By Flick Hardingham.
Earlier this year the foodie haven on the Fifth Floor of Harvey Nichols got even better with the addition of a restaurant by Absolute Taste, the events and catering company.
Absolute Taste at Harvey Nichols is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a tempting selection of their signature dishes created using the freshest, seasonal produce. We were invited to a session with Andy Ritchie, master of the Fifth Floor, and Will Gould, Executive Chef at Absolute Taste.
Welcomed by a glass of champagne and tempting canapés they were off to a flying start. We dived in to expertly cooked strips of beef and charcuterie whilst discussing a celebrity chef's latest indiscretions and where to get a good coffee in Soho (‘Brewed Boy’ on the corner of Brewer and Rupert Street, will provide pure, unadulterated caffeine alchemy).
Will Gould then took us through the intricate art of hand rolling. It’s really not as simple as you might think. However, this is a fantastic party trick and chance to show off on date number five or six, when you finally get her in your kitchen. Men can, after all, also be crafty with a pan and pastry brush.
Armed with a wooden board and damp, rice pancake we began our creations. First you must decide upon your filling of choice. Beware of all things crisp or spiky that may drive a hole through the delicate parcel. I placed bay leaves along the centre of the pancake followed by thick wedges of tuna sashimi smeared with wasabi. I then added raw red peppers, cucumber and avocado before the great roll. We then gently folded our pancakes in half and rolled until we could roll no more. With a bit of skill and a lot of luck your dish will remain unscathed; ready to be sliced and expertly laid in front of an admiring audience.
We were then passed in to the hands of Andy Ritchie for a swift lesson in pizza making. Andy has travelled the globe with Absolute Taste catering for Formula One’s finest (apparently they go crazy for chicken and fried rice) and private parties. He is a treasure trove of curious tales drawn from far flung markets and demanding clients.
Andy introduced us to their very large and ridiculously hot oven where we would bake our doughy masterpieces. I rolled out the base with plenty of flour before smothering it in pasata, mozzarella, blue cheese, chorizo, parma ham, olive, bay leaves and a drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. You can pretty much put whatever you like on it as long as it’s vaguely delicious. After a speedy 3 or 4 minutes in the beast of an over our little rounds of heaven were ready! They were beautifully crisp with plenty of gooey cheese and a definite improvement on Pizza Express.
A very happy ending came in the form of a tremendously chocolaty brownie, crisp on top and devilishly squidgy in the centre.
Read more about new bars, restaurants, pubs, and club in London, check out the Fluid London Top 10 of new venues.