Monday was a fun day. Now I know that’s an unusual thing to read but it’s true. I had chance to spent the morning with Andy, finding out about the some of dishes on the Hundred House menu this season.
I have to admit I was surprised at how complex each dish is. Perhaps this sounds like an foolish thing to say, but because Hundred House has such relaxed,simple style, it’s easy to think the food just happens. This is a clever ruse to make which makes us diners feel even more at home. Andy explained how each dish has several elements,each element has several processes and every part of what goes on to the plate works with the other. It is this that takes a dish from something lovely, to something outstanding.
One of the highlights of the menu celebrates lamb by marrying a lightly seared lamb cutlet with often overlooked lamb breast and kidney. This trio of flavour and texture is sharpened by the onion cream and brought together by the subtle tarragon jus. It is one of the nicest things I have eaten.
Andy talked me through each stage, starting with the preparation of the lamb breast. Cooking this cut low and slow means the natural flavours of the meat melt right through, needing little more enhancement than the classic flavours of garlic and parsley.
Lamb cutlets are seared with garlic and rosemary, and seasoned, and the lambs kidneys are sauteéd in butter.
Our garden vegetables are used to provide contrast in texture and augment the lamb flavours. These accompaniments vary according to the produce available. The confit chantenay carrots (made by cooking the carrots sous-vide with butter, carrot juice and thyme) are so silky sweet they could star in their own dish.
The dish is assembled with accompaniments that enhance the sweet flavour of the lamb. Burnt onion cream is created by blending caramelised shallots with reduced lamb stock.It sounds so simple, but the deeply savoury taste contrasts with the lamb to create complex layers of flavour.
The best way to find out how this masterpiece tastes is to visit the Hundred House but I can give you a sneak preview. It would be easy to just say it’s delicious, but there is much more than that. Earthy, piquant kidney makes the delicate lamb taste even lighter, then the a mouthful of rich slow cooked breast reminds me of unctuous casseroles and winter evenings. A dip into the burnt onion cream and a slick of the tarragon jus give contrast and keep me going back for more. I can’t think of a better way to brighten a chilly evening !