Edible gold leaf was all that was left after the fob watch dissolved before our eyes
The theme of the menu on the night fit perfectly with the whimsy of Heston, and added to the pure fun of the evening. So it seems fitting to begin this post with the course with that name – the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party (c. 1850).
The menu told us we would be eating mock turtle soup, pocket watch and toast sandwich.
Mad Hatter’s Tea Party – a “fob watch broth” on top to be poured over mock turtle egg
Again, a two-part course. First was an edible watch made of gold leaf-covered consomme which dissolved before your very eyes in the teapot, and which made the base of the mock turtle soup. The stock was then poured over a small mock turtle egg of turnip mouse and swede gel on top of which were small enoki mushrooms, and a terrine of alternating layers of pressed cured pork fat with braised oxtail, with cubes of turnip, black truffle and microherbs.
Sound of the sea
“Sound of the sea” was the next course, paired with Daiginko Masumi Nanago sake, from Myasaka Brewery in the Nagano Prefecture. The freshness of the sake complemented this dish – which famously leans on your sense of sound to entice, stimulate and enhance your sense of taste and smell. I have absolutely no idea what’s in it but essentially it’s an entirely edible plate of sand (tastes of seaweed and miso and goodness knows what else, with the texture of sand when you first eat it, then it seems to almost dissolve on your tongue), on top of which are various slices of seafood (razor clams, oysters, sea urchin, salmon roe), nestled along the shore line with seaweed and foam. Of course you are meant to eat this while you listen to the sound of waves crashing, with seagulls squawking (do seagulls squawk??) above. I have to admit, if the entire restaurant weren’t all eating the same thing, I would have felt more than a little foolish with my eyes closed, earbuds that came out of a large conch shell in my ears, smelling the dish before exclaiming how you could actually smell the sea, before we ate it. Did I love the dish ? I have to say, no – my love of the purity of Japanese sashimi overpowered the complexity of this dish. But was I impressed and amazed ? Absolutely.
Salmon poached in liqorice gel
The next dish – salmon poached in a liquorice gel, with artichokes, vanilla mayonnaise and golden trout roe – didn’t quite hit the spot with me either. I think the liquorice gel overpowered the oh-so-delicate salmon and the dish just seemed very heavy.
Bay duck with blood pudding and umbles
Bay duck with blood pudding and umbles came next. Apparently the phrase “eating humble pie” came from “umble pie” – a pie made from umbles, which is the heart, kidneys, liver etc of deer. The duck was brined in a spice liquor before being cooked to pink perfection, fat perfectly rendered, with crisp skin on top. Gorgeous – although an enormous serving meant that I had to leave half behind to fit in the remaining five courses.
Good grief, this post is already crazy-long. Third post for the Fat Duck desserts coming up !