Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!
If you are anything like me your waist line has dramatically increased over the festive period. I can report a solid increase of 3 kgs, no small task. I accomplished this quite simply by being and eating a pig.
Along the way to this achievement, of which I am less than proud, I enjoyed some fantastic food.
First stop was Dinner by Heston at the Mandarin Oriental in London. I had the set lunch menu, that for £36 is a reasonable price for such delish food. I chose the Dressed Snails to start. They were delicious tender little morsels accompanied by a refreshing micro salad. Main was Powdered Duck, I had enjoyed this dish before here and it didn’t disappoint 2nd time around. The duck was meltingly tender, seasoned to perfection and accompanied by the most luxurious mash. Dessert was the Orange Buttered Loaf, the surprising stand out of the meal. I am not a fan of bread and butter pudding so was slightly anxious to see what would be served. Out came a delicately encrusted ‘loaf” flavoured with the perfect amount of orange and accompanied by mandarin and thyme sorbet. An excellent finish to an excellent meal. The staff are extremely helpful in Dinner, each dish is explained and a brief history is given on the courses. The roasting pineapple spit adds a touch of excitement. A great place for a work lunch or special occasion.
Next Stop was Heston, again. This time we went to The Hinds Head in Bray. One of Heston’s 2 pubs in the quaint country town, also home to the world famous Fat Duck. To start I had the Chicken Liver Parfait, never has a flavour been so welcome on my palette. The parfait was served warm with a brûlée type crust. The crack, the spread, the bite, AMAZING. Main I had a Wild Mushroom Macaroni with slow poached hens egg. I felt the dish lacked variety for me, it was very samey, delish but samey. Half way through the dish I felt like I needed a different flavour. As it was Christmas I couldn’t pass up the dessert of Chocolate Mulled Wine with millionaire shortbread. This was served in a little espresso cup and was almost like a granita (icy dessert). The flavour was good, but I think it was more of a one time dish. The millionaire shortbread was outstanding, the thinest and crunchiest base I have ever seen. Overall the meal was enjoyed by all. The atmosphere was relaxed but elegant, staff were friendly and I wouldn’t hesitate to return.
A Eurostar later and my parents and I are in Paris. This is where the eating really started to get serious. We stayed in an apartment near Monmarte. First thing we looked up in our welcome pack was food, more specifically the best place for a croissant. Once we read all the recommendations we decided to head out on foot for a spot of afternoon tea, in the form of cakes. We opted for the recommend boulangrie that sold the recommended croissants. This was the start of our cake hunt. For the next 5 days every afternoon we spent time scouring the area for the best cakes. The winner is pictured above. A patisserie by the name of Sebastian Gaudard. I don’t know how to say much else about the cakes but YUM. Delicate, light (but so heavy) flaky, delish. The patisserie is located at 22 rue des Martyrs in Pigalle, worth a visit when next in Paris.
For my parents 35th wedding anniversary we headed to Les Tablettes by Jean Louis Nomicos. I had read differing reviews on the restaurant but was enticed by the seasonal menu and the well priced set menus beginning at €80. I must say that we enjoyed the hell out of this restaurant. We went for the Discovery menu priced at €80 per person. This included 4 courses and 2 glasses of wine. We were firstly greeted with an amuse bouche of Pumpkin Veloute. The veloute was light, creamy and well seasoned, kicking off a great night of food. The starter was a Beetroot Salad, the name doesn’t do justice to it. The slightly pickled beetroot was accompanied by pear and a hard cheese similar to parmesan. It was refreshing and interesting, the flavour combo worked excellently. Scallops were then served with a white wine. The scallops were meaty and rich, the wine was quite minerally and worked exceptionally well. Main was similar to what I know as a Steak Rossini. A beautiful piece of fillet steak garnished with a pan fried piece of foie gras, a gorgeous red wine from the Loire Valley was served. Barely a word was spoken during this course as we all loved it so much. Dessert was a Chestnut Mousse with mandarin. A similar dessert to what we had at the Waterside Inn, but far superior in texture and in flavour. Overall we had a lovely night, felt the menu was extremely well priced, the sommelier was outstanding and I would highly recommend a visit.
A Eurostar back and we are in London once again. I couldn’t bore you with the rest of what attributed to the weight gain, but trust me when I say it was a lot. So, new year, 2013, back on the wagon. For those of you who fell off also don’t feel guilty, just get back on. Sometimes a little cheating is worth it.