With a title like that, this post can only be about the Tasting Menu at the Fat Duck restaurant. Let’s set the scene a bit… one of only 3 restaurants in UK to ever get three Michelin stars, named best restaurant in the world 2005, (came second in 2004, 2006, 2007), run by Heston Blumenthal who likes messing with diners heads…. so I was very excited to be eating there on Saturday night.
It was a nightmare to book, they only take bookings for up to something like 3 months time and basically you have to sit on speed dial at 10am in the morning when they open the phone lines in the blind hope you’ll get through for that one dates booking availability. After a few days of sore fingers I realised this wasn’t working so eventually got through to a very nice posh lady who put me on a waiting list as it was “cof cof” my anniversary “cof cof”. Anyway, eventually thanks to a cancellation got the date I wanted woohooo….
So, the building itself… meh, it’s a very old, very plain room with tables pretty close together and loads of staff, it managed to feel very smart though even though it had low ceilings and no outside views. The staff were nice, posh but good fun. One of the problems I often have is I like it when they describe the course to you when they bring it out… now as all the staff were frenchish (i.e. some form of foreign) you had to really concentrate as they described the culinary torture you were about to be put through!
After a worryingly complicated choice of champagne (four different types, shown to you on a huge table on wheels that looked like it should be torturing someone in the dark ages) we were shown the wine list…. this seriously made the Lord of the Rings look like a pamphlet. Am I alone in only looking through every page in a wine list to find the most expensive one for a laugh? (p.s. it was £3500 f u c k i n g h e l l). As I was driving we luckily only ordered wine by the glass… so then it was onto the food! Everyone in the restaurant apart from one table next to us who managed to spend £850 on their food for three people was having the tasting menu so I didn’t feel too out of place when the waitress came over with the first course and started what seemed to be a small fire in front of me…
- Nitro-Poached Green Tea and Lime Mousse. Effing Hell. This was basically a big bowl full of liquid nitrogen (-190degrees c!!!!) with lots of cool misty stuff wafting out of the top. She scooped up a spoon full of normal mousse, dropped it into the nitrogen, it turned into a sort of outer-spacer thing (remember those sweets from your childhood) and then she put it on your plate and told you to eat it in one go. Eeeeep it was like being in some SAS training camp! What if I dropped it? What if my lips turned to glass and shattered? Peeep. Anyway, I of course did make a mistake as I breathed out through my nose as I put the mousse in my mouth and the liquid nitrogen coldness sent clouds of misty smoke coming out of my nose, teehee. Yum! So anyway this course was just to reset your taste buds sort of thing.
- Oyster, Passion Fruit Jelly, Lavender. Ewwww snot from the bottom of the sea! I’ll eat most things but I’ve only ever tried oyster once before and it was horrible. But this one was coated in, um, stuff, and was a nice texture and tasted just fine. I even chewed it!
- Pommery Grain Mustard Ice Cream, Red Cabbage Gazpacho. Nope I didn’t send the gazpacho back as it was cold, I ain’t Rimmer! This was gorgeous, very very tiny in a nice dish and really messed with your head. It was actual creamy normal ice-cream, but it did taste of mustard and red cabbage!
Jelly of Quail, Langoustine Cream, Parfait of Foie Gras, Oak Moss and Truffle Toast. Hehe, I eated a tree! This was very odd and came with a member of staff to instruct you on how to eat it. Firstly you were given a small plastic container with a thin sliver of, um, something, that you put on your tongue which tasted of tree. Then you ate the rest of the course (making sure to eat all the layers together) whilst the waitress poured boiling water on a bed of oak moss on the middle of the table that had some sort of dry ice thing going in it so that you felt like you were in Narnia. OK bad description so check out the short video…
- Snail Porridge, Joselito Ham, Shaved Fennel. Now, when I was convincing Jen to go for the tasting menu I said “don’t worry, the snail porridge won’t be actual snails, it’ll just be little bits blended into the porridge”. Well, it wasn’t. It was three proper real snails that looked disgusting on a bed of a tiny tiny tiny bit of porridge. Ewww. But… it tasted great! Just don’t think about what you’re eating, don’t think don’t think.
- Roast Foie Gras “Benzaldehyde”, Almond Fluid Gel, Cherry and Chamomile If you saw a big tanker on the motorway and it had “CAUTION BENZALDEHYDE” on the back of it, you’d give it a wide berth yeh? So why did I unthinkingly just nosh this? Google says it’s a chemical compound that smells of almonds… so that’s OK then? Well anyway it was lovely and I hope the ducky/goosey didn’t suffer toooo much.
