Friday, June 22, 2012

guest blogger: larkin & carmichael mix & match

Mother of pearl.

What do you get when Chefs Trish Larkin and Matt Carmichael get together?
A gobsmackingly good meal!

That's right!  I said it ... GOBSMACKING!

It's the second time I've been asked to attend a mix & match event at the urban element - and am I just so thankful to have been a part of it!

I've said it before ... and I'll say it again.

Mother of pearl that was a gobsmackingly good meal!

The main focus for both chefs in creating this meal was seasonal.
They wanted the diners to enjoy what is currently in season, at it's most fresh.  Nothing was gussied up ... everything was simply at it's best.

Spotted Prawns.

Albacore Tuna.




The thing I enjoy the most about the mix & match events is the chance of trying the same ingredient, two different ways.  Once the chefs had decided on their "menu", they went off and created their individual dishes.

Larkin and Carmicheal also decided to shake things up a bit: they added a cooked vs. raw component to the dining experience.

Every course (with the exception of the dessert - rhubarb) was divided up between a cooked plate and a raw plate.  Larkin took the raw plate for the spotted prawns and the asparagus.  Carmichael went raw for his albacore tuna and the beef dishes.

They started us off with spotted prawns.
Larkin presented a crudo with yuzo, avocado, cucumber and a black pepper buttermilk (and a sprinkle of diced chives).  I asked Trish about using the avocado since I assumed that the chefs were aiming for local and seasonal ... but as she explained, avocados are in season (just not regionally), and she really wanted something rich to offset the light freshness of the rest of the dish.  It worked beautifully.

Carmichael knocked my socks off with his fresh pasta and prawn dish.  The "sauce" was made of the spotted prawn broth and some dry white wine (with a *dollop* of butter) and diced tomatoes.  It was ridiculously delicious.  To me ... the fresh pasta and prawn dish was the winner of the night - perfection at every level.
We then moved onto the second course: albacore tuna.
Carmichael presented the raw dish this time round.  A sashimi with olive oil, coriander cress and maldon salt (and radish, not pictured).  It was simple and elegant ... the albacore was light and fresh, and the olive oil just gently dressed it, while the radish added a little crunch to the dish.

Larkin did a take on a deconstructed nicoise salad.  She poached the tuna in a little olive oil, then added black olive *dirt*, butter lettuce, haricot vert, a lightly boiled quail egg, and a crispy potato crisp. 
The asparagus pairing made up the third course.
Larkin was all about simple and fresh when she presented her asparagus salad.  Oh my.  A million sighs of happiness.  The asparagus was shaved and then dressed in lemon, olive oil, shallots and tomme des demoiselles (currently my favourite cheese, and this was my second favourite dish of the evening).    

Carmichael lightly cooked up the asparagus and paired it off with a rich and slightly sweet morel (madeira) sauce.
While everyone tucked into their asparagus dishes, Larkin and Carmichael went to work plating their fourth course, the beef dishes.

Carmichael diced up his striploin and lightly seasoned it with argon oil, red chili and black tomato. 

Larkin's seared striploin made my mouth and tummy happy. I know ... I should probably come up with a better description ... but that's what you get.  This dish made me happy.  Seared striploin, mushrooms, bordelaise and herbed butter.  Paired with the tartar you got the best of both worlds.

After eight plates of raw vs. cooked dishes, it was time to round out the meal ... with rhubarb.

Oh what a lovely and perfect dessert: strawberry - rhubarb cheesecake.

A cheesecake filling was topped by graham cracker crumbs, rhubarb curd, graham cracker crumbs, diced rhubarb, cheesecake filling, fresh strawberries, whipped cream ... and a strawberry on top.

The Larkin vs. Carmicheal mix & match was a pretty spectacular foodie event.  An informal dining experience, paired with outstanding food.

I'm so glad I was able to be part of this urban element experience.

I can't wait until next time!

ps.  I've posted other pictures on my own blog - ... so be sure to check that out too!

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