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tony h

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  1. I was so looking forward to it but found him staggeringly uncharismatic and inarticulate. Christ, with that awful haircut & ravaged face he looks like Robert Plant’s poodle
  2. Michel Trama / L’Aubergade - June 07 A week’s visit to the Dordogne foolishly led be to believe that Puymirol wasn’t too far away. Two hours of torturous driving to get there didn’t quite dampen our spirits for lunch but left us feeling less that joyful at the thought of the journey back. The hotel itself is stunning is almost every way - except, of course, for the journey. L’Aubergade is remote – really remote and, but the looks of it, the only thing in town. I had thought Puymirol would be lovely little hill top town to wander – nope. Its dead, really dead. We did ask the MD what lead M Trama to set up here – it’s hardly an obvious choice. “It was a mistake” we were told. However, somehow, Michel and Maryse Trama have pulled it off creating a hotel and restaurant of genuine beauty, comfort and style. Fucking expensive, too. We were led to the cloister for lunch – only installed in the last few years. It’s a stunning whitewashed partially covered courtyard; table spaced well apart only that didn’t matter too much as there were only a few other table occupied. My meagre notes were take some time ago – here are the high points of the tasting menu Pre-starters: Asparagus & cep foam / Smoked Tomato / Mackerel / ratatouille sushi. I have no more info on these & my memory fails me First course was lobster roll. This was three Japanese inspired rolls stuffed with lobster and crisp Asian vegetables. The dipping sauce was too oily for the delicate flavours. I thought this was a little alarming – if you are going to do sushi – do it well. My suspension were that this was here because it used expensive ingredients rather than it adding to the meal. A little out of place, IMO Courgette with tomato and basil foam. The whole table stopped and gawped: wow! One of the most stunningly beautiful dishes I think I’ve ever seen. Long thin rectangle of courgette & herb jelly on top of which was piped undulating courgette “pate”. Another jelly strip placed on top to form a courgette sandwich-like entity. Atop were five tomato & basil foam hemispheres around which were tiny herb & tiny flower were arranges as if miniature bouquets dancing in and around the foam. It was a good two minute before anyone dared cut into it and mess it up. Breathtakingly good. Salt cod (new way). This was salt cod as I’ve never had it before. Several long thin strips of potato in between were salt cod foam. Its very hard to describe – here’s a wee drawing looking dow from above. The line are the potato, the circles cod foam (damn, picture didn't work, ah weel - last row aligned to the right ) === OOO ======= OOOOOOO ======= OOO === We were told this was one of the first times they had served this dish and it was still undergoing changes. Home run if you ask me. Red pepper “open” ravioli. Square of red pepper jelly at the bottom of the plate. Filling of fine dice of red pepper and tomato– another square of jelly but, I think, squid ink this time. More filling. More jelly etc. Surrounded by langoustine cappuccino sauce. As with the courgettes above we just stared at it for a while. Of particular note here was the incredible meatiness of the pepper dice – often vegetables can be a little insubstantial without meat – but not here. They did something to the vegetables that packed one hell of a punch. Cauliflower – cooked risotto like. Hmm. This was a bit of a stinker. The cauliflower florets were separated to the size of rice grains and cooked like a risotto. The first two or three seconds of each spoon tasted great but we were quickly left with heavy starchy and slightly raw vegetable-ish porridge. Quail eggs poached in red wine – I skipped this as i can’t eat eggs (poached, fried, boiled) without possibility projectile vomiting – not a good thing in nice company. It looked pretty disgusting – on one liked it. I had mushroom and wet polenta dish instead which was simply stunning. Foie Gras Burger (or Le McTrama as the waiters called it when they served it). Slab of of foie gras perched on top of a potato disk (maybe pinepple from the review above) with a seriously good serving of cep dice – dried cep slices to accompany it. This was quite heavy going but good nonetheless. Desserts were served on a large platter – quite daunting; actually - you felt like big a kid who’s gotten everything they’ve asked for and didn't know where to start. They were: green apple sorbet w apple slices; cherries & cream; strawberries & cream (completely different to the cherry dish) and chocolate tear with raspberries. Of particular note was the sorbet: a ball of pure green apple sorbet with thin slices of dried apple inserted into the sorbet so that the apple looked like it was being reconstructed (looking down – imagine a bicycle wheel – the slices as spokes). Pure fun. Apart from a couple of odd dishes we didn't let them dampen our enjoyment of the meal. It is well worth a visit but don’t be daft like us – stay overnight.
