Do you know Meemalee's Kitchen? If not, why not? It's one of the most entertaining food blogs I read. Go and subscribe immediately! It's written by a dear friend of mine who describes herself as a "food fraggle" and is currently writing a Burmese cookbook.
Pete and I went to show our support. And also because I'm a greedy cow and fancied some of her delicious Burmese cooking.
I completely forgot to take pictures of the slightly sweet and juicy christophene fritters (also known as cheyote), the deliciously crunchy matpe bean fritters (also known as urad or black gram dal) and the wonderfully smoky charred tomato salsa.
We didn't see much of Meems as she was hard at work in the kitchen, preparing the food for a full restaurant of hungry and eager diners. The atmosphere was buzzing with lots of loud chatter and laughter and many positive comments and exclamations about the food.
Next came the soup, prettily presented with it's quail egg garnish and with a kick of heat to the back of the throat. The textures of the unfamiliar mushrooms and vermicelli noodles made this a very interesting dish.
From left to right on the plate were green bean salad, century egg salad and fish ball salad. The green beans were mixed with a crunchy peanut sauce. The century egg was dark green and sulphurous but balanced by sweet tomato, onions, herbs and a Burmese dressing. The fish balls were combined with noodles, leaves and crunchy fried curls. Again, lots of new and unfamiliar flavour and texture combinations.
Mains of cinnamon chicken, mogok pork curry and tomato and coriander prawns were served family style along with a simple side dish of straw and oyster mushrooms with baby spinach, a Burmese coleslaw of shallots, onions and cabbage and a shrimp relish. And rice, onto which Mat's team popped a flower and sprinkled a few micro herbs, the only sign of Mat's signature styling during the evening.
The cinnamon chicken was my favourite. Beautifully tender with deft and subtle spicing, it's aromatic flavours reminded me strongly of a cinnamon chicken curry my mum cooks which has influences from either Persia or Afghanistan.
Everything was very well received, not just by our table but by the entire restaurant. We could see people digging in all around us, though the sittings were staggered to make it a little easier for the kitchen team to cope.
We finished with a dessert of coconut sorbet, tapioca milk and brioche which was another unfamiliar combination of textures and tastes. I rather liked it and was particularly intrigued by the way the sweetness of the coconut sorbet brought out the sourness of the brioche rather than the sweetness I normally associate with it.
After the meal, Mat brought Meems out to introduce her to the diners and she made a short speech before thunderous applause. The shy, exhausted but delighted Chef Meems then met and greeted some of the first (but hopefully not the last) people to put down their cash for her cooking.
We had an absolutely wonderful evening and it's clear that the other diners felt exactly the same.
Well done, Meems – a fantastic achievement and the first of many. I can't wait for your next pop up, not to mention your Burmese cookery book in which I hope you will share the recipes above.