Culinary Musings From the British Isles - Fat Duck's New Dish, Heston Blumenthal's "Seaside", Wright Brothers is the Place for Oysters, Steaks at Scotland's Champany Inn, Can Benares Pass Muster?, and Hoxton goes Molecular at Bacchus.
I managed to get in a good bit of eating on my recent trip to the continent. That is if you want to say that England and Scotland are part of the continent. Mind you, my favorite moment of the trip occured at Emirates Stadium where I saw Arsenal beat Manchester United in the last minute of extra time, but the trip was noteworthy for culinary diversity as well as a few moments of culinary brilliance and excellence. Maybe the most important moment (aside from that winning header by Thierry Henry that is) was when at a lunch at the Fat Duck, Heston Blumenthal graced us with a brand new dish that he has titled "Seaside" The dish is composed to look like its namesake, and part of the dish is the presentation of Ipod minis, replete with a recording of the seaside, and which you are instructed to wear in advance of the dish being served to "put you in the mood".
After enjoying the culinary parlor trick of the dish which made us all laugh, the dish was served and it was quite good, although it was clear to us that they are still tweaking it to try and perfect it. The dish contains three parts. "Sand" pebbles that are made out of an oil flavored with various miso pastes, and then when tapioca maltodextrin is added, it turns the oil into sand that is similar to the "soils" that one sees at various restaurants. Then there is the "debris" which has washed up on the beach which is four different types of seaweed topped with various shellfish including a stellar boudin made out of abalone and brill, which is delicious enough to eat by itself. Then the foam which is supposed to depict the sea as it washes up on the beach, is frothy clam and oyster juice. The dish is accompanied by a martini glass of "salt water" made from the same mixture as the sea foam, and which you are instructed to sip between bites of the dish. It was a very good dish, and much too complex to take it all in on the first experience. Personally, I dispensed with the headphones before the food service - some people keep them on we hear - but they added a bit of humerous theater to the experience. I believe the dish is destined to become a classic once Heston tweaks it into perfection (which could take three or four years given Heston's idea of perfection.) We also hear that Heston is on the verge of unveiling a second new dish called "Beef Royale" and we hope to have it the next time we are at the restaurant.