While the Open Sauces diners milled around after dinner drinking coffee (Feral Trade, Blue Mountain and Kopi Luwak), tea (Feral Trade, milky oolong, jasmin and osmanthus) and digestifs (calvados and grappas), we served petit fours along with two small, fiery things to stimulate the digestive combustion – a strong minty mouth freshener and aromatic oven-dried paan leaves – directly onto the diners’ tongues.

  • A large bunch of mint
  • Absinthe (or vodka and aniseed)
  • Splash of orange blossom water
  • Paan leaves

Note: if you can’t find Paan leaves, any Indian mouth-freshening seed mixture can be used instead

Chop mint leaves very finely. Put in a jar and cover with absinthe. Put on the lid without fully screwing it shut. Heat au bain-marie at 70°C for 1 hour. Filter into a clean jar through a coffee filter. Add orange blossom water to taste – a drop at a time, testing the result after every drop (if you add too much, it will taste too much like a perfume). Funnel into small spray bottles and refrigerate until serving. To consume, the freshener is sprayed directly into the mouth. Indian paan leaves can be served alongside, to aid digestion.

Mint and orange blossom water came from our local corner shop in Molenbeek, and “Absinthe Duplais” from Matter-Luginbühl in Switzerland. Paan leaves were bought at the Chandni Chowk market in New Delhi during a Doors of Perception workshop. As for the drinks – Feral Trade coffee and black tea were hand-delivered by Kate Rich; Blue Mountain bought at a specialty store in Brussels; milky oolong, jasmin (Snowflake) and osmanthis tea came from Onn Fat Hong tea shop in Singapore; Kopi Luwak was bought near Ubud on a trip to Bali. Chocolates were supplied by Dominique Persoone at The Chocolate Line in Brugges (http://www.dominiquepersoone.be).

(an sidebar recipe)