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A cooking masterclass without leaving the house

Have you ever gone to a restaurant, eaten some food and then just sat there for a few minutes in mild joyful shock?

I have. I’ve done it loads of times. The closest comparison I can come up with is when a magician does something so clever that your brain simply cannot even begin to compute how he or she has done it. That’s how I feel about great food. Magic.

The question is of course… do you want to know how the magician did it? Or do you enjoy the mystery?
Personally I hate not knowing. Mainly because if I know the secret then I imagine that I could learn the trick and impress people at parties. Actually I need a party trick desperately! Ideas on a post card please.
There is a code among magicians that means they are supposed to keep their mouths shut.
Chefs, on the other hand, have no such code.

This means I can find out what they did that had my taste buds disco dancing and try to recreate it. I’m not foolish enough to think anything I cook is going to be magical, or even half as decent as what the pros serve up. That’d be like sending the bloke who painted your walls into the Sistine Chapel and expecting him to create a masterpiece. But one thing’s for sure – I’ll certainly have fun trying.

Once a week I’ll be trying my hand at new recipes using my new food Bible, the Small Luxury Cookbook.  There are 480 pages of recipes from more than 200 hotels from around the globe. The beauty of the huge range of hotels, which come in all shapes and sizes, is that each chef provides a different spin. I’m nervous about taking on such a huge range of difficult dishes, but I figure it gives me a greater chance of nailing at least one!

Just before I dig myself into a hole, let’s note that over 90 SLH hotels have Michelin stars – I’m not holding my breath for award-winning quality from my little kitchen. But either way, I’m going to try them all no matter what Henry says. Before you know it, I’ll be able to whip up things like lionfish, kolokythanthi (stuffed courgette flowers) and sea urchin to add to my signature dishes of lasagne and French toast. Once I feel like I’ve mastered a particular meal, I’ll go to the hotel that serves it to try the real deal and see where I’ve fallen short.

My first attempt is tonight. I’m going to be try the 18-hour pork belly with carrot puree, pop pork, teriyaki sauce, and green apples in Assyrtico wine. Delish! My guide tonight will be Chef Aristotle Zervas from Aressana Spa Hotel and Suites in Santorini, Greece and my guinea pigs will be my future mother- and father-in-law…so the pressure is on!

ARESSANA - 18HRS PORK BELLY

I’ll let you know how I get on.

See you next week.

Melissa. x

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