You know I usually try to post (and eat) healthy food that hopefully also tastes good. Well, last night I went to a very special dinner, where healthy food was NOT the intention, and indulgence was the theme!
My Mum & Dad split up when I was 16, and both found new partners. My Dad’s wife has a daughter from her first marriage, so I got a sister as well as my brother. This sister – J – had a special birthday yesterday (one of the ones that end in 0) and decided to have a little family party in a lovely boutique hotel in the Cotswolds called The Manor House Hotel on the 2010 deal. She then upgraded the meal to the Taster Menu – 8 courses of food paired with 6 wines. The menu was slightly different from the one linked above, but don’t worry, I will tell you how!!!
I don’t know if it was because I knew I had an indulgent evening ahead, but I went a little crazy in the morning and pigged out quite a bit. I managed to limit the damage with a walk (still no rucksack) and a bath, but I did nothing to mitigate the damage to be inflicted that evening. I’ve put that behind me though, as yesterday was definitely a special occasion. I had my standard lunch, and we set off for the hotel around 1:30 pm. It took us just over an hour to get to the hotel, through some beautiful countryside that I failed to photograph from the moving car. We checked in, checked out the room, and headed out to wander around the town a little bit before meeting everyone else. I’ve always loved Cotswold stone, in fact when I was a kid I sort of wanted to live in a little old market town up there, so it was very appealing and picturesque to my eyes, hopefully you agree!
This one is for you, Bearfriend – I’ve decided to collect ‘Bear’ related hotels / pubs for you!!!
As it was Sunday in the winter most of the shops were shut, so we only wondered around for a little while before heading in and meeting Dad & his wife – C – in front of a lovely open fire!
We all sat around there for a while, chatting and sharing a bottle of birthday champagne that J’s husband had bought her and giving presents. Then we went to our rooms to dress, and met back up in the bar for cocktails before the main event.
Dinner lasted about 3 hours!!! And passed very quickly, in a haze of wonder. I did miss photographing one course, sorry about that… And I apologise for the dark photos, the lighting was a bit romantic and the food was served on slate ‘tiles’ rather than plates so I couldn’t get enough light.
1) Amuse bouche
A little hard to see, but it was a small piece of poached turbot with pea puree and a tiny salad, paired with a totally wonderful Sancerre.
2) Crab, plaice and coriander ravioli with julienned vegetables, avruga caviar and a bisque dressing – this was the one course I failed to photograph and so did everyone else, even though there were three of us taking pictures!
3) ‘All day breakfast’ – A quails scotch egg, tiny sliver of pancetta bacon, a few tiny home-baked beans, a couple of miniscule pieces of black pudding and a mushroom ‘creme brulee’. I had major doubts about the mushrooms, but they were absolutely amazing, as was the quails egg – this may have been my favourite course. It was paired with a really delicious Rioja
4) Also a contender for my favourite course – a palate cleansing mango sorbet with ‘popping candy’ – remember space dust? sprinkled over it. this was so much fun to eat (and we’d had quite a bit of alcohol by then) so it has us in hysterics as the candy popped in our mouth. I want to buy a pack of space dust and some mango sorbet to DIY it at home now!!!
5) Fillet of seabass with a fantastically crispy skin, served with a clam, mashed potato, celery filled with saffron foam, and carrot puree – again all delicious, the celery was quite astonishingly good (I don’t mind celery but this was actively nice) – served with a really good Viognier-Sauvignon Blanc.
6) Campari-marinated tenderloin of pork served with pommes fondant wrapped in pancetta, prune marmalade, apple jus, spinach and celeriac puree. Absolutely fantastic, even M loved it and he’s no fan of pork usually. Served with a good, but not as appealing to be, Chianti Classico.
7) Cheeses served with fig, quince jelly, crackers, apple and celery, served with port (not a fan of port, but by this time I didn’t care so I drank it anyway!)
8) Desserts…. OMG. Lemon posset, orange cake, and citrus sorbet. With a dessert wine, I didn’t catch the name. The posset was out of this world, the cake was lovely, and the sharpness of the sorbet contrasted brilliantly with the creamy richness of the posset. Even the dessert wine was lovely with this, and they’re usually far too sweet for me.
That was the tasting menu… But the food wasn’t over yet! J isn’t a fan of the traditional birthday cake so her mum had bought some cupcakes, and we all had one (I have no idea how I fitted it in!)
I think by this point they were just trying to kill us…
Pistachio fudge (yum yum) chocolate truffle (yum yum) and mandarin jelly – not so yum, but not actually unlikeable
The original plan was to go back to the bar after dinner for some more cocktails but by this point no one could manage another thing, and we all stumbled off to our rooms!
Now you probably feel slightly sick and bloated, so I’ll tell you about today later…