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Somerset house ice rinkOne autumnal evening a couple of weeks ago, I went to Somerset House to sample some ‘molecular gastronomy’ from catering company Bubble Food. If you ever get the chance to go to Somerset House at night, do — it’s beautiful lit up. But it was all just a mere taster of the strange and wonderful things waiting inside for us…

Smoky profiterole treeWe were ushered into a dark, smoky room that housed a giant tree in the centre. It had what looked like conkers hanging down from the branches. On closer inspection, they looked remarkably like profiteroles. Well it wasn’t long until someone’s curiousity got the better of them. With a mischevous glint in their eyes, they plucked a profiterole off the tree and bit in. Goat’s cheese and beetroot.

Platter of olive canapesOther canapés included spherical balls of olive-flavoured liquid (masquerading as an olive) and impossibly-thin sugar discs sandwiched around a smidgin of goat’s cheese and beetroot purée (again).

Table settingThen we entered the grand dining room, which for all its basic wooden floor and bare white walls was one of the most impressively adorned dining tables I’ve ever seen. We’re talking floating vases of flowers, spot-lit clouds of wire and a somewhat disconcerting perspex table (no surreptitious loosening of belts here…)

The starterThe starter continued the Harry Potter theme with witches-hat style domes covering out plates. They were, in fact, trapping smoke. Upon lifting the glass domes, smoke tumbled out to reveal a smoked risotto mousse. Unfortunately risotto is one of those things whose brilliance is in its texture, so digging into a rice-flavoured, smokey mousse when you’re expecting a creamy, rich risotto with a bit of bite is somewhat of a disappointment.

Main courseThe next course, while visually stunning, also just fell a bit short of the mark. Monkfish dumplings with chorizo caviar, crispy fennel spikes and jasmine black quinoa sounds incredible but the monkfish was just a little too chewy and overdone, and the amount of dumpling overpowered any flavour that had survived. That said, the chorizo caviar was fun – little spherical balls of pomegranate liquid that popped in your mouth. Much preferable (in my mind) to actual caviar. The quinoa had a lovely deep flavour too and smooth texture – very different from the quinoa you traditionally associate with healthy salads!

Chocolate ball, unmeltedDessert, while rich, was almost enough to redeem the entire meal. We were each presented with a perfect chocolate ball, shimmering like a celestial planet that had fallen out of orbit. When everyone was ready, the waiters came and poured a hot yogurt sauce over the top, resulting in the most beautiful and unique shapes as the chocolate ball melted in different places. As holes and caverns opened up, a dried fruit medley tumbled out, which was paired with a white chocolate ganache. All in all, very rich, but very delicious.

Half-melted chocolate ballIt was a spectacular evening, no doubt. Not all the food tasted as good as it looked, but the canapés in particular were fantastic, and it’s certainly not the kind of thing you could do yourself at home. If you’d like to book Bubble Food for a show-stopping party (with lots of ‘ooh’s and ‘ah’s), or want to find out more information, visit Bubble Food.

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