Food on TV: Heston Blumenthal’s Victorian Feast

Oh my.  Am I the last food-obsessed person in the world to discover Heston Blumenthal’s extraordinary feasts?  How have I missed this wonderful culinary insanity for so long?

I’m not a cooking show sort of person, normally.  I love cooking and can’t resist an interesting cookbook, but cooking shows generally leave me cold. I don’t learn very well just by watching – I have to read about it or do it, so cooking shows aren’t much good to me recipe-wise. As for the entertainment value, where’s the fun in looking at food that you can’t taste or even smell?  At worst, it’s dull, and at best it’s a terrible tease.

(Having said all that, I am horribly addicted to MasterChef, largely because of the challenges, which are great fun because I can sit there figuring out what I’d make with those ingredients or in that situation. Indeed, I have been known to lose sleep because I couldn’t think of anything to do with a particular Mystery Box.  I never did claim to be balanced when it comes to cooking.)

Anyway, while I’ve been vaguely interested in Heston Blumenthal’s cooking for a while, his show screened on Thursday nights when I am out at choir, and I never got around to taping it.  It turns out that this was a mistake.  Fortunately for me, a friend gave me the first Heston’s Feast DVD collection yesterday, as a belated birthday present, and I watched the first episode last night.

Well.  Let me start by saying that the Victorian Era I know is clearly not the one that Heston knows – and let me continue by saying that I’m actually fine with that, because I think we can all agree that an Alice In Wonderland-themed feast is a brilliant idea.

Having told Andrew as I sat down that, fantastic as Heston’s food might be, this was one cookbook I would never need (too much chemistry, not enough cooking), it took me about ten minutes of watching the first episode to revise this opinion.  I blame the Drink Me Potion.  How could I not want to try a drink that is flamingo-pink and has separate layers of toffee, hot buttered toast, cherry pie, turkey, pineapple and custard?  I need to know what this tastes like, and since I can’t see it appearing on any menus in Melbourne in the near future, this means I will have to learn how to make it myself.  And get some of those awesome test-tube glasses to drink it out of.

Frankly, I don’t think you *can* top that, but the rest of the meal certainly tried.  The Mock Turtle Soup, aside from being incredibly cleverly done and looking absolutely beautiful, sounded like it would taste delicious, and the edible garden (with edible insects) was magnificent.  Though I did love Heston’s reaction to some of the edible insects he tried when testing the recipe.  Let’s just say that some things that look completely unappetising actually *are* completely unappetising and leave it at that…

Dessert was a vibrating absinthe jelly.

I honestly don’t think I can commentate further on that – it speaks for itself.

Vibrating absinthe jelly.


That’s one I don’t need to try, though I probably would be game for edible insects, if they were served by someone whose cooking I really trusted.

So, yeah.  I think I may have a new favourite series.  And I think I may have to get a Heston cookbook after all.  Because it turns out that I was right about one thing – looking at all that lovely food is a terrible, terrible tease.  This show would be so much better if one could taste the food…

You can buy Heston’s Feast [DVD] through Amazon UK.  Cruelly, there does not seem to be a matching cookbook for this series, though I gather there is one for the next series…

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4 comments for “Food on TV: Heston Blumenthal’s Victorian Feast

  1. May 26, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    I’ve been watching Heston’s Feasts series and he is amazing. I am thinking that there is no one else in the world quite like Heston.

  2. May 26, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    I think you’re right. He’s pretty incredible.

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