October 15, 2019

Dinner at Dinner / The kindness of strangers

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I never got the chance to try Heston Blumenthal's food.  Years ago after we had visited elBulli together, Mrs. Locust told me that The Fat Duck paled in comparison.  And since I hadn't bothered to visit the UK ever since, I resorted to living vicariously via Heston's TV shows.  Now that I was in London, I figured I would go check out Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park.  The idea of tasting dishes whose recipes date back a few hundred years sounded intriguing.

I was greedy and wanted to try so many dishes, but eventually I settled on picking out 4 items from the menu.  I figured it was no big deal...

And seeing that my friend ditched me, and having failed to charm someone else into dining with me, I felt like Steve Martin in The Lonely Guy... This also meant that I couldn't order a whole bottle of wine, so I picked out a glass each of white and red instead...

2010 Dagueneau Silex - the first glass I was poured didn't seem fresh, and the staff poured me another glass from a different bottle which was nice and fresh.  Surprisingly ripe and sweet on the nose, almost candied pineapple, a little muscat.  Later the nose was more flinty.  Good acidity on the finish, and a little grippy.

Meat fruit : mandarin, chicken liver parfait and grilled bread (c.1500) - this is, no doubt, the most iconic and photographed dish of the establishment.

The 'fruit', of course, is not what it seems.  Inside a thin layer of mandarin-flavored jelly we have a very smooth chicken liver parfait.  As someone who loves liver, this was nothing short of heavenly.

Perfect to spread it on that piece of grilled bread, which came with nice, smoky flavors.

Salamagundy : chicken oysters, salsify, marrowbone, horseradish cream and pickled walnuts (c.1720) - I saw the words 'chicken oysters' and I was sold.  I didn't exactly envisage it as a salad, which was kinda what this was.  The horseradish cream had some surprising acidity.

The 'chicken oysters' came with little medallions of bone marrow on top.  These were, of course, pretty damn delicious.  The French family at the next table didn't quite know what 'chicken oysters' were, so I butted in and told them that those were called sot l'y laisse in French.

2006 Boekenhoutskloof Cabernet Sauvignon - nice nose of graphite, some ripe fruit, smoke, cedar, and woodsy notes.  A little sweet on the palate.  Drinking well now. Actually, drinking better than the last bottle I had of this wine.

Roast cauliflower, smoked brown butter, red wine, truffle and macrows (c.1660) - I was struggling to choose only one main dish, and in the end I wanted to see how roasted cauliflowers would taste.  Somehow in the back of my mind, I was hoping these would be as delicious as the ones at Bukhara in New Delhi...  These were, indeed, very tasty.  It also came with cauliflower cream and shaved Parmesan on top of some greens - which were kinda salty.

I had no idea what macrows was... but apparently this is an old recipe dating from c.1390 and is referred to as the precursor to macaroni and cheese.  Hmmm...  This came with cauliflower, cauliflower purée, Parmesan, pickled onions, croûtons, and truffle.  Pretty damn good.

But halfway through this dish, I felt as if I ran straight into a brick wall.  Jet lag hit me all of a sudden, and my appetite instantly vanished.  I struggled to put away more of the dish, and I still had dessert!

Brown bread ice cream, salted butter caramel, pear and malted yeast syrup (c.1830) - so we've got some almond pastry, chocolate ganache, salted butter caramel, and cubes of pear.  The ice cream really did taste like bread, and the caramel was beautiful.

Millionaire's tart

Then something totally unexpected happened. The liquor trolley sudden appeared in front of me, and I was informed that the French gentleman at the next table would like to buy me a drink... which turned out to be a shot of Yamazaki 18 Years!  I was stunned.  A total stranger sending me a shot that would cost more than 70 quid at a hotel.  I tried to politely turn down the lovely offer, but eventually accepted and asked for a small pour.

This was, not surprisingly, very sweet, and almost honey-like on the nose... with some nashi notes.  Not too smoky and peaty, with almost a hint of bee pollen.

I was at a loss for words.  I wanted to express my gratitude to the nice gentleman, but felt a little strange to intrude upon what was clearly a nice dinner out for the family.  I thanked them, wished them well, and dragged my tired ass back to the hotel.  It's been a long day, and I was stuffed and happy.  And grateful for the kindness of strangers.

1 comment:

Susan said...

Wow, how nice of the French gentleman!


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