Named as one the World’s 50 Best Restaurants of 2017, the idea for Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner began in the late 90’s with his fascination with historic gastronomy.
The savoury ice creams of the late 1800’s, the theatre of the Tudor dining experiences and the dishes of Alice’s adventures in Wonderland all resonated with his unique approach to cooking. Dedicated to the modern day discovery and evolution of dining he realised that the excitement and obsession with food is no new modern day phenomena. Together with Ashley Palmer-Watts the two chefs created a menu that takes those discoveries and fascinations of history into a new and evolving modern dining experience. Researching 14th century cookbooks such as those by the royal chefs of King Richard II to Lewis Carroll’s flights of fancy. Working with food historians, tapping into the world of the British library and the team at King Henry VIIIth Hampton Court Palace the very modern dining experience of Dinner by Heston Blumenthal was born.
We are delighted to be able to take a closer look at several dishes on the menu at Dinner.
Meat Fruit – Date 13th – 15th century (the late middle ages)
Chicken liver and foie gras parfait coated in a mandarin flavoured gel. Served with char- grilled sour dough bread.
Meat fruit is one of a number of illusion foods that were popular at banquets during the late middle ages (12-15th centuries). Food was used as a form of entertainment and humour at this time and the more unusual or unexpected the better. This was the era of the cockentrice (a mythical beast made of the front half of one animal and the back of another), live birds baked in a pie and fire breathing fish. Meat fruit, usually apples or oranges, were made of minced meat and then carefully coated in green or orange paste to look like the real thing. They were then hidden in great fruit bowls to trick unsuspecting diners.
Chicken Liver Parfait cooked in a bain-marie, shaped into the dome moulds and refrigerated. The parfait is then dipped into the mandarin jelly and refrigerated until required.
Frumenty c 1390
Grilled Octopus, smoke sea broth, picked dulse & lovage
The Forme of Cury, the master cooks of king Richard II
In the Middle Ages ‘Frumenty’ was wheat porridge, made from meat stock and dried fruit of a kind. It was taken as a gift when visiting a friend over the festive period.
The Octopus is cooked sous vide in olive oil, the roasted on the plancha and brushed generously with garlic butter. The ‘Frumenty’ consists of a smoked mussel stock, consisting of button mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, kelp and dulse. The grain in this dish is spelt that’s lightly toasted and cooked in vegetable stock then warmed gently in the fragrant rich broth, with shredded pickled Dulse.
The dish incorporates ingredients from around the coast, pickled dulse, kelp, wrack seaweed, monks beard and cockles. The lovage emulsion is made by emulsifying a lovage oil with mustard and vinegar.
Spiced Pigeon – Ale and artichokes – C 1777
Squab pigeon breasts with braised artichokes, acid onions and a spiced ale sauce
This dish has its roots in two different eighteenth century recipes (pigeons cooked in ale and pigeons with artichokes) which have been combined to create a contemporary take on a great British ingredient.
Take some artichokes, boil them, and take out the bottoms; boil some pigeons, but take care they are not overdone; while they are boiling, make a ragout of sweet herbs and fresh mushrooms; they must be all hot together, and there must be as many pigeons as artichoke bottoms; first lay in the dish the artichoke bottoms, then pour on some of the ragout; then lay a pigeon upon every bottom, shake a very little pepper over the pigeons, and prick their breasts in two or three places with a fork; then shake on a little basket-salt, and squeeze over that some Seville orange, then pour over it the rest of the ragout.
Sous vide and water bath, seasoned with spiced salt.
Tipsy Cake – Spit roast pineapple – c 1811 (Pineapple– 17th century)
Baked brioche with a brandy and Sauternes cream with spit roast caramelised pineapple
Pinapples: Pineapples arrived in England from the Caribbean in 1661 and by 1690 the gentry were trying to grow them in the walled gardens on their estates. The first recipe for pineapple tart appeared in 1736 and the author thought the fruit ‘excelled all the Fruits in the World in Flavour and Richness of Taste’.
Tipsy cake: A tipsy cake is an English pudding that originates in the 18th century and was a Victorian favourite. It was a way of using up stale sweet bread, cake or Savoy biscuits which was covered with as much brandy and wine as they would absorb and then topped with custard.
Brown Bread Ice Cream – Salted butter caramel, yeast & Golden syrup c 1827
Brown bread ice cream with yeast, olive oil biscuit, salted butter caramel, crystallised and toasted bread crumbs, vanilla salt and lemon zest
The first recipe for brown bread ice cream appeared in 1771 but it was the Victorians in the 19th century who loved it with their thrifty ways. It is a
really good way to use up stale brown bread. Bread and butter pudding and other bread puddings like the Princess loaf and Poor Knights of Windsor also use stale leftover bread as their base.
Original recipe for Brown Bread Ice:
Grate as fine as possible stale brown bread, soak a small proportion in cream two or three hours, sweeten and ice it.
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