  3. What can I say - you only get what you pay for :-) Universities get government subsidies - also as they attract (esp Cambridge) lots of people leading to economies of scale. Plus - the whole HE fees situtation is completely fucked up these days Cookery schools are largely private ventures which need hard cash to survive. The cheaper option is via FE college - but I guess after MPhil level at Cam it might be a bit of a let down. btw - I did spend a wonderful, pampered week a Le Manior's cookery school - but not quite what you're looking for Cheers Tony
  4. A week at Le Manior's cookery school Dinner Le Champignon Sauvage Lunch at Waterside Inn Lunch at Fat Duck different years of ocurse
  5. They are closed for 3 weeks in June - can't remember if David said they were going in 2 weeks time or 3. Just call
  6. Surprise birthday lunch yesterday Nibbles – wonderful little choux buns with cheese centres Starter of wild garlic risotto with pan fried langoustines decorated with wild garlic flower buds – it had an intense yet fresh green colour. Certainly a lot more delicate in flavour than the ingredients suggest. Foie gras pan fried with confit duck leg with ginger parkin (i think that was it – but old English ginger cake/biscuit thing which took me by surprise) sauce and parkin crumbs – outstanding combination between deep think ginger concoction and soft foie gras. Pork belly & scallops: the belly was braised for 4 hours with skin pan fried afterwards to an absolute crispy perfection & the belly left meltingly delicious (recipe is in the book). To accompany it was scallops, peas, peanuts, pea puree and foamed peanut sauce. I can’t get over just how good this dish was - hit the right buttons on every level. How to follow that – well, he did, and masterfully so. Red mullet with pickled mooli, carrots and carrot puree. The carrots were gently poached in verjus then quickly caramelised. Wow – almost as good as the pork belly but had bigger impact as it was so unexpected. You could tell the pork belly was going to be good when you tried to cut it & you could feel just how crispy the skin was. But – a carrot in a haute restaurant always seems out of place, a little too pedestrian perhaps – but here it had taken it to another level entirely. And it was balanced so well by the meatiness of the mullet – a truly wonderful & surprising combination. Next was pigeon, white asparagus, pickled walnuts (i think) all accompanied with one of the most delicious reductions only a true professional can muster. I normally avoid pigeon as it can be very gamey and tough – but here is was wonderfully understated and delicate in flavour The assault continued with lamb, sweetbreads, almonds, smoke onions and smoked onion puree with another outstanding sauce scented with liquorice. By now we really were beginning to flag – but the kitchen wasn’t and out came a most beautiful dish on camomile (i think) jelly, with vanilla panna cotta layered on top. Above that was fine dice of marinated pineapple and pineapple sorbet. I was truly delicious and scandalously indulgent. Next up was chocolate & olive tarte with milk ice cream. There was a particularly love touch: the ice cream sat of some crumbs and popping sugar. Thankfully the kitchen saw the red flare and stopped sending out dishes – just a well – we probably would have exploded, M. Creosote like. When David came of the kitchen for a quick chat he presented me a bottle of verjus as birthday present. A very big thank you . The lovely Helen was as marvellous as ever. I recall Andy Lynes describing her sometime ago as “Harley-Davison cool” – well, after finding out what she up to this week coming – you’ve no idea how accurate that description was. Helen, have a great day out!
