At some point in 2008 there was a law of style passed that dictated that all spaces aspiring to share plates had to add panache to the restaurant experience and serve food on slates. Piles of large white plates were consigned to dustbins and small family plate factories went bankrupt, while slate mines experienced an increase in demand unknown in the UK since the 1880 law obliging all under 11s to go to school. Chefs, not known for their academic abilities, broke into cold sweats staring at black slate until it sunk in that the interior designer just wanted them to put food on it rather than actually write anything.
Not being a particularly design oriented individual I found this ‘slate with everything’ am unnecessary affectation and I have been tempted, on more than one occasion, to produce some chalk and write down marks out of ten for the dish it previously had on it. I have also always thought it extremely impractical; slates break far more easily than plates, they also make a dreadful noise when scraped, and having ones teeth set on edge with a mouthful of food is an experience best avoided.
Today, however, I was presented with a slate of wild mushrooms in Montblanc, as you can see below and it was the most sensible use of slates I have seen. The slate is heated in the oven to a really high temperature and then put on a straw tray in order to carry it to the table. The mushrooms had a mixture of olive oil, garlic and parsley poured over them and were sizzling and still cooking when they arrived.
My companions explained that this is increasingly popular in Montblanc as it means if you like very well cooked mushrooms you simply leave them for longer on the slate. It is also a common way of solving a sharing dish of meat where one person likes their meat more cooked than another.
I say G-E-N-I-U-S.
I was so impressed with this and the rest of the food I ate today that I offered my services to do a demonstration of Scottish Cranachan at their food festival in November.
You’ll be hearing more about Montblanc. It’s a lovely wee place. It does calçots, has a really impressive medieval centre and serves some excellent cava. The cava is in no way connected to my offer to attend the food festival. At all.
The photos below show the medieval city walls.
And here are photos of the cava. Both are worth the trip.
At the moment I am on a train from Tarragona to Barcelona, fantasising about quiet carriages and wondering why all Spaniards on a mobile phone need to repeat the same phrase 5 times.
My friend Ramon has just called and I said, “no, mañana mejor.” eight times and beat them at their own game.
Don’t forget that there is a demo class on Saturday 24th. More details here