karohemd: Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, by me (Hungry)
Yes, I know, another post about Alimentum but this one is a little different. Last Sunday was the first of head chef Mark Poynton's "supper clubs", an informal evening during which he trialed new dishes. Instead of the usual individual tables, there were three long ones which encouraged talking to the other diners about what everybody thought about the dishes.
Thanks to the efforts of Stagecoach, the bus operator in Cambridge, I was almost too late but got there just in time to grab a glass of welcome fizz before taking my seat. Proceedings started with a few nibbles, onion rice cakes, cheese puffs (neither of which I don't have a photo) and red mullet parfait on toast.

Red Mullet parfait
The parfait was soft with the fish coming through nicely.


Rabbit
Next up was braised rabbit with avruga. This might sound unusual but the saltiness worked well with the soft, sweet meat.


Whipped cep butter Milk loaf
The next item was a treat. Freshly baked bread (milk loaf) and whipped cep butter. You only needed to spread a thin layer of the butter to turn a slice of bread into a mushroom. Superb and one of my favourite dishes of the night.


Wood pigeon, liver on toast
The wild theme continued with wood pigeon, a perfectly cooked piece of breast and liver on toast.


Smoked eel, apple, cucumber, horseradish granita

Then, the fish course and my favourite: Smoked eel, apple, cucumber, goat's cheese, horseradish granita. I love smoked eel which is usually a treat around Christmas in my family but there was some apprehension among my fellow diners. However, this changed when the dish arrived and everyone I heard loved it. The apple/cucumber salad helped counteract the inherent greasiness of the fish, making it lighter. Horseradish is a classic accompaniment to smoked fish, anyway.

Beef cheek, variations of onion
The main event was braised beef cheeks with variations of onion, onion mash and onion juice. Soft, flavourful meat, excellent onion bits but not enough juice.


Tarragon, yoghurt
The pre-dessert was tarragon granita with yoghurt, a lovely palate cleanser and siimilar to a dish I had at Tuddenham Mill earlier this year.


White chocolate mousse, mango, black olive caramel
The final act was white chocolate mousse, mango, black olive caramel. I was apprehensive about the black olive having had a sweet dish with olive at Midsummer House but this worked as it had a similar effect to salt to bring down the cloying sweetness of the caramel. The white chocolate and mango harmonised very well, too. Loved it.


The dishes were paired with excellent wines, two of them English (a white and a sparkling rosé) and a superb sherry with the pre-dessert.
A very enjoyable evening indeed and I've already signed up for the next one.
karohemd: Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, by me (Hungry)
It had been a while since my last meal at Alimentum (my birthday at the end of March) and I had heard very good things about the new dishes Mark Poynton and his brigade have come up with so I went for a nice lunch on Bank Holiday Tuesday and wonderful it was. The new dishes are fresh and light while still being packed with flavour, some classic, some new and adventurous but always exciting. I had a Chef's tasting menu with matching wines to be able to sample most of the new dishes:

Gougères and popcorn Pea

Proceedings started with fresh gougères and crunchy popcorn and then a bowl of very light and fluffy pea mousse with cottage cheese and crispy Parma ham.

Asparagus

The first starter was asparagus (green and white) salad, hazelnut and truffle. I could have eaten this all day, so light and fresh (and slightly bitter) this was with the crunch of the hazelnut and the earthy slithers of truffle. Brilliant.

Pork

Pork: head (the round slices), cheek (the dark piece on the right), pineapple, acorn and chorizo. The cold ballotine of head reminded me of what is called Pressack in Germany (bits of pig's head cooked in the stomach and usually served as a cold cut). The cheek was braised and so soft you could have eaten it with a spoon. The pieces of pineapple added acidity and sweetness. All quite dark in flavour but not heavy.

Lemon Sole Veronique

Fish is always fantastic at Alimentum and this "Sole Veronique" was no exeption, perfection in a bowl.

Lamb

The main was lamb, rump and belly with broccoli and cous cous. Perfectly cooked meat, the rump soft, the belly crispy and the extras with the beautiful sauce pulling everything together.

