..... Enjoying life, one bite and plane ride at a time

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Fat Duck

Recently I was lucky enough to get an invite from FF as part of her table for 4 at Fat Duck. When she asked me, I felt like I had won the lotto. I placed my name in the ballot earlier in the year and like the 76,000 others I was unsuccessful and disappointed. So when the invite came, you cannot imagine how happy I was.

From the minute you walk into Fat Duck, it's like you are whisked into another world. You walk down a corridor like in Alice in Wonderland with a small door at the end leading you into the restaurant. Once that door opens, you are greeted with someone to take your coat and lead you to your table.

There is no food menu but only a wine list. The wine list is so big, it's like a huge dictionary of wines and drinks. Food is covered as there is only the single option of the 17 course degustation.

Dish 1 was aerated beetroot with horseradish. On a big plate came a small round ball. The texture looks like foam and when you look at it, you don't think of much. However when you eat it, it dissolves immediately in your mouth and there is just enough of the light horseradish there to complement the beetroot.

Dish 2 came with a big canister of liquid nitogen at our table and a lemon, grapefruit and lime. We were told this was nitro poached aperitifs. We were given the choice of vodka green tea, gin and tonic with lime or tequila grapefruit foam. I went with gin and tonic, the waiter went to squeeze a ball of foam into the nitrogen, then finished with a squirt of lime juice over flame. It was to be eaten in 1 go. The flavour was like nothing I had ever tasted before, the gin and tonic came through clearly but the texture of the cooling yet tingly feeling was just amazing. I wish we got to try all of them but unfortunately the waiter said only 1 per person. I was truly blown away and silently wished that my usual bar could do this for me too.

Dish 3 was a red cabbage gazpacho. I expected savoury ice cream and I wasn't disappointed; this was a pommary grain mustard ice cream with red cabbage gazpacho. This was a cold dish, and really plays on the sweet and sour elements from the different components of the dish. I've never been a fan of red cabbage or mustard but I didn't mind this combination and found it really good to get my senses going for the next dishes to come.

Dish 4 was savoury lollies and this is exactly a Heston crazy dish - you would see this on his show. To the eye it's 3 miniature ice cream lollipops but they are all savoury. Left to right, first was the waldorf rocket salad icy pole; salmon, horse-raddish and avocado twister and; chicken liver parfait with fig jelly coating and almond bits. They were all unique but the best one was definitely the chicken liver parfait. It was busting with flavour and I just kept wanting more.

Dish 5 was a walk in the forest, it started off with the "Fat Duck Film" which were listerine styled film that melted on your tongue, they were scented with oak and white moss, designed to make you feel like you are walking through the forest; the liquid nitrogen is poured in to the white moss to give off the smoke effect. Once you reach the centre of the forest you will be greeted with a quail jelly and marron with a truffle toast.  I'm a lover of truffle so I found this very enjoyable and the theatrics to be perfect.

Dish 6 was snail porridge. This is a long standing Fat Duck dish and well known with any Heston fans. The snail texture felt like a combination of pipis and calamari to me, just enough bite to it. The fennel, parsley and ham created a great base to accentuate the snail. The texture and taste combined can almost be called comfort food.

Dish 7, was a roast marron; this was a specialty for Melbourne and not part of the usual Fat Duck menu in UK. A generous piece of marron on shitake and finished with confit kombu and sea lettuce. There was intentsity from the shitaki, kombu and sea lettuce to round off the simplistic but refined taste of the marron. This dish wasn't as creative compared to the others, but what it had less in terms of creativity it more than made up for with taste.

Dish 8 and 9 was the Mad Hatter's tea party. This started with a mock turtle soup which was in a clear teapot, with a hot water and a small island of seasoned jelly, truffle, ham and vegetable cubes. This has an intense broth that came from the melted pocket watch which is presented to you in a ticking box and melted into the hot water. It came with a side of toast sandwich, which was a sandwich where the filling was a slice of toast and layer of truffle and butter.

Dish 10 was sound of the sea. This started with an ipod within a seashell, each person was to put on their headphones and close their eyes. Next our dish was served on a glass and wood box. It looks like a scene that you would see washed up on the beach. However everything was edible. The sand was miso oil and starch, then there was foam made from seaweed and vegetable stock (it tasted so real, I really thought I was tasting sea water). The core of the dish was kingfish, abalone, and another white fish. There was also an assortment of seaweed to complement the rest of the sea. I must say, this dish really does take the culinary experience to a whole different level.

Dish 11, was salmon poached in liquorice gel and golden trout roe. I am one of the few people who enjoy liqurice so I was quite intrigued by the idea. It didn't disappoint either, the salmon was soft, the flavour of the fish struck a cord with the sweetness in the liquroice then the burst of roe and creaminess of vanilla mayo.

Dish 12, was The Duck. This started with duck chip, made from duck fat and starch, then duck with green coffee and black pudding. This dish was much heavier compared to all previous dishes. There was also a duck egg roll which came later which added that element to break up all the meatiness.

Dish 13, hot and iced tea. The waitress came out with a double wall glass and set it in front of all of us and give directions on where on the glass to sip from. It was a weird feeling, one side of my mouth had hot tea and the other had iced tea.

Dish 14, was the Botrytis Cinerea  which is the famous 2015 Masterchef finals. It was as pretty as you see it on TV. This dish was as complex as they come. It had so many elements on the plate, jelly, popping candy, sorbet, alcoholic sultanas, chocolate; it was like a crazy party on the plate but so refined, it was hard to decide the best part of the dish and made you question if it was created by a crazy scientist or a chef.

Dish 15, puzzle in a box, this was the start of the breakfast experience. In a mini cereal box there was root vegetable cereal served with parsnip milk. Sounds gross? Taste? The dehydrated vegetables has a good sweet, savory and crunch to it, along with the parsnip milk, it was really like eating breakfast. Like any good cereal that came with a surprise, this came with a piece of the puzzle that was on the wall and unique for the Melbourne Fat Duck experience.

Dish 16, bacon and egg ice cream cooked with liquid nitrogen on the table. Along crazy signature Heston dish. The scrambled egg ice cream, along with candied pancetta was served on piece of sweet toast. Then... what is toast without marmalade? There was also a jar of marmalade that had an edible lid made from chocolate. This dish is so Heston, the play on theatrics and challenging the concept of norm.

Dish 17, was the whisky gums. on a UK/Tasmania map. Different strengths and type of whisky, reduced to a gummy lolly. Interesting concept as "a whisky to finish the meal". The gummy didn't disappoint in strength either, FF and her sister aren't normally drinkers so they found it extremely strong. I found it enjoyable for 3 of the gummies but the other 2 were too strong for my liking. In saying that, I'm normally not a big whisky fan.

Afterwards there was also the take home lolly bag. This had the queen of hearts, apple pie caramel (with edible wrapper), oxchoc, and aerated chocolate with mandarin jelly.

Besides the food, there is a very decent selection of drinks, I got a wine, juice and sake to go with my meal. The juices deserve a mentioned in their own right, there was the apple lemon, persimmon and strawberry with pepper. The latter is the more unusual and a more acquired taste for those liking vegetable juices and things of a peppery taste. I loved the first two as I love juices.

Overall 20/20 this was in a league of it's own, every detail was perfected down to an art. The creativity, innovation in methodology, taste, balance, sensory experience. It was art form from the minute you walk through the door.

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