The Herald - The Herald Magazine
Home delivery Delicious dishes hit all the right notes...then things get weird
JUST about the time the steak bakes are popped from the oven, all mini-mouthfuls of golden puff pastry, caramelising juices and a very moist, deliciously meaty filling, we’re suddenly listening to something called As Serious as Your Life by Four Tet.
No, me neither. But as this home delivery has come all the way from Edinburgh today, it does not arrive alone. Not quite a cuddly toy but that brown envelope turns out to contain free wildflower seeds for the garden. Damn. And we had already sprinkled them over the lobster pappardelle. Only kidding.
Then, as the venison and guinea fowl terrine is being plated, fig chutney cunningly already folded into it – yes, we do spend ages checking the tubs before realising that’s where it’s hiding – and a simply wonderfully seasoned and textured tangy celeriac remoulade is coiled beside it: the playlist switches onto Nimble Girl by Hotel Eden.
If you think I have a Scoobie what any of these tunes are when they start playing, then you are sadly mistaken.
They are identified only after being Shazammed by the clever app on my phone which tells you what song is playing on, say, the radio or a film.
These songs are from a playlist provided by Bad Seeds and the scamps have included one of those hologram things you scan with your phone to get the tunes instantly moving and the vibes flowing as you crack on.
In their crazed Edinburgh minds I’m sure they imagine we’re all shimmying round our Weegie kitchens right now as we get this six courser ready for take-off.
In fact, by the time we get to In the Midst by Sir Was, I have already scribbled on a napkin: “Help! This is getting really weird”.
That pappardelle anyway. Pasta precooked-ish but yet still silky smooth, flashed round the pan with the impromptu aid of barbecue tongs and piled high with lobster, crab and mussels and then showered from ahigh with a super lively tarragon crumb that gives the whole dish a magical emerald shimmer. Rich and deep with a real warm aniseed overtone.
High fives so far – especially as the cooking effort has been minimal, or it feels like it has. Perhaps we’ve just been anaesthetised by the playlist which somehow, despite it being a gazillion songs long, we never actually lean over and stop.
OK, more beautiful food coming your way. Beetroot, feta and scurvy grass are tumbled into a Picasso-esque feast of cube upon cube that’s technically nothing more than a light, airy and very pleasant salad, yet it all hangs together so well.
The grass apparently got its name from the once-held belief that it cured scurvy (Googled) and not from its remarkable flavour but, hey, you can’t have everything.
At last we move onto a dish that matches the music, aka just weird. Pak choi, fried rice noodles and chilli has me forgetting that we ate steak bakes a few moments ago and exclaiming: “Don’t tell me I ordered vegan”.
It’s a strange dish to slide into the full-fat high-profile main course slot of a meal whatever way you look at it and it kinda makes for strange eating too.
The pak choi has been heavily smoked and is overpowering, and not in a good way, and there’s nothing that a couple of lame chilli slices and some crunchy noodles can do to distract from the general ugh. Nul points.
More strange pear-shaped-ness from the dessert too. What can go wrong with banoffee pie? Let’s be upfront here, very few people are turning out a decent homedelivery dessert in lockdown. Yet this? At first we think the pastry has gone soggy and almost fleshlike in its texture, but closer examination reveals the pastry’s fine, light even, but they have done something mad cheffy with the actual banana to create a wholly new and entirely unwelcome texture. Fail too.
After all this endgame you may be thinking that Bad Seeds delivers bad vibes, but it’s quite the contrary. The first four courses were so accomplished, breezily delicious, cleverly put together that they are what linger longest in the mind. Would have again.