Fresh ricotta

Palate cleanser: Fresh ricotta, pineapple and sweet cicely sorbet. Fresh, light, bitter, slightly sweet. Huge smile on my face.

Passionfruit

First dessert: Passionfruit (curd and granita), coffee ice cream and saffron meringue. The coffee might sound a bit strange but it worked really well with the fruitiness and the earthy saffron meringue.

And then, a bit of theatre:
Milk Jam Mousse Milk Jam Mousse

Smoked milk jam mousse, lime, banana and honeycomb. Just glorious, the smoke was really noticeable even minutes later. The dish looks quite substantial but it was really light.

Strawberry

Final dessert: Strawberry (mousse and jelly), apricot sorbet (inside the canneloni) and basil meringue. After the saffron with the passionfruit, the second savoury meringue. Basil goes well with strawberry, anyway, so this was spot on. It's rare that I like meringues as they tend to be too sweet for me but these were both lovely.

Every time I eat at Alimentum, the food is just getting better and their prices are hard to beat considering the quality of cooking. Even after having eaten at Midsummer House, I still maintain this is the best restaurant in Cambridge.
karohemd: Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, by me (Hungry)
The last time we were at Alimentum, a friend said that she wanted to go at some point and only eat desserts. That gave me an idea so as it was her birthday last week, I arranged just that and it turned out the perfect way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon.
We started proceedings with an Espresso Martini (which I neglected to take a photo of, oops) and we opted to have a starter so we didn't only have sweets.

Sweetbreads and Chicken Wing Confit

Sweetbreads and chicken wing confit with wild garlic. Brilliant little dish with crispy sweetbreads and very soft chicken wings. On to all the desserts.

"Black Forest Gateau"

"Black Forest Gateau" Obviously not the rich cake from the 70s but taking the various elements and presenting them in a modern way. The sponge was as light as a feather and the cherry elements varied from sweet to tart, all balanced beautifully.

Next, we shared a portion of the Battenburg which I had last time so have a look here for a description.

White Chocolate Parfait, Passionfruit Rhubarb, White Chocolate Panacotta

On to two dishes featuring white chocolate. On the left a white choc parfait (the ball) with passionfruit and on the right a white choc pannacotta with rhubarb. In both dishes, the tartness of the fruit/vegetable was counteracted by the sweetness of the white chocolate, creating a wonderful balance. Each element on its own would have been too sweet or too tart. We only had one of those and swapped halfway through.

The pernod foam with pineapple and fennel was next. Again, a photo and short description are in this post.

Chocolate and Passionfruit Terrine

Then, the killer: A chocolate and passionfruit terrine with honeycomb. A very rich, dark chocolate ganache with more passionfruit elements. The honeycomb crumbles on top provided a light crunch rather than sweetness. Superb.

Blackcurrant Crumble, Vanilla Ice Cream Crème brûlée

During the final course we again shared two dishes: On the left, a blackcurrant mousse with crumble and vanilla ice cream. Very light, very fruity and flavourful. On the right, a Crème Brûlée with caramelised cassia bark, black cherry sorbet and almond tuile was a sweeter dish but not overpowering. The layer of melted sugar on top was almost transparent. Beautiful.

I am going to amend this with the wine list if I manage to find out what we had (a different one with each course, except the pernod foam), I can't remember them all, my memory became kind of hazy after a certain point. I think I have to take photos of the bottles on my phone to help my memory along.

Huge thanks go to the staff at Alimentum who not only went along with this crazy idea (apparently this was the first time somebody had requested an all dessert menu which I find hard to believe) but made it a very memorable afternoon indeed.
karohemd: Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, by me (Hungry)
On Wednesday I attended a special dinner at my "local" restaurant Alimentum where Stuart Smith of Torea Wines in New Zealand introduced their range of wines while Alimentum's chefs had designed a tasting menu matching dishes to those wines.
Before each dish was served, Stuart Smith talked a little about how each variety was grown and made which provided some interesting insight for wine novices like me.

