Sunday 23 February 2014

Stripped Back - Ben Spalding @ Camp & Furnace, Liverpool

One of the hottest tickets arguably in the last year in London's street food scene is the Stripped Back concept created by Ben Spalding. Defined on its Twitter account as refined street food cooked with raw passion & obsessive dedication anywhere, anytime. Following stints at Fat Duck, Le Manoir and Roganic, Stripped Back takes good food and makes it enjoyable in ultra relaxed settings.

I've been an avid follower of Stripped Back at Street Feast but could never arrange a visit to London which coincided with one of the sessions. So when I saw a tweet promoting the welcome of Stripped Back at Camp & Furnace there was never a doubt and I made the booking straight away. No excuses with Camp & Furnace being a mile away from home! As far as venues go, Camp & Furnace and Stripped Back go hand in hand. Set in the main room alongside a Food Slam, Ben and team must of felt right at home with Rockaoke on at the far end of the room and food stalls lining the sides. Similar to Street Feast venues with DJs, albeit a little more rugged than Camp & Furnace. Props to the Camp & Furnace guys for making this happen and bringing the brightest talents to Liverpool.

We arrived early ahead of the second sitting and were trying desperately not to take sneaky peeks at the food being served. The Stripped Back and Camp & Furnace teams took turns delivering alternate courses and are coloured coded below black for the hosts and red for the guests.

The first courses were small nibbles. Swine Orgy - pig skin & jelly, tom yum mayonnaise, Japanese spices.

Salt 'N' Vinegar - salt 'n' vinegar celery, potato crisps

B&B - sourdough, hackney wild, sweet & salty Lincolnshire poacher. The bread and butter course, forget the usual unsalted, salted, beef dripping etc this simply took it to another level. The sweet & salty Lincolnshire poacher prepared in front of us and finished off with a blowtorch was hugely additive.

Scallop - caramelised, blue cheese, buttermilk, nettle, pickled squash.

Salad '40' - 40 ingredient salad with sour cream. There was a short wait between the last dish and this, understandable given its contents. We watched and waited patiently and Chef placed, flicked, spooned and sprinkled the array of ingredients onto the line of plates.

The finished article. There was so much going on that every mouthful introduced new elements.

The list of ingredients in full!

Cheek - pomelo puree, shallots, crispy wild rice, thyme, morcilla. 

Salmon Belly - cured salmon belly, peanut butter, preserved grapes, cucumber juice. The simplest but a surprisingly effective dish. The peanut butter matched well with the salmon and the cucumber juice was refreshing and cleansed the palate.

Curd - goats curd, hot vimto, basil, biscuit. The hot vimto being soaked into the biscuit was inspired, the simplest Camp & Furnace dish but my favourite.

Rainbow - plum, lemon, strawberry, chocolate, wasabi, buckthorn, orange, beetroot, M&Ms. A pretty dessert that concluded the dishes from team Stripped Back.

Honey - soup, comb, pollen, milk, rhubarb.

A great night and it was great to see an inspirational Chef at work. Hopefully next time Chef Ben Spalding returns to Liverpool we will get to see his No Rules concept where he is challenged to incorporate ingredients from diners into the meal. Thanks to the Camp & Furnace team for making this happen and heres hoping to many more top class food events over the rest of the year!

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