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Not for the faint hearted: Alexi Duggins takes on Extreme Garnishing

Posted at 5:15 pm, December 15, 2013 in Food & Drink, Fun London
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©Rob Greig

Editor-at-large Alexi Duggins is at your mercy. So this week you sent him to detonate stuffing

On the title alone, extreme garnishing is brilliant. Deserves its own movie, really. Can’t you just see Tom Cruise swooping along a laser-guided zip-line to position that mission-critical onion on a stick? Or Matt Damon crashing through a window in the nick of time to dust a seafood cocktail with paprika? Bound to happen. Particularly as the latter’d be called ‘The Prawn Ultimatum’.

Sadly, though, this culinary lesson run by food experimentalists (emphasis on the ‘mentalist’) The Robin Collective doesn’t feature any cockamamie antics by Hollywood slebs. In fact, as we sit at a table in the downstairs bar of Centrepoint’s Apartment 58, it all starts off pretty restrained. We’re shown a technique for folding a napkin to look like a dinner jacket. We use rusty pen-knives to peel a tomato and then roll its skin into a little rose. We grind up some crystals of citric acid to create our own sherbert. None of which I’d class as extreme, really. Unless you wanna take a particularly filthy interpretation of one piece of sherbert-based advice: ‘You can also have fun using this for rimming.’

Then things get a bit weirder. We’re given bitters distilled from the air of Winston Churchill’s War Room. We fill party poppers with parsley, and fire them at some mashed potato. And we’re passed a goop made of ginger beer, xantham gum and powdered egg white, we dye it blue and huff down a straw until huge, neon bubbles loom from it. At which point, we’re told to slide it atop our cocktails; leaving us with beverages topped with aerated ginger beer. Which also happens to look like the spawn of a freakazoid toad from hell.

‘Now, you have to be a bit careful with our turkey stuffing technique,’ continues one of our labcoat clad hosts. ‘It’s classed as a Class 1 firearm in the US.’ He takes a kids’ plastic spade, sellotapes it to a bottle and mounts the contraption on a zipwire. Some highly flammable ethanol is spritzed into the bottle, the spade’s loaded up with stuffing and a stove lighter is applied to produce totally unremarkable results.

If by ‘unremarkable results’, you mean a searing flash of flame, something screaming across the room so fast it’s barely visible and an explosion of stuffing that covers half the room in chunks of sage and onion. Which you probably don’t. But at this point, there’s no doubting that this event is worthy of the title ‘extreme garnishing’. After all, how could it get more nutty? ‘Well, there is a slight issue with buying the materials,’ offers one of our hardcore garnishers. ‘If they see you’re buying lots of explosives from same place, you may get the home office knocking on your door.’ Even better! Raids from armed cops? It is like an action film after all!

For more info, or to book a class for yourself, head here.

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