When last I left you, I was in the middle of the most delicious Tea Party with mock turtle soup, fob watches and truffle “toast” sandwiches. If you are reading this post and are thinking PART 2…where is PART 1? Just chick HERE and it will take you to The Fat Duck Melbourne PART 1 You really do need to read the first part before embarking on this second journey with me!
9th Course – Sounds of the Sea
What does food sound like?
Heston knows that when we eat we engage all of the senses simultaneously, and so the foundation of his culinary approach was trying to create food that appealed to as many senses as possible. He calls the technique Multi-Sensory Cooking.
This is a very famous Heston dish and I think if it was taken off his menu there would be a riot. Firstly we were all given sea shells and asked to place the ear plugs in our ears and listen until our course arrived. I closed my eyes and listened to the sound of the beach, the ebb and flow of the water rushing the beach, the crash of the waves, even the sound of a few seagulls. When I opened my eyes this amazing plate of food was in front of me.
No, it isn’t sand (well underneath the glass there was real sand and shells) and foam and bits of seaweed, it is all food and delicious food at that. The abalone was smoked and cooked to perfection, with the other pieces of fish served raw with a slightly acidic dressing that partially cooked them. As we took our first bite, a small sprite of air freshener was sprayed above us that smelled just like the ocean.
This dish included dried kelp, seaweed, and a variety of different shellfish and flavours combine to give this stunning dish a beautiful sea taste. The sand is made from Panko and Eel and had a distinct peppery flavour. The sea-foam is made with cockles, clams and kombu and floated away in your mouth. This miniature shore line tasted divine and transported me back to the beach… The next thing I needed was a spice ice-cream, because as a kid I use to have one after swimming at the beach in summer! But alas, Heston didn’t know of my childhood beach adventures, so he served me up some more beautiful seafood.
Course 10 felt like a main dish, it was a substantial portion and had the look of a main dish. You might be thinking that I would be getting full by now, but no, all the dishes are perfectly spaced for your dining pleasure.
Salmon Poached in a Liquorice Gel with Endive, Vanilla Mayonnaise and Golden Trout Roe. The salmon fell apart and melted in your mouth. (The only piece of fish that has ever equaled this was Tetsuya’s confit trout, which I enjoyed as a part of another degustation menu at Tetsuya’s in Sydney). The vanilla mayonnaise perfectly complimented the fish with the bitterness of the endive and the pop of the roe as the flavour burst in your mouth.
There was no real distinct taste of liquorice, except the little aniseed flavour down the back of your palate that perfectly matched the bitterness of the endive and creaminess of the mayonnaise.
Course 11 – The Duck, came in two sittings.
The first being duck crackling that was sitting in these warm aromatic spices. This really allowed a change of palate from the seafood. As I am writing this and thinking back on the night, as a foodie, all these amazing revelations have come after the night. In the moment, I was just eating (taking notes) and experiencing all this incredible food, but now, looking back I can see and understand the amazing attention to detail the professional executed transitions between courses and the depth of knowledge and understanding of food that it would take to develop this sort of menu. I’m so thankful that someone took the time and that a man like Heston pushed the boundaries of food to create spectacular dishes.
Seriously, I don’t have words. As you can see I got so excited when it arrived that I tasted the green coffee before photographing…This is THE DUCK with blood pudding, chicory and green coffee. The duck was served on a poached leek with other yummy things… I KNOW “other yummy things”, but really I don’t have words???? It was perfect and I rarely say that about food because there is always something you can fix… Not this. Oh and I must not forget the duck cigar as well.
I can only describe it like this; You know when you order spring rolls and you are looking forward to that crunch and that deliciousness that is a spring roll, but you always seem disappointed, that they never taste as good as they look or, as good as your remember them? Well this tastes as good as it looks and better than you remember it even though you’ve never eaten it before. If I could order them every day I would! I am sure I would get sick of them at some stage, but I would like to have the opportunity to try!
Well that brings us to the end of our savoury courses (well with Heston you really never can tell) and the start of our sweets. Course 12 dear friends is the most sensational dish of the evening. It is the palate cleanser between main and dessert. This unassuming liquid caused me to swear at the table and to this day, I still don’t know how it was done (I haven’t googled it because I want the keep the mystery alive).
It is brought to our table and I remark how it smelt like a beautiful Jasmine tea. The staff place it in front of us, ask us not the turn the cup, but drink it how it had been placed in front of us and to please enjoy your hot and iced tea.
I was a bit puzzled as I wasn’t sure that I had heard right. HOT and ICED tea. I picked up the cup took a small sip and tasted the most beautiful sweet jasmine tea I had ever tasted… EXCEPT the right side of my mouth tasted HOT tea and the left side of my mouth tasted ICED tea. YES I KNOW!!!!!!!!!!!!! I looked at the cup and saw no divide. I kept tasting thinking that it would finish, but EVERY mouthful, right down the very last drop, the right side of my mouth had HOT tea and the left side was ICED. I still shake my head when I think about it!
