Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tea and Gauthier Soho

About two years ago we were approached by Lalani & Co about listing their teas here at the restaurant Gauthier Soho. 
They informed me they were great lovers of the restaurant, and felt their product would sit perfectly with us, so intrigued, we invited them in to show us the product.

Personally, the idea of tea with food evoked cabbies in chippies, Binnie Hale on the wireless at my grandmother’s, or perhaps awkward hours spent in stiff hotel drawing rooms nibbling on cucumber sandwiches while my mother-in-law sips Earl Grey with an extended little finger.

Here at the restaurant however, Chef patrons Alexis and Gerard have always been enthusiastic about tea in restaurants, particularly in Japan and South East Asia, where delicate blends are appreciated far more commonly in a restaurant environment.
Green tea for example as a digestive after a long meal, is well known and simple as it sounds. But the feeling of leaving a full meal completely calm and relaxed, without the calories and sugars of alcohol or fruit juices is revelating.

Oddly, I found the natural pairings were more obvious to me than I first thought. How many years had I enjoyed my afternoon chocolate and strong black tea? The sweet creaminess of milk chocolate is counteracted perfectly by the bitter, slightly sour and deeply dry notes of the strong black tea, which is basically Assam?

The idea of pairing teas with dishes was new ground, however. Would customers really be happy with tea as a substitution for wine? Can the flavours really be appreciated in the same depth?

The obvious answer is of course yes, and in some cases more so. I've learned that teas can actually expose flavours otherwise hidden away, such as the bitterness of turnip previously shrouded in a rich thyme jus being brought to light by a Taiwanese Oolong, and the umami earthy notes of black truffle utterly underlined by a 1st flush 2014 Japanese Sencha, to the surprising revelation of poached apricots from an indian Darjeeling.

Full tea flights are now being served with tasting menus and are available to view here 

Well, more than a year on and all we can say his how happy we are with the product and how well it’s been received. 

Restaurant manager Damian Sanchez says: “Having the tea flight pairing has for the first time offered the health or calorie conscious guest a serious alternative to wine or soft drinks in a situation where perhaps simply drinking water would be a shame. For example, drinking tea instead of wine can cut up to 500 calories from a meal and leave you feeling refreshed and invigorated rather than heavy and sleepy. We find it’s especially popular with people with a highly professional or busy schedule”

Chef Alexis Gauthier says: “ For me, matching food with drinks has always been a main part of being a chef but as my food was getting more and more floral and vegetal, I found Lalani had the passion and the expertise to understand what I was looking for to apply to more vegecentric dishes.
One revelation was learning about how tea was actually as if not more seasonal than my favourite ingredients and a new source of discovery into the vegetal world of cooking.“

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