After six wonderful months at the Edinburgh New Town Cookery and all exams passed with flying colours, myself and my food soul mate, Ashley, decided a little treat was in order. Having composed a sort of restaurant bucket list we decided on a trip down south to Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck.
Tables at The Fat Duck are as rare as hen’s teeth but having phoned and phoned we finally managed to secure a lunchtime table last Tuesday. We arrived in Bray fifteen minutes prior to our booking and struggled to find the restaurant. Bray is a tiny, picturesque village and it is no wonder it has earned the nickname “Hestonville”. He has a restaurant and two pubs there. We found the two pubs but The Fat Duck is hidden away as the front looks like any other building in the village. We soon found the iconic sign and pushed our way through the front door. We were greeted by the lovely staff and shown to our table where we would be treated fifteen of the most wonderful courses of magical and inspired food.
For friends and family who have been asking for every detail, I will run through the meal course by course:
1. Aerated Beetroot and Horseradish CreamThis was literally melt in the mouth with strong, clear flavours.
2. Nitro Poached AperitifsThese aperitifs were prepared at the table. There was a choice of Vodka and Lime Sour, Gin and Tonic or Tequila and Grapefruit. I went for the Gin and Tonic and Ashley went for the Vodka and Lime Sour. They had to be consumed in one mouthful; they were extremely cold and exploded in the mouth with a dry ice effect.
3. Red Cabbage Gazpacho, Pommery Grain Mustard Ice Cream
4. Jelly of Quail, Crayfish Cream, Chicken Liver Parfait, Oak Moss and Truffle Toast
The Oak Moss arrived at the table first to give the aroma of what was to come. Then we were treated to The Fat Duck film which was placed on the tongue and was strongly flavoured. The Jelly of Quail, Crayfish Cream and Chicken Liver Parfait came layered and were beautifully presented. The Truffle Toast was served on the side. The flavours of this dish were strong and oaky, they delivered a real punch.
5. Snail Porridge, Iberico Bellota Ham, Shaved FennelThis famous dish did not disappoint. I am not usually a fan of snails but these were balanced perfectly with the creamy porridge and the fresh fennel.
The waiter who presented this course started by explaining the story of Alice and then presented us both with a gold pocket watch which we swirled in the tea pot to create the mock turtle soup. A really magical course and the beautiful, tiny sandwiches were the perfect accompaniment.
8. “Sound of the Sea”
This was a dish for all of the senses. We were presented with shells which had earphones coming out of them. We put the earphones in and we were treated to the sound of the sea as we tucked into a course which not only looked like the beach but also had all of the tastes of the sea present in a mixture of seafood, seaweed and edible sand.
9. Salmon Poached in a Liquorice Gel, Artichokes, Vanilla Mayonnaise and Golden Trout Roe
Flavour wise this was my favourite of the savoury courses. The salmon was perfectly poached and the liquorice and vanilla mayonnaise complimented it wonderfully.
10. Anjou Pigeon, Smoked Onion and Malt
The most traditional of the savoury courses: beautifully cooked pigeon, smoked onions and creamy mash.
11. Hot and Iced TeaThis was a palate cleanser between the savoury and sweet. The tea was hot at first but then freezing cold, a bit of both in each mouthful!
12. Eggs in Verjus (c.1726), Verjus in Egg (c.2013)
We were presented with an egg but once we cracked into in we realised it was a pudding, the shell was chocolate, the centre had a layer of ice cream at the bottom, and then a set yoghurt with a fruity centre. The flavours worked perfectly together.
13. The “BFG”, Black Forrest GateauThis famous dish looks even more perfect in real life and it tasted even better than I could have imagined. Completely moreish.
14. Whisk(e)y Wine GumsThese were presented on a map of the regions where the whiskies came from. Five wine gums each with completely unique flavours.
15. “Like a Kid in a Sweet Shop”
The most playful course. It came presented in a pink and white bag. We were treated to an aerated mandarin jelly chocolate, some coconut baccy, an apple pie caramel with an edible wrapper and the queen of hearts which was a white chocolate filled with layers of jam tart, even the seal on the envelope was edible!
After all that deliciousness, I thought nothing could make the day any better but then we were treated to a tour of the kitchens. We headed back into the sunshine and we thought it would be rude not to visit The Hinds Head next door for a Gin and Tonic. The entire experience was completely magical and the perfect end to six months of hard work.