Stuart Smith

Sauvignon Blanc in the glass

Here are the dishes and the accompanying wines:



Salmon, squid and ink

Salmon, squid, squid ink risotto, pink grapefruit and roast salmon broth. The fish was beautifully, just barely cooked and the rest of the ingredients offered good contrasting flavours and textures, all tasting fresh and light. The wine was the 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, light and fresh, yet quite a few things going on there.
Rabbit lasagne, tarragon and mustard puree

Rabbit lasagne, tarragon and mustard purée. Another light and fresh dish with subtle and soft rabbit meat. The purée wasn't as strong as it sounds so well judged. With this we had the 2009 Chardonnay, a bit heavier and deeper than the Sauvignon but still light, another good match.
Spiced duck breast, pastilla of leg, cumin and carrot, pomegranate

Spiced duck breast, pastilla of leg, cumin and carrot purée. The menu also said golden raisins but I had pomegranate seeds. I didn't mind because they worked really well with the soft meat, best piece of duck I've had in quite a while. The wine was the 2010 Pinot Noir, also a good match as it was a little bit spicy but not heavy.
I didn't take a photo of the palate cleanser as it was the pernod foam with fennel that's currently on the tasting menu and a bit hard to take a good photo of.
Baked apple terrine, Granny Smith sorbet, Aspall's cider foam

The dessert was Baked apple terrine, Granny Smith sorbet, Aspall's cider foam. This was another brilliant dish with different textures and temperatures and varying flavours from cinnamony and sweet in the terrine to sharp in the sorbet. With this we had the 2010 Pinot Gris which while a good wine on its own was a bit too sharp with the dessert. Most people at the table agreed but that was just a minor negative point to the whole evening.
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karohemd: Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, by me (Hungry)
A new month means new dishes at Alimentum so I went yesterday to try some of them. I was told a menu had been created for me (things like this happen when you're friends with the chefs on twitter) so I didn't even know in advance what I would get (or choose from a menu) and that it would turn into a 8-course extravaganza.

The canapees came in a funky double bowl:
Canapees: Popcorn and Cheese&Onion Macarons

Alimentum popcorn and Cheese&Onion macarons. Both had an excellent flavour combination of savoury and sweet. I could happily devour a box of those macarons.

The amuse bouche was a small bowl of frothy cauliflower veloute, with little bits of pickled cauli at the bottom.
Amuse Bouche: Cauliflower veloute

This style of soup is one of Alimentum's staples and there's a new flavour every month or so. A nice way to get the tastebuds going.

The next dish was smoked haddock with a fried egg and a fluffy potato veloute.
First starter: Haddock and potato veloute, fried egg

Definitely the first highlight in my menu, the different textures made this. Flaky haddock, frothy soup, rich egg and some crispy bits. Oh, and served by the head chef himself. :)

The first meat dish was a duck terrine (smoked leg and foie gras) with sorbe and fig, and liver parfait on toast.
Second starter: duck terrine, sorbe, fig, liver parfait on toast

The only thing that was a bit off for me here was the "BBQ sauce" that was a bit strong for me but that's a personal preference as I'm not a fan of BBQ sauce. Still, with only a little, it was a great addition.

Back to fish: mackerel with a teriyaki glaze with avocado puree, cucumber and radish.
Fish: mackerel, teryiaki glaze, cucumber, radish

Mackerel is one of my favourite fish, you don't need to much to it, only barely cook it and this is what I got here. The glaze wasn't overpowering and the salad was nicely refreshing. The second highlight.

The main act was a duo of beef. Roasted sirloin with carrots and onion ash and in a separate little copper pot a beef cheek ragu and a generous blob of horseradish mash with more onion ash.
Main: beef, carrot, onion ash

Needless to say, the sirloin was perfectly and evenly cooked, deeply flavoured and soft, perfectly matched by the carrot, the jus and the onion ash adding a bit of zing. The ragu had clearly been cooked for a very long time as the meat was reduced to tiny slithers with jus the right amount of sauce. Deep and rich, I was almost tempted to just dig in with the spoon but didn't in the end. While writing this, I remembered I had a rather similar dish at Pollen St. Social last year and thinking back, I prefer Alimentum's version.

