- Food and Cooking
Psychedelic Mushrooms and Other Fabulous Feasts by Heston Blumenthal
Heston Blumenthal: Making Food Amazing!
Heston's Feasts, an addictive cookery show with a difference on Channel 4 in the UK, is a must for anyone who loves loves to have fun with food. Heston Blumenthal is a British chef and an OBE to boot, and in my opinion, an utter genius! Some may call him insane, but this culinary alchemist has brought a whole new angle to food, and how it is presented, through his innovative series.
Want to know how to make the impossible Drink Me concoction from Alice in Wonderland? Or a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-style chocolate waterfall? Or perhaps a forest bed of psychedelic mushrooms complete with dry ice and woodland aroma? If you want to have fun with food, then look no further!
I sat watching the latest series, Heston's Feasts Series 2, agog, simply for the amazing mushroom starter. I tuned in halfway through him making it, and was transfixed because it looked like a wonderful fairy forest! In actual fact, it turned out to be one of the meals he was creating for his Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Feast. This was swiftly followed by a chocolate orange duck and a waterfall of chocolate. Having watched Heston's previous series, where he attempted to recreate feasts from Roman, Victorian and Tudor times, I knew we were in for a treat!
Be warned though, as we venture into the mad, mad world of Heston. This chef likes to shock as well as astound, so be prepared for recipes that are not always for the faint-hearted!
What is Heston's Feasts?
Heston's Feasts sees chef Heston Blumenthal attempt to create incredible foods for his celebrity diners. The show is a delight for the senses, as he recreates ancient or themed dishes with a modern twist. From amazing dishes that astound, to things you rather wouldn't put in your mouth, wrapped up to look delicious. Half the fun is watching the guests gush about how tasty the food is, only to find out what was really in it!
The first series consisted of the episodes:
Heston's Roman Feast
Heston's Victorian Feast
Heston's Tudor Feast
Heston's Medieval Feast
In these episodes, he researched the kinds of foods that would have been consumed at great feasts in those particular periods, and set about recreating them, with a modern wow factor.
Then came Heston's Christmas Feast, before Series 2 arrived on British screens. So far, we have been treated to:
Heston's Chocolate Factory Feast
Heston's Fairytale Feast
Heston's Titanic Feast (Edwardian)
Heston's Gothic Horror Feast
Heston's 70's Feast
and coming next week we have:
Heston's 80's Feast
Can't wait! So, are you intrigued? Baffled? Read on to find out more about these amazing food shows!
"Imagine the possibilities of taking some of Wonka's ideas and turning them into reality. This is a food adventure in the extreme," - Heston Blumenthal, Heston's Chocolate Factory Feast
Heston's Chocolate Factory Feast - Lickable Wallpaper and Chocolate Cascades
"Ladies and gentlemen, your amuse bouche will be served on the wall."
Heston's unsuspecting guests are in for a surprise at the beginning of his Chocolate Factory Feast. Recreating Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka world, he offers up lickable wallpaper with prawn cocktail, tomato soup and cocktail sausage flavoured motifs!
Using the 1960s for his inspiration, he goes on to prepare his starter.
"These are the lengths that Willy Wonka would have gone to,"
Magic mushrooms are, of course, illegal. However, there is a highly prized non-toxic strain growing wild in Tuscany's Forgotten Mountains. Heston journeys to Italy, determined to get his mitts on some!
These incredible looking mushrooms aren't quite magic enough on their own, though. He paints the tops with red food colouring and dabs of white food paint, and to make them truly, psychedelically magic, he uses a combination of purees, gels, dry ice and moss to create a bowl of floating toadstools, engulfed in a mist of woodland aroma (achieved by pouring the dry ice on the moss bed) and accompanied by voice altering inhalers that make everyone sound very strange! Can food get more fun than this??
For the main, Heston pays tribute to duck a l'orange, wanting to make something special without the sickly sauce. First of all he decides to infuse the taste straight into the duck by creating an "orange bomb". He later changes his mind and puts the duck inside the orange instead, conjuring up duck-filled orange capsules presented in a chocolate orange style box, complete with duck breast pastilles and smoky duck crisps!
