Lobster with Chickpea and Coriander Sauce This began as a version of a soup I once ate in Tuscany: Chickpea Soup with a garnish of Langoustine Tails. It was lovely but nobody ordered it. Perhaps soups have too downmarket an aura for expensive menus. The tweaking that followed shifted the spotlight from liquid to protein; soup mutated to sauce and the garnish became a centrepiece. The dish became a mainstay of my spring and summer starter menus for years. Its appeal probably lay in the fact that I cooked the lobsters to order, rather than leaving them to become starchy in the fridge.
Red Wine Risotto Very few dishes have failed because of any intrinsic problem with the flavours. It has generally been some mismatch between the quantities or consistency. Red Wine Risotto seemed like a good idea, but wasn't. It didn't taste good if cheese was added – bit like vomit I thought – but didn't taste of much other than boiled red wine if the cheese was left out. A no-win situation. That's why the Italians, who know a bit about risotto and have a fair amount of red wine to hand, haven't bothered too often.