|Listening to the "sound of the sea" on iPod shuffles hidden in conch shells as we eat what literally looks|
(and tastes) like the sea
This meal has probably been covered hundreds of times in hundreds of blogposts but I'd like to think that every meal at The Fat Duck is a little different. First of all, the dessert menu appears to change every once in awhile. Secondly, I had the good fortune of dining with someone who doesn't eat beef gelatine which meant that we had an even wider range of food to experience (at least visually) than other diners. The Fat Duck is closing this month and reopening in February next year in Melbourne so I was extremely fortunate that my housemate's boyfriend managed to secure a reservation.
|Horseradish cream sandwiched snugly between two crunchy "buns" of aerated beetroot|
|Nitro poached aperitifs: Gin and Tonic, Tequila and Grapefruit, Vodka and Lime Sour Mousse|
My personal favourite was the nitro poached mousse aperitif. Imagine popping a substantial but bite-sized chunk of gin and tonic into your mouth and having it vanish into a refreshing, pleasantly surprising gin and tonic-flavoured puff of smoke. Icy cool, the mousse was a jolt to the senses and therefore also the perfect start to our 4-hour long meal. If only I could get my hands on a whole bucket full.
|Woody, aromatic "starter" to the chicken liver parfait|
|Jelly of Quail, Crayfish Cream: Chicken Liver Parfait, Oak Moss and Truffle Toast|
|Releasing the warm, musty aromas of the wood and my favourite, petrichor - the smell of earth after it rains|
|Snail Porridge: Iberico Bellota Ham, Shaved Fennel|
|Roast Foie Gras: Burberry, Confit Kombu and Crab Biscuit|
|Mad Hatter's Tea Party: Mock Turtle Soup, Pocket Watch and Toast Sandwich|
|"Sound of the Sea"|
Listening to the sounds of the sea from a conch shell (as we ate what looked like freshly-picked edible paraphernalia from a seabed) felt a little contrived. Also, this was probably the intended effect but at some point I felt like I was really eating gritty sand and fresh seaweed. The salty sea-twang took some getting used to.
|Mock Turtle Soup|
|Salmon Poached in a Liquorice Gel: Artichoke, Vanilla Mayonnaise and Golden Trout Roe|
|Umble Pie: Warm venison so tender it feels like it melts on your tongue.|
Almost two hours from the start of the meal, the venison finally made its appearance. It felt like all the previous dishes were building up to this one dish. I've always been impartial to venison with its chewy texture and overwhelming flavours but this particular dish was a revelation. Cooked to exquisite perfection, the venison had a texture was so soft and buttery I could have been eating a pate.
|Umble Pie side: spelt truffle risotto|
|Hot and Iced Tea: Hot on the left and cold on the right!|
|The making of the scrambled egg ice cream.|
"This egg comes from very special chickens. We feed these chickens bacon sandwiches, but only when they are good. And today, they were very good," our waitress / scrambled egg ice cream chef told us surreptitiously. She then retrieved what looked like an egg from an egg carton and cracked it into a pot. With an expression of utter seriousness, she poured liquid nitrogen into the pot and stirred its contents as mystical vapours bubbled over the surface and cascaded down in gentle waves. In less than a minute and with a flourish, she produced the scrambled egg ice cream. And of course, it didn't just look like scrambled eggs, it tasted like it too; the only difference being the subtle sweetness and creamy texture of ice-cream.
|Scrambled Eggs Nitrogen and Bacon Ice-Cream atop french toast|
|Earl Grey Tea and Orange Marmalade|
At a world-renowned restaurant reputed for its breakthroughs in food science, the last thing I expected to impress me was the service. The waitstaff had actually noticed that the girl beside me and I were left-handed and had arranged our cutlery specially so that our forks were on the right.
At Japanese restaurants it's evident which hand you feed yourself with when you use your chopsticks with your dominant hand to eat your sushi. Then it's not too difficult for the chef to place the sushi at an angle that makes it easy for left-handers to pick up. But this wasn't a Japanese restaurant. We weren't using chopsticks. In fact, both of us left-handers had been eating the "right-handed" way i.e. with our forks in our left hands. When I asked the waiter how on earth he knew that we were left-handed, he informed us that when we were eating our very first course (which was a gazpacho and only requires a spoon), they had taken note of which hand each of us had used and had written it down so that every consequent cutlery arrangement reflected our behaviour from our first course.
|Egg in Verjus|
Heston's egg in verjus is the very expensive, adult version of every child's kinder egg surprise dream. It looks like an egg and might even crack like an egg but it is not an egg. Once your spoon cracks its way through the convincingly eggy but truly chocolatey exterior, you'll find your spoon sinking into a velvety, creamy vanilla mousse. This mousse envelopes a molten citrus centre in a stunning shade of orange to replicate the egg yolk.
|Botrytis Cinerea: Gumball sized grapes filled with a startling and amazing array of textures, flavours and temperatures|
One of the best dishes by far was the christmas-themed Botrytis Cinerea. Designed to go with wine, each "grape" is vastly different from the next, yet all of them are anchored by their propensity to complement the rich and deep flavours of wine. Soft, mild cheese is encased in a green-coloured ball of white chocolate and icy dessert wine bursts from an almost-transulent bubble. The entire dessert is a complex, multivalent and deeply satisfying experience; each grape imparts an experience that could justify a single dessert yet it is only together that the dish is truly complete.
|Whiskey Wine Gums|
|"Like a kid in a sweet shop"|
I'm not sure I'd recommend The Fat Duck as a restaurant to go to eat, but it is a place to go for an experience that will delight and surprise you.
The Fat Duck
Berkshire SL6 3AG
+44 (0) 1628 580333