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Should anyone need reminding how Heston Blumenthal became famous in the first place, a visit to The Fat Duck ought to ram the point home. Although lieutenant Jonny Lake is now charged with the
cheffing duties, the Blumenthal register comes through in the astonishing cooking that takes place here. The 14-dish tasting menu is well worth its £195 price tag – and its three-Michelin-starred
status – for the roller-coaster ride of thrills it delivers. Every morsel is pure fun, from the first palate-cleansing mouthful of ‘aerated beetroot’ to the goodie bag entitled ‘like a kid in a
sweet shop’. In between, there are extraordinary creations including the famed snail porridge and the Mad Hatter’s tea party (a mock turtle soup complete with a fake ‘pocket watch’), as well as a
mind-blowing riff on dessert wine and grapes called ‘botrytis cinerea’. Scintillating wine-pairing suggestions add to the pleasure, and spot-on staff know how to effortlessly stage-manage
proceedings – allow up to four hours for the whole show. Note that the restaurant will be closing for six months from February 2015, and temporarily relocating to Melbourne, so that major
renovations can take place.
The Fat Duck, celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal’s 3-Michelin starred restaurant is one of the most exciting restaurants in the world. Frequently topping the ‘World’s best restaurant list’ you can understand my excitement when after 2 hours of re-dialling, I got through to make a reservation.The occasion? Our first wedding anniversary, on this day back in 2011. Marrying in August is all well and good when you are hoping for good weather, but less economical when you’re attempting to plan a break away. So we decide to just go mad, rather like Heston and shoot for the culinary stars...
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The Fat Duck, celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal’s 3-Michelin starred restaurant is one of the most exciting restaurants in the world. Â Frequently topping the ‘World’s best restaurant list’ you can understand my excitement when after 2 hours of re-dialling, I got through to make a reservation. The occasion? Our first wedding anniversary, on this day back…
More from inher30s »
Words cannot begin to describe what an amazing day I had today. And possibly not even pictures. But I'm willing to give it a shot.Two months ago, the CG enlisted the help of multiple friends so he could bag us a table at Heston Blumenthal's famous The Fat Duck for my birthday present. Miss J came through with the goods (have I mentioned how much I love this woman?) so on a gorgeous sunny day, we headed to Bray for the foodie experience of a lifetime...
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The Fat DuckMy journey to the Fat Duck started just over three months ago when my boyfriend surprised me for my birthday. Yes, the restaurant is still booked out every day and three months in advance. As much as the experience is totally amazing, mind boggling and creative for a first time visitor, the menu hasn't changed for a couple of years, and this is probably why the Fat Duck has slid down the ranks in San Pellegrino’s top 50 restaurants in the world to fourteenth place. Nevertheless, this dinner would have to be my number one to date!The magic and anticipation began on receipt of a special video. It took us on a journey through the ‘Sweet Shop’ and titillated our eyes and ears with promises of great taste and smells to follow. My taste buds prickled with excitement.Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck is in a quiet street in Bray only houses down from his pub the Hinds Head. Both are un-imposing on the street. The low ceiling and exposed beams in the restaurant pose a threat to some very tall staff, but set an intimate atmosphere for the room. We were made to feel very welcome from the moment we entered to the moment we left in a taxi some 4 hours later (quickest 4 hours of my life).Nitro poached aperitifs - vodka and lime, gin and tonic or campari soda In true Heston fashion the meal started with nitro poached aperitifs. Vodka and lime flavoured egg-white mousse instantly froze with theatrical flare and just as instantly crumbled in my mouth. A dragon-like vapour escaped from my nose while vodka and lime flavours cleansed my palate. It was a real flavour of things to come.Red cabbage gazpacho with pommery grain mustard ice cream followed next. A few spoonfuls of incredibly robust flavours and exquisite colours.Jelly of quail, crayfish cream - chicken liver parfait, oak moss and truffle toastMore quintessential 'Heston' followed with the third course of jelly of quail and crayfish cream. The oak moss in a wooden box was