Tag Archive for: Dessert

Paul Jackson Pollock, born January 28 1912, Cody, Wyoming, died Springs, New York, August 11 1956; Caroline Gameiro Lopes Martins, born February 26 1986, São Paulo, Brazil, currently running a fine dining pop-up in Ancoats, Manchester, named after her birth city.

Bespattered. It is one of my favourite words. Usually the ensuing messy chaos is accidental but in certain hands maybe it transcends random… Take Abstract Expressionism, that jazzy, canvas-bespattering art movement that caused quite a splash when it sprang up in mid-1940s New York. Its mythic master Jackson Pollock said of it: “I think they should look not for, but look passively…it should be enjoyed just as music is enjoyed”.

A typical Jackson Pollock canvas – inspiration for edible art forms?

Maybe the climactic dessert of Caroline Martins’ new 12 course tasting menu at the Sao Paulo Project is in a minor key alongside Pollock’s provocative Mahleresque symphonies in squirted household paint, but it has the advantage of being hugely tasty, too, thanks in no small part to the flavours of her native Brazil that pervade Caroline’s culinary art. 

That £58 tasting menu. currently available at her residency at Blossom Street Social in Ancoats (opposite Sugo and the Hip Hop Social), showcases exotic ingredients such as cumaru (tonka beans), jilo (slightly bitter tomato-aubergine cross), papaya seeds, artisanal dende (palm) oil, preserved Brazilian green fig, farofa (cassava crumble) and jambu flower alongside some cleverly sourced local ingredients.

Great to see a newcomer in her repertoire, vegetables from Cinderwood Market Garden, served simply with a parmesan sauce, brazil nut hummus and an olive crumble. Quite a contrast to the stalwart rosemary-scented edible beef fat candle, crafted out of beef rump cap dripping, where another herb, lovage, colours the moat of melted fat to dip your Brazilian cheese rolls into.

Lobster tail moqueca, Caroline’s take on a traditional seafood stew, and dry aged rib-eye feel surprisingly straightforward in contrast but the pre-dessert is the harbinger of wackiness ahead. A lime ice lolly, accompanied by a Brazilian honey liqueur is a kind of cool counterpoint to the candle, offering a chance in essence to construct your own Caipirinha.

Then the fireworks begin. Maybe in her fleeting appearance on BBC’s Great British Menu her sheer ambition perhaps undid her in her low-scoring ‘fish course’ but she is undeterred in playfully pushing back the boundaries. Hence what is literally a ‘signature’ dish with the likes of basil custard and coconut yoghurt scrawled across a huge black base. Dotted with  cubes of coconut candy, cassava biscuit, guava candy and banana candy, the centrepiece is a smashed ‘bowl’ of Manchester’s finest artisan chocolate, Dormouse (from specially imported Brazilian beans), containing passion fruit mousse, rose petals, coconut granola, merengue and marshmallow. 

Our seen-it-all chihuahua companion, Captain Smidge had kept his equipoise after a surfeit of flash-freezing liquid nitrogen in the build-up. The completed version did look the kind of spread best suited to his natural tongue action; we spooned it all up determinedly.

Six months on since first tasting it, the Sao Paulo food offering has forged ever stronger bonds between British and Brazilian raw materials. Unique? Possibly. It has certainly earned her a nomination for Chef of the Year in the 2022 Manchester Food and Drink Awards.

Of course, there’s nothing new under the sun. That expansive chocolate pud is descended from the presentational adventures of Grant Achatz. Not to be confused with the unpalatable Grant Schapps, Achatz has now held three Michelin star for 12 years at Alinea in Chicago. And yes his approach has led to some ‘serious analysis’. 

Grant Achatz has perfected a scattergun approach to presentation of his stellar food at Alinea

If you really must, delve into Hungry for Art‘a semiotic reading of food signifying art in the episode Grant Achatz (2016) in the documentary Chef’s Table’. The first chapter focuses on the intertextuality between a dish presented in Netflix’s Chef’s Table and the paintings of Jackson Pollock.

Better use of your time? Check out our own next chapter, Ancoats Expressionism According to Caroline Martins’ Great Brazilian Menu.

