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. . . There's a nice picture of the Roellinger on p. 284 of his 1994 book--"le livre d'Olivier Roellinger"--a 4" **round disc** of mou (the soft caramel containing both peanut and pistachio), yet firm enough to stand up, molded inside a ring about 3/4" high, with a quenelle of chocolate sorbet on top and **a few decorative chocolate fans** stuck into the sorbet.  Once on the plate, this pile was then **ringed by a caramel sauce**, deglazed with butter, cream and powdered cinnamon. . . .

. . . Its shape was somewhat rectangular, but not with clear definition in such way. . . .

There was no fan on top of the chocolate sorbet.

Steve Klc -- My photos from the Fat Duck meal became available today. Suffice it to say I'm surprised by certain inaccuracies in my memory of the dish relative to characteristics made clear by the photo:

-- The caramel piece was generally rectangular, but it had very rounded edges and could also have been characterized as a "disc".

-- There was a veil-like "fan" placed on top of the chocolate sobet. This item was of a 3D-looking quasi-triangular shape, and was larger than the caramel piece. It was semi-translucent, having a pale blush/ivory color and having limited "specks" and other areas of chocolate color.

-- The caramel was ringed by a brown sauce. The ring had a small section omitted that made it an incomplete circle, and near this "gap", there was a progressive larger quantity of sauce forming part of the ring. Kind of like the shape of certain babies' teething mouthpieces.

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I revisited the Fat Duck for lunch today, and ran into fellow eGulleteer Jon Tseng sitting at an adjacent table!  Although Jon was part of a 5-6 person dining group, we had a chance to talk for a while.  

This second FD meal was less enjoyable than the first (not a negative).  One aspect was the reduction in novelty value (something to which I do not generally attribute particular weight, but which did have some effect in this case). The other aspect was that the individual dishes were not as good a fit for me as the ones I had chosen the first time around. As I adhered to the special lunch menu, note I have not yet sampled the a la carte three-course experience, or the tasting menu. Those menus would have likely provided a better avenue for exploring the restaurant's cuisine.

-- Veloute of pumpkin, fricasse of ceps and pigs' cheeks

-- Petit sale of duck, green coffee sauce, pommes puree

-- Cheese: Selected Fourme d'Ambert, Roquefort, Stilton,

   taken with green apples (not included in special lunch

   price)

-- Nougat Glace, praline rose, fromage blanc ice cream

       Glass of Louis Roederer champagne (13.50)

       Glass of Riesling Spatlese Rudesheimer Berg Rotland Schloss Schonborn 1995 (7.00)

       Glass of Saint-Joseph Les Royes Courtis 1997 (10.00)

       Glass of Monbazillac (sic)

       Coffee and petits fours (separate charge, 3.95)

The lunch menu was as described in the first post, except that a pork belly dish had been substituted for the lamb shank I chose for the first meal.

The amuses were as described for the first meal. I noticed a bit more the lime elements in the green tea lime sour, although the green tea aspects still appeared difficult to discern. The mustard ice cream in a red cabbage gaspacho was as I previously described.

The pumpkin soup was of a brilliant color -- the yellow/orange of certain egg yolks or one of the shades that little kids sometimes utilize when drawing the sun. It had little green chive bits on top, and the sides of the relatively "tall", vaguely V-shaped soup bowl above the soup were encrusted with breadcrumbs (a bit harsh for the dish, in my mind). The pumpkin veloute tasted creamy, but lacked pumpkin flavor.  Included in the veloute were tiny, triangular-shaped slices of an orangish vegetable that, based on the name of the dish, should have been pumpkin. However, I was unclear whether this ingredient was pumpkin or some type of carrot (likely the former).