By that time, I was thoroughly stuffed but there were two desserts to come:
Luckily, the pre-dessert was very light: a smooth pernod foam, with bits of pineapple at the bottom and fennel crisps stuck in top (yes, this works, very well).
Pre dessert: Pineapple Foam

The only criticism I could find was that it could be a bit more colourful, especially when served in a white bowl.

The final dessert was a slice of Battenburg cake with apricot icecream on one and a cylinder of amaretto foam on the other side.
Dessert: Battenburg cake, apricot ice cream and foam

The apricot things were light but I couldn't finish the cake after that generously poritioned main before. It was, however, very nice indeed and I'm not a big fan of this sort of cake. The natural light from behind me had faded by that point so this photo didn't come out quite as planned.

So yes, another great meal at Alimentum. The restaurant had a little facelift and a window to the kitchen has been added so you can watch the chefs at work. Immediately behind the window is the cold section where desserts and cold elements of other dishes are assembled but you can also see the stoves further in.

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karohemd: Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, by me (Hungry)
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:

Butternut squash foam

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 Sauvignon Blanc.

Beetroot and goat's cheese

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

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

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:
Salmon, oyster, caviar

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.

Seabass, chickpeas, red pepper and anchovy

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.

Halibut

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.

Venison

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

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

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.

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karohemd: Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, by me (Hungry)
Last night I went to my local fine dining restaurant, Alimentum, for a dining event in aid of the charity Tommy's. Head chef Mark Poynton had the idea for the event after one of his chefs lost his baby boy who was born prematurely. The wonders of modern social networking meant a host of chefs from other restaurants, not just locally but from all over the country, were soon on board. In the end, eight courses, each cooked by a different head chef (with the help of all the others and some of their brigade, there were something like 20 chefs in the kitchen) were on offer. Needless to say, the food was stunning, each different, each unique and all cutting edge in terms of usage of ingredients and cooking methods.
Afterwards, there was an auction of such varied items as signed football shirts and a "food tour of Britain" to photographic prints and a set of Chroma knives, with all proceeds going to Tommy's.

The Food

One of the canapes

On arrival we were greeted by prosecco and a selection of Alimentum canapés: Salmon and horseradish cones (see photo), Salt cod Scotch egg, Salt and vinegar allumettes, Smoked eel, lemon and bacon bites and Beetroot and foie gras macarons. The last two were my favourites but all were lovely indeed. Only one photo, as it was a bit tricky juggling a glass, finger food and camera.

Amuse Bouche, James Knappet

The amuse bouche was by James Knappett (recently at Marcus Wareing, now at The Ledbury): Violina pumpkin soup, sorbe, king oyster, ceps, chestnuts, truffle rarebit. This was at the same time fresh from the light ingredients and strong from the mushrooms, an excellent combination. The pumpkin soup brought everything together.

Braddock White, Ben Spalding

The starter was by Roganic's Ben Spalding: Braddock White (egg), pickled roots, ox eye daisy, salt beef. This was similar to the egg dish I had during my first visit at Roganic and a typical example of Ben's style, having all the contrasts you want in a dish: warm and cold, soft and crunchy and beautifully harmonising flavours. It's hard to describe, you have to try it yourself.

Salmon, Paul Foster

Next up, the fish course by Paul Foster from Tuddenham Mill: Organic salmon, mussel soup, pink grapefruit and sea vegetables. A nice slab of gently cured salmon with a quite intense mussel sauce was a great combination but the surprise was the grapefruit. Its bitterness complimented the other ingredients really well while the sea vegetables added crunch. As it's not far away, a visit to the Mill is definitely in order. Incidentally, Lyndon Barrett-Scott, the Mill's general manager helped out in front of house last night.