  7. Anyone been to Trinity Restaurant yet or know anything about Adam Byatt?
  8. what ever happend to choice? Anyway - don't know if I've had all the dishes but I’ve certainly had quite a few. But don't know if I'd want to try all the dishes as there are some meats/fish that I just don't like no matter how well/inventive the cooking. What is a real big disappointment is the tasting menu second time 'round. Stunning the first time I had it but a bit predictable and lacking in spark next time. (Also – I think the salmon & liquorice was the strongest & best dish). The constant tinkering of the dishes is fine – but its just that – tinkering and I think its a real shame that FD doesn't change its menu more often, if at all, as they are in danger of marginalising past customers who want to return more often. I’m sure there are enough people who want to try it at least once to keep the place going for a while I believe that anything which doesn’t adapt or change is doomed to failure. I’m sure there are exceptions (eg Nico, as noted above) just not sure this place is exceptional enough. The one big change that seems to have happened is that the portions do look smaller
  9. First – I’m a big fan of Tom Aikens restaurant – I adore his food. Even when it doesn’t quite work it’s usually surprising& inventive and certainly never pedestrian. Went to Tom’s Kitchen today for lunch. First impression was that it wasn’t nearly as stark as I was expecting – from pictures I’d seen it comes over being extremely white and bare – but actually the design is quite welcoming. OK, the tables are perhaps a little too close together and there a lots of hard surfaces which don’t absorb much of the noise – but for a something akin to a gastro pub it was fine. It was also packed. I was really looking for to this – regularly affordably TA food. Wow, what a disappointment. They don’t do lunch on Saturdays - just brunch. Frankly, I haven’t come ½ way across London for a fu*king muffin. I don’t care how good TA & his bro are a muffin is just fu*king muffin; and a Full English is just a Full English. In my disgust & haste I chose the sausages & mash but couldn’t face finishing the dish – mash was just plain wrong – way too refined. My partner’s burger was burnt & tiny. Two portions of bread were 6 of the smallest slices I’ve ever see. And although the thick chips that came with the burger looked great – they were very greasy – I guess they used the wrong type of potatoes. OK – we chose wrong – but couldn’t really build up any enthusiasm to try & find out if there were any real gems in the menu. When we were paying our waiter almost fell over when we said “no” to – was everything OK. He almost fainted when my partner pointed out that we thought Tom was just trading on his name. Please, please someone tell me they’ve had “proper” lunch/dinner there & it was great.
  10. Dinner, March 24 I’m sitting with a copy of Essence thinking that at last I’ll be able to give more accurate descriptions of David’s food – but oh, no – nothing that’s simple. These are all new dishes with one exception – the always special pink geranium scented brulee with popping sugar – the one dish he can probably never replace. Deconstructed salt cod brandade in a glass – salt cod & caramelised onions at the bottom; layer of potato puree with garlic foam on top. First I tasted the potato and garlic foam & thought, stop here – it was amazing with just those two elements – but when the cod & onion were added to the mix it gave an extraordinary other dimension. Scallops with pan fried squid with peas, peanuts, pea shoots, pea puree and pea foam accompanied with deepest drizzles of squid ink. A treat to look at and eat. Roast slab of foie on top duck heart & cockscomb – accompanied with edamame (I think) and tiny morels. Astonishingly good combination between the foie and duck heart slices. Kid cannelloni – shredded kid (braised for a long, long time, I guess) with slices of celeriac used instead of pasta; goat curds; land cress puree and the deepest, stickiest reduction you can imagine. Very, very satisfying. Roe deer, two ways, with beetroot; sauerkraut; salsify; ceps; beetroot puree; red wine (or was it port?) reduction. First time I’ve ever had pickled cabbage that I’ve actually enjoyed – the pickling here was done so delicately; would never have guessed cabbage had such subtle and agreeable flavours. Rose geranium scented burlee with mango sorbet Dessert – homage to the use of molasses and caramel – ice cream, parfait, bergamot infused cream all stunningly constructed with molasses and oat puree. Dessert 2 – chocolate and black olive tart; olive infused ice cream (I think) and chocolate jellies. The tart was similar to a chocolate fondant expected it was a tart rather than cylindrical in shape – truly sumptuous & indulgent. Petit fours – look amazing but I only saw at a distant as I had to refuse being so unbelievably stuffed David arrived with the perfect antidote to my being over stuffed – a bottle of calvados and good conversation. Shame I only ever seem to meet him after consuming a bottle of wine. Amongst other things we talked about the last book – my mistakes, how to correct etc. and that a second print run has been requested for Essence – excellent news. Helen was, as ever, radiant and managed front of house making it all look quite effortless
  11. can i have a pint n expletive chaser, please
  12. How does this affect us? UK critic publishes in UK newspaper - easy to follow & understand. We in UK post "reviews" onto a US based server; the US based server sends pages which are displayed or "published" on UK PCs. Or US based person reviews a UK establishment & posts on eG which is seen from UK. Or UK people post about US restaurants. And any other combination you can think of. So which laws apply - US or UK or both? Can I claim that I publish in UK or US? Can I ask for 1st amendment protection?