On the other hand, the small side helping of fricasse of cepes and porks' cheeks accompanying the veloute was good. I noticed that small, gentle trumpet mushrooms had been substituted without advance notice. As discussed recently on the board, I like trumpet mushrooms (even if not trompettes de la mort) and enjoyed these considerably. The pork cheeks were in small lengths, and were described as having been hammed. These two elements were combined with little diced onions (or a similar item) and a limited amount of the small, triangular-shaped orangish slices.  They were bound by a meat jus-based reduction (likely) that had a very small hint of acidity as well as a bit of sweetness to it.  I enjoyed this side dish.

Then, the portion of duck leg arrived, sitting next to a large amount of potatoe puree. The maitre d' indicated the duck had been flavored with many spices, including juniper berries and anise. While not having the usual amount of fat (a point discussed with Jon, who appeared to have sampled a dining companion's duck dish and received a drier area), the duck meat was appropriate. The potato puree tasted wonderfully chock full of butter (another point discussed with Jon). However, the green coffee described to be the primary feature of the sauce was not noticeable to me. The sauce was an appropriate meat jus reduction, with spicing to enhance. It was perhaps a bit too reminiscent of the sauce for the lamb shank, and also a hint sweeter than I would have personally preferred.

The cheese selection was strong, and included an unusual Bleu de Gex (a French blue I do not like).  The pre-desserts have been previously described. The nougat dessert was appropriately creamy, but the fromage blanc ice cream was bland.  

Overall, a good meal, although not as strong as my first meal taken at FD. Jon and I spoke about how the kitchen was very technically capable, and how it is easier, on weekends, to find reasonably priced and appealing lunches outside London itself. Jon and I also spoke about the Shanghainese soup dumplings he recently described on the board.

Amusingly, the only time thus far I have unexpectedly run into an eGulleteer was also the the occasion of my being the least "dressed up" I have been at a restaurant in a while. I had posted a bit and checked some work e-mails last night after the Club Gascon dinner, and had woken up late with little time to spare in getting to Bray.  :wink:

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ok, finally got round to committing pen to paper... hit the fat duck last saturday lunch, relatives in tow.  third visit there spread over a couple of years... every time the place seems to get fuller and swisher... the interior now very david-collins-smart-restaurant-type.

as mentioned below, cabrales was parked in the corner, easily identifiable by the impeccable timekeeping & various paraphenalia (typewriter to transcribe menu, ruler/protractor for determining circumference of salt caramel biscuit, studio lights for the photography &tc). cabrales may or may not have been "dressed up" - it was difficult to tell behind the false beard and the camoflage paint...

lunch menu (still) a snip at twenty seven quid - a shame more posh places don't do lunch at weekends, although i guess the staff deserve the time off (notable exceptions: fat duck, waterside inn, manoir, capital, gr@c, not cliveden - annoyingly). bear in mind chez heston twenty seven notes gets you the full-on random-amuse shebang, although petits fours three quid extra.

Started off with the green tea/lime sour (yes, discernable taste of green tea as opposed to proper tea. but then again as any good marxist knows: proper tea is theft) (!sorry!). then the mustard ice-cream on cucumber brunoise with red cabbage gazpacho poured round. mustard ice-cream both creamy (duh!) but also with a real horseradishy kick.

For starters the snail porridge. excellent savoury mush - think olde english savoury porridges like frumenty crossed with snails and garlic butter. Nice bite to the porridge, parsley and hint of garlic without being overpowering. Just the right level of salting - savoury enough to bring out the oats without over-salting.

then pork belly, which appears to be the modish cut at the mo (viz trouvaille, pied a terre, gordon ramsay). heston doing, one presumes, the slow-cooking thing again so skin gelatinous rather than crispy.  very tasty - a real musky meaty flavour - almost offaly. only downer was that a touch dry in places - really depended on whether you got a fatty bit or not. accompanied by cabbage (i think) and black pudding broth (seemed generic dark saucing with bits in).

then the red pepper lollypop things (qv), basil tarts (basily), beetroot jelly (blackcurranty). for pudding salt caramel with bitter chocolate sorbet. the sorbet was, actually, quite, er, bitter. the caramel was salty sweet (viz Sea Salt Taffy sweets you get in san fran). the caramel fan sweet. salt - bitter - sweet in one desert. all we were missing was the sour (had that earlier!). caramel nicely chewy without sticking to the teeth.

