The decision to remove the Snow Egg from the menu at Quay wasn’t made lightly. “After 10 years, it was a pretty big decision,” says chef Peter Gilmore. “But I think it sent a pretty big message of our intent to renew and change.” Enter White Coral, the finale to the new degustation menus. The monotone chunk of organic geometry that rises from the waved bowl might look elegantly simple, but in typical Peter Gilmore style, the dessert is anything but.
“I had this idea of playing a riff on the Aero chocolate bar,” Gilmore says. The day before service, a mousse of French white chocolate, cream and egg whites is spooned into a cream gun and given two hits of nitrous oxide. The aerated mix is divided into several perspex containers fitted with one-way seals and placed in the kitchen’s vac-pack machine. As the air is removed, the sponge-like form of the white coral quickly appears, as if by magic. The coral is then frozen overnight to preserve its structure. The next day, each piece is cut out of its container to order and bathed in liquid nitrogen for 40 seconds. It emerges very fragile, at almost minus 200 degrees. The waiters have less than a minute to get it to the table before the dessert loses its delicate structure.
The same mousse used to create of the coral, spread over the ice cream, insulating it from the liquid nitrogen’s chill.
Mango ice-cream (underneath)
Northern Territory mangoes, cold-pressed and cooked into a stable sabayon (custard). Three hours before service, an Italian machine churns the mix into something halfway between an ice cream and a gelato. “Potentially, the next flavour could be white nectarine or cherry,” Gilmore says. “Like the Snow Egg evolved and changed with the seasons, the White Coral will as well.”
Coconut cream (underneath)
Adding an additional tropical note – and holding the ice cream in place in the bowl – is a coconut-flavoured cream, made by combining dehydrated coconut powder with cream.
Handmade by Studio Jam’s Paul Davies and Jacqueline Clayton, then covered in an opaque white glaze. “I wanted a ceramic dish that highlighted the organic nature of the food,” Gilmore says. “There are so many elements in a dessert like this, and they need to not only work together in terms of flavour, but in their texture, their technique and their visual appeal. That’s the key to creating something really memorable.” Cunningly, it also prevents diners from trying to lick out any remaining mousse.