Our Editor, Ellen Pope, rolls up her sleeves and joins forces with her Mum to create five courses from the latest DIY Dining Kit from Chef Dan Moon.
When it comes to entertaining and hosting friends and family at Chez Pope, you know exactly what you are going to get. Usually, hearty food that is served in a bowl, or enough snacks to make you wear elastic. Both most definitely come with a side of PJs and several glasses of wine. Fine dining for me is something I usually pay for out, not create at home.
I have had mixed results with meal kits ranging from sauce disaster and over complicated instructions, to "too simple" for the cost of the kit. Yet I dived into my delivery by Chef Dan Moon with an open mind. To be fair I was intrigued by the Chicken Tea alone.
Created by Dan Moon, who was most recently the Head Chef at The Gainsborough in Bath, these DIY Dining Kits are the first glimpse of his brand, Yuzu. I have no doubt a fantastic teaser for a physical restaurant in the future - pandemic willing.
Launched early 2021, these boxes have been making their way around Bath and the surrounding areas, but this summer the UK can bask in the Moon's light (ah see, I had to get something Moon in) as he has just announced nationwide delivery.
Even in the middle of a very rare UK heatwave, the box came undamaged and everything was chilled and ready to pop in the fridge. Perfect. For those who have yet to try fine dining meal kits, please don't be alarmed by the number of elements - they will all work together as a solid marriage.
I invited my Mum down to help me create this meal, and armed with simple instructions that fit neatly into a double-sided A5 flyer (no manual needed), we rolled up our sleeves, and took a large gulp of gin and headed off.
First up, Chicken Tea with Turnip Kimichi and Mustard Cress. Because we were feeling fancy AF, we decided to serve the tea in a teacup. But I think a small bowl would really suffice. The only thing you really need to do here is heat the 'tea'. Which meant the anxiety was taken out of 'messing up' the dish. The broth was perfect, simply poured over the fermented turnip kimchi and topped with chicken skin the brith gave a fragrant and flavourful starter that was perfectly balanced. Win, win!
Next up was Cured Salmon with Pea, Basil, Crab and Parmesan. I am actually going to editorially reign myself in for this one because Mr Moon is going to deliver to your home a bisque that will change your life. There is no warning on the box. I am giving you this warning, so you can prepare yourself to be a changed person.
I can't really shy away from the other spectacular elements on this place, from the cured salmon to the crab mousse. But, once you have warmed up a small saucepan of the bisque, and allowed it to fill your face with aroma, then you know for well you are in for some sort of foodie awakening.
Place the salmon on the plate, top with the mousse, peas, caviar and parmesan crisps, then pour on the bisque (I will hold my hands up here, I think you were supposed to put a small amount on, but I'd committed and wanted more). Then much to my delight, I could then use the basil oil to split the sauce. In my head, both I and my mum had made it out of the heats of MasterChef.
This dish was sublime. And I went back and used a spoon to drink the rest of the Bisque in the pan, as I am that level of food filth.
I did wonder if this dish could be beaten? And also another big plus point I had - zero mess in the kitchen. I'd used one pan so far, so I wasn't huffing about having to do piles of washing up in between each course.
This course could not be beaten but did end up sharing the gold with Dan's main. Duck. My mum had never tried what I call 'proper duck'. Her memories of duck were from a dinner party in the late 80s where it was covered in orange sauce and enough booze to make you unable to drive. So she was excited, and I was excited for her.
This course involved the oven, but only for a small amount of time. Cook the duck and glaze near the end with a sticky duck sauce. In the meantime go all out fancy blobbing plum sauce onto your plate, and heating a perfect spring roll in the oven or fryer. A quick blanch of some vegetables and Pak Choi, and warm up the sauce and you are away. The dish that comes out the other end is phenomenal, especially when you sit back and think that all you did really was use the oven with two saucepans. Dan knows how to cook, no doubt about that. But what makes Dan's dishes stand out further is he also knows how to source great ingredients. The duck was quality. You could see it, and you could taste it.
With bellies starting to get full, the final course was pudding. And took the least amount of effort to create