Caroline Martins’ Sao Paolo Project is at Blossom Street Social, 51 Blossom Street, Ancoats, Manchester M4 6AJ.

Darkness at noon, torrential rain battering the skylight of my attic office. Can’t get out of my head how many private jets flew in the world leaders to that climate change summit in Glasgow and how ironic that doomsday weather has crippled the rail line up from London.

My antidote to all this gloom? Make a Tiramisù, obviously. In honour of Ado Campeol, whose Treviso restaurant, in North East Italy, was the birthplace of this modern Italian ‘classic’. If Neil Young is the ‘Godfather of Grunge’, Ado, who has died at the age of 93, is the ‘Godfather of Claggy Chill Cabinet Desserts in Restaurants With Checkered Plastic Tablecloths’.

Retro flashbacks. It doesn’t have to be like this, as I rally my tiramisù resources. Rum? Check. Marsala? Check. Eggs and sugar? Check. Dark (but not too dark) chocolate? Check. But just a small amount, augmented by cocoa powder. No espresso machine, but I’ll concoct a wired-up batch of dark roast Monsoon Malabar. OK, it will require a trip out, dodging the toppling trees, to garner a couple of tubs of mascarpone and some boudoir finger biscuits (or their equivalent. I’m tempted to factor in too, some Amaretti that have been a store cupboard fixture for too long, but would that be sacrilege?

Not really. Even a dish less of a parvenu than tiramisù, which dates back to those checkered seventies, is not set in stone (check out various versions below). It’s why every nonna across Italy treasures her own special ragu recipe. 

How many of those ragus, mind, have claims to aphrodisiac effects? This promotable urban myth stems from the word tiramisù, literally translated as “lift me up”, from the Treviso dialect’s “tireme su”. There’s a quite wonderful ‘heavy breathing’ Australian article, tracing the dish back to Treviso’s historic warren of brothels.

“For centuries, up until 1958 when brothels were shut by the government, the cake was served to reinvigorate exhausted clients inside so-called “casinos” (closed whorehouses) non-stop: Before, during and after heavy and multiple sex sessions to keep them going and the money flowing.”

The Campeols are sticking by their more edifying version of tiramisù’s origin. Aldo’s son Carlo, who now runs the Campeol family restaurant, has recalled: “When my mother Alba was breastfeeding me a few years earlier, she had turned to mascarpone mixed with sugar and biscuits soaked in coffee to keep her energy up, which is traditional in Treviso. Then, with her chef, she turned those elements into a pudding.”

According to that chef, Roberto Linguanotto, it was all down to an inspired accident while making vanilla ice cream. He dropped some mascarpone cheese into a bowl of eggs and sugar and, wowed by the pleasant taste, he told Alba. The pair then perfected the dessert by adding ladyfinger sponges soaked in coffee, and sprinkling it with cocoa.

The dish was never patented, pressure to win EU certification to validate (or ossify) the original recipe has been in vain and rival claimants have occasionally surfaced. That’s alway the case with these Eureka! moments in popular cuisine. Take universally revered ‘Indian speciality’ Chicken Tikka Masala. Tikkipedia (sorry Wikipedia) dates its creation back to the start of the Seventies and Glasgow’s Shish Mahal restaurant, where proprietor Ali Ahmed Aslam improvised a sauce made from yogurt, cream and spices after a customer complained his Tikka was too dry. Apocryphal? Definitive?” Who knows?

Similarly, in my travel memories of Berlin I name checked Kadir Nurman as the creator of the donner kebab (again in those fertile early seventies), but other Turkish immigrants to Germany have also staked their claim, apparently), while the invention of Berlin fast food rival Currywurst is attributed to one Herta Heuwer way back in 1949. She was a dab hand with ketchup and curry powder sourced from British squaddie stationed there.

But back to my tiramisù, which has been chilling nicely while I have meandered through this maze of modern culinary classics. Alcohol wasn’t originally included in this family friendly recipe; now it inevitably features. My version, which I’m sampling contentedly, does. Laced with rum and marsala (oh and there was an inch of brandy to use up), it turned our really well. Now the sun has even come out. Saluti!