A taste of a good party

Making pizza isn’t the hardest recipe in the book, but it sure is fun. There’s something extremely satisfying about throwing mozzarella, prosciutto slices and olives in an arty pattern (or rustic if that’s your style), to create your very own bespoke pizza. At Absolute Taste’s cooking masterclass last night, that’s exactly what we did.
I should explain that I was invited to Harvey Nichols and the Absolute Taste restaurant (5th Floor) last night for a masterclass in party food. Since the festive season is coming up, it’ll help to know a catering company you can trust, so you don’t end up with sad and unsatisfying canapés leaving guest no choice but to drink to forget.

Absolute Taste was established in 1997, and has a strong reputation for delivering high profile events catering. Gordon Ramsay works with them, as do the McLaren group, so with this portfolio you expect them to deliver. From the range of tasty treats we sampled, I felt secure I wouldn’t have to retreat into a liquid dinner.
Before the pizza making started we indulged in some nibbles, ranging from fresh crudités, brioches filled with wild mushrooms, plates with cured meats and seared beef. Being a massive fan of fatty sausages I mainly hovered around this platter, indulging in the bresaola, fennel-flavoured mini sausages, and the 3J Iberian ham. And that was just the start…

Crisp and crunchy vegetables…

Chunky apple chutney with a range of cured meats. Moreish!

These Scottish beef nibbles with Hollandaise sauce were just as tender and juicy as they look.

This was an unexpected favourite. Nothing soggy about these brioches, but there’s no lady-like way of eating them. Hold on to your napkin!
After getting to know Absolute Taste’s food strengths, we were divided up into two groups. My group went straight into the kitchen with head chef Andy Ritchie to make pizzas. The dough base was already prepared, but the kneading process was up to us to conquer. A slab of tomato sauce, some toppings of our choice (figs are the way forward) et voila, the pizza was ready for the 280° hot oven.

Andy let us in on all the pizza making secrets, and revealed that the Superfood salad is the most popular dish on the Absolute Taste menu. I imagine this is just the right kind of injection weary shoppers (and ladies who lunch) need after a heavy spree. For my next visit I would try the Crispy duck salad with water melon and plum dressing, which insiders told me is a must.

Our turn to shine.

My creation. I’m quite pleased with the edges.

I think this was the winning pizza. It’s not mine though…

And that’s how you make a pizza!
You would think that was the end of the night, but there was even more food to come. Will Gould, executive chef at Absolute Taste, summoned us over to impart his knowledge on making tuna rice paper rolls. We were each given a somewhat slimy rice paper and got stuck in. First we seasoned the tuna and decorating our rice sheet with fresh basil and mint, followed by the tuna slice, finally adding avocado, carrot and cucumber julienne. Will then effortlessly rolled his up, with the rest of us achieving quite different results. The key is to keep the sheet taut, and fill the roll with enough ingredients – apparently.

This is how it started…

And the end result. With some dipping sauces (spicy, and honey and soya) the rolls were seriously hard to resist – even though I’d just devoured a pizza.

I confess, I also had one of these bite-sized brownies…
While there were no traditional mince pies or turkey breasts around to denote the start of the festive season, this suited my taste buds far more. I would happily come back and try some of Absolute Taste’s menu for a light lunch (I think this is their strength, not the pizza), there are a lot more on offer than the ubiquitous Caesar salad. The prices are also fair considering the Knightsbridge location.
Unfortunately, there’s no Absolute Taste menu to browse on Harvey Nichol’s website, but if you want to have a peek at what might be on offer you can check out The Absolute Taste website.


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