given a fourth dimension with the addition of liquid nitrogen transforming the table into a scene from the Enchanted Forest. Strong oaky aromas filled the air adding to the already earthy flavours of the dish. Ok, perhaps the fog is just for theatrical value. The jelly of quail, crayfish cream and chicken liver parfait sits on top of a pea puree. We were advised to spoon all the layers at once, resulting in very intense flavours of foresty goodness. I sensed some oak, truffle and even mushroom. snail porridge - iberico bellota ham, shaved fennelThe Snail Porridge was definitely something which I have heard about but could never imagine...Snail Porridge? It is in fact made with real snails and real oats. The intense green colour is very much due to the parsley (not snail goo). The snails added a nice meaty texture to the dish while the fennel gave it that extra oomth of flavour. For the first warm dish of the sitting I very much enjoyed the richness and comfort of this dish.roast foie gras - barberry, braised konbu and crab biscuitNext came the roast foie gras, with barberry, braised konbu and crab biscuit. The foie gras was light, almost mousse-y with incredible flavour. I didn't feel that the braised konbu (brown film underneath - type of seaweed) gave any more flavour, however the barberry sauce had a nice sourness to cut through the dish. mad hatters tea partymad hatters tea partyMad Hatters Tea Party reminded us of Heston's drama of food. We were presented with a wooden box containing a gold pocket watch on a string. The watch was placed in a teapot and magically dissolved turning into a gold speckled broth for our mock turtle soup. Among other things in our teacup was a mock turtle egg with tiny mushrooms placed on top adding to the magical feel and presentation of the dish. The soup was complimented by probably the most tasty sandwich in the world, although unfortunately I couldn't tell you what was in it. The whole experience was magical and truly outstanding.sound of the seaPossibly the most challenging course for me (and this is saying something as I eat everything) was the Sound of the Sea. Sashimi of mackerel, halibut and abalone sat on top edible sand made from tapioca and sardines, surrounded by edible seaweed and sea flavoured foam. The dish was visually stunning and creative with the addition of an iShell playing the sounds of crashing waves and chirping seagulls. The sea flavours were so fresh and robust with ocean that this is where the challenge was. It pushed my love of seafood flavours to the brim where I nearly couldn't hack it. Images of myself swimming through the sea taste testing everything that I could see floated through my mind. Heston achieved the ultimate sensory experience with this dish.salmon poached in liquorice gel - artichokes, vanilla mayonnaise and golden trout roeI felt that the poached salmon in liquorice gel which came next was the least inspiring dish. Of course the salmon was mind blowing, but the vanilla mayonnaise was too sweet and overall there was not enough contrasting flavours to compliment each other. lamb with cucumber, onion and dill fluid gelThe lamb with cucumber was probably the most 'normal' course i.e not singing, floating or dissolving in front of us. It was uncomplicated and the strength of the dish was due to the perfectly cooked lamb which melted in my mouth. My favourite part of this dish was the onion and dill fluid gel which was served on the side with lamb shoulder, tongue and crackling. The gel was refreshing and acted as a palate cleanser after each bite of lamb and cucumber.Mind blowing 'Hot & Iced Tea' came out next. Left side cold tea, right side steaming hot. I am still unsure of what chemical reaction this had to undergo but drinking this cup of tea was the most unbelievable taste sensation, and the perfect preparation for the numerous courses of desserts to come. Macerated strawberries - olive oil biscuit, chamomile and coriander, jelly and ice cream cornet the bfg - black forest gateauNot much could prepare us for the desserts, each was a standalone masterpiece exquisitely executed and breathtakingly tasty. The macerated strawberries dessert was not just art on a plate. The dish had some intriguing flavours of chamomile and coriander yet was still surprisingly sweet, while the jelly and ice cream cornet served on the side added the balancing sourness. I particularly enjoyed the wild strawberries, something which I have not had since foraging for them as a child in Russia. The black forest gateau was not as impressive in appearance but just as punchy in flavours. At this stage fullness was definitely setting in. like a kid in a sweet shopWhiskey wine gums then took us on a journey around Scotland, showcasing the distinct flavours and