Last night I met up with a friend and took her to Alimentum
in Cambridge to introduce her to the wonders of their kitchen. I had mentioned I was going on twitter and as both chefs follow me, they asked me if we wanted them "to cook for us" (which usually involves a tasting menu with some extra treats and new dishes) and of course I said yes. We were also treated to a different glass of wine with each course which, considering we ended up having ten (11 counting coffee/petit fours), made us rather jolly indeed and Ed poured rather generously, too. :D
And here's what we had:
The amuse bouche was a butternut squash foam with mustard cress. An almost fluffy soup, perfect for the season but very light. With that we had a sweet
The first course was various colours of pickled beetroot with goat's cheese and micro herbs. There were sweet and sour flavours, soft and crunchy textures, all balanced perfectly. The wine was Sauvignon Blanc, Torea Oystercatcher, Marlborough, New Zealand, 2010
Then came a course with two dishes (and a matched wine each) which we shared/swapped:
Wood pigeon breast, creamed liver, cep marmalade, seeds. Game and wild mushrooms are a favourite combination so this obviously worked well. The wine with this, a was stunningly oaky and smoky, perfect.
Pork terrine, black pudding, bacon and pineapple. The tangy pineapple replacing the usual apple made this for me as it's not as sweet. Needless to say, the flavours and textures harmonised perfectly again. As did the wine, a Old Blocks Reserve Pinotoge, Darling Cellars, Western Cape, South Africa, 2008. (I hope I didn't mix up those two).
We're moving on to seafood and fish:
Oyster, smoked salmon, caviar, radish, apple. Raw oysters usually leave me cold and I don't get the attraction but in combination with the other elements in this dish I loved it as it, like the caviar added to the flavour. With it, we had an English
white wine, a Solera, Fleurfields, Northampton, 2010.
While all the food at Alimentum is excellent, I think they have a particular skill with fish. Always cooked perfectly, with crispy skin and soft flesh. This piece of sea bass was no exception, sitting on a savoury mix of chickpeas, red pepper, tomato and anchovy, a bit like a ratatouille. With it we had a red wine, Pinot Noir, Torea Oystercatcher, Marlborough, New Zealand, 2010, which might sound a bit unusual with fish but it went really well with the mediterranean flavours.
Roasted halibut, butternut squash, cabbage and pumpkin seeds. I find it hard to describe this without repeating myself in terms of flavour and texture combinations. So good. As was the wine, a rather hefty Trumpeter Chardonnay, Mendoza, Argentina, 2007.
One of only three meat dishes on our menu was venison loin, potato terrine, sprout leaves, girolles, juniper. Lovely soft meat, a bit more subtle in flavour than the one on Monday, wonderfully warming. There was definitely a hint of Christmas about this but that could just be because that's when my family traditionally cooks venison
. The wine was a Malbec ‘Reserve’ Felipe Rutini, Mendoza, Argentina, 2007.
To finish, two desserts, served at the same time as we were running out of time:
Chocolate brownie and mousse (stacked) and blood orange. This brownie would put up a good fight against the ones from Gower Cottage and the added tart blood orange flavours just made my dark choc tastebuds jump.
Blackcurrant, apple, vanilla and crumble. (By that time I'd had far too much wine so the focus was completely off. Oops.) More dark fruity delights and textures.
The wines were Elysium Black Muscat, Andrew Quady, California, USA 2009 (what I like to call "alcoholic Ribena") and another surprise, Akashi-Tai Siraume Umeshu, plum Infused sake, Japan
We finished with coffee/mint tea and petit fours (bay leaf ganache and lime marshmellow) and then it was time to set off for the station so my friend could catch her train back to London.
What a treat, I will never get tired of this place.
I'm on a foodie roll at the moment because next week I'm going to Tuddenham Mill
with two twitter friends I haven't actually met in real life yet.Short URL to this post.