Ever since I received the press invitation from American Express and the Asian Food Channel to attend and sample Scandinavian dishes cooked live by celebrity chef Sara la Fountain, I was seriously counting days. I had always waited for this moment not only because she is a celebrity TV chef and blogger (who also manages the blog Passion for Fashion & Food), a fashion model (who has represented brands like Marrimeko and Puma), an award-winning cookbook writer, a sophisticated dinnerware designer and a professional kitchen shoes designer, but she is an inspiration for many. She is an example that if you have got the talent, only sky is the limit!
Sara received her formal training from The Culinary Institute of America, the world-renowned culinary school in America. She is a very popular media personality in Finland, where she has her own TV show AvecSara. Currently starring as one of the hosts on New Scandinavian Cooking and Perfect Day airing on Asian Food Channel, Sara displays magical grace in her culinary creations. She has given Scandinavian food a new dimension, which is in tune with the new-generation cooking as well! Scandinavian cuisine is something to try out for sure, and Sara la Fountain was here to propagate this!
On 25th May, Le Meridien Cyberport, Hong Kong, was buzzing with press invitees. When I entered, I already saw Sara interacting with some of the invitees. The event (cooking demonstration by the chef) started with a welcome speech by Rachael Yau, VP and Head of Consumer Card Products & Marketing, American Express, Hong Kong. Following this, the chef began to make three amazing Nordic dishes with her own creative twists. The first dish was Goat Cheese Salad with Beetroot, Dark Sweet Bread Croutons, Marinated Red Onions and Blueberry-Balsamic Vinaigrette. Sara explained that Scandinavian blueberries and those found in Hong Kong are quite different in taste. So she took an instant decision to go with blueberry jam instead of the blueberries found in Hong Kong, for the base of her Blueberry-Balsamic dressing. She was satisfied with the swap and when I tasted the same, I could at once guess what a great chef she is. This was the best blueberry-balsamic vinaigrette I had ever tasted: what a perfect balance of sweet and sour flavours! She used a special kind of bread for the croutons, which I had never tasted before. She explained, it was Archipelago bread, which was dark brown, sweet and simply amazing in the salad made by the chef. The Goat cheese salad was a combination of Romano and Frisee salads, a few pieces of dark bread and high-quality goat cheese balls.
I loved the marinated red onion vinaigrette used for this salad. This was something which complemented the salad very well. Red onions were first cut into thin rounds and then marinated in a mixture of sugar, salt, vinegar, all spice and olive oil, until these rings became soft and sweet.
The beets were pre-boiled with skin and then de-skinned and cut into very small cubes. These were then marinated for half an hour in white wine vinegar, salt, honey and olive oil. The final dish looked like this (which she served up with raspberries):
The next dish was Fried Fish with Summer Potato Vegetable Salad. She made a different kind of dressing this time. The dressing had hints of horseradish, Dijon mustard, honey and mayonnaise. The base of the dressing was sour cream and chopped chives. This dressing went very well on the vegetable salad made with cauliflowers, new potatoes and sugar snap peas. She topped a big fillet of deep-fried white fish (perch) coated with breadcrumbs. Salmon roe was used as a garnish, which gave a complete look to the dish.
The final dish was Summer Pavlova with Passionfruit Cream Served with Strawberries and Pistachios. For this, the chef topped an amazing passion fruit sauce made with lemon curd and passion fruit. The pavlova was garnished tastefully with whipped cream, pistachios and strawberries.
The dishes were great. Sara la Fountain opened my eyes (and tastebuds!) to the amazing cuisine of Finland with her own interesting twists and I am looking forward to learning more from her in the future: thanks to the Asian Food Channel for airing such talented and inspirational chefs who make cooking a fun experience altogether!