Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Heston Blumenthal - The Fat Duck

Let me try to transcript a dining experience at the Fat Duck in September 2009.

It starts by vodka, lime and matcha tea meringue cooked in liquid nitrogen in front of you.

Then comes a mustard ice cream scoop in a cold beetroot soup.

A set of mini dishes explores the scents and flavors of the soil: Jelly of Quail, Crayfish Cream, Parfait of Foie Gras, Truffle and Oak Toast, and a spectaclar Scented Moss

Follows a seared foie-gras, cherry jam and crab biscuit.

Then comes one of the most fun dish of the evening: Alice in Wonderland's Mock Turtle Soup.
Like the Mad Hatter, we are given a gold pocket watch to dip in a cup of hot water. The pocket watch is actually meat stock jelly wrapped in a gold leaf. As it dissolves in the hot water, you get a cup of tea that you can pour into your plate which contains various little things such as what looks like a turtle egg.

The "sound of the sea": Raw and marinated fish have beached on tapioca sand with sea foam. The dish is enjoyed while listening at the sound of the sea using an iPod conch shell.

The effect is unfortunately slightly lessened by the the noise level of the restaurant.

Poached salmon in a liquorice gel and vanilla mayonnaise.

Comes a very classical but excellent roasted pigeon, black pudding and offal confit.

At this point, we switch to desserts.

First a beautiful and excellent apple and fennel pie which was revisited from an ancient english recipe.

Then a funny breakfast is served : the almost full English breakfast with parsnip cereals, bacon ice cream, toasted brioche and scrambled eggs cooked in liquid nitrogen in front of your eyes.

The egg is broken into the pan
(The egg has actually be refilled with some vanilla custard)

Liquid nitrogen is added and the custard is whipped

The 'scrambled egg' (actually an ice-cream) is added on top of the brioche toast. 

The breakfast wouldn't be full without this impressive tea which is hot and cold at the same time (really the two different temperatures are layered on top of the other).

We are nearing the end of the meal with this red wine and cocoa granita.

In lieu of digestives, we are offered various brandy gums related to the trade routes of the British empire (Cognac, Whisky, Port, Jerez, etc.)

And a final, a candy bag filled with fun treats: a toffee with an edible wrapping, a chocolate playing card and coconut chewing tobacco.

In summary, this meal is a wonderful show deeply rooted in the british culture and with a flawless execution.  The dishes are extremely well thought and executed with a good dose of humor and wit. The engineering of the dishes probably leaves little or no room for improvisation. That may be one of the very few weaknesses along with the impression of crowd in the room.

The molecular touch is there but it is yet subtle enough to give way to a real gastronomic meal.
Some places are oustanding for their time, it is one of them.

The Fat Duck
High St,
Bray, West Berkshire SL6 2AQ,
United Kingdom
Phone:+44 1628 580333

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