Langoustine and Joselito ham, Alimentum

Home (surf and) turf now with an Alimentum dish: Roast langoustine, Joselito gran reserve ham, black olive and cauliflower. That seafood and pork go well together was proven by a visit to Alimentum earlier this year and this one was stunning, too. As with the dishes before, a bit of bread was needed to mop up the last bit of flavour from the plate.

Venison, Russell Bateman

The main course by Russell Bateman (Colette's at The Grove): Venison, chervil root, leek, Stilton and pear. This was probably the best piece of venison loin I've had (better than my own, for sure, although that wasn't shabby at all), cooked to the point evenly (sous vide, most likely) with great flavours, with perfectly matched accompaniments. Chervil root was new to me and took the place of the starch, quite similar in texture to a soft roast potato and neutral in taste, i.e. not like chervil leaves. Considering it was part of an 8 course menu, the portion was very generous indeed.

Cheese, Will Holland

Slowing down a bit, it was Will Holland's (La Bécasse) cheese course: Ragstone goat's cheese mousse, pain d'epice, beetroot and fig, liquorice jelly, bramble vinaigrette. As you can see, this wasn't just a couple of wedges of cheese on a plate, this was a proper, intricately put together dish (and one that would work equally well as a starter). Goat's cheese and beetroot are obviously a classic combination but this was something else with the added fruity and crunchy elements.

Fennel brulee, Matt Gillan

The pre-dessert was provided by Matt Gillan (The Pass): Fennel(!) brûleé, raspberry sorbet, lemon curd, raspberry and fennel salad. Yes, indeed, a combination of sweet dessert and rather savoury vegetable and it worked. Nice tangy raspberry sorbet and lemon curd were excellent additions.

Tiramisu (Midsummer House)

For dessert, a work of art by Daniel Clifford (Midsummer House) and Michelle Gillott (former Midsummer House pastry chef who's now running her own business): Simply titled "Tiramisu", this obviously wasn't just layered biscuit fingers, mascarpone, cocoa and coffee but the same ideas in a completely different format, delicately put together with wonderfully contrasting textures. Like me, everybody else on my table was desperately scraping their plate with their spoons to get every last bit of chocolate off. Wonderful.

Almost three hours later, we were well and truly stuffed and the chefs came out to get their just applause:
Mark Poynton, Lawrence Yates, Alimentum Matt Gillan, The Pass; Will Holland, La Becasse Will Holland; James Knappett (now at The Ledbury); Paul Foster Paul Foster, Tuddenham Mill; Russell Batemann, Colette's at the Grove Sommelier Kyle Simmons on the right Daniel Clifford, Midsummer House


The Auction


After mingling and chatting with the chefs in the bar, the second main event of the night kicked off: the auction in aid of Tommy's. There were a number of items on offer: signed football and rugby memorabilia, an iPad 2, a set of Chroma knives, a Cuba print by Jean-Luc Benazet, and a "Food Tour of Britain", dinners and overnight stays at various restaurants around the UK, including a foraging course with Matt Follas (Masterchef Champion 2009) at the Wild Garlic. This was slightly annoying for me as I'd hoped to get my hands on one or two of those but as they were sold as one lot, it was too rich for me (it went for £1,600 IIRC) so I came away with Jean-Luc's print and a signed Tony Christie tshirt+checked shirt combo.
Edit: The total came to a whopping £7150. Well done to everyone involved.

So, an excellent evening with stunning food with all proceeds going to a worthy cause. Events can hardly get better than this.
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karohemd: Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, by me (Hungry)
Another one, I hear you cry? Well, yes, thanks for asking but I had to because I was recommended a dessert I didn't want to miss before it came off the menu.
This time I had a tasting menu:

Alimentum - Mushroom veloute with Coffee

The amuse bouche, a mushroom velouté with, wait for it, coffee. We had this when we were there for my birthday and I remember something interesting flavour wise but couldn't put my finger on it, now I know. This is one of those combinations that, when you read it, shouldn't really work but it does.

