It’s Jazz and a Japanese theme among the cherry blossoms for chef David Everitt Mathias’ send-off.I’d be in Kyoto at the end of March, early April. We’d have a hanami party – to see the cherry blossoms – in Haradani-en Garden. All the people I love would be there: my wife Helen, my sister Diane … It would be a long affair, starting at midday and going on until midnight, with people dropping by throughout.
To keep the conversation flowing, I’d want Akira Kurosawa there, as well as Chet Baker Jr, Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart, and Andy Warhol. Heracles would narrate his 12 labours and all the adventures he had along the way. There’d be music throughout – a mishmash of Motown, northern soul, jazz and R&B, from Ray Charles to Amy Winehouse. My Funny Valentine would definitely feature; a track I love perhaps more than any other.
We’d start the meal with a prawn miso soup. I love the combination of the seafood and the salty sweetness of the miso. We make an ichiban dashi with konbu, bonito flakes and chrysanthemum, which gives a lovely floral tone to the stock. We then use a mixture of red and white miso, with prawns, grated garlic, minced ginger, baby spinach, shimiji and spring onion (see below).
We’d then have citrus-cured mackerel with gayette of pig’s trotter and whelks, a pave of Winchcombe roe deer with nasturtium millet and smoked almonds and a saute of langoustine, with roasted heritage carrots. In 1981 or 1982, I did a month-long stage at Pierre Koffmann’s restaurant, La Tante Claire, and it was an eye-opener. His concept of turning poor ingredients into gourmet dishes has lived with me ever since, and his trotter is the most emblematic dish of that approach.
I’d have offal on the menu too – sweetbreads simply roasted, with a creamy mash, fried capers to cut through the richness of the dish and a beurre noisette jus. When cooked right, caramelised on the outside and soft and moist in the middle it’s the perfect textural dish. Koffman taught me to skin them and cook them from raw – that way you’re not washing anything away by blanching. Alongside, I’d have choi sum – which is a breath of water, continually rinsing your palate – as well as cauliflower, simply roasted with rapeseed oil.
I’d definitely have an extensive cheese selection, before dessert: Langres, Tunworth, some Epoisse, Rocquefort... I don’t eat bread or biscuits with my cheese, but there might be some for everyone else.
Upon arrival and for the fish dishes, we’d have Krug champagne, and then we’d move on to a Côte-Rôtie la Turque for the mains and the cheese courses.
For dessert I’d have my aunt Pat’s English puddings: treacle syrup, damson roly-poly, a suet pud – big, family-sized ones we’d all share. With those, we’d have a Chateau Yquem, which is a golden syrupy sweet wine with lots of raisiny tones and slight floral notes. And some Japanese tea – light and refreshing.
The whole setting would be modern Japanese, outside, around a low Japanese table, with beautiful contemporary pottery and ikebana floral arrangements; uncluttered, clean lines, cherry blossom floating down around us.
I fully intend to go to Japan once I finish working. I’ve always loved Japanese cuisine, and found the Japanese chefs I’ve had the chance to work with to be so polite and so brilliant, and that has fuelled a strong interest in the country as a whole. Recently I’ve been reading a lot aboutBushido. It’s been my lifelong dream to go, so it would be the perfect destination for this meal.
Tiger prawn and soba noodle miso soup
1 litre dashi stock ( can be made with instant dashi)
200g soba noodles
2cm piece of peeled ginger, grated
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp Japanese soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin
Juice of 1 lime
100g trimmed shimeji mushrooms
50g red miso paste
35g white miso paste
20 raw, deveined, peeled tiger prawns
4 spring onions, sliced finely
200g baby spinach leaves
1 Put the dashi in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the noodles and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove the noodles from the pan and put to one side.
2 Add the ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce and mirin to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes.
3 Then aAdd the lime juice, shimeji and miso pastes, and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Taste, adding more lime if necessary.
4 Add the raw prawns to the pan, and cook for a further 2-3 minutes until the prawns are pink.
5 Twirl the noodles around a fork and divide in warm bowls. Finally add the baby spinach and the spring onions to the soup and season.
6 Arrange the prawns in the bowls and divide the garnish between the bowls, ladling the miso soup over. Serve.
- David Everitt Mathias is head chef of the double-Michelin star restaurant Le Champignon Sauvage in Cheltenham