‘Discovery & Progress’

The past month at Lab22 has been one of the most exciting and progressive that we’ve ever experienced. We’ve touched up areas of the building itself, with the entranceway itself receiving a facelift, some new shelving being added to our back bar, and given major reconstructive surgery to the outside terrace. A little bit of added square footage has been joined by completely new deck, although you’d be forgiven for not knowing, as it’s all been rolled under the carpet, with a covering of synthetic grass- which has even felt the naked feet and toes of a few patrons Saturdays past. 
These alterations may be aesthetically pleasing, but it’s less so the hardware, but the inner functioning’s that have seen the greatest change.

Designing a new menu is always an awesome project to get yourself stuck into. It starts with the whole team sat round a table discussing what we want from a new menu, what we want it to say, what direction we want to go in. Then usually with a few steps in between, leads to us all expressing some kind of moot opinion like “you know what, doesn’t everyone in the world just bloody love Espresso Martinis?”, as our 40-minute concentration barrier digs in and we forget the task at hand. Occasionally however, it doesn’t. Mass enthusiasm spikes creativity and the room of night walking minions finds themselves enthused at 9.53am and researching how on earth you can make a lightbulb light up when placing onto a cocktail for garnish (spoiler alter, with extreme difficulty and moderate danger to the drinker, exciting). 

These brief moments of genius, and more consistent moments of failure are now however, behind us. By the time this journal reaches the interwebs, we’ll have Team22’s menu in hand, and pigs will have flown. One of the themes we’ve elected to run with for the foreseeable future is trying to make all ingredients possible, in house. Picking up one of our Cocktail Catalogues will reveal that all house beverages have an element of the molecular, and not so easily replicated, that gives it our distinct style. But here I am, divulging trade secrets, and pushing the metaphorical big red button, imparting my wisdom -or lack thereof- regarding how to make sorbet with the skill and grace of an unsupervised 11 year old.

Sorbet has always been one of my favourite indulgencies. There aren’t many sweet deserts that’ll sway me to opting over the cheese board to round off my dinner out, sticky toffee pudding, banoffee pie, and sorbet, with a leniency towards either raspberry or mango. Since in the Lab22 office (or booze kitchen, if you will) we’re making mango and vanilla sorbet for a creating entitled the Buck Naked, that’s loosely what I’ll be basing the following words on. For those of who have never thought to ask, or more likely never cared what the difference between sorbet and other ice-cream/ gelato variations is, the unaccountable voice on the internet has the answers. As a vague rule of thumb, unlike ice cream, sorbet is just the concoction of fresh fruit, and sugar. Unlike the milk fat (triglyceride fat) cream version, making it suitable for vegans, and a better solution in alcohol.

2 Large Mangos
Half Cup Vanilla Sugar
Juice of 2 Limes
Pinch Salt

Like most recipes, especially when using fresh fruit, they can be followed 100 times, always to the letter, and yield 46 different sets of results, but this is what we’ve found has worked best for us. Hang, draw, and quarter the mangos. Once cut up, combine in a blender with the sugar and remaining ingredients. Blend until completely smooth, and feed through a straining with moderate spacing, just to get rid of any lumps remaining. At this point, we put it over heat. But why would you put a frozen good on the hob? I will tell you, internet.

The sugar in our recipe doesn’t just act as a sweetening agent, it’s going to work as our secret agent, our liquid bond. Sugar has great emulsion properties, and is going to aid in keeping the texture smooth and consistent during freezing. Furthermore, sorbet gets it wonderful and delicate texture from the unfrozen elements, rather than the solid. Combining the sugar with the fruit almost forms a sort of simple syrup, and as you might already be well aware of, sugar/ simple syrup has a lower freezing point than water, which is where our air is going to get trapped and give the sorbet the velvety texture we’re all after. So, by heating our mixture at 80 degrees Celsius for 2 minutes, we’ll part dissolve some of the sugar, and will aid in trapping oxygen when we complete our final step, a quick blend, whisk, and churn. Lastly, pour into a large Tupperware container and place in the freezer for about 8 hours.

At the point of removal from the below freezing temperatures we’ve just subjected our blend too, it should have a delicate consistency, that leads it to melting upon the tongue and inciting rose tinted memories. Either that, or you’re first go at sorbet hasn’t turned out as one would expect, and you now have a slightly lighter than usual giant mango ice ball. In which case, I’d recommend adding some more lime juice, white rum, giving it a blend, and slurping through a straw whilst in direct sunshine like the domestic goddess you are.

The Buck Naked is available on Lab22’s new menu – Discovery and Progress – from August 11th.