Saturday, March 15, 2014

After Hours Dessert Event with Adam Degg

I heard about this event on Twitter, I believe perhaps posted by hot-dinners, which is the site I use most often when daydreaming about going out to eat. So, I'm on there a lot.

Anyway, After Hours is a group putting on really cool dessert-based events, and this was the first one of this year. I hadn't heard of them before, but I wish I could've gone to some of the things they put on last year! It's a very smart idea too, as they take up in an otherwise unused coffee place/cafe that would be closed "after hours", and bring in a pastry chef/other dessert-type person and sell tickets! Really, a very smart idea - wish I would've thought of that.

So, four courses of dessert prepared by a very skilled pastry chef. I lost about an entire afternoon to blind ecstasy and woke up from my euphoria to see that I had bought three tickets.

So Friday we went on to Ozone (my favorite coffee place, see review of their chai latte) where the event was taking place this time. Ozone is a great space for events like this I think - I hope they continue to host them! There is a lot of seating, the decor is neutral and makes the restaurant seem incredibly spacious, and the kitchen is open which is brilliant for special events like this where everyone is there because they really enjoy food & dining out.

We were in a prime location, right across from the big preparation area where everything was getting plated up. The guest chef this time around was Adam Degg, head pastry chef of Wild Honey - a restaurant I now very desperately want to go to. The menu for the event was released ahead of time, and I had picked out what I thought would be my favorite and my least favorite. Spoiler alert: they were actually completely reversed!

Not sure this photo turned out so well, but if you click it will increase in size! Based on descriptions, I thought the Apples & Gingerbread would be my surefire hit, whereas the Rhubarb & Custard was my least anticipated course.

To start things off though, we had the Dark & Stormy Baba.

This one was the hardest to photograph, since it was in a deep bowl. Take my word for it though, it looked very cool. It was made up of ginger beer granite, Sailor Jerry rum baba, lime cream, and compressed pineapple. The ginger beer granite was great(nite), it was refreshing, soft, and tasted just like ginger beer with a bit less piquancy than the drink - probably since it wasn't carbonated. The lime cream was zingy, and meshed very well with the rum soaked baba. Lime & rum are a top combination, so it makes sense. The baba itself, can't say that I'm very familiar with the dessert as it is usually served, but this was delicious - like a boozy & moist cake. It had an airy texture to it, sort of like a castella cake. The compressed pineapple was sweet & tangy, my husband was reminded of some ice lolly but we couldn't think of it. Over all, very impressive way to start the evening!

Now, onto my favorite.

On the menu this one was described as being "vanilla custard and poached rhubarb sphere", which brought to my mind just a sphere of poached rhubarb with vanilla custard on the side. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the custard was also up in this sphere business.

Dang. So, that outer shell was sort of vanilla white chocolate, and so thin and delicate it was just beautiful. Inside, the creamiest, nicest vanilla custard I could imagine. I'd love to eat it everyday. Vanilla is one of my favorite flavors, and quite difficult to describe when it's as good as this. Gentle, milky, soothing. The custard was creamy but light, and not too sweet. Just milky, dairy, vanilla-y. All my favorite adjectives! Combined with the rhubarb underneath (and inside) it was just superb. I've never had rhubarb and custard before, in any combination, but it does go very nicely together - especially, I suppose, when done as well as this. One of the tastiest, and definitely the prettiest dessert I've ever eaten. I love spheres - memories of Phantasm, maybe?

This was so tasty, I would've been happy to leave right then. There was more, though - only halfway done.

The Gingerbread & Apples was going to be my favorite, I thought - I love gingerbread and big chunks of caramelized apples sounded delicious. The parsnip puree I was skeptical of, but definitely willing to try. Well, the caramlized apples were a bit more smoothed out and paste-like than I would've wanted, although the taste was quite good. The apples maintained their tang, it wasn't like apple sauce or anything, but I was hoping for more chunks: a bit of a caramelized apple salsa, maybe!

The gingerbread ice cream was quite nice, no faults there - it was just like I was hoping it would be.

However, I was right to be skeptical of the puree, as it did taste quite bit like... Thanksgiving. In a way, maybe this one is meant to emulate Christmas & Thanksgiving meals, both the savory and the sweet courses. The parsnip puree had some spicy cookie crumbles on top I think, but it still just sort of tasted like parsnips. Very cool idea, it just didn't work for me that night. I'm still glad I got to try it!

The Chocolate, Milk & Cereal was the one I was looking forward to most after the Gingerbread & Apples, and this one didn't let me down in the slightest! The cereal milk ice cream was a perfect translation, it did taste like the milk after a bowl of cornflakes. It's a really great combination of wheat, sugar, and dairy flavors. I've had a few different cereal milk type concoctions, such as the Hawksmoor cornflake milkshake, and one or two other bits & bobs over the last couple years and this was a great execution. It was elevated even more by the actual cereal clusters which included cornflakes & puffed rice. Both tasted very fresh and crunchy. You could say they stayed crunchy even in milk...cereal ice cream.

The chocolate sauce was dark & rich, and made the cereal bits taste like the beginning of the world's greatest no-bake cookie. I was a big fan of this one, as well.

We had coffee and macarons to round off the evening. Ozone's coffee is the best in London I think, and the macarons were great. Chewy with a crisp outer shell & a plump scoop of filling.

One was salted caramel, the other two were vanilla buttercream perhaps? They were all tasty and very generously filled.

It was a great night, the service was excellent & everything went very smoothly from where I was sitting. It was fun to watch the plates get prepared, and we got lots of nice chatter & banter with the friendly folks!

I'd absolutely do another After Hours event, I'm looking forward to the next one. If you're interested too, here is their site. I'd recommend grabbing a ticket for the next one as soon as you can, because they went pretty quick for this one & word will probably get out how much fun it is & how delicious everything was! 

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