Thursday, 26 February 2009

Heston's Victorian Feast

Heston Blumenthal is on a mission to use myth, science and history to create the greatest feasts ever known, and he's starting with the Victorians.

The Victorian age was filled to the brim with invention, madness and imagination, and food was often grandiose, naughty and surreal. Heston takes his inspiration from Alice in Wonderland, the quintessential Victorian novel, to create his ultimate version of the Mad Hatter's tea party for celebrity diners.

His first challenge is to turn a fictional drink - the potion that shrunk Alice and contained flavours of toffee, hot buttered toast, custard, cherry tart and turkey - into a real, enjoyable aperitif.
Turtle soup was the ultimate luxury for the Victorian elite and the meat incredibly hard to get hold of. It even appeared on Queen Victoria's jubilee menu. Heston goes turtle hunting in New Jersey, where they still eat "snappers". But turtle meat has a very unusual texture and is expensive so mock turtle soups were invented. Inspired by the Alice in Wonderland mock turtle and the Mad Hatter dipping his fob watch in a cup of tea, Heston comes up with an alternative entrée: a Mad Hatter's mock turtle broth tea bag.

For his main course, Heston creates an entirely edible garden, featuring black olive soil, pebble stone potatoes and deep fried insects.

Absinthe was one of the Victorians' most popular vices, with an alcohol content of up to 85%, so Heston creates a giant absinthe flavoured jelly cone to serve with ice cream.

If you're a fan of steampunk, the Victorian era or food in any form, if the trailer is anything to go by, you should watch this programme. It is showing on Tuesday 3 March on Channel 4 at 9:00pm.

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