The ‘Michelin’ Experience Episode 1

It’s been a crap couple of years, that’s of my chest! This year I have managed to take corrective action after getting man flu and moving to new employer which has does wonders to my happiness and mojo. I cannot believe my last post was in March, time in the kitchen has been limited but that is slowly changing.

So action was needed to kickstart a new chapter, and with a birthday approaching it was decided that a treat or two, or three was in order. A long search on the net and a couple of restaurants stood out that we had not tried before, and 20 minutes later they were booked.

So, I am currently in Padstow, just been for a stroll, my restaurant sitting is booked for 20:45, but that’s not what this post is about, it’s just that I have taken a week off to immerse myself in food, and have some down time to catch up with the blog posts I have been meaning to write! This trip will follow in the next couple of weeks when I have recovered.

We are really proud of our 15 year old, he has been through a torrid few years with bullying, ADHD and General Anxiety Disorder which has disrupted pretty much everything He does love good food and eating in ‘posh’ restaurants, and doesn’t follow the usual Pizza, Pasta routine and can cook an excellent ‘Fish en Papillote’ as well as make macarons from scratch. When we asked would he like to come, there was no stopping him.

Out first expedition was to ‘The Nut Tree Inn’, a quaint restaurant to the North East of Oxford, it was heaving with rain on the day, so when we arrived and were seated by a protected open fire it was very welcome. Service was very friendly and relaxed at this 1 Michelin Starred Restaurant, very welcoming and not at all stuffy. Starting with some delicious bread and ‘cultured’ butter it just felt great.

As you can see, we went for the tasting menu, let’s see the chef strut his stuff, he should be good having held his star since 2008 that’s not bad going. Mike North is an extremely accomplished Chef and it showed with his Cauliflower velouté  and Tartare of Loch Duart Salmon, absolutely delicious. I was watching an episode of Saturday Kitchen recently and they showed the proper method of making a velouté, its actually quite complex to get the correct velvety texture. Things were going really well so far.

So now we get adventurous for a 15 year old, Chicken Liver Parfait, Brioche Bun with a Pork Skin Crumble (aka Airbag) and Plum. Jeez it tasted awesome, really rich, lovely balance of plum and beautiful parfait which was perfectly smooth and melted in the mouth, it was a knockout dish. I cheekily asked our waiter if he could ask the Chef how he ‘glued’ the Airbag to the Bun, as I have some at home which I love using, she came back shortly and explained it was egg white, as it does not make the Air Bag soggy and prevent it from puffing up, fantastic tip to add to my list of ‘cheffy cheats’.

Fish Course next, Gigha Halibut. Gigha what, it’s an island in Scotland that produces sustainable Scottish Halibut which was also to feature on the next restaurant we visited. Find out more HERE it was served with pancetta, white beans, artichoke and lovage and was yum, although my two fellow companions were not too keen on the texture of the beans but that’s a personal thing.

If someone gave me the choice between Beef or Fish, I would normally pick Fish, I love it. My beloved of 32 years is the other way round, Beef is always her first choice, same with our son. Now when you all say, ‘that’s the best Beef I have ever had, ever, ever, ever’, you know the Chef must have got something really right and created something really special, the Beef was OUTSTANDING………. I would go back for this dish alone, it was AWESOME…… note the capitals it was THAT GOOD.

It was served with a smoked potato puree, if you read the menu at the beginning of the post, it stated 50% dairy, I think my mash normally has nearly 250grms of butter, it how to make proper rich mash. A king oyster mushroom and cavolo nero completed the plating nestled in a delicious reduction.

They remembered it was my birthday celebration (well at least one of the them), the pre dessert was a mango and coconut meringue pie, it was genius. Served in a sterilised Egg Shell, it was light and sharp and really cleaned the palate nicely, getting you ready for the final course.

Lets have a Valrohona Guanaja Chocolate Souffle with Tonka Bean Ice Cream. Another belting dish, I love Tonka Beans and have used them in a variety of dishes at home. It has a unusual flavour, like, but not like Vanilla, it’s difficult to explain, but paired with the souffle went perfectly.

I have to start to get ready now, for tonight’s meal at a very special bistro, but more of that on another post. Just to say that if you want a wonderful, expertly cooked, unhurried meal, with lovely service and staff that chat with your like you have known each other of years, head to The Nut Tree Inn we will be returning to this lovely homely restaurant.

……………………………………….Until next time………….L8ers…………………………