polished off coffee with tobacco chocolates (peppery) and the bacon caramel things (tastes like chinese pork jerky). one thing to note all the in betweeny bits were identical to when last went - i guess occasionaly visitors don't notice but regulars must get a bit bored ("oh no, not the innovative take on bacon-flavoured sweets //again//..."). noticed the same thing at gordan ramsays joints (er, pass the white-chocolate-coated-icre-cream balls and the pineapple granita anyone?)

overall great fun, technically excellent food, combinations which generally worked, and all for thirty five squids per head all in. which could just about get you a starter down the road at the waterside - if you had a discount.

cheerio

j

More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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"icre-cream"? Or "ichor cream"?

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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The appetizer of snail porridge was appealing.

Cabrales, is this kind of uglification worth serious attention?

Snails and porridge conjour up profound unpleasantness to me and indeed were I peverse enough to order it and were it just that (snails + porridge) it would indeed be so. However, the dish you describe is clearly not porridge, apart from oats it has no connection with porridge. Therefore it would hardly be controversial to suggest that by calling the dish 'snail porridge' its creator seeks to sensationalize his product.

I read your excellent reports with interest but I find it difficult to understand how any, but the most jaded, can be swayed by this kind of gruesome showiness.

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Shaun Hill believes Blumenthal to be "inevitably" the most exciting chef working for "provoking so much passion about the food he serves".

Says so in the Q&A session.

Very polite and well-mannered that Shaun, I must say.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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I e mailed Heston with the URL to this thread, and although he has obviously decided not to reply directly, he responded to me with the following:

"The salted butter caramel indeed is in Olivier Roellingers book but it comes from the patissier, M.Roux in Quiberon. It is something that pops up now and again on the lunch menu.

The tobacco chocolates however, are something that we came up with here a couple of years ago and was inspired by Michel Tramas use of tobacco a  few years ago. I believe that the brilliant French Laundry have now started to do them as well."

Hope that is of interest to some of you.

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The chocolates at the Fat Duck are made by the wonderful Artisan du Chocolat (89 Lower Sloane Street, London SW1, 020 7824 8365; they also sell at Borough Market).  The commercial brains behind the outfit is a former colleague of mine; she described her negotiations with Heston Blumenthal. The tobacco flavour has become something of a signature for L'Artisan and is typical of their range.  So I would be surprised if Heston Blumenthal had invented the flavour, but I don't know for sure that he did not.

Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

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  • 3 weeks later...

I was taken to the Fat Duck for my birthday yesterday lunchtime.  I was given the choice of FD or the Waterside Inn - what an arse I feel right now.

The place itself is a curious blend of old-English house and modernist décor which frankly doesn't work.  There were bold paintings on the wall and I couldn’t tell if they were there a serious works of art of if Heston & the gang had done them between sittings.  But I wasn't here for the décor - I came for the food and have longing to come for quite some time.

The 3 course meal itself was transformed into a 6 course event - 3 pre starters set us off.  The first was a glass full of foam the novelty of which wore off quickly.  It was scented with lime and green tea but this was only just detectable as an aftertaste.  Never mind.

Next came a huge bowl with a dimple in the middle in which sat a tiny teaspoon sized quenelle of mustard seed ice cream.  Around this a deep crimson red cabbage veloute was poured.  Things were looking up- I really enjoyed that one although my partners faced took on many a strange contortion was the mustard did its work.

This was followed by a 3-layerd jelly of pea, something or other and langoustine reduction.  It was a bit like popping a stock cube into your mouth.  We were not the only ones who didn't eat more than mouthful.  Offensively bad.

Starters.  My partner went for the foie gras with jasmine - truly delicious and simply presented.  It came with some kind of jelly - but I didn't catch what.

