Sampling the art of Nicky Grant, Patisssiere and Chocolatier

Romantic Infusion

Nicky Grant is a seductress.

One bite of her ‘Great Taste’ gold award-winning Cornish seasalt caramel truffles and I’m smitten!

It might be the quick snap sensation of the dark chocolate shell breaking apart under my teeth, followed by the oozing creamy-rich, sweet caramel centre on my tongue that transports a feeling of rapture straight from my head to my toes; or possibly the guilty memento of sin touched with smudges of cocoa powder left on my fingertips to lick? However, what sets these caramels apart, and my taste buds spiralling into bliss, is the barely discernible flavour of sea salt. Don’t ask me why or how, but salt appears to add something quite remarkable.  It turns a nod of approval into the tenderest proposal: ‘my heart is putty. I adore you’

All of this is a world away from Nicky’s previous life. Until 2001 she was a Corporate Identity Manager for BAA, a blue chip company in London, where her most of her life was spent in airports designing public spaces. Moving from corporate life to a farmhouse in west Cornwall might seem like a far cry from the sublime to the ordinary. Her husband Tom admitted, “I was a little nervous how she might react on meeting my large and almost overwhelming Cornish family.” However, for Nicky, it gave her the perfect opportunity to fine-tune a passion for another artistic design form completely. Continue reading

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The Flavour Weekly: Chocolate Truffles and a Stollen Cake.

Well, it’s Christmas!

So the naughty  indulgence of loading myself with lots of rich, sweet, delicious and frankly dangerously indulgent foods seems almost righteous.  Eat like this every day and  I’ll die happy.

Nicky Grant is a seductress.

One bite of her ‘Great Taste’ gold award winning Cornish seasalt caramel truffles and I’m smitten!

It might be the quick snap sensation of the dark chocolate shell breaking apart under my teeth, followed by the oozing creamy-rich, sweet caramel centre on my tongue that transports a feeling of rapture straight from my head to my toes; or possibly the guilty memento of sin touched with smudges of cocoa powder left on my fingertips to lick? However, what sets these caramels apart, and my taste buds spiralling into bliss, is the barely discernible flavour of sea salt. Don’t ask me why or how, but salt appears to add something quite remarkable.  It turns a nod of approval into the tenderest proposal: ‘my heart is putty. I adore you’.

I met Nicky first at the Cornwall Food & Drink festival last September. Temptation brought me to her stand. She proffered a bowl of mouth-watering caramels in my general direction and I was irresistibly drawn in like a proverbial ‘carrot to the donkey’. Since then, like a ‘chocoholic’ possessed, I’ve not been able to get them out of my mind. In her home kitchen a few months later, I was treated to some of the most divine chocolates I have ever eaten. With coffee and conversation (meanwhile salivating over, sampling, ruminating and cogitating on half a dozen exquisite samples of Nicky’s beautiful chocolates) it took me literally hours to learn what it is to be a Chocolatier… and, believe me, to rush these things is to do them a terrible injustice! Continue reading

Chef’s Special: Silks Bistro & Champagne Bar, Atlantic Hotel, Newquay.

Dark Chocolate & Pear Fondant, Conference Petals & Caramel with William Syrup, Pear Drop Brittle & Roddas Clotted Ice Cream.

Recipe by Aaron Janes, Silks Bistro & Champagne Bar, Atlantic Hotel, Newquay

Image courtesy of www.westcountryphotographers.com

Aaron Janes

Dark Chocolate and Pear Fondant

There is no doubting Aaron Janes’ ambition and determination to put Silks on the culinary map, and he is proud of the fact that the menu will be as Cornish in its ingredients as it is possible to be. “Silks is the only restaurant in Newquay to win a Taste of the West Award in 2009,” he enthuses, and in February, Aaron was part of team that came second at ‘The Cornish Challenge’ (run by Cornwall Catering Excellence to promote the use of Cornish ingredients). “Our menus are 96% made up of Cornish ingredients. If we could grow sugar, coffee and or citrus fruits reliably, we’d guarantee you tasted only Cornwall on the plate.”

“Silks”, he says, “is changing. We have updated the menus using classic dishes. There will be a choice of set menus of 2 or 3 courses with complimentary pre-starters and between course sorbets. We will also have a local fish special every day. We’re moving away from the habit of stacking ingredients on the plate, and working horizontally, as the Japanese do, making it possible to taste ingredients separately or combining them together.” Aaron’s aim is to show how flair can take the minimum of main ingredients and transform them into many different guises on a single plate; “For example a lemon tart with lemon sorbet and lemon brittle.”

“Desserts are my forte, and this particular one was made in the competition. The pears are from Westcountry Fruit Sales and the chocolate is Trenance’s.  The dish is deceptively simple but looks complex. If you can make a caramel, the rest is easy; it is only the decorative garnish which makes it appear complicated.”

Continue reading