  13. I stopped going Italy years ago because although the ingredients are stellar, the methods and recipes tend to be stuck in the past. Its not that the food is bad far from it – its just dull & conservative. I found myself of a quick weekend break to Venice last week – possibly making the food choice even worse. I ate in a couple of places: da Fiore & Met – one was stunning, the other not da Fiore – salad of thinly sliced baby artichokes with orange & truffled cheese. Hard to eat more that a couple of mouthfuls – my tongue was so bored it almost fell asleep. Followed by shrimp & pasta slightly wider than linguine which was baked – frankly – “tuna” bake by another name. Main was monkfish wrapped in parma & leek served with potatoes which had the core removed & filled with breadcrumbs (so something like that). Fine – but no better than fine. I guess someone loves this place – but not me. The Met (in the Metropolitan Hotel) was an entirely different affair. The menu was modern & progressive and came in a dizzying array of sizes – ALC & a couple of different tasting menus. I went for the surprise menu – nothing listed or even hinted at. First – small cup of deer consommé – lovely deep flavour & superb length – minor quibble was that it tasted a little “fatty” Onslaught of breads – large tray all to myself – very dangerous – god know how I resisted. Martini glass will bottom 1/3rd filled with cocktail Rossini & the rest foam of prosecco – hidden inside was a large plump oyster. Simply wonderful – great combinations of sour & bitter & salt with occasional splash of sweetness. Small glass with four layers – bottom was lemony-grapefruit-type jelly; yogurt; large amount of prawns sous vide so thus appearing raw and avocado foam atop. Prawn cocktail-ish with a modern and welcome twist. Disk of cuttle fish ink jelly with some fried cuttle fish with raisin ice cream and some of the tiniest fried griolles I;ve ever seen – a definite wow. Visually stunning. Puree of red pear (or pear poached & pureed with red wine or port?) with “raw” meringue disk and foie gras ice cream. Very unusual – loved the FG but not sure about the meringue. Red mullet sandwich – couple of small pieces of mullet with some roast tomato flesh as the filling. Coconut & lemon grass foam/soup poured over. Some mint oil drops here there. Utterly delicious although mint was lost Two soups served in two spoons – one was wrapped in a skin & burst in your mouth at the slightest pressure. I have no idea what the other was but I’d like another The next dish defies description – but it have purees, dill & rosemary and small fan like structures made out of puffed rice. Again, delicious. Mini-hamburger – tiny bap filled with venison burger on a bed of pesto & tomato. The only dish I really didn’t like. Basil & apply sorbet-come-smoothy served with a straw and stack of tiny fillet beef with langoustine sous vide style. Came with some dill which over powered the dish. Terrine of eel served with caramelised banana (joke of eel shape) – sauce was puree of hare. Very strong earthy flavours. Artichoke mouse with almonds – I have no memory of this but its it my notes so I must have eaten something Cuttlefish carbonara but without pasta – definitely a star dish – the fish was cut to look like pasta with dice of ham folded in & the sauces of cream and of egg dabbed here & there. A winner if ever there was one. A few sliced of tuna very lightly seared with some strawberries on a bed of onion & strawberry marmalade. Raw pistachios added colour but were lost within the other strong & surprising harmonious dish. Pigeon breast stuffed with salmon mouse on what looked like a a savoury bread & butter pudding. It came with a coffee sauce which was wrong in almost every way – for a start – it still had grinds in it. The salmon mouse added nothing Martini glass with espresso – it came with curry ice cream which sat on an inverted spun sugar hemisphere which nested in the glass. The melting ice cream sweetened the coffee as did the spun sugar bits when they broke. Fun of a little confusing taste wise Last was a crème brulee infused with tobacco with little gin jelly pieces and many other things all mixed in. Not to my taste at all. I saw the petit fours on another table and had to plead with them to not brine me any. There were a couple of other courses but I can’t read my notes. Overall – what a stunning meal – a few off moment here & there but this is well worth seeking out. Give yourself 4 hours – sit back & watch the culinary fireworks.