I had the lasagne of langoustine & pigs trotter.  It looked wonderful but I not entirely sure I liked it - the langoustine & shreds of trotter and herbs were placed between two lose squares of pasta surrounded by a pig trotter reduction - there was a musty underside to this which I still can't place.  They grated black truffle over the top - damned if I could detected it.

Mains - partner chose the pigeon which was stunningly presented in little mounds with foamy sauced atop.  The highlight of that was a filo parcel stuffed with confit of the pigeon leg & wild cherries.  The dish went cold quickly as the palates were only just warm & not hot.

I went for the sea bass with vanilla.  A fine dish but instantly forgettable.

Dessert - by this time we decided to play it safe & both went for the tart tatin.  My partner loved it - I thought it was just OK.  I suspect the tart was not made to order as it had a re-heated quality about it and I thought it a bit dry & non of the essential caramel.

This was followed by little post dinner tasties - the famous beetroot jelly (fab), a little pasty with green herby cream (seriously awful) and a red pepper lollipop (what was he thinking?).

Wine - I was very please to see a large selection by the glass - however, I didn’t have any as I was driving.

Service - impeccable - lovely & not too friendly waiting staff who were very attentive.

Cost - pennies short of 150 pounds.  

Overall - I am really glad I went for the experience but I really can’t see me going back.  The food it too gimmicky and not enjoyable enough to pay that kind of money (58 pound each for the food).  It doesn’t come close to the lunch menu of, say, the Captial and nowhere the likes of Le Manior or even GR@C.

And do you know what's worse - for once I am forced to agree with LML.   :wink:

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And do you know what's worse - for once I am forced to agree with LML.   :wink:

You need not feel pained at agreeing with me Lemon, as I have never said that the Fat Duck's food is bad. It's not, in fact, on quality alone the Fat Duck deserves its position amongst the better British restaurants.

To clarify, my gripe has always been that Blumenthal's reputation as a uniquely original and gifted chef is undeserved due to his unethical use of other peoples' creations and claiming them as products, or allowing them to be claimed as products, of his own imagination.

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Blind Lemon - I had a superior meal at the Fat Duck last year that included the exact same amuse bouches you had, all terrific. And I dined at Le Manoir this past February and it was decidedly mediocre. Have we eaten at the same places? I haven't gone to the Capitol so I can't calibrate my palate with yours. But I will add that I thought the decor at the FD, a mix of new and old to be refreshing? Which do you read, Wallpaper or Architectural Digest?

LML - Why does it matter whether Blumenthal created those dishes or not, and/or gets credit for them? Do you really care? I don't. I can see it being a reason for not eating there. But if you go and like it, why is that complaint relevant?

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  • 1 month later...

Oh Dear. What started off as a promising venture that produced quality food is now a dirty cafe geared towards filling tables and serving people overpriced food by French school leavers.

As we walked into the cafe, we fought through the strog cooking smells and we were greeted by a girl. My mum's heel slipped on the wooden floor which she seemed to find funny. If she had slipped over, she and Heston wouldn't have found the legal proceedings funny!

We were then presented the wine list by the waitress who barely spoke a word of English and got our order wrong too. More of that later. they were clearly full today buti didnt expect them to cut so many corners. All the staff had changed as well. All were now very French (ie rude) and obnoxious.

No time was given to explain the food to us. We were just expected to order and take what we were given.

It was all so rushed and disappointing. when we went in February and March, it was fabulous and staff too ktheir time to describe the food to you. Now, its made of an ignorant aussie and 2 young girls barely out of school in France who are typically French and cant be bothered to explain anything about the food.

Now the menu was already presented on the table in a tatty brown envelope which unfolded to reveal the menu, full of grease stains and all. the menu had become very wide on starters (mostly cold) and even incorporated snacks etc now....

