Gourmandises créoles pop-up: Reunion Island cuisine at Balzano’s in Cambridge
A few years ago, if someone had predicted that I would be serving food from the Island of Reunion to the British, I would have probably laughed.
And here we were, on March 1st 2014, in actual fact my birthday, with a very keen and enthusiastic little crowd from Cambridge and as far as Bury St Edmunds, who had come along to sample Reunion food.
Interestingly enough, some of them had actually made the trip to Reunion 20 years ago, so the pressure was on, not to disappoint.
In, true creole style the party couldn’t start without a good slush of “rhum arrangé”. The rum, was flavoured with local fruits such as sloes, blackberries and Victoria plums, it had been infusing with those flavours since September last year. It was served with our version of Chinese dumplings called “bouchons”, these were flavoured with Kaffir lime, fish and prawn samossas and “bonbons piments” close to a falafel.
Knowing that some of my guests had been to Reunion, I really wanted to bring back memories of their trip, so I had to have the traditional “cari poulet” served with lentils this time. The chicken was provided by Cowlings Butcher.
The main course was “rougail saucisses” (spicy sausage stew) served with rice, butter beans and a mango rougail. In Reunion, we make our own sausages and smoke them, but it was difficult, rather impossible to find them here, so for this recipe I used a Toulouse sausage, made by a local butcher Histon Chop Shop. It was a hit, as people started to ask for seconds, I was not quite prepared for such a response, thankfully I had made plenty, so here we were my husband and I serving seconds.
When the dessert came “tarte au chocolat served with flambee bananas and vanilla cream”, the atmosphere in the room was delightful and full of laughter. A real joy to see. “How come your bananas didn’t go to mash someone said, how did you manage to have such a thin pastry with the chocolate melting in the mouth”. I simply can’t answer these technically, in France we call it the “tour de main”, instinct I suppose.
The evening started at 7:30 and by 11:00 people were just making their way out with a big smile on their faces and tummies full of food that I think they truly enjoyed considering the empty plates.
Gourmandises Créoles will come to Cambridge again, so if you’re interested in joining us email us at [email protected] and you will be on my mailing list for future events.