Heston Blumenthal’s Chilled Summer Treats Ice Cream Stand for the Manchester International Festival, 2007
Sadly, it didn’t have any recipes we could recreate (and making ice cream didn’t appeal in November) but it reminded us of the time Heston Blumenthal brought his Fantastical Food to the 2007 Manchester International Festival. This was our visit to Heston Blumenthal’s Chilled Summer Treats.
This was 2007, when Heston’s multi-sensory eating ethos was in full swing. Cue: a food stall decorated like a row of beach huts, benches painted in candy-coloured seaside stripes and a covered eating area playing the gull & wave soundtrack of the Fat Duck Sound of the Sea MP3. A 1950’s postcard poster rounded off the effect.
This being a summer in Manchester the covered area was essential to enjoy the ices on a drizzly day. I couldn’t find a single sunny picture on Flickr.
Through some quirk of street-trading laws (or because the chefs didn’t lower themselves to handling cash) you couldn’t buy ice creams directly. Instead you had to purchase tickets from one of the festival organisers milling about the area, then exchange these for your choice of treat at the stand.
To everyone’s disappointment there was no sign of Heston (looks like he scarpered after the press call) but he’d left the stand in the capable hands of TV show regulars Kyle Connaughton and Otto Romer (we think). Real life Fat Duck chefs! We were suitably impressed.
There were 3 choices:
- Strawberry and Vanilla Ice Cream Sundae with Olive and Leather
- Mushy Pea Sorbet with fresh mint syrup, peanut brittle & candied bacon shard
- Chocolate Wine Slush with Millionaire’s Shortbread
All were £5 per serving. Obviously we ordered one of each
Note: Please accept my apologies for the low quality of these images, taken on the quite shockingly poor Nokia 5500 Sport. I had no idea I’d ever have to share them with you guys.
Strawberry and Vanilla Ice Cream Sundae with Olive and Leather
For pure nostalgia my favourite ice cream will always be a 99 with a Flake & strawberry sauce on Lytham St Annes seafront. Heston’s 3-star upgrade was light years ahead of that traditional treat.
Even with no liquid nitrogen in evidence this was still impossibly smooth -creamy with a deep vanilla flavour- and served at the perfect soft consistency. Cut strawberry halves were being warmed through on a Panini-toaster, added along with the strawberry sauce, olive purée, crumble topping, leather essential oil and popping candy.
This was our first encounter with popping candy since childhood, and they didn’t hold back with it. Brilliant fun. There’s a tiny hint of the leather essence on the finish of each mouthful because cricket-fan Heston associates the smell of leather with summer –it’s a personal association, much like his coffee & vanilla ice cream preference.
The most accessible of the 3 treats on offer, this was also the stand-out dish.
At Home: There’s a recipe very close to this for Heston’s Strawberry & Vanilla Sundae online. Or a recipe in Heston at Home that uses the smoky flavour of Laphroaig Whiskey to replicate the leather essence.
Mushy Pea Sorbet with Fresh Mint Syrup, Peanut Brittle & Candied Bacon Shard
Mushy Pea sorbet? Oh, that wacky Heston! Or is this just a way to patronize us Northerners? Grrr!
Actually, there’s sweetness in fresh peas that means this kind of makes sense. Plus mint & peas is a classic combination. Ditto bacon. Peanut brittle… not so much. But with all the flavours together this kind of worked.
As with all scooped ice cream & cone combos, you’re left with loads of dry, empty cone once the sorbet is finished. This is a pet hate of mine and the reason I prefer tubs.
At Home: There’s no recipe online for this. We’ll try to remedy that soon.
Chocolate Wine Slushsicle with Millionaire’s Shortbread
So maybe you didn’t get to try this at the Manchester International Festival. No matter. You could’ve had it at the Fat Duck in 2009, or on the Set Menu at Dinner in 2011. Or pretty much all year round at the Hind’s Head.
Entertainingly, there’s an educational story about the historical origins of Chocolate Wine written on the napkin served with this dish. Much like the info sheets that accompany certain dishes at the Fat Duck & Hinds Head.
We preferred having this served ice cold rather than warm (which is how it’s served in the restaurants –yes, we’ve tried all three). The Chocolate Wine is exceptionally rich, and gets a little bit sickly halfway through. The buttery Millionaire’s Shortbread – topped with a mixture of fleur de sel and actual gold- would be too, if the portion wasn’t finished in a couple of bites.
At Home: There’s a rough approximation of Heston’s Iced Chocolate Wine Slush recipe on channel 4’s website, they also published Heston’s Millionaire’s Shortbread recipe which was used for the Hansel & Gretel house roof tiles in the Fairytale Feasts show.
Observer Food – An audio interview with Heston Blumenthal about food philosophy and his Chilled Summer Treats Ice Cream Stall at the Manchester International Festival 2007
Mainwave Photography – the two beautiful ice cream images on this article were taken by Manchester-based and stunningly talented commercial & wedding photographer Mark Whitard of Mainwave Photography.