In the realm of shameless – this possibly sits in the top 10 for me.
This is not a story of how my husband proposed marriage . But this is a story of how I faked a proposal to get into one of Neil Perry’s restaurants.
A few weeks after his famed Spice Temple opened a work mate mentioned this restaurant and how difficult it was to get a booking. Apparently, all weekends were booked for the next three months.
“I bet you I can get a booking.” I said.
“Unless you know Neil Perry personally I don’t think you stand a chance.” he said.
So I called the restaurant.
“Hi, I’d like to make a booking for this Friday please.” I said.
“I’m sorry but we are fully booked.” said the receptionist.
“Yes but is there anyway you can make an exception? This is for a really important occasion.” I pleaded.
“No, I’d really like to accommodate you but we are full for Friday. If you’d like, I can put you on our wait list but there are 5 ahead of you.” she replied.
“But you don’t understand, my boyfriend asked me to make a booking at the restaurant of my choice. I think he is going to propose to me. I’m DESPERATE” I said.
“We get people asking for exceptions ALL the time.” she said, obviously unimpressed with my reasoning as to why I should get special treatment.
“No, no… you don’t understand.” I told her, “I am 35 years old. I am DESPERATE.” I repeated.
“Wait a minute.” She put me on hold. “Alright – we’ve got a table at 7 pm but we need it back by 9 pm.”
Can you imagine me trying to get my husband to agree to re-propose? Of course, there was NO WAY he’d say yes. The waitstaff of Spice Temple looked disappointed when we were being seated, I flashed my “engagement ring” and whispered that he had “surprised me by proposing” the night before.
Anyway, what was supposed to be a memorable night, then was doomed to become “just another dinner”, eventually became unforgettable because of this – fresh watermelon granita laced with a ginger syrup. It was a perfect ending to a delicious and very spicy meal (think Hot and Numbing Wagyu Beef or Stir Fried Prawns with Salted Eggs and Four Chillies).
I’ve never been able to bring myself to go back to Spice Temple after the “engagement episode” for fear they’d caught on to my shameless actions…
But I’ll always have their watermelon granita…
Watermelon Granita with Ginger Syrup
From Neil Perry’s Spice Temple
- 750 grams coarsely chopped fresh watermelon
- 60 grams white sugar
- 200 grams finely diced watermelon, to serve
- 100 grams white sugar
- 20 grams ginger, chopped
- Macerate the watermelon by combining the first lot of watermelon with the sugar and allow to stand for around 45 minutes. Process this in a food processor and then strain. Transfer to a 20 cm x 30 cm shallow metal tray and freeze, scraping occasionally with a fork until crystals form and the granita is frozen. This usually takes around 4 to 5 hours.
- For the ginger syrup, combine the sugar, ginger and 60 ml of water in a saucepan. Bring this to a boil and then remove it from the heat and allow to cool. Strain out the ginger.
- To serve, place some granita in a chilled class, add the diced watermelon and pour some ginger syrup over it.
Watermelon and Ginger Sorbet On the Thermomix
- Combine the ginger, 100 grams white sugar and 60 ml water in the thermomix. Heat at 100c for 5 minutes on speed 3. Remove from heat, strain the ginger and allow to stand until cool.
- Combine the watermelon and the sugar in the thermomix and process on speed 8 for 10 seconds. Pour the ginger syrup on to the watermelon. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze.
- When the watermelon cubes are frozen, process once more on the thermomix on speed 10 for around 20 seconds. Use the spatula to assist in the mixing of the sorbet. Top with the finely diced watermelon. Hint: If you want, use a fork to scrape on the sorbet until you get the granita like texture.