Feels like only 9 months ago I last wrote something here.
Suddenly I’m inspired to write another description of some food.
Luckily it’s good food.
The food of Simon Rogan, of l’enclume, in Cartmel, Cumbria.
It’s very good food, the portion of it that I ate, which was a 7-course xmas menu, with matched wines; so good that I bothered to take notes, and so good I wouldn’t dare take photos of it through the meal. I’m not actually a food-blogger, after all.
First up was a delicate mouthful of cockle, with horseradish and radish on a seaweed cracker. Yum. Balanced, and tangy.
Paired with a Nyetimber English Fizzy, which was happily very drinkable (England doesn’t have the best climate for grapes…)
Then a broth, from English mushrooms (chanterelles, not sure what else), with caramelised onion, a nicely truffly bit of curd, and chickweed sprout. Matched with Planeta Carricante, a fresh minerally white from the foothills of Mt Aetna, with I thought a hint of goatiness which went well with the rich fungal broth.
After the soup course we were presented with (was going to say given, which doesn’t seem quite right, under the circs. It wasn’t a freebie, by a long shot) a wintry dish of pig brawn, with smoked yolk, pickled carrots, mustard and bitter cress. Very delicious, and served with a Victorian Marsanne, which I don’t remember at all. Maybe I’ve blocked it. Not a grape I’ve been known to drink by choice, but I’m guessing it sat well enough with the richness of the dish.
Next course was sea scallops, with tiny grilled beets, leaves of Brussel sprouts (to make it feel more xmassy for the Brits, I suppose, though they were delicious) with various small seaweeds and a smattering of horseradish (tying the winter veg and the seafood together nicely. A glass of Marlborough Grüner Veltliner (new to me) on the side with classic kiwi style.
To follow that, we had a glass of Kentish Chardonnay which I should have known not to touch. Lightly oaked, they say. I can’t see why anybody would drink the stuff with or without oak. I’d be happier just with the piece of oak. I tried, though, I really did, to make it work with the delicious turbot, perfect vegetable stems (yes vegetable stems; broccoli and cauli. It’s a thing, and they’re yummy) with roasted langoustine, and parsley.
Don’t try to convince me that a young Chardonnay is drinkable – I’ll just think you’re an idiot. It failed, however, to detract from the goodness of the rest of the course. Phew.
The next dish was a little confusing in terms of vegetable content – we were told that there were leeks and scurvy-grass, but I didn’t recognise either of those things on the plate (not that I knew at the time what scurvy-grass looked like) so I assumed that the grassy-looking thing was it; now I know what scurvy-grass looks like, I’m wondering if what I though was it was actually a baby leek. Was it a local common name for a different foraged plant? Perhaps I’ll never know. None of which detracted from the lovely duck’s breast with chanterelles and potato that made up the rest of the dish. Helped along by a tasty Chilean Pinot Noir. Perfect.
Dessert was a mildly architectural arrangement of sea buckthorn, with buttermilk and butternut (puréed) with what the waiter said was powdered liquorice (in which I could detect no flavour) and wonderful sweet cicely sprouts (a hit of liquorice strong enough to make up for the powder). Refreshing, just the not heavy thing I felt like after the preceding 6 courses. Maybe the butternut didn’t belong there, though – I felt it might have been shoe-horned in on a linguistic pretext. Back to Chile for the wine. An excellent sweet Semillon/Gewürtztraminer.
And then out for a walk in the cold. A fine xmas day.