Starters: Caesar Salad. Oh Dear. We asked for it without Bacon. Instead it arrived with Anchovies. It was plain and uninteresting. a few leaves and sauce out a jar for a fiver. Perhaps it was a bad choice though. I had the Sardine Tart. It had a pleasent flavour but the number of lethal bones in it was a joke and i ended up spitting most of it out into tissue. I didn't think the top end of the Sardine would have been so bony. Disappointing.

Main courses were better. Lamb shank was nice but dry (so much for the slow cooked bollocks in a tub of water at 60 degrees celcius!) Hammed duck leg was delicious but the duck was almost raw and the Ribeye steak was excellent.

The triple cooked chips were also a let down. In the past they had been cooked properly but today, they couldnt be bothered. They were tasteless and much like the pomme frittes. Also, the portion for £3.95 had shrunk in size since we last visited a mere 6 weeks ago and was barely large enough for a childs portion. Also, now you have to pay for bread at £2.50. It was placed on the table before.

The highlight was talking to the Head Chef there (Irish guy) who recognised me and had time to chat while he and his brigade prepared food. I can see why others have jumped ship. Maybe hes the next to go... If he does leave, it will go down the tube further becuase when he is allowed time, space and creativity to be a Chef, he is VERY good. He made the greatest boudin blanc ever last time.

Also, the cafe was sadly full of flies buzzing around and the odd wasp. I know it is unavoidable being by the river, but when you are paying £14 for a main course, you expect a certain standard of service and quality.

I for one will not be going back again EVER and wil lnot be recommending it to anyone anymore. It would be a crime to send someone there. We didn't pay the 10% service charge today and were hesistant to pay for much at all. Puddings looked ordinary and boring. We didnt stick around.

It is a real shame that what started out to be a quality haven for excellent food has now become an overbooked, overpriced trap for yuppies who only care about a river view. The changeover of Staff I think has had a huge negative impact on the way the Brasserie is run. Jerome (who used to be incharge) was excellent at his job. He should be laughing now as the Brasserie has gone down the plughole. As I said before, i wil lnot be going back.

Heston, I tried to email you but the email account at CS wasnt working. I hope you read this because the slide has been so fast of the Brasserie. You know how much I enjoy The Fat duck and your concepts and style of delivery. The Brasserie today failed you miserably.

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  • 5 weeks later...

Edward Behr's latest edition of "The Art of Eating" (No. 61, 2002) has "English Food" as its feature article. After noting that he has not eaten at Gordon Ramsay restaurants or locanda locatelli, Behr lists The Fat Duck, The Merchant House and St John as among his "especially recommended" places. "The highly experimental cooking of Heston Bumenthal . . . is recommended to the curious and forewarned."

Below is an excerpt from a two-to-three-page write-up by Behr on The Fat Duck, with which I do not necessarily agree on certain points made: "Miraculously, these juxtapositions taste much more conservative than you could have imagined beforehand. . . . The execution is delicate and precise, and everything pretty much works. The key is restraint [??]. Flavors that sound shocking are often present only in small quantities and well-considered balance. . . . Heston Blumenthal, it may go without saying [??], is Britain's most inventive chef. He calls his cooking 'molecular gastronomy' [the subject of another eGullet thread, under General] . . . I stopped thinking that Blumenthal meant to shock and show off. Instead, I saw his food as uncompromisingly earnest, the result of a personal quest to understand taste. Blumenthal wants to amuse, and he wants to challenge, but in a good-natured way."

Behr gushes: "We were more than full [by the end of the meal]. But my expectations of what constitutes a meal had been so defied tht, standing outside, I felt as if I'd hardly eaten."

-- Snail Porridge, Jabugo Ham . . . .

The appetizer of snail porridge was appealing. I generally do not like oats, but here softened small oats were integrated with diced bits of snail, garlic and parsley. A parsley-based oil bound this satisfying dish together.  The Jabugo was appropriately limited to thin slivers atop the porridge mixture. The reference to porridge is a misnomer, if it connoted Chinese-style congee consistency. This dish was much more a risotto-type preparation.  On top of this mixture were placed thin, translucent strands of fennel -- this was unnecessary in my assessment. The Aligote white Burgundy taken with this dish is a relatively classic pairing with snails. For me, the snail porridge was the best dish of the meal.