characteristics of Scottish whiskey. Cleverly the gums were presented on a map of Scotland and had to be eaten in chronological order; punchier flavours at the end. I am not a whiskey drinker, but I can definitively take it on in lolly form from now.And just to top it all off, the dinner was finally finished with our very own bag of sweets 'Like a kid in a sweet shop'. From a ridiculously realistic but edible queen of hearts playing card to coconut flavoured edible tobacco, we were also told that one of the wrappers was fit to eat. Of course after such an unbelievable dinner where anything was physically possible and totally unexpected we did try most of the wrappers to no avail. Yep we literally left teeth marks on paper until finally realised that we can eat the cellophane. Amazing!The Fat Duck really does aim to achieve a full sensory experience (sight, smell, touch, sound ant taste) over this journey of a meal. In fact, it is not a meal you can't call it that. It is literally the most exciting, theatrical, mind blowing food journey of all time. I really hope that I was able to relay the magic, but if you can you should really try and experience this for yourself.Thanks for reading :)
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We finally had a chance to eat The Fat Duck at the end of June, the world famous restaurant of Heston Blumenthal. Of all the restaurants I've eaten at, the hardest to get a booking so far has been The Fat Duck, which involved lots of refreshing websites at 10am over a period of months until I finally got a slot on the Saturday lunch I really wanted.The thing with The Fat Duck is that if you've watched a bit of TV or read a few websites and reviews you'll have a pretty good idea of what to expect, or if like me, you've read all the blogs, watched all the clips on youtube, caught all of Heston's TV programmes, even so far as knowing how they make most of the dishes. One thing is a little harder to track down, and that's how they cater for vegetarians, but I'd seen a few blogs, noting that in most cases, they provide vegetarian versions of their standard dishes.We arrive a little late, and park in the car park in front, passing the development kitchens and prep kitchens before crossing the road to the restaurant itself. You enter the front door directly into a dining room, a cozy low ceiling room, surprisingly small. We are shown the menu for the day, and they double checked on my wife's dietary requirements, confirming no fish, meat or derivatives (gelatine and the like). We start with a glass of rose champagne, and in short order a canape arrives, a sphere of aerated beetroot with a horseradish cream centre, within seconds it disintegrates in the mouth leaving the flavour of earthy beetroot and bite of horseradish.A table was set up next to us, and on this laid out the accouterments of the opening act, a lit candle, some fruit, 3 NO2 chargers, and a insulated bowl steaming with liquid nitrogen. We were given a choice, vodka and tonic, tequila and lime or gin and tonic. My wife went for the vodka, and I decided on the tequila. The NO2 chargers dispensed a flavoured egg white, and this was dropped into the nitrogen and stirred for a few seconds until forming a meringue. This was quickly popped into the mouth and with puffs of smoke rapidly dissolved into a beautiful icy sweet shot of cocktail.Following this was the Red Cabbage Gazpacho, a grain mustard ice cream was laid on some cucumber cubes, into this poured a vibrant purple red cabbage soup. The mustard ice cream was made with Pommery mustard and wonderfully smooth with a lovely flavour, matching the acidic red cabbage gazpacho perfectly.The first course saw two variations of a tribute to Alain Chapel, Jelly of Quail, Crayfish Cream and Jelly of Smoked Mushroom, Truffle Cream and Pea. First a large slab of moss in a box was laid on the table, and then we were handed a thin strip of film resembling those breath freshener strips. These were laid on the tongue to provide a aroma and taste of the forests; earth, truffle and oak. Hot water was poured onto the moss activating the dry ice, which covered the table in further scents. The dish itself was a bowl containing a base of pea, quail jelly, topped with a crayfish cream and a quenelle of chicken parfait. The tastes i think summed up The Fat Duck and Heston's recipes very well by representing a concentration of flavour and aromas, the quail jelly tasted like a brace of roasted quails distilled into a few spoonfuls, and each other element the best examples you will have of their kind. The vegetarian version of this dish sees an intense smoked mushroom jelly, a smooth truffle cream and some peas, the top ones briefly frozen and retaining a dusting of ice. The dish came with a truffle