Thursday, April 10, 2014

Black Ivory Coffee

Sometimes one comes across strange things, delicious things, bad tasting things and rare things.....among many other things. I came across a very rare thing called Black Ivory Coffee

What is so special on this coffee?

Firstly, only 200 kg are produced each year, that of course makes it extremely rare, especially when one thins that in Finland everybody consumes on average 11 kg coffee per year, so 20 Fins would drink up the entire production.
Secondly, and I think that is even more interesting, the coffee is not made in the traditional way, no, it is actually .........let me start from the very beginning

In northern Thailand there are coffee plantations, some very high quality Arabica cherries (coffee beans still in the skin). They get harvested and then, ha and this is the big difference, gets fed to street rescued elephants! So now you can imagine what happens: The elephants eat the coffee cherries, then digest them and .....yes they are coming out in the back again. Then the fermented cherries (only the nice and whole ones) get picked from the elephant poop. To produce 1 kg of coffee beans, one needs 33 kg of fresh coffee cherries. Why? Because when the elephants eat it, it gets mixed with fresh fruit and eaten as a snack, some of the cherries will get crushed between the teeth and are not usable anymore. Then sometimes the elephant do what they have to do in places that they can not find the poop or they are in the water....and everything is lost. So it is not easy.
Then they get cleaned and dried. The coffee gets then roasted at 200C to a medium roast, then packed and shipped immediately to conserve the freshness. So for anybody who has doubts about the cleanliness of the coffee? It has been tested and came out as one of the cleanest coffees available.

The preparation of the coffee is something special too. It work in a vacuum coffee machine, a replica of an 1840 model, and it works perfectly. The coffee beans get grind by hand at the table and then the coffee is prepared, so there is a lot of show and enough time for the waiter to tell a great story about the elephants and the coffee
Blake, the owner of Black Ivory Coffee demonstrating the grinding of the coffee
How does the coffee taste????? If you expect any special flavor....sorry to disappoint you, it tastes like coffee. OK, it is milder than coffee, maybe for many of us too mild, it even looks a little bit like a dark tea. I have to admit, I do prefer a nice espresso after dinner, but if it is explained properly on the flavors, one just takes a little sugar in the coffee, yes I have to admit it is actually very nice
How much does it cost? Let's jut say, it is not cheap, but if you want to try, we will offer it within the next couple of month as one of only 19 hotels world wide to be able to sell the coffee

There is another coffee that is made similar, but with Civets, but unfortunately because of the popularity there are now cases of animal cruelty, so one has to be careful with buying that coffee

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Sri Lankan Coconut Crepes

Today we do another lovely dessert from Sri Lanka, a lovely and yes very sweet dessert.

We have plenty of coconuts here on the island, nobody really knows how many exactly but the guesses are all around 3000 trees, so there is a year round supply of fresh coconuts which we serve daily to our guests. I this amazing to see how the guys go up the trees with the simplest method of having a towel wrapped around the feet and the tree and off the go to the lofty heights to get the coconuts

Of course we have some older coconuts as well and that is exactly what we need for this dessert. The fresh coconuts have very little meat, but of course lots of juice so perfect for drinking

The filling is very sweet, typical for desserts from Sri Lanka and India, they are all sugar loaded, but taste delicious

The garnish you can see on teh photo is a sesame brittle. I simply caramelize sugar, just to a light caramel. I take the caramel off the fire and add the sesame seeds in it. You don't need to toast the sesame before because the heat of the caramel will toast teh sesame automatically. Then I pour it on a slightly oiled cold surface and when it is cold and hard I break it into small pieces. This makes a great garnish for many desserts

But here is the recipe, you will see, it is actually very easy to do

2 Ea Eggs
2 Ea Egg yolk
80 G Sugar
250 G Flour
25 G Butter
550 Ml Milk
10 Ml Vanilla essence
5 G Salt

200 G Coconut, freshly grated
200 G Palm sugar
20 G Mixed spices
1 Ea Orange zest
1 Ea Lime zest

Melt the butter, then mix all ingredients for crepes
Let it rest for an hour in the fridge
Bake thin crepes in a crepe pan

Chop the palm sugar (Jagery)
Mix with lemon and lime zest
Add a little water
Bring to the boil Add grated coconut
Cook for just a couple of minutes
Cool down completely

Fill the crepes with the coconut and roll them

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Tuna Carpaccio by Igor Macchia

It is not long time ago when we talked about tuna, about the freshness and how it is delivered fresh here all the times. I think we have some of the best tuna there is, usually the tuna is caught less than 24 hours before it is delivered with us and there is just no better sashimi then from a really fresh tuna

I am sure that I have mentioned it many times before, but we do not serve blue fin tuna. The blue fin is a highly endangered species and should be avoided at all cost. If there is a restaurant serving blue fin, please boycot it, tell people about it that others can do the same, we really should not accept that there are still restaurants serving blue fin tuna.

