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Ben Bush

One thing I didn't understand about Heston's steak method: why bother with the long slow cooking part? You'd normally just do the blow torch or hot pan bit on the outer surface of a steak and have the inside nice and bloody. Is the slow-cook just a way of pandering to the english taste for the 'medium' steak? I don't really think so, but I don't know the answer yet.

When they first mentioned the donkey sanctuary I immediately thought - my god, that's where they got their meat from? I was waiting for a new Ramsay interpretation of the Burrito . . .

Think we should have a weekend making the black forest gateau.

Ben Bush

You're asking about the rationale behind slow cooking...? I thought you were a confirmed fan. There was some science stuff about breaking down some of the protein chains to release more flavour or something. The finished result was still quite rare, wasn't it? Not sure I'd have the patience, though.

Alastair Vaan

Heston's (subjective) view of perfection is that as much of the meat should taken to the desired cuisson with as little water loss as possible. The lengthy cooking process breaks down the steak to an amazing level with minimum loss and allows the texture from the required cuisson to come uniformly right up to the seared surface. I, like Howard, am a big fan of new-school processes, but for steak I want something more traditional. In this process a lot of character that is "steak", is lost. For that reason I wouldn't use this process for a steak meal. I like the gradations of texture from the outside in acheived by searing in a pan and feel I retain enough moisture by finishing (slow-ish) in the oven and using good decently thick steak. I appreciate his beef is more succulent, but it's not "steak". All his other points were spot on (IMHO) and thankfully the same conclusions I have reached for my own restaurant i.e. Longhorn beef, well reared and aged, seared nicely brown on all sides...

Interestingly, the whole issue of character is usually engineered back in by Heston in some way, case in point - the atomiser of kirsch served with the gateaux. I personally feel that if you need to add in special effects to attain authenticity or a certain flavour note, then something soulful is lacking from the food, but I thought his BF gateau was amazing - I just wouldn't call it black forest gateau. I used to make a dessert based on the BFG where a layered shot of cream and kirsch-spiked cherry syrup was poured over a chocolate and black cherry torte with chocolate shavings. It had all the elements of a black forest gateau - it implicitly took it's references from it. It certainly wasn't a black forest gateau though. The experience is too different. Heston's food definitely has character though, but it's his, not the food's, which I think should be the aim. Perfection is a difficult concept and you only need to read two conflicting reviews of _anything_ good to see where people differ so much on it's exact nature...

Verbose I know. No excuses, lots to say... :-)

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