Creating completely new dishes in Noam’s tiny original jungle kitchen was a challenge from the start: strange ingredients, unfamiliar equipment, the pressure of a seven course dinner menu for paying guests. It was all made even trickier by the heat and deluges of rain plus the complete lack of water inside! You can see the video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CirMoelCNVg) of my struggles.
I took the easy course with citrus tartlets using lemon mandarinos in place of the classic lemons. Driver/trainee doctor Victor squeezed all the juice while I got on with the pastry which, of course, was baked blind using balls of kitchen foil to keep the tartlets in shape.
That first night there was a party of nine Americans celebrating a birthday at Noam’s HiR restaurant. The jungle was filled by their music and laughter while the tin roof above their heads rang with the torrents of rain.
Noam and I juggled our way through each course’s complicated elements without any obvious mishaps or delays. The result was a very happy group of diners, clean plates and tantalised palates – few had encountered anything similar before!
But my attempt at meringues to top the tartlets was a complete disaster: every time I added the sugar, the whisked egg whites collapsed – it was probably the pervading dampness. I did manage to produce sweet egg white pancakes which, when topped with the lemon mandarino sorbet plus the mangostan sauce and segments, just about passed muster. The trick was to sound confident and convincing that this had been the plan all along!