I will leave you to ponder and wonder at this unassuming little course… All I can say is NEVER judge a book by its cover!
The First “Dessert” course is called Botrytis Cinerea and is a feast for the eyes and the palate. It means “grapes like ashes”, but there was not a smelly mould or yucky taste to be found!
It was an homage to the humble botrytis, that is actually a mold that grows on particular grapes to make a sweet dessert wine. The delicateness of every mouthful and the diversity of flavour was amazing. The close up below, shows the incredible attention to detail, as it looks like a fantastical bunch of grapes on a vine.
My favourite ‘grape’ was the wet looking yellow one just there on the top. It burst with flavour in my mouth and tasted like the most delicious grape with a delicate sweet tart balance!
Next a side table arrives at our table and our 3 waitress proclaim, “good morning, welcome to breakfast” They don’t get to say that very often, it actually was 12.30am in the morning so technically it was breakfast, but dessert, as only Heston knows how!
Course 14 is called “The Not So English Breakfast” and is in 2 courses. First course is a box of cereal and milk.
Of course it has a puzzle inside and the cereal isn’t cereal it is dehydrated, carrots, parsnips, sweet potato and it is served with parsnip milk.
While eating our “Cereal” we reach into the box and discover a note and a puzzle piece.
You see, not only have we experienced “The Fat Duck,” we are now going to become a part of it.
When we first entered the restaurant, you couldn’t help but notice the very large mural on the wall, however, it had missing parts. I just put that down to Heston being quirky. But NO! When our “Not So Full English Breakfast” was finished, we placed our puzzle pieces into the smaller piece and then it was placed into the wall! We all wrote our names on the back of our pieces, so we are officially apart of a never to be repeated history!
When complete it is going to be auctioned off for charity. It was a wonderful part of the night and made all the more special because, a little piece of me is still at the fat duck in Melbourne, albeit my name!
Back to our “Not So Full English Breakfast”. We had finished our “cereal”. Then they cracked open an egg which had this mixture, that didn’t look like and egg and they explain that Heston had sourced some very special eggs that were bacon and egg eggs.
Nitrogen was then poured over the “mixture” and “scrambled” to make bacon and egg ice-cream.
These “scrambled eggs” were placed on top of a caramelised brioche toast with crispy bacon strip and served with a smile.
It was also served with Earl Grey tea infused orange marmalade with the lid of the jar, made from white chocolate.
I dislike earl grey with a passion, but this was divine. Can you believe the top of that jar is white chocolate, I just dug my spoon in and took a big mouthful! YUM! You are probably thinking that bacon and egg ice-cream would taste weird, but is was so delicious and went perfectly with the accompaniments.
So now dear reader, I’m full, I have enough to eat and I have thoroughly enjoyed myself. It is 1 o’ clock in the morning and out comes a dessert that isn’t on the menu. Myself and Brian receive the black forest torte and Mum and Deb enjoy the white chocolate egg mouse.
Inside there were delicate layers and crunchy chocolate. The only thing I didn’t eat the whole night was the cherry on top as it was a glace’ cherry and I really dislike them.
It didn’t look like a glace’ cherry, as it was a rich dark cherry colour, but it was, so I politely left it. The Kirsch sorbet to the right was so strong that it nearly blew my head off, but when you ate it with the torte there was a beautiful balance, just like every other dish I had eaten.
The egg was perfect, we couldn’t find any joins or cracks… and it was made from the creamiest of white chocolate with a beautiful white chocolate mouse inside.
Lastly, to end our adventure course 16, were a few shots of whisky from different parts of Scotland and even one from Tasmania…
They were laid out on a map and the shots came in the form of gums, you know like wine gums, but instead they were different types of whisky. Not being a whisky drinker, I thought I wouldn’t enjoy these, but I did, all except the Tasmanian one… All I can say is I’m not ever drinking whisky from Tasmania. Number 2 was my favourite.
So that was our very last dish to end the evening. We of course paid the bill for the drinks and as we were about to leave then there was a “Wait There’s More” moment, we got a take home lolly bag!
There was an aerated chocolate, apple pie caramel, an ox choc and in the envelope was a strawberry tart, it tasted amazing, but it was in the form of a Queen of Hearts. So even the next day when I had a cup of tea and tasted these take home sweeties, I was amazed!
Thank you for coming on the journey with me and I hope you enjoyed the experience even though you had to live it through me! I would also like to thank the wonderful staff at “The Fat Duck” Melbourne, for contributing to this amazing gastronomic sensory experience. If you are reading this, make sure you tell Heston how wonderful he is and that you all deserve a big all expenses paid holiday around Australia!
To my amazing mum, none of this would have happened without you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, I don’t think you will ever truly know how much it meant to me to go. I love you and I hope we get to do a lot more foodie adventures in the future!
And lastly, Thanks to Heston Blumenthal, who took a chance and came to Melbourne to share his sensational food experience with us Aussies on our home turf!