As a journalist, I have had the opportunity to meet many people. By people I also mean celebs, but I have never ever wanted to take a picture with them and then put them up for people to see.
When I went to interview Shah Rukh Khan, I wanted to dig a hole in the floor because my photographer really wanted a picture of him. I was so embarrassed he'd asked I ran into Salman Khan distributing money at a club and quickly went up to chat with him. Picture, he said. No, thank you I said. With A. R. Rahman, it was the same story. And with Abhishek Bachchan and with, oh well, you know what I mean.
Thing is, I am not star struck. And I quite pride myself for not caring about celebrities (other than gossiping a about them). Or so I thought until I heard that George and Gary were coming to India. Who that, you might ask. Masterchef Australia judges and fab fab chefs, that's who.
And imagine meeting them with fellow crazy-about-the-two. So. Totally. Fun.
So when Charis called asking me if I wanted to come for an event she was participating in, I had to say yes. Ok, she said, I'll put your name down for the Nature's Basket event. A couple of minutes later an invite landed in my mailbox - Breakfast with the two at Olive Beach. I didn't think anything of it till then, until later I called Charis to confirm if they were separate events. They were.
The good people of Olive and Fine Food India had invited us over. Breakfast, conversations and a lovely lovely morning. So totally worth waking up, and driving early to beat the traffic. And so totally worth sharing an experience with people who valued it as much as me.
And I keep wondering what would happen, if I accidentally bumped into say Heston Blumenthal or Rene Redzepi or Art Smith (who I love love love). Or if I ended up having breakfast with Thomas Keller or Yotam Ottolenghi. Oh my god. Heaven. H.E.A.V.E.N.
Yeah, so bottom line is, I'm totally star struck Come on, a girl's got to give sometimes.
Oh and also, I got their latest cookbook signed by both. Because later that evening I went for the book signing at Nature's Basket. This picture here, is just after the signing. And you know what, I really couldn't wipe that stupid smile off my face for the rest of the day.
And so from this signed cookbook, I knew I had to make something that would really mean sharing a piece of them. I made the salty caramel sweets.
I love love love salted caramels. They are just the best things ever. These reminded me of Sees candies, but the soft chewy ones and they tasted a cross between molten lava and ambrosia. Ha. I am kidding. They were really awesome. And what surprised me was that a little went a long way. And the addition of the chocolate gave it quite an unexpected depth.
They were quite simple to make as well. I'd been collecting everything I'd need - liquid glucose, good quality chocolate and fleur de sel - so that I could make them whenever I'd find some time. I wasn't finding any. So when I came home last night close to midnight, totally tired after a crazy day at work, I figured I had to make them like now.
From measuring, melting and mixing the ingredients, it took me a total of 15 minutes to get it ready. I had a meat thermometer and not a candy thermometer but really it didn't bother me because well, I kept a cold bowl of water to keep checking on the candy. Once I poured it into the baking tray, I left it overnight in the fridge and then cut it with a greased knives to get the shapes I wanted. Gary and George have also specified that these can be wrapped in cellophane and kept for about a week. As if they were going to last that long.
The book is really fabulous and I still have so many things I want to make from them. But for now, here's the recipe for these amazing candies.
Salty caramel sweets
Adapted from Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris' Cook with Us. Available in India
4 grams sea salt
100 grams butter
50 grams dark chocolate, chopped
240 grams caster sugar
80 grams liquid glucose
2 tablespoons water
180 ml low fat cream
1. In a saucepan place the sugar and glucose and water on medium heat. Do NOT stir but bring to a boil and let it cook till golden. Take off the heat immediately. (this takes about 6-8 minutes)
2. Add the cream and the butter and some salted flakes ad cook until the mixture reaches 118 centrigrade on a candy thermometer or when it makes a soft ball stage in a bowl of cold water. (this takes another 3-4 minutes)
3. Meanwhile line a baking tray with parchment paper and melt the chocolate in the microwave.
4. As soon as the sugar mix reaches the desired temperature, turn off the heat and add the chocolate till just combined. Pour into the prepared tin.
5. Let it rest and cool for one hour outside and for a couple hours in the refrigerator.
6. Cut the salted caramel into squares with a sharp well greased knife. Dot with more salted flakes and pop em in your mouth every two minutes.