As chance would have it, our recent photograph of frolicking frogs at the Jubilee Pond has created a minor sensation in certain circles.
To most of us, this simply looked like a picture of ordinary frogs, going about their usual spring time activities. However, the photo has also managed to catch the eye of international maverick chef Heston Blumenthal, who became famous for serving dishes such as snail porridge and bacon & egg ice cream at his Fat Duck restaurant in Berkshire.
Heston Blumenthal is fascinated by the history of food. On his TV series Heston’s Feasts, banquets with Victorian, Medieval, Tudor and Roman themes were served to celebrity guests, who dined on delights such as bone marrow rice pudding, venison with dormouse, and calves’ brain custard. Thanks to his great knowledge of food and his continual search for the unusual, Heston eventually found the photograph on this blog.
As Heston soon realised, these were no ordinary frogs. Instead, these were rare examples of Rana esculenta ssp. gustusspawnum, making them direct descendants of the edible frogs which were prized in Tudor times for their tasty frogspawn.
Heston quickly arranged a trip to Parwich, in order to collect a sample of this very special spawn. This gave him the long-awaited opportunity to develop a recipe that he had planning for several years. Naturally, the dish would be given the unique Blumenthal touch.
Back at his development kitchen in Bray, Heston started by separating the spawn into separate batches. These were then “stewed” for eight hours – at precisely 76oC – in extracts of vanilla, lychee, lime, peach and raspberry, so that each individual batch absorbed the colour and flavour of its own particular marinade.
Finally, just before serving, the spawn was “poached” at minus 196oC in liquid nitrogen, before being gently stirred into a separately prepared soft passion fruit jelly.
The resulting dish, which you can see pictured here, bears all the hallmarks of a classic Blumenthal creation, in which unusual, out of context ingredients are combined and prepared, using high tech methods, to spectacular effect.
By way of a “thank you” to the village, Heston recently invited Catering 4 Parwich’s Val Kirkham to the Fat Duck, where she was shown how to prepare the dish. This will be served at the next Parwich Lunch in the Memorial Hall. Val and Alison are expecting quite a queue, so do be sure to get there early!
UPDATE: There is, of course, no truth whatsoever in this story – but it was published on April 1st, and we have a tradition to maintain!