Tag Archives: Bray

Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck – part 3

The Fat Duck part three – phew ! Well I suppose if 14 courses took us four hours to finish, three posts does seem to do it justice. (Here are parts one and two).

The Fat Duck hot and cold tea

The deliciously crazy hot and cold tea

So we’d now completed the appetiser and main courses. Before going to the dessert courses, our palates were cleansed with “hot and iced tea” which is another perfect example of Heston’s ability to mess with your mind – making something as simple as a cup of tea raise all the eyebrows on our table, even thoughwe all knew exactly what it said was – not only was it printed on our menu, but the waiters told us as they served it. As you sip your tea from the glass cup, you taste the tea, experienced hot on one side of your mouth, cold on the other. We later looked up how this was achieved, but you know what, all I want to remember was that OH. MY. GOD. moment when I took my first sip. Just delightful stuff.

clove caramelised blackberries

Clove caramelised blackberries

First dessert was clove caramelised blackberries, served with a 2009 Passito di Pantelleria from Sicily. The blackberries came on one plate, and then the waiter passed around a tray full of silver cachons where four cornets with hojicha tea ice-cream where nestled. Again, that contrast/harmony of hot and cold, and sweet and woody and tart worked perfectly.

The Fat Duck BFG

The “BFG”

The “BFG” (Black Forest Gateau) came next. At this point, I was about at bursting point. But who can pass up something that looked like a tower of cake that ended almost like a full stop, with a quinelle of silky vanilla ice-cream ?

the Fat Duck whisk(e)y wine gums

Whisk(e)y wine gums

Final two desserts – we’re on the home stretch ! Whisk(e)y wine gums, stuck on to a map indicating where the corresponding whiskey came from, and to be eaten in a certain order. All I can recall is that while not a whisky drinker, these were deliciously alcoholic wine gums – except for Laphroaig. It was so strong and peaty that even being following three wine gums (there was five in total) couldn’t take away that smoky flavour. In fact, that seemed to be the lingering flavour in our mouths for the rest of the evening.

The Fat Duck petit fours

Coconut baccy and a wax-sealed envelope containing an edible white chocolate card

Last dessert was the petit fours of the meal – appropriately called “like a kid in a sweet shop”. Edible white chocolate Queen of hearts card, coconut baccy, apple pie caramel with edible wrapper and aerated chocolate of mandarin jelly.

NO MORE I hear you say ! Actually, by the time the sweets came, I have to admit we were all pooped from eating. But gosh what a luxury ! The Fat Duck is certainly somewhere I’m lucky enough to have experienced – the detail that goes into everything from the food to the cheeky waiters – simply makes for an totally enjoyable evening. It may not be for everyone, but if you love food and having a ball of a time eating it, I’d strongly recommend it. Heston Blumenthal certainly brought the fun back into food.


Heston Blumenthal’s the Fat Duck – Part 2

Mad Hatter's Tea Party

Edible gold leaf was all that was left after the fob watch dissolved before our eyes

This is the second installment to our epic dinner at Heston Blumenthal’s the Fat Duck (if you want to catch up here’s the first and third parts).

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

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

“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 liquorice gel

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.

Duck with blood pudding and umbles

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 !


Heston Blumenthal’s the Fat Duck – Part 1

Oak moss from the course that paid homage to Alain Chapel

This post on the Fat Duck is just too long to have in one – there’s so much I want to record for posterity so that I can relive the meal –  and rather than put anyone through reading the War and Peace of one dinner, I’m separating the meal into three posts. Here’s the second and third parts).

The Fat Duck is such an indulgent treat for all your senses. Apart from divine food, the entire experience is, in a word, FUN.

There to celebrate D’s 40th, we were treated to a unique dining experience, tucked away in the village of Bray (about an hour’s drive from London). Not coming from England, even just being in a village is quaint to me, and with another Michelin starred restaurant at the Waterside Inn and Heston owning the nearby pub – the Hinds Head – this small town packs a punch per square inch in the culinary stakes.

