Coffee and Cigarettes

You were warned...

This is a combination that has become very familiar over the past few months. I’m not a smoker but these two things are what fuel the culinary industry. Some days I drink 7 cups of coffee, obviously I am well aware of the health risks and all that crap but sometimes that is just what you need to give you the energy to push through service.

There is this great coffee bar on the street right next to the restaurant where I go on my break every day. During one of these refueling sessions I just took a spoon of the foam on my coffee and I was struck by its smoky, almost charred, qualities.

This immediately set off a chain reaction of thoughts in my head about how to use this in a dessert. It seemed like such an obvious combination once I gave it some thought. Sadly I have been somewhat beaten to the punch by the phenomenal Thomas Keller. In an episode of No Reservations he serves Tony Bourdain (an infamous chain-smoker) a coffee and tobacco course with foie gras. At least it shows I’m on to something.

Myself and some others will be getting together for a project night on the 30th so I am planning to work this combination for then. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to test some elements before serving it up.

I’m planning to serve the coffee as an ice cream, the tobacco would be infused into milk and whipped into a foam to be spooned over the dish. People talk a lot of shit about foams and most of it is fair game, but here I want that lightness and to reference the root of idea, the foam on the head of my coffee.

Other than that I’m not sure what else I want on the plate. Texture-wise I’m imagining some kind of crumb or crisp would go well, but what element this turns into I haven’t decided – possibly chocolate. I’ve also been looking to use the dehydrated milk biscuits in my Eleven Madison Park cookbook soon so they might feature. Adding actual smoke somewhere seems an obvious reference, but the whole smoke-under-the-cloche-thing is a bit overdone.

It’s going to take a lot of careful balancing because the flavour profile is potentially very bitter but I’m confident this could be a real winner. Expect updates over the next week or so as I test a few bits and pieces for it.



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