I was lucky enough to eat at L'Enclume this week - my favourite restaurant of all time. I visited 4 years ago and I had dreamed of returning ever since. Simon Rogan is the closest thing to Willy Wonka I have ever experienced - his underground menu, 23 courses - no holds barred - was as follows:
1. Hot and Sour popcorn, Fennel crackers (like prawn crackers but fennel flavoured) and giant olives served on something that looked to be part of a car engine
2. A tropical punch cocktail dehydrated into a crisp wafer with a rehydrated fig syrup that was turn into a mousse in front of my eyes
3. Tiny wafer cones filled with a frozen red pepper mousse and topped with grated manchego cheese - these looked like mini ice cream cones
4. A truffle lollipop with pickled onion Turkish delight (I know this sounds like it should be repulsive but it was honestly delicious!)
5. Whim 01 - powdered tuna snow with mango mousse and a soy cake
6. A hot and sour soup which came with a syringe of egg that was injected into the soup to make swirly noodles
7. Memories of venus (my favourite course) - a mussel encased in lemon jelly, some tzatziki mousse and one hot meatball (I would have eaten this course over and over again)
8. Fois gras two ways - as ice cream with sweetcorn puree and hot fried in vermiccelli with fig puree
9. Razor role reversal - A razor clam shell filled with poached chicken in an egg sauce and an egg shell filled with razor claim in a chestnut soup
10. Cornish crab with vanilla sauce, served with violet petals
11. Parmesan three ways - cake, crisp and droplets with maple syrup and an sphere of liquid flavoured of mushroom ravioli when it dissolved in your mouth, served with rocket flowers.
12. Glazed pork cheeses with cocoa, date and cassia
13. Scallop with tonka curd, butternut squash puree and sweet brackets
14. Skate with broad beans and seaweed
15. Monk cheeks with squid ink risotto (memories of Masterchef came flooding back) with a passion fruit sauce - yum yum
16. Hot Pot - the most willy wonka dish on the menu - a lamb broth in which was floating 5 little pouches - when burst in your mouth, two tasted of potatoes, two of lamb and one of red cabbage - genius!
17. Veal with mustard flowers and onions
18. Delicious cheeses with grape chutney
19. Eucalyptus mousse with coffee snow and pears
20. Sticky Taffy Pudding - Another set out edible spheres - flavoured individually of the elements of sticky toffee pudding (vanilla, date, toffee, sponge cake, butter) - I was told to put them all in my mouth and bite - each sphere released a liquid and combined it tasted exactly as if you had just eaten sticky toffee pudding. It reminded me of Enid Blyton's Toffee Shock Buns for those of you who remember the Magic Faraway Tree!
21. Surrealists nitro slammer - tequila slammer with a salt wafer, nitro glycerin frozen tequila and a test tube of lemon syrup
22. Banana "Split" with strawberry flavoured bubbles and ice cream powder
23. Petit Fours - Vanilla choc ices, pistachio straws, walnut and wasabi truffles, tiramisu with liquid coffee pearls and tropical fruit jellies.
I am attaching the photos although they are not brilliant - my camera makes a bird noise when I use it and I was trying not to drive the other dinners up the wall! L'Enclume comes with a huge recommendation from me so if you are ever in the Lake District and are in need of a very special treat, you have to go. Cartmel is also the home of the sticky toffee pudding. I bought some from the sticky toffee pudding shop to bring home but, having eaten the above, it will be a few days before I feel like eating sticky toffee pudding I can tell you!
Reaching the final of Masterchef 2007 was a rollercoaster of emotion, with huge highs and lows, but I loved every minute and learnt a huge amount. I owe a great deal to John and Gregg who had faith in my ability when I did not believe in myself. Since competing on the programme my life has changed considerably. I now write cookery columns for two magazines, give cookery demonstrations and am just working on my 13th cook book - unlucky number for some but not for me!!! I love all forms of country cooking, using seasonal and locally sourced produce. This blog is to enable me to share with you a few of my recipes and baking ideas. Enjoy Hannah xxxx