Bull’s Horn Pepper and Eleven Basils

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    4

Appears in

Origin

By Ben Shewry

Published 2012

  • About

We used to have a decent-sized car park at the back of the restaurant where all of the staff could park their cars. One day it struck me that a better use for the space would be a garden, much to the displeasure of my staff who drive. So now in summer when we look out the kitchen window, instead of seeing ugly cars, we see more than 150 basil plants and all manner of other herbs growing. I love the feeling of weeding and turning the soil in the beds most nights just before service. It’s my therapy time — and of course there’s still just enough room for my car.

Basil is an amazing plant, and all of these different varieties have very unique personalities — each one tastes so different from the next. When we serve this dish we suggest to the customer to eat it in eleven bites, each with a different basil leaf, so they get a different sensation with each mouthful.

Our olive oil is from Gianni Grigoletto of Il Buon Frantoiano. He presses our oil to order when olives are in season so it arrives at the restaurant only three to four days old. Although Gianni has been making olive oil for the past fifty years — he buys his fruit from three farms around Victoria — he has a new-school approach to the ancient craft, believing it to be a seasonal product. He turned up at Attica one day two years ago and told me emphatically: ‘I’m your olive oil supplier.’ When I meet someone as passionate as that, who am I to refuse?

To Finish

  • table salt, to taste
  • 4 lime basil leaves
  • 4 lemon basil leaves
  • 4 licorice basil leaves
  • 4 red rubin basil leaves
  • 4 cinnamon basil leaves
  • 4 red basil leaves
  • 4 bush basil leaves
  • 4 spicy globe basil leaves
  • 4 green ruffles basil leaves
  • 4 purple ruffles basil leaves
  • 4 Thai basil leaves
  • small amount of fresh wild fennel pollen

Place a teaspoon of the sheep’s milk yoghurt on each plate and, using the back of the spoon, gently spread it out to the shape of a bull horn pepper. Place a pepper half on each plate, concealing the yoghurt.

Dress the cherry tomatoes with some of the tomato dressing and season with salt. Place 3 tomatoes on each pepper. Place 3 of the reserved seed membranes on each pepper. Add a few small dabs of yoghurt and a few small dabs of the black sesame oil on each pepper. Place a few spiced hazelnuts on each pepper.

Place 11 different basil leaves on each plate. Sprinkle a little fennel pollen over each dish and drizzle with a little tomato dressing.

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