toast finger, itself a fine accompaniment to each spoonful.Following this was a classic of Hestons, the Snail Porridge. This is vibrant parsley porridge, with shavings of fennel and iberico ham and some plump snails. Excellent flavours again, with the snails being lovely and meaty. The vegetarian version had a replacement for the ham, possibly seitan, and extra fennel. The next course was the Roast Foie Gras. This came with a beautiful barberry puree, tart and sweet to balance the foie, with some translucent wafers of crab biscuit and braised konbu. The vegetarian version saw a really fine piece of roasted aubergine, with aubergine puree and konbu and some really fabulous savoury and umami flavours.Next up was perhaps my most anticipated dish, Mad Hatters Tea Party, and we were presented a card with some Alice In Wonderland text and images to prepare us. Firstly a glass bowl with the dry ingredients covered in a small glass teapot was placed on the table, then the waiters presented a fob watch of gold leaf. This was placed in the teapot with the hot water. After swirling round the bowl for a bit to dissolve the watch, filling the teapot with a dark broth. You then poured this in the bowl. The bowl contained a mousse of turnip, enoki mushrooms, cubes of calves cheek and turnip and some herbs. A good example of the attention to detail placed on every dish was the level of the broth, the teapot and stock concentrate filling the bowl and coming exactly level with the orange "yolk" island with enoki mushrooms on top. Also with the dish an elaborate hat shaped plate with some toast sandwiches. For my wife the stock was already prepared, but resembled mine exactly, including the gold leaf and care was taken to ensure that the vegetarian versions of the truffle toast were on a different layer of the serving plate. T The broth really was superb, containing the kind of flavour intensity only 5 days of prep, a freeze drier and a -80 fridge can provide, but with a clarity that meant you didn't lose the turnip, mousse and calves cheeks at all. The toast sandwiches were awesome, with the soft bread, crisp toast and beef, mustard and truffle being at the same time both unlike anything you'd had before and the same time as being as well known and familiar. Sound of the Sea is another well known dish, and most food lovers will recognise seashore design and shell with earphones. The dish itself has evolved, and differs from the one in the Fat Duck cookbook and other previous incarnations. The current features abalone, mackerel and kingfish. The mackerel was lovely, with a distinct citrus brushing of yuzu, the kingfish tender and sweet, the abalone exceptional, soft and with good flavour, not a hint of rubberiness. I loved the seaweeds and vegetables, especially the sea bean, a tiny burst of flavour reminiscent of sea and rock pools. The vegetarian version featured mushrooms replacing the fish and abalone, but not missing the flavours of the sea due to the seaweed and sea vegetables.The following course saw two different dishes, unlike previous courses where vegetarian versions were provided. My wife's dish was a beetroot risotto, but unlike any risotto I've seen before. The risotto itself was covered in a dome of identical radish slices to form a half sphere, and covering this a foam, beetroot crisps and droplets of sour cream sorbet. All parts were fantastic, a superlative risotto, wonderful sorbet and perfect beetroot crisps, an absolutely stunning dish. My salmon was poached in a liquorice gel, and came with asparagus and vanilla mayonnaise. The salmon was superb, cooked sous vide and soft and flaky and yet translucent and looking almost raw. The liqourice gel was more subtle than expected, definite hints of liquorice but not the primary flavour, a combination of salmon and vanilla from the top notch mayonnaise.The final main course included possibly the most unique vegetarian dish I've seen to date, Vegetarian Bone Marrow, Marmite Broth and Sauce Gribiche. The bone marrow was a play on words, marrow formed into a bone shape and this was filled with a horseradish set puree. This was placed in a bowl of rich broth, with a selection of vegetables and morels. Accompanying the dish was a cone of exquisite little cheese balls. Again a world class vegetarian dish on display here, an original idea with perfect execution. The lamb dish was a delight, the dish coming in two parts, lamb with cucumber, gravy and an interesting salty caviar puree in place of anchovies, and taking the roast and anchovies concept a stage further. The second part was a small glass dish of broth and some utterly fantastic sweetbreads turned into wafers with some cubes of tongue and caramelised onion.In between the main course and dessert, Hot and Cold