It was a long weekend, but in the early hours of Monday the 28th February we toasted the last night of Edible Tales Buenos Aires on the rooftop terrace in San Telmo.
The event was probably the most challenging chapter so far, in large part due to the language barrier, the ingredients not behaving how we expected them to (namely, the flour), not to mention the suffocating heat and the oven which reached 250 degrees C on its minimum setting. The puff pastry didn’t appreciate that.
The terrace setting was spectacular and John, the owner of Rick’s Place, was super patient with Rachel and I who camped out in his kitchen for the 4 days prior to the event.
Each day we trotted along to the Mercado San Telmo to pick up batches of bone marrow – the butchers thought our insatiable appetite for bones was somewhat usual – then prepped in the baking hot kitchen churning out batches of bread, pork belly, puff pastry, punching alphabet vegetable letters and sewing up napkin bundles.
The guests were more punctual than we imagined, being in Argentina we feared an hour late would be the norm, but diners were highly respectful of the 8.30pm kick off which we implemented with the warning that they would miss out on the pre-dinner cocktails should they arrive after 9.15 pm.
The guests gathered on the terrace mingling and swigging the cucumber, lemon, spearmint and vodka cocktail, while we handed around our chimichurri ‘bookworms’ in our open-book tray. Holes had been cut into the books and we poked the bookworms out of the books to serve them to the guests.
Papyrus Paper with Edible inks
For the first course, diners were asked to become creative with their food. We served them edible papers, a crispy flatbread, and a paintbrush with 3 edible paints nestled in a an artist’s palette. The romesco sauce, avocado ink and carrot and sweet potato houmous were painted onto the breads.
The flat bread imitated the first form of paper used in Ancient Egypt, which was derived from the papyrus plant growing on the banks of the Nile. Someone actually asked me where we found papyrus paper. I am not mentioning any names.
Oracle Bone Marrow
Oracle bone script refers to incised Ancient Chinese characters found inscribed on bones. In Ancient China, during the Shang (1600–1050 BC) and Zhou (1050 BC – 256 AD) dynasties documents were engraved on bone or bamboo. To communicate the tale of the Ancient Chinese oracle script, we decided to serve bones.
Being big bone marrows fans, inspired by London’s St John restaurant, we roasted bone marrow. The neat white other bones are the result of scrubbing, boiling and sitting in denture solution (half of them then hopped on a plane across the Atlantic). They were then inscribed and used to serve the parsley and caper salad accompanied by a caraway seed encrusted baguette to slather the marrow on.
Crispy Pork ‘Hide’ with Vegetable Fonts
Our main course drew on the concept of the animal hides being used as paper in the Middle Ages. We also wanted to include some of the spices associated with that age, namely cinnamon and star anise. We served a pork belly with very crispy pork crackling, a cauliflower puree spiked with star anise and roasted and skinned cinnamon plums.
E-book vol au vents
In our chronological tale it seemed necessary to end on a thoroughly modern note, so we came up with an e-book, vol au vent-style.
We served it with a mate (the classic Argentine tea) flavoured crème patissiere. As a nod to the almighty Apple Inc, we included some brunoise apples, an apple puree and some dehydrated slices of apple as a garnish.
Photos: Caitlin Margaret Kelly