when one receives an invite from miele to eat at the chef's table at their fancy mayfair showroom, one doesn't say no. especially when the chef in question is ink's own chef martyn meid and the food on offer is none other than his very speciality; nordic cuisine. while laura and i mused over what exactly the menu might consist of (having just been to norway recently, i could only assume it was overpriced starbucks...), we took our seat at the table with katy and the other laura, and waited in hungry anticipation.
with a brief introduction from the man of the hour, we learned that we would be treated to a seven (seven!) course taster menu, and seven (seven!) perfectly-paired drinks. seven drinks, and we were assured that not one of them was going to be water. gooooood.
the thing i missed during chef martyn's spiel was that a variety of the courses were going to be served... raw. i guess there's not a lot of technical 'cooking' involved in nordic cuisine then, because the majority of the courses we were going to be served, were in fact served uncooked. now, i love sushi as much as the next girl, but... i also quite like my fish cooked as a preference. what was explained was that we should imagine each of the courses as if they would be plated up together; each element would be served separately.
up first was an oyster, drizzled in lime juice, and served with a glass of bubbles. salty, and tangy, and... not my favourite. the bubbles were lovely though! next up was turbot cured in apple vinegar and served with burnt onions. with the naturally-occurring sugars in the onions, the crisp edges were a lot sweeter than your normal bbq-burned onions, and (even though i can't eat onions!), were pretty tasty! the fish was... not cooked, as we've discussed, and i was beginning to wonder why miele - purveyors of ovens and cooking equipment, would want to host a chef who - by definition, was not cooking a thing, to host a dinner in their kitchen. pisco sours accompanied this course, and as i'd given laura my onions, i only felt it fair that she give me her drink. all's fair 'n that!
third course was herring in rapeseed oil, with a 'salsa' of cucumbers i various stages of death (some raw, some pickles, some cooked), salmon roe (gulp), and quails eggs - that we were instructed to eat with the shells on (double gulp). we did as we were told as to allow ourselves the chance to take in his culinary masterpiece the way it was intended, but... no. i very much went off-brief on the second egg. i found the crunch of the shell all too... weird, in my mouth (and was crunching on that shell for hours to come!); when you're used to not eating something, then told to eat that same thing, your brain does funny things. want to know what helped wash this down? a sparkling gin, infused with orange peel. ohhhh yes.
next up was something i initially thought was just a plate of beets, but soon discovered underneath lay some cured goose meat, cured in a caraway-infused vodka. the beet and sea salt salad atop was part cooked, part raw, but mostly delish. i found this course oddly satisfying - the only thing that put me off was the glass of red that accompanied. not a red fan, me. pink, all day. red? never, please.
the fifth course was the game change; melt in your mouth pork belly, perfectly mashed potatoes and a crisp, chinese cabbage leaf served (again) with another red. couldn't tell you the difference in the reds, as they all just tasted of ick to me. the pork though, was perfectly cooked - 17 hours, i'm assured, and fell apart as soon as you put your fork to it. there was no need for a knife, as it was like picking through a slab of ice cream - and the flavours? sensational. in hindsight - not sure how the pork would have fit into the 'imagine each element as one plate of food', when (almost) everything else was seafood based...
the final of the main courses was a hunk of sea-salted cod, served with leeks and an avocado purée. the fish was super salty, for sure. i tend to think seafood doesn't need extra seasoning; the sea water brine is usually enough flavour for me, but with the avocado purée, it was totally balanced out. each element of this course was odd on its own, but together, just delicious. another red was met with disapproving looks from the proper foodies around the table (who drinks red with fish! uncouth!), until our sommelier assured us this was a 'fish appropriate' red. no idea why, makes no sense to me.
last, but not least, was an incredibly cooked goat's milk crème brulée, paired with a subtly-sweet moscato. aaah, love a dessert wine! so fizzy and sweet! reminds me of the fake wine mum used to get me when i was a kid so i could drink with the adults at christmas and special occasions. too funny. the dessert was the perfect thing to end the meal, and acted as a complete palette-cleanser. we left the showroom (after attempting - and failing, to finish all of the glasses of wine we had left), with oddly-empty bellies but with definitely fuzzy heads. i could have eaten five portions of the pork, and had just that and the dessert, if i'm completely honest. i'm a simple girl, with simple needs. i need to know how to slow cook a pig, because that will be my greatest challenge in life now; trying to recreate that one course.
a massive thanks to miele and chef martyn for having us down, and for being such gracious hosts. it was fun to be able to dine in the kitchen that's usually reserved for the cooking courses they hold on-site, but equally incredible to have been spoiled rotten by a world-renowned chef, and only a short-stroll from work no less!
what's your take on raw/uncooked fish - a sushi darling, or prefer a battered cod?