Another fish course arrived (I’d love to know where Michael gets his crockery from) and after taking a bite I suddenly realised it was his winning cod dish from Great British Menu. It’s made up of a number of elements: slow cooked cod, gem lettuce, crispy potatoes and shallots, cod dashi and squid ink powder, and really is the best version of fish and chips you’ll ever eat. The cod is beautifully soft, so that it yields with the touch of a fork and the squid ink powder also contains malt vinegar powder which works brilliantly with the crispy potatoes and shallots. We only realised half way through that the cod dashi had stained our lips, giving us a Goth-style makeover! The recipe is on the Great British Menu website, so one day, if I’m feeling brave, I’ll try to recreate it.
Our next course was completely unexpected – three stunning small plates of Veal sweetbread in XO sauce with sticky rice, hot and sour broth and Mongolian lamb and goat’s curd pancakes. Each plate was an absolute joy to eat, with a perfectly cooked sweetbread coated in scarlet XO, a pleasing numbing spice from the broth, and the lamb and goat’s curd was such a great combination that I’ll definitely be looking to cook this at home. This course was paired with a Riesling, the slightly off-dry nature of the wine matching perfectly with the aromatic and spicy flavours.
A delicate plate of Roe deer, winter truffle, Iberico ham and redcurrants was next, paired with a glass of Amarone (an Italian red made with dried grapes, giving an intense flavour). It was a taste of autumn, with the heady scent of truffle wafting up from the dish. Our final meat course was in a style that you’d immediately recognise as Michael’s – the black plate highlighting the splashes of white sauce. The main event was Iberico pork, with egg yolk, edible ‘shell’ and ash. Everything married perfectly and the ash was an excellent addition, almost adding a seasoning to the dish. The Valpolicella Ripasso wine match didn’t overpower the dish, and worked surprisingly well.
I have never been so disappointed to be told it was time for dessert, but luckily the plates the pastry section send out are just as wacky and delicious at the savoury ones. First up was another dish I recognised from Great British Menu – Michael’s second attempt at dessert, which featured 'Chocolate metal’, lavender mousse, potato custard and potato puffs with beetroot. Yes, you read that right: potato custard. When I was watching Michael serve this on the show, I wondered what on earth it would taste like. Turns out it’s delicious. The chocolate is tempered, shaped and sprayed silver to resemble metal, with the well-balanced lavender mousse sitting underneath, and the custard and potato puffs are added tableside. Our final course looked like a mini cupcake, made from chocolate brioche (hiding a liquid passion fruit centre) and topped with raspberry mascarpone. All of this was contained in an edible wrapper and we ate it all in one to avoid a passion fruit sauce disaster. Both desserts were served with an umeshu sake that had gorgeous flavours of plum and marzipan – it was so good, I ordered another.