Alimentum - Asparagus, Goat's Cheese Ice Cream

The first dish was a combination of raw and cooked white and green asparagus with goats' cheese ice cream (savoury). All very fresh in flavour and there were great contrasts of warm and cold, crunchy and soft. I really like white asparagus now. :)

Alimentum - Quail

Then, a ballotine and terrine of quail with savoy cabbage and truffle. The flavours in this were rather subtle (not a bad thing!) and the textures varied. There were soft bits, chewy bits and crunchy bits.

Alimentum - Langoustine, Pork Belly, Cauliflower

Moving along, a seafood/pork combination in the shape of a slice of pork belly so soft you could separate with a spoon, topped with langoustine, topped with avruga, sitting in a cauliflower veloute, garnished with thin slices of cauliflower. One could think that the strong meaty flavour of the pork would overpower the subtleness of the langoustine but that wasn't the case at all, they complimented each other nicely. The avruga provided little pops of salt and the smooth cauliflower veloute a warm coating for everything. Dancing tastebuds.

Alimentum - Lamb Three Ways

The main: lamb three ways (rump, breast and sweetbreads) with courgette and sundried tomato couscous. Each part was cooked differently, providing different textures. The rolled breast was crispy, the rump slow cooked and the sweetbreads seared. My tastebuds were dancing propably even more here.

Alimentum - Strawberry, Elderflower, Lime

The Grand Finale: A dessert of strawberries, elderflower curd and lime. This dessert was the main reason I had gone back so quickly after last month's visit because I didn't want to miss it and it came highly recommended by a number of people whose tastebuds I trust and they weren't lying. Again, it was the combination of flavours and textures that made it: the fresh fruitiness of the strawberries (fresh and icecream), the sweetness of the elderflower curd and the zingy and crunchy lime.

Another part of the experience was the "flight" of wines, one glass with every course and this is where I fail as I can't remember them all but each one of them was a perfect match with the dish. What I do remember was the '98(!) Chardonnay with the langoustine course, a Chianti Classico with the lamb and a Coteaux du Layon with the dessert. This (and a glass of champagne to start) had been quite an amount of alcohol so I politely declined the kind offer of spirits as another measure would have sent me straight to sleep at the cinema.

Huge thanks for the invitation go to head chef Mark and brigade for the food and sommelier Kyle for the wines as well as the rest of the Front of House team for looking after me. Good service (polite and attentive without being overbearing) is just as important as good food at a restaurant and Alimentum has all of that.
Every time I go there I think they won't be able to top my experience the following time but they always do.
karohemd: Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, by me (Hungry)
I was a bit early so I ordered a nice cocktail while I was waitin for my dining companion to arrive:

Apple Martini
Apple Martini (not too sweet, fruity, lovely)


Then, the food:
The pre-starter was an off-the-menu asparagus velouté served with a spoon of beurre noisette powder. Wonderful asparagus flavour that really got the tastebuds going (which is the whole point of a dish like that).

Amouse Bouche: Asparagus Veloute

For starter I had the skate, which was served with morel mushrooms and crispy white asparagus. I've had a lifelong dislike of white asparagus as I only remember it as the tasteless, slimy floppy things from a jar that were served at extended family dinner parties and supposed to be this awesome treat, so I'm glad I loved these crispy bits. The skate was perfectly cooked (as was to be expected) and the earthy, strongly flavoured mushrooms worked really with it.

Starter: Skate

My companion had the goat's cheese with beetroot which she loved:

Starter: Goat's Cheese

We had the same main: Stone Bass, potato pressé, peas, salsa verde, lemon. A perfectly cooked, flaky fillet of fish with excellent accompaniments and yes, I even liked the peas, so another big success for Alimentum's kitchen brigade headed by Mark Poynton.

Main: Stone Bass

For dessert I had a passion fruit parfait (soft, very fruity, no pips) with coffee sorbet and tiny saffron meringues. Again one of those dishes in which the main elements would have been too strong individually but together they were perfectly balanced.