  14. For completeness - here's a link to a report from el bulli in Seville. Simply staggering: el bulli - Seville - Dec 2006
  15. Dec 23rd – dinner – no particular order - apologies for delay in posting Water menu served in chilled “vase” – a bit silly, really Caramelised nuts - 3 different nuts done 3 different ways – liquorice ones particularly nice Tiny fried fish – very crispy – served in little paper cornets Cocktail – lots of fruit juice, small perfectly diced fruit & a strong dash of potent alcohol of what I am not sure what. Everyone loved this Bead “pillow” – puffed finger of bread with Parma ham atop Packed of pine nuts – not sure how they were “done” – but flavour was certainly pronounced Hazelnut parfait ball rolled in seeds – sumptuous but a bit at odds at the start of the meal Foie gras with balsamic – little squares held between wafers of thin crispy bread – astonishingly creamy and moreish Avocado puree within a thin corn tube/rolled tuile – another major hit with everyone Mini-salad - looked a bit like a miniature birds nest made of a few tiny leaves – the vinaigrette was held in a tiny bubble which split open when being eaten Small tomato with caramelised sugar coating Vanilla jelly cube with small indent – liquid vanilla inside (but it was a lot more interesting and flavoursome than that description gives) Parmesan stick of bread – a little “so what” & lost in the surrounding food melee Banana slices wrapped in parma ham Some code skin (or was it pork skin) crisps Peanut butter in a tube which you squeezed onto some toast then sprinkled with salt & peanut crumbs – silly but the best peanut better I’ve ever eaten Potato foam doused in truffle oil served in a martini glass – I could have eaten a very, very large bucket of this Sardines & toast – the toast was cooked which in turn cooked the fish (as seen recently in Hoxton place (Bacchus) – but here it was sublime White asparagus wrapped in the fat from Parma ham – accompanied with pure egg sauce – the only dish no one liked. It also came with a cup of essence of asparagus – couldn’t help thinking: my piss is so going to smell awful after this Cream corn custard with cubes of foie gras & truffle consommé – fantastic – only little quibble: the foie gras a little bit fridge cold Langoustines in olive oil soup – lang’ done sous vide then crisped; the olive oil soup baffled everyone – it was served at a angle i.e. the surface was at an incline to the floor – plus being hot we couldn’t figure out how it kept this magical defiance of gravity (seaweed, apparently) More langoustine but with rice pasta tubes – only when we saw the dish that the waitress actually meant intestine not langoustine (tripe?). Only I ate this but mainly because the accompanying sauce gave you the deeply satisfying sticky lips. The white pasta tubes - a joke on the intestine shape. Roast hake with beetroot ravioli filled with pistachio – came with vanilla mayonnaise, beetroot puree & pistachio puree – the combination of beetroot & pistachios was simply stunning. Also one of the most beautiful dishes with contrasts of dark & light Pigeon breast with salad and white asparagus pieces covered in sesame. Delicious sauce. 2m of parmesan spaghetti – you have to eat in one slurp – had everyone in stitches Lemon sorbet with blackberries - very refreshing Deconstructed tiramisu – desserts aren’t my strong point – the only thing to note was that the coffee part was a half-disc of frozen coffee essence Two types of nougat plus a chocolate truffle which captured the very essence of Christmas in a couple of bites Plus a couple other dishes but my memory fails me. I was very worried that this would be a poor cousin to the Roses restaurant – but NO! This was full on 3* cooking and service. Easily one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Breathtakingly super service. If you really want to experience el bulli – I really do recommend this place – OK the recipes may be from a year or two ago but so what with at cooking at this level. Plus - Seville is a lovely town. Also – took mum – she’s 70. I was extremely worried that she’s hate the food, wouldn’t survive the onslaught and give up after an hour. We did coax/prep her saying she didn’t have to eat anything & just go with the flow. To my delight – she kept up with us – all the way. Really wasn’t expecting that I also got to visit the kitchen – they couldn’t have been more helpful and would have indulged me more if there wasn’t the language barrier. GO!
  16. delighted to hear your not closing - it is a truly special place
  17. Arbutus got a star - wow Had lunch today with colleagues & quite by chance. The food was very average indeed and the wine service a bit of a joke. Not Michelin starred by any stretch of any imagination. We didn’t leave till about 4pm & there was no sense of excitement so guess they don’t yet
  18. Three Chimney's to close? I've heard that the owners have or are buying a place in N Berwick - perhaps as part of a retirement plan or the harshness of skye winters (& summers) is getting to them. Mind you - not sure if its a house or restuarant they're buying. Heard anything? Also - had an astonishingly good meal there last spring - never got round to posting but if you've always wanted to got - don;t leave it too late.
  19. Can't quite believe we're part way through January & no one has started the annual guess fest. So - who's up, who's down?
  20. no brainer: essence (and if you haven't tried it yet, do - the pistachio & olive oil cake is stunning - superb with roast figs or roast apricots)
  21. Ginger Pig off marylebone high street - phone ahead to see if they have any or to ask them to get you some
  22. ermintrude thanks for the lovely post I'm spending christmas in seville and have booked el bulli - I was worried that it would be a sad imitation of the other place - bit it sounds truly wonderful. I’m now very very excited cheers Tony
  23. Phil - your website isn't redirecting properly cheers Tony
  24. are the tasting menu's available at lunchtime too?
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