Balls of beetroot with cream

A combination of the anticipation of the evening, and a few pre-dinner cocktails at the Hinds Head meant that we were arrived at the Fat Duck already pretty happy. The matching wine flight with our meal pretty much ensured that we left happy.

As we settled in to our champagne, we were given beetroot cream balls – balls of what I can only describe as beetroot flavoured balls of air with a slick of cream. I love beetroot – it has this wonderful earthy flavour. And to enjoy that flavour in something so delicate was the start of the meal.

I think what makes things special is attention to detail. The beetroot balls were served without any cutlery, so we had to eat them using our hands. The cutlery was laid down after this, and I was almost stunned when I realised that they had not set the cutlery the wrong way around for one of the four of us, but that they had noticed L had picked up her beetroot ball with her left hand – and was therefore left-handed. I mean, COME ON.

We then had some nitro poached aperitifs – we had a choice of vodka and lime sour, gin and tonic, or Campari soda, mixed with some egg white that was then cooked in liquid nitrogen, which is at a temperature of about -200C (-328F), so we each had a cold meringue that we popped whole in to our mouths, to experience the crisp outer shell crack and release the cocktail within.

Truffle toast at the at Duck

The truffle toast that we all wanted more more more of

We then were served a red cabbage gazpacho with pommery grain mustard ice-cream. Yep, you read right – the menu seriously screws with your head. Tangy red cabbage served on savoury ice-cream. The whole ice-cream thing really made you think you should be eating dessert but then your palate is served a savoury dish. This was paired with a 2010 Fume Blanc from Turkey.

Chicken liver parfait in a crayfish cream with jelly of quail

Chicken liver parfait in a crayfish cream with jelly of quail

Failing at not sneaking a peek at the other tables being served who were ahead of you on the meal, didn’t deter from the showmanship of the next dish – jelly of quail, with a crayfish cream, chicken liver parfait, oak moss and truffle toast. Our glasses were topped up with the same Fume Blanc and the incredible thing was how different the exact same wine tasted with different food. The first part of the dish arrived at our table – a square of moss, with four plastic containers that each held a single strip of “oak moss and pine” gelatin film that dissolved on your tongue. This is was served to prepare us for the parfait of chicken liver in a crayfish cream and a sliver of jelly of quail and truffle course. The chicken liver parfait in the crayfish cream was silky smooth, paired perfectly with the crunch-teeny-tiny-wish-there-was-more toast speckled with flecks of pungent truffles. As we were served this part of the course, the waiter tipped water on to the oak moss, which was sitting on some dry ice, so you felt like you were enjoying an early morning walk amongst the mist in a forest.

Heston Blumenthal's snail porridge

Snail porridge

Next was one of Heston’s signature dishes, the famous snail porridge. Poached snails and thin shavings of fennel on top of tiny squares of oatmeal in a vibrant green complex savoury porridge of parsley, butter, garlic, shallots, almonds, Iberico ham and dijon mustard. I have to admit, the idea of a savoury porridge was almost appealing to me – Chinese congee or rice porridge is a favourite of mine, but eating the snail porridge with oatmeal was truly a surprisingly delicious treat. A dry and crisp 2011 Chateauneuf du Pape, Clos la Rocquete from the Rhone Valley was paired with this course.

Roasted foie gras with barberry, braised kombu and crab biscuit at the Fat Duck

Roast foie gras with barberry, braised kombu and crab biscuit

Perfectly roasted foie gras with barberry, braised kombu and crab biscuit was served next, paired with a 2011 Pinot Gris, Signature, Rene Mure from Alsace. Bursting with flavour, the pillow-light softness of the the foie gras with its savoury flavour was completely in harmony with the crispness and sweetness of the crab biscuit.again. A wafer thin slice of kombu added umami to the dish.

That’s six out of 14 courses. This might be a three-post post – I’d better get cracking on the next courses !