Also included is the snail porridge I sampled, the name of which was discussed on the board (Humor thread under General??): "Sometimes the menu lists 'snail porridge' -- a combination of rolled oats and tender snails, chopped to about oat size, with Jabugo ham in a leaf-green sauce. Our table criticized the sauce's powdery starchiness, but was that part of the play on porridge?"

The first amuse was average -- an emulsion of green tea and lime sour, served in a slender V-shaped glass. This was light and airy (perhaps due to Adria influences? note I have never eaten at El Bulli). A dining room staff member indicated that vodka had likely been utilized in the dish, but this was not apparent. The tea flavors were too suppressed, resulting in a certain blandness and an emphasis on the citrus elements of the flavoring. The lime tasted much more like green apple to me, with nice notes of sweetness combined with sourness. Overall, however, this dish was still slightly bland and tended on the insubstantial side.

Behr notes, with respect to the lime and tea amuse: "Just one thing, for me, didn't suceed at all, and it was the very first, a small glass containing 'green tea and lime sour.' The taste was fine except that the ecxiting, unusual, subtle, grassy flavors of good green tean, if they were present at all, were entirely eclipsed by the lime. . . ." :wink:

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Cab et al--you might enjoy reading the Ed Behr interview, with Behr's thoughts on fusion, on Steve Shaw's site. I wonder who or what is dragging Ed into culinary modernity--this is the money-quote as far as I'm concerned: "I saw his food as uncompromisingly earnest, the result of a personal quest to understand taste. Blumenthal wants to amuse, and he wants to challenge, but in a good-natured way." Can a positive review of Paul Liebrandt be forthcoming? (That is, if Liebrandt convinces he's as uncompromisingly thoughtful, earnest and good-natured as Blumenthal.) I'm sorry, but I just don't trust Ed's ability to critique form and substance at the high end as I trust his ability to ferret out the significance of artisinally produced goat cheese or get me to appreciate Sauternes in a different light. Where "The Art of Eating" has been aiming recently is...interesting.

Meet Ed Behr, courtesy of Steve Shaw, here:

http://fat-guy.com/article/articleview/20/

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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Steve, I remember that interivew with Behr and it was worth a re-read if my memory serves me well. In fact I just took a peek at it. I could write a rave review about Blumenthal and not do the same for Liebrandt right now, but I understand your point about the Fat Duck seeming outside the range of previous spotlights in the Art of Cooking. Nevertheless, Behr had an interest in Arpege and Pierre Gagnaire when Shaw interviewed him and I don't see the Fat Duck as that much of an extension. Whether you trust his ability to critique those kinds of restaurants as well as report on ingredients is another story.

My one overall negative criticism about dinner at the Fat Duck was a level of sweetness that progressed over the course of dinner. I found it too pronounced in the sweetbreads. Nevertheless I was most favorably impressed. The mustard ice cream and red cabbage soup was a stunner. I did not understand the tea-lime froth, but enjoyed the rest.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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For the sake of completeness and for LML's benefit, I thought I would provide additional thoughts by Behr on Blumenthal:

"It's hard to imagine cooking like Blumenthal's succeeding in France or the US. Maybe the English are more open-minded. Unlike the French, they don't have a strong gastronomic tradition that is an inevitable point of comparison. . . . Even the most experimental French and Italian chefs that I know of refer to tradition in their cooking. They take a familiar dish and radically reinterpret it . . . . At the very least they refer to the traditions of the surrounding region by using its raw materials [terroir reference, obviously]. . . . The two menus I have from the Fat Duck contain a few continental-place names but no reference at all to English geography or products. England is richer in intellectual than in gastronomic culture, and a meal at the Fat Duck takes an unusually cerebral approach [??] to the senses. . . ."

