So before I get to the glorious results, I might let everyone know the little story behind my signed copy of Vanitas Gourmet Collection, The culinary stylings and splendour of an inspirational hotel. Not exactly a funny story, more like a series of strange occurrences. On the night of our dinner at Vanitas, the maitre de handed us the highly stylized cook book, a chance for us to flick through it and drool at all the beautiful photos. We were quickly informed that we could purchase a copy if we so pleased, and that Steve Szabo would sign it. Say no more, Maria has bought the line....hook and sinker. I let the maitra de know that I was interested in buying the book and getting a signed copy about half way through our meal. We had just received our 4th course out of 8 and were heading for a very full belly. The maitre de came back shortly after letting us know that Steve had left for the night and would be back the following day. I thought, hang on a sec, we're half way through our meal and the head chef has already gone home??....hmmm I wonder who's calling the shots in the kitchen right now. He let us know that if we wanted to return tomorrow night, before dinner service began, Steve would be happy to sign the book then. I thought, ok, that works out perfectly. We had planned to spend the following day at Sea World, which was only just up the road. So once we were done at Sea World we could make a quick stop in at hotel Versace before dinner begins.
I was pretty excited to tell the truth. I was a shoe in for getting a signed copy and it was highly likely I might actually meet Steve. Considering we had been pretty friendly with the staff the night before, and they all seemed so helpful there was no reason for me to believe they wouldn't be exactly the same the next day. We walked into the hotel at around 5.30pm, not too early, not too late. We were wearing shorts and t-shirts, nothing strange in and around Surfers Paradise in Summer. Vanitas is towards the back right hand side within the hotel lobby. Since I could see the same maitre de from the night before we headed straight for the door. By the time we walked in the guy had disappeared, so we waited for someone to come speak to us. About 30 seconds later we were kicked out and told to stand on the other side of the door. I explained what we were there for and shortly afterwards the same maitre de greeted us. I had to explain the entire story to him, because some how in the last 24 hours his memory of us was completely wiped! Very strange I thought, considering the whole book signing thing and telling us to come back the next day. Once we had worked out what was going on he said he'd check the kitchen to see if Steve was in and would be right back, but left us standing on the other side of the glass doors, with a completely empty restaurant staring at us....mocking us with it plush seats. It felt like we were kids and mum had just mopped the floors and we were covered in mud from playing in the garden and weren't allowed in until either the floors had dried or we cleaned ourselves up. He returned a short time later, letting us know that Steve had not shown up yet. What!!??!! Its now pretty close to 6, when does this guy show up for work? Considering this place is supposed to be a top kitchen, I'm sure there would be plenty of prepping to do and apprentices to whip. He then let us know that Steve actually stays in the hotel, so it wouldn't be long until he came down. He took the book away and we waited. He returned a little while later, with the book signed and an unhappy look on his face. The whole ordeal was a little off putting. It completely ruined the whole experience for me, and in a way I wish I had just eaten my meal and never bought the book!
So that's the story. More annoying rather than anything. But now I have many recipes I can attempt and miseries to live....hopefully in my own home kitchen, rather than outside a restaurant door.
So back to the results! I decided to make this slice for a work morning tea. So I left all the fancy stuff off and only made a slice, with a slight change. I used hazelnuts instead of pecans.
I have too things to say about this recipe. Sweet but delicious. The sugar content will rival any diabetics sugar high, but after one bite you'll always want more. I cut the slice into tiny portions, keeping in mind the sweetness of it. I couldn't imagine what it would taste like with the praline topping and vanilla syrup. As a complete dessert it would need something tart to compliment the sweetness.
I would highly recommend trying this. The recipe is dead easy, and the pastry does exactly was it says it will and shrinks just a little. I keep getting requests to cook this again. I have an up coming blood test, so not until I get my results from that first!!