I don't work any more because I don't work any more.
Is that an Italian name?
Have I used the correct spelling?
As it goes, it’s a perfectly fine dessert, providing a complement to a fruit compote or coulis. It’s soft, sweet and laced with vanilla. But……………
For chefs in competitions, it seems de rigueur to try and make one in a ridiculously short amount of time. The monotony of some fresh-faced, “go the extra mile” young cook declaring their intentions of creating the best panna cotta ever followed by the judges shaking their heads and pulling sour faces is off-putting.
I mean the face pulling is bad enough; blame our glorious leader, but the inevitable streaking across the kitchen for those vital two minutes in the blast chiller is now old hat.
The predictable white blobby mess appearing from the upturned ramekin and running into beautifully prepared summer fruits with carefully placed lavender petals is no longer laughable.
If only you could get hold of vanilla-infused sweet tofu it would save a huge amount of last minute panic. And there’s my point. It’s not that special. It’s no better than a set vanilla yoghurt.
Obviously, it’s the latest version of the king’s new clothes. (Check out the Danny Kaye version on youtube.) I can imagine a whole crowd of up their arse hipsters in a restaurant banging on about the subtle nuances of flavours in the milky white smoothness of their plate of clotted phlegm.
They’re probably all wearing fascinators with some floral patterned blouse and sixties style trews.
The men in particular, would laud their excellent taste across the whole damn room whilst globules of the magic substance settled into their beards.
Naturally, the meal would be rounded off with herbal teas. One worthy would start going on about becoming vegan leaving the rest spluttering into their cups of nettle and skunk cabbage.
Sebastian (the little rebel) would make a journey to the bar and order a large brandy.
“Soooo, sweetie, it’s your turn to drive,” barks Poppyette, his significant other.
“Soooo can’t you drive?” pleads Seb.
“Soooo I didn’t bring my glasses,” comes the weedy reply. Sebastian orders another. There follows a series of cold stares until Brandon offers them both a lift.
“Soooo you’ve had nearly half your weekly units.” Seb orders another double.
“Soooo…” He downs it in one: “I have now.”
Calypso’s stifled giggle is met with more daggers.
“Soooo, I need a vape,” remarks Poppyette, storming outside into the rear patio.
Well, I made some myself:
200 ml each of simmering cream and full-fat milk with a little sugar, vanilla extract and two leaves of gelatin. Refrigerate until set. No problems for a one-hander. My left hand is useful as a paperweight; that’s it! It was so easy I felt a cloud of guilt swimming over me.
The intention was to offer some to my Rose. The irony is that she didn’t like it. Even with a lovingly made blueberry sauce, it had as much appeal as a bang on the head. The former wife had some though. She liked it. As for Rose, I’ll resort to ginger cake or croissants or maybe some focaccia.
(All significantly more difficult to make.)
Will panna cotta fade into some distant memory like so many other faddy foods? Probably.
Fondues, nouvelle cuisine, the cabbage diet and even that Mexican lager with a lime segment stuffed into the bottle top are all now passe.
They have some kudos in the line of nostalgia but they’ve been superceded by superfoods. I have a packet of quinoa sitting in the dark recesses of the food cupboard. And cauliflower couscous; what’s that all about? Cauliflower needs cheese. It’s magnificent with cheese sauce bearing a tang of mustard.
By the way, are hipsters the new yuppies?
Fading into the realms of failed food concepts is the deconstruction of dishes. It was a brief expedition into the fantastical idea that a few bits of apple sauce with some crumbly bits put together into the form of Goya’s Madonna and child would wow everybody.
I’m sure some poncy noncy of a chef, desperate to emulate the success of Heston Bloomin’ tall or whatever, has presented a deconstructed chip.
In The Barbican restaurant many years ago, I was presented with a raw bit of chicken and a hot stone.
Cook it yourself you lazy bastards.
The plate was also a stone which made nails on blackboard type noises as you fiddled with your fork. Then there are restaurants where the kitchen is part of the whole experience.
I’m not sure if I like the idea of being privy to the goings on in the engine room.
Can you imagine the reaction of those smug diners picking at their flakes of smoked brook lamprey when Sergei from The Ukraine cuts his thumb on the mandolin, thus producing a deep red hue to the slivers of yellow beetroot?
“He’s only been in the country five minutes,” complains Dandy, trying desperately to hide his contempt of foreigners. “How come he knows words like that?”
Finally, did I enjoy my panna cotta?
Well no, I’m avoiding dairy. In true cheffy fashion, I gave it to others to enjoy.