Tea. If you line up the glass correctly you get have hot tea one on side of your mouth and cold on the other, most unusual. The first dessert was based on a English summer picnic, and came in two parts, a wonderful little cone of jelly and ice cream to start, then the main dish, macerated strawberries. These vacuum prepared strawberries came with a pistachio shortbread covered in a white chocolate blanket, printed in a vivid tartan pattern to represent the picnic rug. Lots of interesting things going on here, sticky, buttery flavours from the pistachios, shortbread and meringues, juicy strawberries, intense from the vacuum maceration, the tongue coated with a velvety white chocolate, all working in harmony.Our second dessert saw two very different desserts, as mine featured gelatin. My wife wasn't missing out though, as the an elaborate copper pan was set on a table by us, and a waitress appeared a sealed insulated jug and eggbox and her dish of Not-So-Full English Breakfast was announced. The eggbox contained a single egg, and this was cracked into the pan into which liquid nitrogen from the jug was poured and stirred, eventually an ice cream was removed, looking exactly like scrambled egg, and this was a placed on a slice of french toast, itself a brioche soaked in vanilla and then placed in a vacuum chamber to break down the cellulose before being cooked. This was served with a small jar marked as Fat Duck Marmalade and covered in a sheet of tartan printed white chocolate. The yellow in the ice cream turned out to be saffron, and this creamy concoction, the perfectly caramelised french toast and the marmalade, itself infused with earl grey tea provided the most perfect breakfast.My dessert was Egg in Verjus, Verjus in Egg. This was what looked like a large brown egg, placed on a bed of golden straw and orange jelly. I cracked the egg to reveal it was made of two types of chocolate, the exquisitely painted brown shell and an inner shell of white chocolate, and in this a fabulous white mousse with an orange liquid centre resembling a real egg. This was an absolutely gem of a dessert, a fun and incredibly technically complex design but packed with superb chocolate and citrus flavours too. The golden straw turned out to be sugar work, the bedding also included vermicelli pastry and provided some crunch and textures for balance. This well could be one of the best desserts I've ever had.Following this was one for me only, a selection of whiskey flavoured jellies, as these contained gelatin. There was a nice blend of whiskey types, mild to strong, finishing on my favourite Jack Daniels.Coffee came with a paper bag containing sweet shop sweets, a classic combination of technical trickery, nostalgic flavours and scents done like only Heston can. The mandarin aero chocolate was my favourite but the caramels, coconut baccy and white chocolate playing card were great too.The bill came to Â£530, a breathtaking figure considering we only had a glass of champagne to start with my wife an additional two glasses of wine but did reflect the jaw dropping amount of man hours required for preparing every single element in every single dish, with kitchen staff outnumbering diners, and a large team of highly professional front of house who serve a highly theatrical meal over an astonishing 4 and half hours. The food itself was fantastic, every dish memorable with equally brilliant standard and vegetarian menus. This is definitely one of the finest dining experiences to be had anywhere and the global fame of the Fat Duck is very much justified.Aerated beetroot and horseradishNitro poached aperitifsRed cabbage gazpacho, mustard ice creamOak moss, jelly of quail, crayfish cream, chicken parfait.Smoked mushroom jelly, peas, truffle creamSnail PorridgeRoasted foie grasRoasted aubergineMad Hatters Tea Party IMad Hatters Tea Party IIMad Hatters Tea Party IIIMad Hatters Tea Party IVSound of the SeaSound of the Sea vegetarianSalmon poached in liquorice gelBeetroot risotto, sour cream sorbetLamb and Cucumber ILamb and Cucumber IIVegetarian Bone Marrow IVegetarian Bone Marrow IIHot and Cold TeaJelly and ice cream coneMacerated StrawberriesEgg in Verjus, Verjus in EggNot-So-Full English BreakfastThe last whiskey wine gumLike a kid in a sweet shopThe Fat Duck
More from Edesia Is Hungry - Food of the Gods »
The Fat Duck in Bray in 1995, initially serving classical French cuisine, but slowly developing the scientific approach for which he is now famous. His individualism paid off with the award of his
third star in 2004, the same year he bought the Hind’s Head pub in Bray, where he showcases more traditional British cuisine. He was awarded an OBE in June 2006 for his services to the hospitality
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