What’s on the menu at Everest Base Camp?
I rarely find myself out for dinner on Sunday evenings. I’m usually at home cosying up in the sitting room or watching TV in bed. Last Sunday I was invited to an epic eight course tasting menu at a new pop up in London. How could I refuse? ‘One Star House Party’ is a gastronomic adventure created by three cheffy friends. They have travelled the world seeking out original recipes and local cooking techniques to infuse into their menus. The team already have a good grounding in some of the more modern approaches to cooking and dining having been trained at Noma, The Ledbury and Tom Aikens.
Their current pop up is located in Unit One, a contemporary art gallery space in West London, one of 20 worldwide destinations where they will be hosting. The menu is inspired by eight countries they have visited. Tales of their experiences are artfully woven throughout each course. Here’s my take on it.
First up was a delightfully soft and airy loaf, made unusually from a starter of fermented aubergine, yeast and flour. The bread was served with humous but the piece de resistance were the fermented cloves of garlic infused with sweet honey. This middle eastern recipe was discovered by one star house party after having worked in a local restaurant in Oman. The recipe has remained unchanged for around 300 years. I was left in no doubt as to why. This was a strong start.
Next, a decadent version of Congee, a traditional type of rice porridge or gruel popular in China and other Asian countries. This version was made from a two day old soy broth with a salty, umami flavour, mixed with plump wild barley grains and topped of with succulent, lightly seared scallops and crispy strips of leek for a touch of sweetness. This dish was light, well balanced with great textures.
3. SOUTH AFRICA
Round three was a modern take on Biltong (commonly found in South Africa) with a smattering of smoked beetroot sauce and a dollop of hazelnut purée. It looked great on the plate. Whilst the spiced flavour was reminiscent of Biltong the texture was more like a tender beef fillet. The beef had been hung and cooked in a really low heat for about 24 hours until dry on the outside but rare and succulent on the inside. It was packed full of flavour.
In Vietnam the chefs had found a family of street hawkers who gave them bed and board in exchange for helping prepare food for their stall. The team clearly had fond memories of this experience had learned a lot from the family. The dish created was a strip of pork tenderloin that had been marinated in garlic and lemongrass, then slow roasted on a BBQ for four hour hours. It was beautifully charred on the outside, sealing in all the flavour, but still succulent on the inside. The pork was served with fermented soy bean and nut paste which was then hand rolled inside a crispy gem lettuce leaf with a splash of fish sauce which brought freshness and saltiness to the palate.
We were now over the halfway mark and headed to India. We were presented with a baked cheese in Muslin cloth. It was similar to Paneer but presented more like a baked French Camembert - oozing, warm and creamy and served with a rustic hot spiced tomato chutney.
Our chef confessed he met his true love in Kenya and was now living there. We were served chicken drumsticks BBQ’d over sugar cane with crispy Kale, that brassica taste intensified by roasting. This was accompanied by a side of Ugali with an egg yolk on top. Ugali is Kenyan staple, made from ground maize mixed with boiling water to form a thick paste much like polenta. With the addition of the egg yolk the texture was silky and creamy.
The first sweet dish. Cream infused with fragrant kaffir lime leaves giving a distinctly Thai flavour, served with velvety coconut tapioca and barbecued pineapple coated in tamarind paste for extra sweetness.
8. EVEREST BASECAMP, NEPAL
The final dessert took the form of a hollowed out squash filled with a hot, gloppy, porridge mixture and frozen pumpkin spirals sat on top. This oaty, nutty dessert tasted more like a breakfast dish. The team had been served frozen pumpkin dug straight from the mountain at Everest Base Camp and it had inspired this creation. I couldn’t help wonder if it only made it onto the menu because of its discovery at such a far-flung location. Perhaps I would have felt differently if they had served it as a first course.
At One Star House Party the food is intriguing and refreshing. A refined, contemporary take on global street food and a celebration of countries and their unique flavours. Visit 1starhouseparty.com to book and discover future pop up locations.