February 03, 2006

Return to The Fat Duck

Writing about web page http://www.fatduck.co.uk

Last night Alastair, Pras, Alex and I headed off to Bray to visit the Fat Duck restaurant (recently voted the best restaurant in the world). We had the 16 course tasting menu, and it was truly exquisite, although also a complete shock to the senses.

The meal started in suitably spectacular style when our waitress turned up with a cannister of liquid nitrogen in which she poached a mousse of lime and green tea. As she explained, this is a palate cleanser designed to prepare your taste buds for the rest of the meal. It's also a piece of food theatre.


The next course we forget to take a picture of. It was two jellies, one of beetroot and one of orange. In case you decide to go, I won't spoil the silly joke played with this course. This was followed by oyster in passion fruit jelly with horseradish cream and lavender.


Next, one of my favourite courses which gets better every time you have it. A grain mustard ice cream with red cabbage gazpacho.

Grain mustard ice cream with red cabbage gazpacho

Our final pre-starter course was a jelly of quail, langoustine cream and parfait of foie gras.

Quail Jelly

Finally, our first starter arrived. It was the famous snail porridge with Joselito ham and shaved fennel.

Snail porridge

Starter number 2 was roast foie gras, almond fluid gel, cherry and chamomile. The little orange cubes are amaretto jellies.

Roast Foie Gras

Starter number 3. Sardine on toast sorbet, ballotine of mackerel 'inverterbrate', marinated daikon.

Sardines on toast sorbet

I think at this point we move on to the main courses. Interestingly, every course so far had been cold. The first main course was salmon poached with liquorice, served with asparagus, pink grapefruit, 'Manni' olive oil and vanilla mayonnaise.

Salmon poached with liquorice

The second main course was poached breast of Anjou Pigeon pancetta with a pastilla of its leg, pistachio, cocoa and quatre epices. The white froth all over it is onion veloute.

Anjou Pigeon

Main courses over, its pudding time. The first one is a tiny ice cream cornet along with a little pamphlet telling us about the apparently much under appreciated Mrs Marshall. Given his predilection for ice cream, it seemed only fitting to have Alastair in this picture.

Alastair with cornet

In order to prepare our taste buds for the next course, we got this little sherbet fountain flavoured with pine, here modelled by Pras.

Pras with pine sherbet fountain

Having prepared our taste buds, we get this mango and douglas fir puree with a bavarois of lychee and mango and blackcurrant sorbet.

Mango and douglas fir puree

Next we see Alex's comedy caperings with a carrot and orange tuile, with beetroot jellies.

Alex chewing on a lolly

Having finished our meal, we started our 'breakfast', which kicks off with parsnip cereal and parsnip milk (in the picture above in front of Alex). After our breakfast cereal we had smoked bacon and egg ice cream with pain perdu and salted butter caramel. In the cracked egg shaped container behind it is tea jelly.

Bacon and egg ice cream

This is all of us enjoying it.

Pras, Alex, Alastair, Dan at the Fat Duck

At this point we got another show-off treat – hot and cold tea. It's a cup of tea which is hot on one side and cold on the other. Magic.

Dan with hot and cold tea

Finally, we had petit fours. Violet tartlets and two sorts of chocolate – pine and mint (the herb, not the nasty stuff you get in after eights). They're served in a cocoa bean.

Petit fours

In summary, a good time was had by all. I won't mention the size of the bill…

- 24 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

[Skip to the latest comment]
  1. wow, those dishes sure look interesting … where is the fat duck?

    03 Feb 2006, 16:19

  2. It's in Bray, not far from London. Tempted?

    03 Feb 2006, 22:01

  3. Alex

    The finest selection of jellies and ice cream in the world!

    03 Feb 2006, 22:08

  4. so..
    what did you actually do for food that night then?

    04 Feb 2006, 22:01

  5. Bacon sandwhiches when we got back…

    Not really, if you eat 16 courses, even if they're all tiny and mostly consist of jelly and icecream, you feel pretty stuffed by the end.

    05 Feb 2006, 11:31

  6. definitely tempted… would also be tempted to try doing something similar, looks like fun tasting but also like fun putting the tiny dishes together…

    05 Feb 2006, 12:01

  7. ps: the different ice creams, did they actually taste like eg bacon (savoury) or were they sweet?

    05 Feb 2006, 12:04

  8. fuck that shit Laura. I make you steak. you'll see.

    05 Feb 2006, 12:22

  9. Laura, I have recipes for the snail porridge and the Anjou pigeon (he used to write a column in the Guardian), but I warn you they are a lot of work. The pigeon takes 3 days of preparation and you need a temperature controlled water bath and vacuum packing machine (I kid you not). I have made some of his simpler recipes from his cookbook and Guardian column, and they are all excellent.

    The icecreams are sweet but they also taste like bacon, sardines, etc. The grain mustard one is absolutely sensational.

