A dish best served cold

Bonhams Magazine

Issue 47, Summer 2016

Page 30

A dish best served cold

Bonhams Magazine

Issue 47, Summer 2016

Page 30

The ever-inventive Tom Kemble, head chef at Bonhams Restaurant, shares the secret of the perfect gazpacho

Gazpacho is one of those dishes you associate with one ingredient: summer-ripened tomatoes. It is the intensity of their flavor in this dish that remains the most powerful memory of the experience. Ironically, in its original form, gazpacho did not have tomatoes in it at all. And until the late 18th century, this famous dish from Andalucía did not have peppers either, as both fruits only arrived in Europe thanks to Christopher Columbus.

Instead, the key ingredients of gazpacho were garlic, bread, olive oil and vinegar, which were pounded with a pestle until blended together. Once tomatoes arrived, however, there was no stopping the dish's reinvention.

Gazpacho may have had its roots in the peasant and shepherd foods of southern Spain, but in the mid-19th century it was introduced into France by Eugénia de Montijo, the Spanish wife of Napoleon III. The rest is history.

As a chef, you are constantly striving to refine dishes every season. However, this is one from my menu that I am happy to leave as is: I can't coax any more flavor out of it. Everything is in perfect harmony and I eagerly look forward to preparing it when summer tomatoes finally arrive.

I have been making different versions of gazpacho over the years, but it was while working at Hedone, Mikael Jonsson's Michelin-starred restaurant in Chiswick, that I discovered the datterino tomato.

This small, plum-shaped cherry tomato ('datterino' is actually Italian for 'little date palm') is delicious 'così com'è' – just as it is – and therefore perfect for this recipe. I favor the Lucinda variety of the hybrid, which is grown in south-east Sicily.

The area was covered by the sea millions of years ago and has left a soil rich in minerals. Along with the abundant sun and low humidity, this makes for ideal growing conditions. The tomatoes are thin-skinned, small in size and with an intense red pulp, which gives our gazpacho its vibrant colour.

In order to create a gazpacho that packs a lot of flavor and clarity, I removed the bread for this recipe and cut the ingredients down to cucumber, red pepper, tomato and olive oil. The red peppers are roasted and peeled and marinated in olive oil and sherry vinegar.

The patience required in this recipe involves some preparation of the tomatoes. They must be cut and the juice squeezed out into a sieve, catching the seeds. These need to be removed; otherwise they will cause bitterness and alter the vibrancy of the dish. The soup is delicious served with a few toasted brioche croutons or some sourdough bread.

At the restaurant, we take it a step further by serving it with a savory grain mustard ice cream, an idea first developed by Alain Passard, the great, three-star chef of L'Arpège in Paris. The mustard I use is produced by artisans in Orléans using traditional methods. This has the perfect balance of heat and acidity. The dish is finished with dill oil, which adds a lovely, green herbal note, along with slices of smoked eel.

The joy of eating this is the contrast in both temperature and texture when you taste the savory ice cream, the cool, sweet gazpacho and the smoky pieces of eel lying at the bottom of the bowl.

Tomato catch up

Tom Kemble's gazpacho

Serves six

2kg datterini tomatoes
6 x cucumbers
6 x large red Italian peppers
Sherry vinegar
Fruity olive oil (Arbequina is good)

Quickly wash the tomatoes in a big bowl of cold water. Drain them and cut each tomato in half, squeezing out the seeds into a sieve over a bowl and retaining the tomato juice.

Drizzle the red peppers with olive oil and roast at fan 200C for ten minutes until the skins are slightly blackened. Remove from the oven and place in a dish. Cover with cling film and allow to steam. Once cool enough to handle, peel the skin off the peppers, add a good glug of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Peel the cucumbers, cut in half and scrape the seeds out. Then cut up into small pieces. In a powerful blender, blitz the tomatoes with the cucumber and red pepper. Pass the ingredients through a sieve – be sure to push through as much as you can, as this will provide body to the soup, especially without bread in the mix.

Add a generous splash of olive oil and a tablespoon of vinegar. Check seasoning and serve very chilled. Some toasted sourdough and slices of bellota ham would provide a decent accompaniment.

Mustard ice cream

Serves six (as accompaniment to soup)

500ml whole milk
90g egg yolk (approx 5 large yolks)
40g sugar
25g dried milk powder
70g wholegrain (Orléans) mustard
20ml white Banyuls vinegar

Whisk egg yolks and sugar together thoroughly. Pour milk into a pan, add dried milk powder and heat to a simmer then pour over the egg mixture.

Slowly heat the mixture, stirring gently with a spatula, until the temperature reaches 80C and the eggs start to thicken.

As soon as the mixture thickens, pour into a metal bowl on ice and chill quickly, then add the mustard and vinegar. Taste the ice cream, adjusting the mustard and vinegar as required.

Pass the mixture through a sieve and churn in an ice cream maker until frozen.

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