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Guillermo González Beristáin at Typing Room review

Guillermo González Beristáin at Typing Room review

by Ella Timney 13 August 2015

Ella visited a very special event celebrating the Year of Mexico in the UK – a meal devised by Typing Room's Lee Westcott and lauded Mexican chef Guillermo González Beristáin. Read the interview with the two chefs here.

Ella is a Food Editor at Great British Chefs. She frequently puts her analytical skills to good use observing (and partaking in) drinking cultures in her favourite London ale pubs.

I never need an excuse to visit the Typing Room. Last year I went with a friend and tucked into the glorious seven course tasting menu. Each dish was as inventive as the one before, and dazzlingly good looking. Along with the sexy welcome snacks, and odd-sounding ingredients (yeasted cauliflower may not at first seem that appealing) each mouthful was culinary heaven. It also helps that although the fantastic staff are relaxed, knowledgeable, and have a huge smile on their faces all the time, while still being perfectly attentive. The gentle hum of soul classics spill out of the speakers, leading to an atmosphere of brilliant effortlessness. It was one of the best meals I’ve ever had.

Going back to a place where the benchmark has been set so high can be a little scary. What if it doesn’t match up to that perfect, glowing memory? With that in mind, I booked in for a one-night-only affair, organised as part of the ‘dual year’ of Mexico in the UK, and the UK in Mexico. Lee Westcott had been on an exchange programme, visiting lauded Mexican chef Guillermo González Beristáin in Monterrey to swap ideas, techniques, ingredients and passion to come up with a magical Anglo-Mexican night of amazing food.

As we sat down to Typing Room’s customary ‘snacks’ of crispy fish skin - a salty, crunchy treat with a creamy, rich salt cod brandade spotted with dill oyster emulsion, the good vibes came flooding back. Shortly after came the first Mexican element - avocado and chilorio tart full of familiar Mexican flavours but with the richest, most vibrant intensity. The warming spice, the deeply creamy and earthy avocado brought on a flood of delight.

Hearteningly, a wine from my native Devon made an appearance for the first course - who’d have thunk it? A Devonian wine appearing on an Anglo-Mexican tasting menu in London. The Crab, cucumber, kombu and lime was a dish of sheer perfection, with flakes of white crab meat rubbing up against tiny pickly cucumber balls, the occasional nodule of lime popping up to say hi and a surprise crunch of puffed wild rice. The effect of the whole, with the umami kombu jelly sheet resting over the top, was of some kind of wizardry. It bizarrely made me think of Indian flavours – was it the lime, cucumber and puffed rice? I have written Genius (actually underlined twice) in my notes, so it must have been good.

Avocado and chilorio tart
Avocado and chilorio tart
Sourdough with marmite butter
Sourdough with marmite butter

Up next was another dish by Lee – well I’m only guessing but I do know from prior experience he’s a man who knows his way around a celeriac. Celeriac, pear, fermented mushrooms and hazelnut was a stunningly crafted dish, which felt like rooting around in a gorgeously earthy woodland (I hope that’s the desired effect), with ribbons of celeriac bumping into sweet pear.

Now was a course that must have been Guillermo’s creation, as I watched him tenderly spoon mounds onto the delicate plates. Cod, cauliflower, chile güero and calves foot were served up, with a matching wine that appeared golden blonde, but had a fantastic tannic effect, so felt more like a sprightly red. This cod dish was stunning – buttery, unctuous with a delightful crunch of crumb on top and richly comforting cauliflower below. The fruity, faintly sour yellow chilli stopped the dish from venturing into overwhelming, sticky decadence. Instead, it was another perfect plate of food, infused with those exhilarating, spiky Mexican flavours.

Now for a deliciously meaty dish of Duck, date mole, foie gras and smoked guava. This plate had a sensational richness and complexity that staggeringly balanced ashy flavours from the guava with warming spice and a little astringency; all saving the dish from over-stickiness from the date mole and perfectly tender duck.

 
 

Time for a rest before dessert, and an excuse to dreamily gaze at the chefs carefully preparing plate after plate, with Westcott precariously balancing tiny flowers atop the chilorio tarts with the help of some magnificently long tweezers. The open kitchen had an almost hypnotic effect.

Dessert was the perfect end. Sheep’s yoghurt, apple and dill, with the dish incorporating the dill without once straying into the troubling savoury dessert category. Hidden under perfect white shards of meringue, the ice cream was a decadently creamy counterpoint to all of those fresh flavours from the apple and herbs.

Sadly, this was the last course (I could have gone in for a few more rounds with ease, the greedy human I am). It was a glorious meal – and an exciting one – thanks to the skill and collaborative efforts of these two amazing chefs. Each dish followed in a harmonious way – this was not a competition to out-punch the other with overbearing flavour, but a beautiful meeting of two minds and two cuisines. Both chefs’ focus on quality and flavour was the game of the day. I’m just sad this holiday romance had to end.

 
 

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