Friday, 17 December 2010

"Cheffy Smear"

Just received a comment from anonymous, a very popular name and one that is short-listed for our next born, who asks where I stand on the "Cheffy Smear" that seems to be adorned on plates up & down the country theses days.

This is one of those questions that does not allow a clear cut 'like' or 'dislike' response. But this is my opinion......

When I create a recipe or a dish, I have an idea of what I would like the finished product to look like be it on a particular shaped plate, in a bowl, on a slate, etcetera. There has always been the finalising with garnishes, from the humble mini salad garnish to paper thin tuilles, spun sugar and more.Garnishes help to lift the meal in so much that it is the 'Icing on the cake', the part that makes the whole in both presentation and complimentary flavour.

There seems to be three main Smears highly utilised these days:

The 'Tear drop' usually made by a spoon of puréed fruit or vegetable which is dolloped on the plate then run through with said spoon.

The 'Drezzle' (drizzle of dressing). This is using one or more oils and vinegar reductions either spooned or squeezed out of a plastic bottle to create dots, lines or random sweeps. With the increase in available pre-made flavoured reduction syrups and coloured oils this is a simple way of lifting any meal to a new class in appearance.

The 'Dry brush' which is anything from flavoured butters to chocolate that is pastry brushed onto the plate and allowed to dry.

Now, I like the tear drop as this can lift the plate dramatically in appearance and, because it is a good amount of puree, it is actually part of the final dish flavour-wise.

I also like the Drezzle, as long as it compliments the dish as these flavours can be quite strong.

I have used the Dry brush technique on a couple of occasions. These were with flavoured butter which was then coated with toasted and crushed Hazelnuts, and the other time sweetened butter which was dusted with crumbed Ameretti biscuits, orange zest and crushed gold leaf. These were integral to the dishes and, because of the coatings, served an edible purpose.

So, dear Anonymous, The answer is yes, as long as it adds value in both flavour and attractiveness to the dish, but no if it is done because it is the now factor rather than the wow factor. Looks like a puppy dog has scooched across the plate? Don't do it, it's sh*t.

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