was going to be.
Dulwich? Where’s that?
Oh. I see.
After navigating a route involving the 141 from Green Lanes to London Bridge and then taking a train (A TRAIN!! WOOO!!) to the Undiscovered Territory (for me) known as Dulwich, I emerged from the station and walked a bit, guided by my iPhone’s map to the address for this Delicious by DS5 thing. I was looking for a café or something, maybe a pub or a hall, and I walked past a number of quite swank houses–one of which with a collection of some pretty fancy lookin’ cars–and a cute school…. but then I got confused as the little blue dot of me passed the little red peg stuck in the road of my destination. Wait, was it the school?!
Then I realised: it’s the swank house with the collection of fancy cars in the front.
And the pool in the back.
I am still confounded by the concept of having a pool in one’s backyard in London. This just doesn’t make sense to me.
Anyway, so with my arrival (or perhaps the arrival of someone else… but I think everyone might have been waiting on me) the group had assembled for the day’s event. There weren’t many of us, actually–I think the following preview event for food bloggers wound up having more people. Either way, not long after I had arrived, it was announced that we would begin our scavenger hunt for ingredients for Tim Anderson and Sujan Sarkar to use for the dishes we would be having that day.
I was paired with Danny of Food Urchin, whose post on the event you can read here. We were led out to our car, the DS5 of “Delicious by DS5,” where Danny was given instructions on how to operate the vehicle, which seemed more complicated than any vehicle I’ve ever driven.
As Danny had been considerably briefed on where to go, I joined him at the front of the car (with a cameraman in our backseat). I suspect we both contemplated mischief and mayhem as he started the car. But before he was able to put the car into drive, a tap on the window and an inquiry about his expired license was brought up.
And I was then asked if I could drive.
I should make it clear that I am almost never in automobiles in London. It even feels weird and unnatural being in a taxi. I’m just not used to it. If I’m not on a double-decker (or one of the little buses), then I’m gliding along on the Overground or being shunted along through the darkness of the Underground. Or I’m walking. A car, to me, is associated with being in the US. Yes, I can drive one, in the context of being back in Florida and dealing with the mess that Orlando-area traffic normally spits out at me.
I said I didn’t think I could, as I worried I’d wind up driving in the right side of the road. And kill us all. Including the cameraman.
So then we were chauffeured around Dulwich by the woman who instructed Danny on where to go, running into a couple of quite cute shops in the area for ingredients. Afterwards, we arrived back at the house and assembled all the scavenged ingredients. Then, we were told we would help with making the pudding that would feature on the menu for the upcoming pop-up: Aromas of Syrah. I volunteered to make the ganache, and was an attentive ganache-maker under the instruction of chef Sujan Sarkar, who answered all my questions about ganache. I’m a big dork about stuff like this, so I had a lot of questions.
So, with our powers combined, we made pudding! Fancy pudding that involved a smoking gun, a kitchen tool I covet like a wide-eyed child covets an unattainable Christmas toy.
Tim Anderson then demonstrated the main dish we’d be having (except me): the beef dish. The beef had been cooked sous vide previously, and was cooked, yet suitably tender. He then marinated the beef in something beloved all over these British Isles: Marmite.
The beef was then pan-seared, and plated with romanesco, broccoli’s cooler, more cosmopolitan cousin.
Later, after a wander around the grounds of the house’s backyard, which also featured a massive garden in addition to the pool, we sat for the small taster of what was to come for the following month’s pop-up, Delicious by DS5. My vegetarian alternative to the Marmite beef was quite lovely, actually: a wonderful mushroom dish with mash and romanesco.
Once we had finished this course, it was on to dessert, which was served up in a rather fantastical way.
We had our puddings, and that was that. I wrote a post about my experience on Great British Chefs and signed up for the lottery drawing for 2 spaces at £5 per ticket for the pop-up. Yes, £5 per ticket. To be honest, I didn’t think I was going to get a space, and I thought it was weird that, in the mandatory poll on the Delicious by DS5 Facebook page, there was no option for “0” in the number of cars you own.
But, in the end, I did get a space after all, for the first day of the pop-up. I’ll write up about that in another post, that hopefully won’t take as long as this post took me to write.