The original recipe is made with lobster, but then again, as the lobster is getting very scarce here in Maldives, we at Soneva Fushi have decided not to serve lobster and so far we had actually no complaints as we always can make a plan with something else. The same for Igor, when we talked about the menu he was more than happy to change the carpaccio to a different fish to make sure we can continue our drive for sustainability

We got yellow fin tuna, there is still enough of it, at least for the time being and trust me, it is delicious too. Naoki, our Japanese chef is usually there immediately to get his share of fresh Toro, the tuna belly. The rest of us, we are happy with the Tuna fillet.

Having Igor here as our guest chef has been a lot of fun. We had three great events and I like to share his way of tuna carpaccio. There are hundreds of ways of presenting a carpaccio and I never get tired to see different variations.

So here it is

2 Ea Lemon
250 Ml Water
250 G Sugar

500 G Tomato
20 Ml Olive oil
50 G Shallots, julienne
10 G Thyme
Pepper corn
1 Ea Lemon fresh

320 G Tuna
Lemon confit
Tomato confit
Mixed lettuce
Olive oil
Maldon Salt
Micro Greens
Pepper from the mill

Cut the lemon skin in julienne, boil three times each time shock in cold water each time shock in cold water
Mix water, sugar and lemon zest, simmer and cool

Skin and quarter the tomatoes
Season with pepper, oil, shallot and thyme
Put on a tray and cook in the oven at 160 C for 35 minutes
Keep cool, drained and dry

Cut the tuna very thin
Put the mixed lettuce on the bottom of the plate
Put the carpaccio on top
Season with Maldon salt and pepper
Garnish with micro greens
Drizzle with Olive oil

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Piedmont Cheese Risotto with black truffle and Coffee Powder

You might think now that the chef has gone completely crazy with serving a risotto with coffee powder. So I challenge you: try it out for yourself and find out how delicious it tastes.

The dish is quite complex, all the different cheeses make it extremely creamy. The beef carpaccio on top gives it a different dimension. Of course if you want to do the risotto vegetarian, you can leave the beef away and instead of the chicken stock you take a very good vegetable stock.

Then the fresh black truffle and the coffee powder, just normal coffee powder will do. It does sound strange, but it really goes so well together.

This recipe is actually made by Igor Macchia, he is the guest chef that is with us at Soneva Fushi for a bit more than one week. So far it has been great fun to work with him, I love the type of food he serves, simple, straight forward but with a lovely difference of unusual flavors. He has a one Michelin starred restaurant close to Torino in Italy, here is the website of his restaurant La Credenza. He is the co owner of it and all I can say is go into the gallery and see the amazing food pictures and if you are by any chance in the region, I think it is a must to book a table and try out the amazing food he cooks

But here is the recipe for the risotto

25 G (1 oz) Onion
25 G (1 oz) Castel Magno Cheese
25 G (1 oz) Toma Cheese
15 G (0.5 oz) Parmesan Cheese
250 G (9 oz) Carnaroli Risotto rice
60 Ml (2 oz) White wine
25 G (1 oz) Butter
1.5 (1.5 qrt) Chicken stock

25 G (1 oz) Beef Fillet
25 G (1 oz) Black Truffle
25 Ml (1 oz) Olive oil
Coffee Powder
Truffle jus

Heat olive oil, add chopped onions and rice
Cook for three minutes
Add wine and start cooking with chicken stock
Cook for around 16 minutes
Add all cheese and butter, season with salt and pepper

Cut the beef fillet thinly for the carpaccio
Freeze the carpaccio, then cut out with a round cutter

Powder the bottom of the plate with coffee powder
Top with the risotto
The top with carpaccio and finely sliced truffles
Garnish with a little truffle jus

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Pontet Canet wines @ Soneva Fushi

It was a great day, we had a special wine dinner with wines from Pontet Canet, one of the most prestigious Bordeaux wines. We even have the owner, Melanie Tesseron, of the chateau here so we were in for a real treat.