Dessert: Passion Fruit Parfait

My companion's dessert were the variations of strawberry:
Dessert: Strawberry

With that she had the most amazing vodka: Chase Marmalade which tasted just like it sounds. Wonderful.
We obviously couldn't stop there and ended the evening with a selection of cheeses, of which the most unusual and interesting was a soft, washed rind cheese called Soumaintrain which was served on a spoon. Delightful.
The petits fours served with coffee were a dark chocolate one with lime and a white chocolate one coated in very tart apricot crumbs which completely counteracted the sickly sweetness (on my palate) of the white chocolate.
Another stunning meal at Alimentum, good value for money (as fine dining goes) and good service, too.
karohemd: Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, by me (Hungry)
Alimentum is a fine dining restaurant in Cambridge which I visited this evening as a birthday treat. I'd been several times and enjoyed every meal but tonight certainly was the best.
My companions and I decided on the tasting menu (finally, I'd been waiting for one) incl. the "flight of wines", i.e. a different glass of wine with each of the seven courses. A section through Alimentum's kitchen, a bit of everything and every bit as awesome as the other, tastefully and beautifully presented. We had (copied from the menu I took home):

Potato
(soup) with haddock, quail egg, avruga
Instead of the Sauvignon blanc on the menu we had a Muscadet
This was warm, soft and rich yet light. The little bits of avruga popped little spurts of salt in your mouth when you bit on them. The wine was clean and crisp, with a hint of cucumber.

Pork
Shoulder, belly, hock, pineapple, pickled onion
Pinot Grigio, Bolzano, Santa Magdalena, 2008, Italy
Squares of a whole range of textures on a rectangular plate. The first piece tasted like a high class version of head cheese. The fat of the belly melted on your tongue while the crackling was a crunchy delight.
What an awesome PG to go with it. Really deep without being too strong.

Stone Bass
Nigella seeds, spiced carrot, coriander
Vouvray, Auguste Bonhomme, 2007, Loire valley, France
A small fillet of perfectly cooked fish with a nigella seed crust on wilted spinach, a smear of carrot purree, two dollops of coriander sauce, as well as a little heap of red lentils and pickled carrot. This sounds like a lot of different ingredients but they all worked together wonderfully.
Another awesome wine. After tonight, I'm really warming to white wines.

Sirloin of Beef
Fricasee of snails and mushrooms, "Bordelaise" sauce
Chateau La Verrierie, Bastide, Côtes du Luberon, France, 2006
Rich beef cooked medium rare, complimented by the deep and woody flavours of the sauce and fricassee
The wine was one of if not the best red I've ever had, perfect.

Cheese
IIRC, a goat's cheese from Dorset, a really mature Scottish Cheddar, Normandy Camembert and a blue cheese
Mâcon - Serrières, Domaine De Monterrain 2007, Bourgogne, France
Excellent variety, but I would have wanted a red smear cheese (like a pont l'eveque, reblochon or similar) as well.

Banana
Parfait, caramel, lime, rum
(wine not on my copy of the menu and I can't remember what it was
One of my companions isn't a big fan of banana and she was blown away by it, that's how good it was. Again a carousel of contrasting yet harmonising flavours.

Passion fruit
White chocolate mousse, passion fruit sorbet
Beerenauslese cuvee, Alois Kracher, 2007, Austria
My turn to utterly love two things I'm usually not a big fan of: white chocolate and sweet wine. The sweetness of the chocolate was counteracted by the sharp sorbet. The wine was fruity but not cloying as most sweet wines are to me.

Coffee/tea with a piece each of chocolate fudge and salted caramel
This took us just over three hours to eat, and that without hardly any waiting time between courses. :)

I am really stupid and didn't take a photo of each course because I was just too fascinated by what was in front of me (and I didn't like using flash). I'm really getting old. Then again, the light is so dim you'd need a nice flash/softbox setup to take proper shots or at least a remotely triggered, diffused speedlight.
Here are three )

February 2013

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