Wednesday, 28 October 2009
Monday, 26 October 2009
After four days I sliced the truffles thinly, sweated them in butter and then poured in the seasoned beaten eggs to make a scrambled omelette which three of us ate straight from the pan.
The truffles had definitely perfumed the eggs (the inside surface of the shells was very aromatic) but that gluey, estery smell did not transmute the flavour; instead, the truffles were pleasantly nutty and slightly 'high' hinting at decay and earth, the eggs a lovely rich umami accompaniment.
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
I did wonder though if, yet again, I'd be underwhelmed by black truffles. I'd had them from the markets in Beaune and Carpentras before, I'd been on a forage in St. Bris le Vineux, I'd unearthed them in the Lubéron where I'd packed them into a box of fresh eggs and a tin of Arborio rice hoping that their supposedly magic olfactory properties would symbiotically transform any subsequent omelette or risotto I made from them. But it seemed to me that truffles were more about smell and less about taste.
Before attacking the first course we had some Taittinger Brut enlivened by deliciously fresh crab & cucumber bites (well, licks, as these were served on small spoons passed around on trays) and lightly smoked tiny chunks of salmon. We listened to the local farmer who has chanced upon what might be the most fecund patch of truffle-laden forest in Europe, if not the world. The past 4 years have yielded over a ton of commercially viable, worm-free, intact truffles. The whereabouts of this 10 acre chalky patch of mainly beech and hazel forest are necessarily kept secret but I have been invited to go and have a look as long as I am escorted there blindfolded.
Next wine was Kooyong Massale Pinot Noir 2008 (retail £14.95) which had lovely cherryish fruit, fine tannins, fresh acidity and a slightly bitter finish.
A delight on its own (or with a plate of charcuterie perhaps) but floored by the challenging pudding of blackberry crumble, blackberry jelly, and creamed cheese ice cream. To be fair, most whites, sweet included, would have clashed.
The outstanding ice cream was reminiscent of those served in the Basque country of Northern Spain; a cheesy, slightly sour and salty cream, great with the darkly acid fruit.
Monday, 19 October 2009
Abi chose Pan Fried Foie Gras with a Potato Galatte (sic) and Sauternes Jus.
The liver was cut thickly, well seared but just done in the middle: perfect.
This was a refined, subtly flavoured piece of offal, perhaps from a goose rather than a duck?
The Galette was a crispy foil for the wobbly liver and the jus came with a couple of smears of bright green apple which tasted of rhubarb and gooseberry.
A surprisingly trendy foam was sprayed over the liver (or had a snail escaped from my plate and crawled over?)
The Fricassé (sic) of Wild Mushrooms and Snails with Bone Marrow was a small portion of tiny bits of mushroom not easily identifiable (shame when the markets are heaving now with ceps and girolles) with some curiously bland though pleasingly soft snails.
The star of the dish was sadly only 2 crostini (or should it be croûtes?) of bone marrow.
A whole dish of these would have been just the ticket.
The puddle in the plate was an (overly) sweet, sticky, old-school reduction. Minimal texture relief was provided by a thin disc of rolled crispy pig's belly.
In all, a good dish if you like plenty of soft, pillowy, marshmallowy sensations on the palate (but watch out for the toe bones).
Thursday, 15 October 2009
Friday, 9 October 2009
Tuesday, 6 October 2009
The oaky smokiness of the kipper is echoed in the peaty smokiness of this Islay Malt and the fishiness of the herring brings out an iodine salty twang in the whisky.
A great combination especially if you temper the strength of the alcohol with a little water (preferably lusciously soft, peaty water taken straight from the burn running at the end of the garden if you're in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland). Incidentally, the same water makes great tea too.