Arrival drinks were served with a selection of canapés: Venison Skewers (my personal favourite!), Cones of Caprini Goats Cheese and Wild Mushroom Arancini.
After drinks and canapés, we made our way upstairs to the Fountain room – where we sat down at the beautifully decorated table. Twisted Willow had worked their magic earlier in the day and the table looked stunning.
Rob then began his introduction to the first wine.
These are some of the useful tips and interesting bits of information that Rob shared with us during the meal:
1. You should only fill a glass half way, as the space left at the top of the glass captures the beautiful aromas of the wine, allowing the wine to breathe – which helps us to appreciate the flavours. Taste isn’t just experienced with the tongue – smell plays a huge part.
2. Vines love barren soil – the drier the soil, the harder the vine needs to work to find water and the more potent the grape. So if you want a full bodied wine, choose something from a drier climate.
3. The intensity of the grape is greater if the vine only produces a few bunches – if the vine produces lots of bunches, the flavour is diluted / distributed… I’m guessing this is why more flavourful wines are more expensive, as the crops are smaller.
4. The ‘legs’ of the wine is simply the alcohol residue. Longer legs equals more alcohol.
5. If you buy Portuguese wine, it will never have a screw top or plastic cork. Portugal are one of the main producers of cork, so it wouldn’t make sense for them to use anything else.
Now for the glorious food….
Starter was served in vertigo bowls, Dine’s School of Fish
A Sliced Rondel of Smoked Salmon, Beetroot Jelly, Horseradish Dots, Keter, Picked Dill
Thinly Sliced Tuna Carpaccio, Finley Grated Lime Zest, Shallots, Black Pepper
Salad of Chinese Bleeding Heart Radish, finished with a snap dragon flower
Dressing was Lime Curing Sauce – Citrus, White Wine and Vinegar, served in a glass tea pot.
Wine: Ca N’Estruc Idoia 2013, Catalunya, Spain
After the starter, our executive head chef, Mark Dawson came in to give us a demonstration on how to make a jus.
Mark explained that a lot of outside caterers these days use granules or shop bought stock – this isn’t something that we would ever cut corners on as it compromises the flavours of the whole dish.
Here is a step-by-step guide for how to make a Jus…
- Roast a large tray of bones with root veg (carrots, parsnips, leeks) and onions with thyme, rosemary & parsley.
- Put the bones & veg into a large pan, cover with water and simmer for 48 hours – should be kept at a minimum temperature of 63 degrees for the entirety of the cooking process. You may be better to put in a slow cooker if you are doing this at home.
- Once you have drained your stock, add to a pan with a small glass of red wine.
- Simmer to reduce wine and stock.
- Add a couple of star anise and around 60g of dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids) – per 1 1/2 pints of stock.
- Continue to simmer for a few minutes.
- Pass the liquid through a sieve, so that you are left with a smooth Jus.
Another top tip from the chef – if you are adding fresh herbs to a sauce, do this right at the end otherwise the flavour will be lost. Star anise and cloves are strong enough flavours to withstand a bit of cooking and will infuse the sauce, but something like basil or tarragon for chicken, need to be added at the end as these are a more delicate flavour.
That’s enough learning for now, lets get back to what we ate!
For Main Course we had an interpretation of beef wellington
Roule of Slow Braised Shin of Beef with Oxtail & Foie Gras
Fricasee of Wild Mushrooms, Lattice lid, cracked salt
Dish surrounded by Baby Wild Mushrooms, beef Jus, finished with Bitter Chocolate and Star Anise
Baby Veg served in a copper pan.
Wine: Altano ‘Quinta do Ataide’ Reserva 2012, Douro, Portugal
And the grand finale! For dessert we had…
Poached Pear filled with a mulled red wine and red berry gel – Resting on an organic chocolate tarte finished with jellies.
I am converted! I have to admit that I wasn’t a huge fan of ‘the poached pear’, but this was delicious! The combination of chocolate and pear worked beautifully.
Wine: Domaine Madeloc Banyuls ‘Solera’ Hors d’Age, Roussillon, France.
The production process of this wine, meant that we were drinking grapes from 1921! Lucky us!
After pudding we enjoyed coffee and chocolates, that were sitting in the little glass baubles hanging in the centre pieces.
If you would like to find out more about our Ambassadors’ dinners or want to talk about hosting an event with us, please call: 0345 450 4545 or email: email@example.com