I made a menu that matches the wonderful wines from the Chateaux, all red wines so there challenge was on. Especially for the dessert as it is really difficult to match a red Bordeaux with dessert. So I decided to go with Valrhona Fair trade chocolate. The chocolate comes in three ways, one flavored with rosemary, then one with orange and the last with pink pepper corns.
But let me start at the beginning of the dinner, some Champagne and home cured salmon, a dish that goes so well with Champagne. We did a little duo, one cured with citrus and the other with beetroot. Just a little salmon roe on top, and it was finish.

cured sustainable ocean trout
beetroot, orange, salmon roe, endive
peas, mushrooms, butternut, olive oil, truffle
Grain-fed Bresse chicken
snails, sun-dried tomato, celeriac, herbs
potatoes, mushrooms, shallot, spinach, truffle jus
goats cheese
smoked tomato, cream
Valrhona fair-trade grand cru chocolate

rosemary, orange, pink peppercorn

Then we had tortellini, three kind all filled with a different filling, one with peas, one with mushroom and one with butternut. I love pasta and feel that even with a classical French menu we can sere a little pasta course. It is a very playful dish, quite labor intensive but beautiful to look at
Then we had the duo of Bresse chicken and snails. The chicken comes from the Bresse region, they are absolutely fantastic tasting chickens, slightly yellow in color from the feed which is corn. The breast is filled with sun-dried tomatoes and then rolled, the skin still on, then poached, cooled and pan fried just before serving. It goes beautifully well with the herbed snails and the red wine
Then the main course is a very traditional one, basically one could call it beef parmentier which means beef and potatoes.....just of course shooshed up a little.
The cheese course is a very important course on this menu, I decided to go for a twice cooked goats cheese souffle, even so it doesn't say on the menu, I like to keep some surprises up my sleeve. This is served with a slightly smoked tomato sauce and pesto, just a couple of drops as otherwise it will be too overpowering
The wines of course were out of this world. Pontet Canet is not just a Grand Crus Classe 1855, but it is the first and only bio-dynamic Grand Cru Classe in Bordeaux. I am not telling you how much one bottle costs, that you can find out for yourselves, but just to let you know the 2010 was awarded 100 Points by Parker, which means it is basically a perfect wine.

We had 6 different vintages, I mean to have one vintage is already a treat, but to be able to taste 6 different years, to see how different the wines are each year, knowing that they come from the same simply amazing. It is all depending on the weather, just amazing

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Watalappan (Jagery coconut caramel pudding)

We have buffet night again, this time it is an Indian and Sri-Lankan buffet and the food is as usual absolutely delicious. Of course I have to say it is delicious as I am the chef here, but honestly, the food was really amazing again, so I want to share some lovely recipes with you

The attention tonight is on one of the desserts, the Watalappan, a pudding from Sri-Lanka. Our Pastry Chef, Shanta is from Sri-Lanka, so this dessert is about as authentic as it goes. It is actually very similar to the traditional Creme Caramel, just a little sweeter and richer. The mixed spices that go in give it a lovely flavor that makes it very different in taste, so the making of it is simple. To get the right ingredients might be a little more complicated and you will have to go in an Indian specialty shop. Just some explanations:

Jagery is actually just simply palm sugar, so this ingredient is easy to get as it is available in most Asian shops

Kithul Treacle might be a bit more of a challenge, but I know everybody likes a bit of a challenge. The English word for it is actually Palm Molasses. But if you can't find the Palm Molasses, you can substitute it for brown sugar.

As for the spices, I use Cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, star anise and a little cloves. The go in my spice grinder to make a powder of t. If you don't have a grinder or a very good blender you can just buy the spices in powder form. Just be careful with the cloves, they can be very overpowering

Just a little tip: Leave your pudding in the fridge for 2 days, the spices will develop a much better aroma

250 g sugar

1 l  Coconut milk (fresh)
600 g Jagery (palm sugar)
100 ml Kithul Treacle (can use brown sugar)
25 g mixed spices
15 ea Eggs

Take the 250 g sugar and caramelise till light brown
Pour in a creme caramel mold.
Mix all the other ingredients well together
Pour carefully over the hard caramel
Poach in the oven in a bain marie at 125C for about 30 to 45 minutes
Cool down completely
Take it out the form
Garnish with toasted Pecan nuts

Friday, February 28, 2014

Fresh Tuna

Today is no recipe, but a little story that just happened a little while ago.

