There are two cheap and easy ways to make fake blood. Green detergent mixed with red food colouring is perfect for splattering all over your next Halloween outfit. For fresh trails of blood running down your face, use golden syrup mixed with red food colouring and a touch of black. It will be ridiculously sticky, but it will trickle and glisten realistically.
And if you do happen to be wearing a blood soaked t-shirt, with your face and arms smeared enthusiastically in fake blood, noone will bat an eyelid if you're walking from Central to Redfern. I know because I did this last Friday night, initially a little worried that I would freak out passersby, and then worried because noone seemed fazed in the slightest.
But it was a weekend for Halloween festivities, and I was headed (in costume) to the Halloween Dessert Degustation, a pop-up event by food bloggers Billy, Karen and Phuoc.
Dining room at Studio Neon
For two days, Billy, Karen and Phuoc have been cooking in preparation for the event held at Studio Neon, a quirky hire space with mismatched chairs, a massive communal table and an awesome speaker display along one wall. There are two sittings, and after pushing out six courses in two hours for the first session, Billy confesses that the second session is much more relaxed, primarily because there is no time deadline, and also that fact they'd already had one complete run-through.
Phuoc, Karen and Billy
Thirty-two guests assemble for the second session, unsure of what to expect but ready for a ghoulish feast.
Billy handing out the petit fours
Tonight's degustation would be in reverse, starting with petit fours and progressing through desserts to savouries.
Petit fours: pineapple marshmallows by Karen; balsamic vinegar strawberry pate de fruit by Phuoc; and black sesame and charcoal powder macarons with pumpkin and blue cheese filling
Petit fours are a group contribution: fluffy pineapple marshmallows by Karen, sugar-crusted balsamic vinegar strawberry pate de fruit by Phuoc, and black sesame and charcoal powder macarons with an intriguing pumpkin and blue cheese filling by Billy.
A bar to the side keeps everyone liquored up with spooky cocktails. Dry ice adds theatrics to the Transfusion cocktail, but I love the naming of the Human Sacrifice, with three jelly babies skewered across the top!
Phuoc plating her deconstructed apple crumble
The open kitchen gives everyone a chance to watch the plating process, even if at times there are more photographers than cooks hovering around the pass! The level of organisation and communication is particularly impressive - everyone knows what they have to do, and pitch in seamlessly when required.
Billy and Phuoc
Deconstructed apple crumble by Phuoc: Apple and green tea sorbet, popping candy crumble, mille feuille and apple jelly
Desserts kick off with a deconstructed apple crumble by Phuoc. It's an elaborate construction, a scoop of icy cold apple and green tea sorbet, a crisp tile of mille feuille pastry, slippery curls of apple jelly and a bed of macadamia crumble with the surprise addition of pop rocks that crackle in the mouth.
Phuoc making apple juice pearls
There's a splash of molecular gastronomy too, with apple juice pearls created using a process of spherification.
Pouring moscato into the test tubes
Apple pearls with moscato
Test tubes of apple pearls topped up with moscato provide a fizzy and refreshing complement to the apple crumble.
A Frolic in the Dirt by Karen: Chocolate parfait with minted chocolate dirt, caramelised white chocolate and long pepper infused cherries
The second dessert is by Karen, a bowl of chocolate soil littered with caramelised white chocolate and cherries infused with long pepper. Digging deep in the bowl reveals a hidden core of chocolate parfait. There's an occasional flash of mint in the soil which we discover is courtesy of crushed up Fisherman's Friend tablets!
The hardest working but often overlooked pillars in the kitchen - the dishwashers!
By this point everyone is hankering for something savoury, and unlike the first session, we switch to savouries slightly earlier.
Mexican smoked Saddleback pulled pork and Asian style chilli and soy lamb ribs with balsamic braised red cabbage, apple puree with walnut and cauliflower puree
The savoury main is a hearty platter of pulled pork with braised red cabbage and a sweet puree of apple with toasted walnuts. The lamb ribs, cooked Asian style with chilli and soy, are amazingly tender but it's the creamy smooth cauliflower puree that has everyone sinking into gastronomic bliss.
Pumpkin soup with red pepper oil and pork crackling
The final savoury, or reverse entree, is a nutty pumpkin soup served in dainty tea cups. Pork crackling shards make for deliciously crunchy croutons.
Karen plating Billy's Snow White dessert
The finale is Billy's dessert, a dish that involves almost everyone scooping, dabbing or dotting various components on the plate.
Billy, Phuoc and Shaun
Raspberry mousse, oat crumbs, lychee and rosewater gel, pistachio praline, freeze dried raspberry
It's pink, delicate and pretty but before we know it, boxes are hauled out from nowhere and then the real big guns come out!
Snow White by Billy: Raspberry mousse, oat crumbs, lychee and rosewater gel, pistachio praline, freeze dried raspberry, white chocolate dome
White chocolate domes are gingerly placed over each plate, hiding the contents from view.
Snow White army
The 60 white chocolate domes took eight hours to make, according to Billy, who undertook a crash course in the joys of chocolate tempering.
Snow White at the table
It's hard not to be impressed by the dome when it arrives at the table. Even the brush strokes of white chocolate are mesmerising.
White chocolate domes at the dinner table
Pouring hot raspberry coulis over the white chocolate domes
Snow White collapses
Destruction. Puddles of blood. Everyone is fascinated by the different ways in which each dome folds in on itself and then eventually collapses.
Blood and carnage
It's a big dessert, but the acidity of the raspberry coulis provides some relief against the sweetness of the white chocolate. There's a lovely crunch from the pistachio praline and the lychee rosewater gel is elegantly refreshing.
We leave on a sugar high, clutching our stomachs with a renewed appreciation for salt. Congratulations to Billy, Karen and Phuoc on a fantastic evening. A great night had by all!
Phuoc, Karen and Billy
This won't hurt a bit, Billy!
The Halloween Dessert Degustation ($80 per person) was a public pop-up event held on Friday 26 October at Studio Neon.
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136 Raglan Street, Waterloo, Sydney
Tel: +61 (0)404 003 330
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10/29/2012 02:51:00 a.m.