    05 Feb 2006, 12:31

  10. Wow, that all looks divine!
    Not sure about the fois gras.. what's that like?

    06 Feb 2006, 18:55

  11. Well I like foie gras if its done really really well, ethics be damned. If its not done really well, it can be quite disgusting. It was a pretty good combination. The amaretto jellies and the cherry in particular went very well with it.

    07 Feb 2006, 00:12

  12. OKiDOki

    How do you do the hot and cold tea? What's the secret? Can you find the recipes in his book?

    01 Mar 2006, 13:08

  13. I have no idea how he does hot and cold tea, as far as I know he hasn't given the recipe anywhere. I seem to recall he mentioned it very briefly in one of his Guardian articles, but he didn't give a recipe for it. I know from drinking it that the cold side was almost a jelly, whereas the hot side was an ordinary liquid, it might be that's the key to getting them not to mix?

    01 Mar 2006, 14:23

  14. DR

    Any idea how the jellies are prepared? I expect they take days aswell…

    26 Mar 2006, 18:26

  15. I would guess that he just makes a concentrated liquid and stirs in some gelatine. For example, the amaretto jellies I would guess he reduces a certain amount of amaretto (maybe it's reduced to a 1/3 of its original volume as a guess based on the intensity of the flavour), and then uses gelatine to make it into a jelly. Then you just cut that jelly into little cubes. I've actually bought some gelatine to have a go at making some odd jellies, but I haven't got round to it yet. I'm not entirely happy about using it because I still have worries about BSE (probably irrational worries, but there you go).

    26 Mar 2006, 18:53

  16. Graeme Houston

    The hot and cold Earl Grey tea, is made by removing the ions from water,(heston has a special piece of equiptment in his kitchen that does this, also used for keeping his vegetable green) this in turn makes it a fluid gel. Heston then puts a partition down the middle of the glass, pours hot gel down one side and cold down the other, the partition is then removed and because they are gels they don't mix. The great thing about the de–ionised water is, when it is standing on the table it is jelly, when tipped it turns to a liquid. Amazing.

    21 May 2006, 12:54

  17. Graeme Houston


    A website that expalins it all.

    21 May 2006, 13:11

  18. Wow! Thanks Graeme, that's really good stuff. I'll have to get me one of them de–ionisers. :–D

    21 May 2006, 13:22

  19. Graeme Houston

    Your welcome. Let me ask you a question: I have been putting quite a lot of research in to Heston Blumenthal's cooking techniques, and never been lucky enough to taste any of his food. Do you personally think his food is worth all the speculation it is being put through, or is it just new and exiting. The answer I'm really trying to find is, whether the awards he has recived are for how his food tastes, or is it just how fun his food is? what is your personal view?


    p.s If your interested, here is another link that tells you a bit more about some of his theroys:


    23 May 2006, 20:42

  20. That's a great site. I've actually seen quite a few of those having watched some (but not all) of his Kitchen Chemistry series on Discovery. Will take a look at the pineapple jelly one in a minute though, looked interesting.

    My view on Heston's food is that it is very, very good, and worth all the accolades. It's certainly worth going there at least once for the tasting menu and spending the £100–150 it'll cost.

    Some things are gimmicky and probably not worth the effort. The hot and cold tea is like this, it's just a fun little joke. The nitro green tea mousse is a bit similar, I actually preferred his older palate cleanser, but it is fun. Most of it though is just seriously good food. The snail porridge, the crab biscuit, the grain mustard ice cream, the quail jelly, the sardines on toast sorbet; they all sound gimmicky, but they're amazing to eat. The slow cooking technique for meat is also very good. I mean to have a go at it myself sometime, but it's such an effort I haven't got round to it.

    I have made use of some of his recipes in my own cooking, and been inspired by some of his cookery concepts, and they've mostly been very successful. I couldn't get cauliflower risotto to be anywhere near as good as it is at the restaurant, but apart from that what I've made has been very nice.

    Is there anything particular you wondered about?

    23 May 2006, 21:09

  21. Graeme Houston

    Not really, i'm just glad to hear that the food actually is good. From what I gather, some reviws have been shocking, however these were written by people who didn't really know why they were dining at The Fat Duck. I am realy interested in how these coocking techniques will change the future face of cookery. The two top restraunts in the world both put molecular gastronomy into practice, so it can't be bad.

    Hats off to Heston Blumenthal and Ferran Adrià.

    Cheers for the discussion, it been good talking to you.


    24 May 2006, 12:49

  22. I think we'll see some of their techniques come into more general practice. But I don't see restaurants around the world buying up de–ionisers and the like.

    24 May 2006, 15:07

  23. Mr E. Bob

    Could anybody with relevant links link to any of his online recipes, other than the BBC ones?


    05 Jun 2006, 16:50

  24. Graeme Houston

    Mr E. Bob

    Below is a link for some of his recipes.


    Graeme Houston

    07 Jun 2006, 19:36

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