We are trying to buy as much local as possible, but sometimes it is not easy. The fishermen don't always have the fish we want and this time we were really running around. We had an arrival who wanted to buy an entire tuna, he then wanted to see it and after that we would have to cut out bit by bit and cook it for him in different ways and methods. Generally no problem except.....our fishermen are not lucky with yellow fin tuna at the moment.

So we took it in our hands, went off and took the speed boat to see a close-by island that has a tuna canning factory on it. We thought they must have fresh tuna and would part with one or two of them. We were all in a great mood and off we went.
On the way we saw a fishing boat with tuna, so we made a little detour and checked it out. There are about 8 men living on board the vessel, there was a tiny little kitchen, nothing I want to photograph and put on my blog, trust me, it was really terrible. But we did not come to see their kitchen, but the tuna.

They had quite a bit, all stored in big containers filled with ice water. The tuna was nice, just the price they wanted was more than double than our normal fisherman is charging us. Maybe they could feel that we were sort of desperate for fresh fish. Anyway, we thanked them and off we went to get to the island we originally wanted to see, being convinced that the price will be less.
our bill for the tuna of the engines gave up, caramba, we really did not need that. In the middle of the sea, the gears just fell out and the boat would not go any further. So we had to turn around, without our priced tuna, to get back to our island, which now of course would take about 2 hours instead of 20 minutes.

We had no choice, but go back to the other fishing vessel, schmooze them a bit and buy a tuna or two. They were still happy to sell tuna, of course there was absolutely no bartering at all, we had to pay the given price. I was naturally a bit picky about the tuna, but after checking out a couple of fishes we found some really fresh and lovely tuna.
We put it on the boat, covered it with a towel and prayed it with water, we still had quite a bit to go till we were home. So as it took such a long time we knew that we miss lunch, so what would be close than just stopping on one of the slands and have some lunch. Our boat crew knew about a restaurant and called them up....yes, these islands are so small, they don't just have food for 5 people, hehehe, so we pre-ordered our food, the choice was fried chicken noodles or chicken noodle soup!
Enjoying lunch
The food was actually really nice, we had some starters and then some tea as well, sweet and sticky but very welcome. Then the bill was presented, or whatever you call this tiny little piece of paper whit the number 237 on it. that was the amount in Maldivian Rufiyaa and translates to a little more than 15 USD. Yes for that we could feed 5 grown men and we nearly had some food left over too.
We then went back on our "speed" boat and arrived back at Soneva Fushi literally 2 minutes before the guest arrived. On arrival we chowed him the fish and he could see that we just came back with his fish, so he was absolutely happy about it and chose the bigger fish which we then served in all sorts of ways.
The food bill
It is not every day that we get out like this, but with all the miss hap we had on this trip, timing was at the end absolutely perfect and we had another happy guest.....and we had a great time after all too.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Mango Gazpacho

Everybody knows Gazpacho, the traditional Spanish soup that is usually absolutely delicious. Sometimes one can find as well Green Gazpachos or Almond Gazpachos, but have you ever heard of a Mango Gazpacho?

OK, now you have and let me tell you, it is absolutely delicious. It is the latest addition to our Restaurant 9 A la carte menu. I am looking at the menu every month and dishes which are not performing.....better said are not selling that well, will come off the menu and something new comes. his soup is an absolute runner, it is just flies out like hot cakes. It is made like a Gazpacho, but the tomatoes are replaced by mangoes.....yes that is all, it is not a huge thing to do this soup, you can basically take your normal gazpacho recipe and just replace peppers and tomatoes with the mangoes, but just to make sure, here is the recipe

I like to serve some mangoes, almonds, croutons and cut spring onions on the side, so everybody can add as much as they like. It gives something to the dish that everybody enjoys, it is not just a plain soup, but it is something one can talk about and be individual on how much extra goods one like to have in the soup

1 Kg (2.2 lb) Mango, ripe
2 ea Tomatoes, ripe
3 ea Bell Peppers, yellow
1 ea Cucumbers
100 g (3 oz) Bread, white (toast)
150 ml (5 oz) Olive oil
1 Tblsp Sherry Vinegar
Salt, Pepper

Peel Mangoes and cut meat off the pip
Clean peppers from their seeds, cut tomatoes in quarters
Cut cucumber in pieces
Make sure there is no crust on the white bread

Add all ingredients except olive oil in a blender and blend till fine
Then add the olive oil while blending some more
Season to taste

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