- “Sound of the Sea” This course had no further description, but I’d seen something similar on his TV programme… and here the staff played a sneaky trick… Anyway, it was a big glass plate with a ’scene’ of a beach on it. You had sand which was some sort of crumble stuff, surf and waves which was foamy stuff, then seaweed and other things. But the highlight was you also got a big shell with an iPod in it and you put earphones in and had the sound of seagulls and waves as you ate it. Hehe cool and good fun. However there were some tastes in here that really should never have been removed from the sea… and afterwards the staff told you what the course contained (after you’d eaten it, not before!) and it was eel and oyster and sea-snot type of stuff. Left with a feeling like I’d drunk a pint of sea water after this one but it was good fun.
- Salmon poached in Liquorice Gel, Artichokes, Vanilla Mayo and Olive Oil. What the hell? Normal olive oil? not engine oil from a 1975 Cortina?!?! How common! This was a relatively normal course and really tasty. p.s. the two big things with posh fud at the moment is ‘gel’ and ‘foam’. Gel is just posh for ‘tiny little cubes of jelly’ and Foam is just posh for, um, froth.
- Ballotine of Anjou Pigeon, Black Pudding “Made to Order”, Pickling Brine and Spiced Juices. This was the ‘main’ course and was one of the only proper warm courses and was delicious… the ‘chocolate sauce’ was a bit odd though. Note the quotes? Yes, the ‘chocolate sauce’ was actually black pudding. It looked like melted chocolate on your plate with a sticky outside and runny in the middle. I think, basically, it was just thickened blood. Ewwww, although I did eat most of it (-: You can see the ‘chocolate sauce’ at the top of this photo…
- Hot and Iced Tea. Wow! So cool. A tiny glass with tea in it and when you drank it the left hand side of the tea was cold and the right hand side was hot! Really messed with your head. om nom!
- Mrs Marshall’s Margaret Cone. You got a little booklet with this one basically stating that this lady was one of the best cooks and invented ice-cream cones and stuff, who cares just give me the nom!
- Pine Sherbet Fountain (Pre-Hit). Hehe! Remember Sherbet Dips? That’s what this was, a very small sherbet dip with a hollow aniseed stick instead of liquorice and sort of pine flavoured sherbet in the bottom!
- Mango and Douglas Fir Puree, Bavarois of Lychee and Mango, Blackcurrant Sorbet. Now I remember this being gorgeous, but can’t remember much more about it. Maybe because the staff didn’t enhance the taste by sticking a pine-cone up my bum or setting fire to my hair?
- Parsnip Cereal. So now we’d finished the starter, main course and pudding… so it was breakfast time! The server came over and said good morning and gave you a little packet of cereal. Now when I say little, I really mean it. I counted approx 15 flakes of parsnip cereal in my box! But it was just a jokey course anyway
- Nitro-scrambled Egg and Bacon Ice Cream, Pain Perdu and Tea Jelly. Mmm cooked breakfast! This was so cool… it was nitrogen time again! The server came over and told us of the amazing hens they have that lay bacon flavoured eggs. Oh sweet heaven! So she had her big bowl of liquid nitrogen, and two unbroken eggs… she broke the eggs and poured the contents (no egg white or yoke, just pre-mixed bacon and eggs inside!) into the nitrogen. After making frozen scrambled eggs they were served on the toast with a little cup of tea jelly on the side! Mmmm om nom. Actually, I might confess that I found this course a little tooo sweet for my tastes – and I have a sweet tooth! In the photo below (cof cof anniversary yeh right), note the bacon? That was sort of a bacon flavoured piece of sugar!
- Whisk(e)y Wine Gums It’s Bogey time! This was odd, basically a photo frame with a map of Scotland on it, and stuck onto this were 5 wine gums that were different flavours of whisky. Tasted lovely, but felt like peeling bogeys off glass. Um, not that I sneeze on my computer monitor much.
- Carrot and Orange Lolly, Mandarin Aerated Chocolate, Violet Tartlet, Apple Pie Caramel “Edible Wrapper” If Eminem is a rapper, is Ominom an edible wrapper? Oh god that joke was so bad. So this was petits fours time, woohoo! The “edible wrapper” from the title is because this had caramel apple pie choc things in plasticky wrappers that you ate. All so nice and really imaginative.
- I die fat now.
Actually by the end of the 4 hour marathon of eating I didn’t feel too full at all, but it was such good fun.
Then the bill came.
Holy mother of all that’s holy.
Actually it wasn’t too bad, OK it was. It gives me an excuse to use the word ‘profligate’ again as it was a profligate eating experience I’ll admit… but as I’ve been prone to say in the past to critics… “Arseholes!”. Everyone ought to go there, especially vegetarians as that’d be so funny.