Month: October 2008

Going to The Kitchen at Parsons Green

Originally posted at Fake Plastic Noodles

Somehow in the last month, I feel like I’ve been an honorary member of the London Food Bloggers community. I’ve met a lot of great people who are, as my friend Lauren would put it, Super Fans of eating. It makes me very glad that this blog has evolved into something new and that I’m not pigeonholed into just writing about PR. Case in point, Niamh of Eat Like a Girl and Trusted Places inviting me to a session The Kitchen at Parsons Green.

The Kitchen is a concept by Michelen-starred chef Thierry Laborde and Natalie Richmond. It’s quite simple: you book a time, choose the dishes you want to make off the menu ahead of time and when you arrive all the ingredients ready and waiting for you. You then assemble them under the guidance of Thierry.

Trying to expand my culinary boundaries past avocado spring rolls and prawn lemon butter pasta, I chose veggie Thai green curry, veal escalope saltimbocca with green beans and Sicillian lemons, organic salmon and smoked haddock fish cakes with homemade ketchup and traditional lasagna with Angus beef.

The only problem is that I was under the impression that we would actually be cooking the four dishes. When I arrived, it wasn’t so much of a cooking class as it was a ‘put ingredients together in a ready-made meal fashion and cook it yourself at home.’

I won’t lie that I was a little disappointed with that. It was 7:30pm and I hadn’t had anything to eat since lunch, so making yummy veal and fish cakes and lasagna not being able to eat them was a little bit of a tease. By the time I got home (Parsons Green is a good hike to Maida Vale), I was too tired to cook and so I ended up have oven chips for dinner. Sort of defeats the purpose.

The experience itself was pretty good, though. We were set up at our own stations with instructions and ingredients for our first dish in front of us. I started with the fish cakes with homemade ketchup:

The preparation was very simple and pretty soon I ended up with this:

I’ll let you know that so far the fish cakes are the only dish I’ve been able to try since I brought home my goods. They really are lovely. Just the right amount of spice, good quality fish and a good size. The ketchup is quite good too, but not on the fish cakes. I ended up whipping up a pesto aioli instead that seemed to complement the flavours much better.

I won’t go through my preparation on all of the dishes and unfortunately I can’t review them all since I haven’t tried them yet, but rest assured, the prep was pretty much the same as the fish cakes with slightly varying degrees of difficulty.

Overall, I liked the experience, but I don’t know if I’d go back. On the one hand it’s fast, relatively inexpensive, there’s no washing up and you have a few meals to get you through lunch and dinner for part of the week. But on the other I didn’t really feel like I learned anything, which is why I was so excited to go in the first place.

The ingredients are top notch, but they’re mostly made and bagged beforehand. Example: my thai green curry dish consisted of me cutting up vegetables, throwing some fish sauce on them for ‘marinade’ and transferring an already-made green curry sauce into a takeaway bag. All I have to do when I get home is heat it up. While that might be convenient for some, that’s not cooking to me.

The joy of being in the kitchen at home is that you create something from nothing, but The Kitchen at Parsons Green didn’t really give me that experience. I feel really bad for saying that because I was obviously going in there with a certain expectation, which had I researched just a bit more, probably wouldn’t have had. It’s great for what it is, but I think I’ll be seeking out more creative expressions of food preparation in the future.

Eh, I guess I just get cranky when I’m hungry.

UPDATE: Went for the lasagne instead for dinner tonight. It is frickin’ fabulous.