Finally, the dessert. What Wonka feast can be complete without a chocolate river? The incredible chocolate waterfall in the picture is not enough for the chef, who manages to unmix the chocolate, separating the powder and creating a completely clear chocolate water!
To top off this incredible feat, he accessorises with chocolate rocks, Wonka bars and edible gold tickets filled with liquid kirsch liqueur.
"To take something of Wonka off the page and turn it into reality is something I will never ever forget."
This food has to be seen to be believed! Readers in the UK can watch the episode here, courtesy of YouTube and 4OD (Channel 4 on Demand)!
Pre-order your copies of the Heston's Fantastical Feasts book and Heston's Feast DVD!
Heston's Fantastical Feasts
Just for Fun - Heston on Harry Hill
British TV comic Harry Hill pokes fun at Heston's Roman Feast!
Heston's Fairytale Feast
The fairytales of Cinderella, Snow White and co hail from the Regency period, an age of opulence and extravagance, including the food! What does Heston have up his sleeve this time? Well, exploding pumpkins, Jack's beanstalk and a giant gingerbread house, of course!
His guests are brought to the table with a pumpkin.. and then some. A fire-wielding fairy sets alight paper mache carriages to reveal a pumpkin puree complete with pumpkin seeds, langoustine tails and gold leaf fairy dust.
The starter is inspired by Jack and the Beanstalk. A white chocolate golden egg melts to reveal some magic beans. Except they're not actually beans... they're cock's testicles. Yes, you read that right! Cock's testicles were the speciality of Regency chef Careme, apparently, even appearing in his vegetable pie.
If you think that's bad, you might want to look away for the main! Another Regency speciality was boar's head stuffed with udders (nice) but Heston thinks his guests have probably had enough horrors with the testicles. Very kind of you, Heston. So what does he present? Well, he cooks each element of the head separately, and places them on a storybook plate, of course. And to offset the richness, a thin sugar apple filled with boars heart mousse. Tongue, snout and brain, anyone?
Feeling sick yet? Let's move on to something sickly instead! The giant gingerbread house for pudding is so large, the diners can get inside it! Chocolate concrete and marshmallow bricks, girders made of sticks of rock and stained glass windows made of melted sugar. Millionaire's shortbread tops the roof in the form of tiles. The guests are very, VERY happy!
"It actually sounds like they are on drugs" beams Heston.
Want to see this incredible episode? If you're in the UK you can click the link below to watch it, courtesy of YouTube and 4OD (Channel 4 on Demand!).
Want to know how to make a fabulous gingerbread cake, Heston-style? Channel 4 have the recipe on their website - just follow this link!
Finally, get top tips on making amazing cakes from the guys who helped Heston with the giant gingerbread house here:
What Do You Think of Heston's Feasts?
Do you think Heston has some great ideas going on?
Buy Heston Blumenthal Cookbooks - Get Creative like Heston!
Heston's Feasts from the Past...
Heston's original series looked at ancient feasts and banquets from different periods in time. He then set about recreating their dishes for a modern world. From edible chocolate cutlery and candles to quaking puddings, this series was an eye-opener in more ways than one. The Roman feast, for example, featured pig's nipples, cow brain custard and ejaculating pudding. Yes, once again, you did read that right!
There were plenty of fun elements in this show too, with Heston staging a Mad Hatter's Tea Party from Alice in Wonderland, and even creating his own Harry Potter butterbeer. Oh, and remember the rhyme with four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie? He even manages to make a giant pigeon pie full of live birds (don't worry, they fly out rather than getting eaten!)
UK readers can watch the first series on 4OD/YouTube by following these links!
Would You Eat One of Heston's Feasts?
Despite the oddness of some of the ingredients, the diners on Heston's Feasts always find the food delicious. But come on now, be honest... would you be brave enough to sit down at one of Heston's feasts? Would you have a go at everything on your plate, or would you run screaming at the first sight of anything brain-like?
Would you eat a Heston's feast?
Yes! I'm game for anything and love trying new things!
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