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Thank you Cab. I haven't read the issue yet but Ed might be digging the hole a little deeper on this. Keep going--is Ferran Adria mentioned at all or is the passing reference to "experimental French and Italian chefs" HE knows it? How about the requisite nod to "molecular gastronomy?"

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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Molecular gastronomy was included in the following context: "Hesotn Blumenthal, it may go without saying, is Britain's most inventive chef. He calls his cooking 'molecular gastronomy', and he's often said to apply science to cooking, as if that hadn't been done before, or never properly. 'The Willy Wonka of the kitchen', my friend Patricia Michelson [fromagier] called Blumenthal, echoing a description in print. . . ."

However, the potential for "inspiration" taken by Blumenthal or from others was not, as far as I can tell, discussed by Behr. By contrast, Behr seems to be impressed with Blumenthal's inventiveness, as well as the humor in his dishes. :wink: "I was glad to eat Heston Blumenthal's food, and I admire his talent. More than a handful of other chefs in the world, notably in Spain and Italy, also pursue highly innovative cooking." Behr's other theme appears to be that certain combinations utilized by Blumenthal are less outrageous when sampled than when described, and gives the example of "mere" cooking he perceived in a poached pigeon breast dish ("[g]ood old roasting").

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Steve Klc -- No. Shaun Hill, like most of the other restaurants Behr visited, only had a small paragraph at the back of the article, under "A Scattering of Addresses in England". Blumenthal was in that section, and also had 2 pages+ of description in Behr's lead article on English Food. "Especially recommended places" were The Crib Box in Cornwall (for Cornish pasties and saffron buns), The Fat Duck, The Fox (a pub in London), La Fromagerie (Patricia Michelson's shop), The Merchant House (see Ludlow thread -- "[t]he best meal I ate in England, nearly perfect"), Monmouth Coffee in London, Neal's Yard Dairy and St John ("Henderson's excellent cooking is pure, plain English, using top quality raw materials"). Also included were Borough Market, J Sheekey, Lindsay House ("unfussy, excellent modern food"), and The Square ("French-style cooking at this luxury restaurant is extremely good, although two red meats were damaged by oddly sweet sauces"). :wink:

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm being dragged virtually as far as is possible from my beloved North tonight for a wedding in sussex tommorrow, my payback is dinner at the fat duck!

looking a the menu on the web i'm a bit perplexed, i would normally go straight for the tasting menu in a place like this, i expected the menu degustation to have the 'classic' dishes (lime tea/quail/mustard ice cream etc) on it but they seem to be on the a la carte? (not that i'm moaning as it's £20 cheaper!)

anyone have thoughts as to which one to plump for to get the best out of the kitchen?

(and don't say don't go :wink: )

you don't win friends with salad

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The tasting menu gets you all the signature small dishes - I was there for a lunch a few weeks back and we must have had about 15 "tastes" brought to our table including the courses actually listed on the menu. The lime and tea foam was there, so was the mustard icecream with red cabbage gazpacho, the parsnip cornflakes....

Go for the tasting menu. Also, I found the sommelier's choice of wines by the glass to go with the tasting menu very interesting - a lot of German wines I wouldn't have chosen, but which worked very well. Plenty of wine too :biggrin:

People going for the lunch menu got some of the "in-between" courses but certainly not them all.

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All diners get the first three courses, so your "starter" is in fact the fourth course of the meal. I had what is now the tasting menu on my second visit to the restaurant and was very impressed by it. If you haven't been before you must try the crab biscuit, it is sensational. The lamb is excellent as well. I am now feeling very envious! Do tell all on Monday.

BTW, did you catch Kitchen Chemistry, Heston's TV series on the Discovery channel on Wednesday?

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i had no idea he had a tv programme, but will be watching next week, what time is it on?

another one i often miss but really enjoy is locatelli on uk food, he's barking but obviously genuine and passionate about what he does, it's a bbc production heaven only knows why its not on bbc2, deserves a wider airing.

will give full fd update on monday.

cheers

gary

you don't win friends with salad

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