Top Shelf: by Chef Tim McDonald
Often overlooked by charter chefs is the “easy money” period post main course. More often than not, overstuffed punters regretting that second helping of carbonara leave the table immediately after the plates are cleared. But I have found there are always a few die-hards who stay for dessert.
Many years ago I was completely blown away by my experience at Louis 15th in Monaco, and what impressed me was the after main session. Trolleys of cheese, sweets, palate refreshers, chocolates – and then the dessert.
I vividly remember the comfiture trolley with apothecary glasses rolling up to reveal a long, slithering marshmallow python that’s head was snipped off à la Edward Scissorhands, and the twitching head served tableside.
Last season in Montenegro, I managed to source a gaggle of interesting sorbet combinations that traveled within the ‘bagels with everything box,’ so that when the timing, weather and situation were optimum, a quick sorbet course could be chucked in at the last moment.
No better course than cucumber sorbet with the added ‘pop’ of a Koppert Cress apple blossom. Understated, refreshing and often a surprise to the last few standing after lunch, it’s easy money on charter.
The full-monty attack would consist of: a sorbet course, a select cheese on ubiquitous individual wooden block, a dessert, and then an apothecary “Sweets” course selection, followed by handmade chocolates.
People pay top dollar for their 10 days, and I feel personally obligated to supply the Ferrari with every possible option in the catalog.
But the most important thing to remember is timing – and to read your guests ‘energy.’ Sometimes a quick slice of lemon tart is all that’s needed, and sometimes, when the Cubans are lit, the full monty is the go. It really is the Foo Fighters at Wembley attack to impress the charter guests. Reading, feeling and understanding your guests is always paramount.
This course can also be elevated into an event. Try working with your chief stew. Jessica “Sweets” Dunn combined an ice bowl with champers for a post-meal overdrive experience. Or try combining that “nobody loves me,” back-of-the-fridge leftover assortment of Koppert Cress en vogue herbs into an unexpected post-meal explosion.
Simply pop the sorbet near the edible bouquet and Bob’s your uncle, with no real effort.
KERMIT’S FUR BALL WITH APPLE BLOSSOM AND MINT
1.5 pounds green English cucumbers ( peeled and seeded)
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 cup coconut sugar
10 apple mint leaves
A few drops of green food dye
Apple blossom (Koppert Cress)
Purèe and strain cucumber, lime juice and coconut sugar. Add the finely chopped mint and adjust the color to suit your mood. Chill and churn.
Upon serving, I have simply purèed whole cucumber for a landing pat to Kermit’s fur ball.
Garnish with apple blossom and bee pollen to amaze and refresh.
Tim MacDonald (timothymacdonald.weebly.com) has more than 20 years experience as a chef. He was named Concours de Chefs winner for Yachts over 160 feet at the 2011 Antigua Charter Yacht Show. His recipes are designed for the owner and guests. Comments are welcome below.