Saturday, August 18, 2007

le champignon sauvage

i knew it was going to happen. I had said so to the chef and his lovely wife as I left le champignon sauvage. I was going to fall asleep driving back to london and there I was, pulled over in a lay-by to catch a quick nap because despite all my efforts in singing to myself, biting on my lip and giving myself a very rousing pep talk, I finally gave in and pulled over for a nap.

I’d like to blame david and helen everitt matthias for my drowsiness on the A40. I blame them in the nicest way possible of course. I couldn’t have had a lovelier lunch to end what had been a fantastic week spent with 60 boisterous and sugar-fuelled hyperactive children at a christian children’s camp in bredon. brilliant as camp was, it was really nice to sit by myself and chew on an extremely cheesy gougere in peace without constantly being asked a multitude of questions, regaled with displays of how many pieces of garlic bread would fit in a 12 year old’s mouth or being splashed with water and juice from extremely messy children.

lunch was an absolute delight. not just because it was the first meal in a week which did not consist of child-friendly school dinner food, but because it was excellently executed and fantastically delicious. post gougeres, a plate of rabbit mousselline, red onion marmalade and toast magically appeared. it soon disappeared as I savoured each mouthful of the meaty mousse foiled by the sweetness of the marmalade and the crunch of the toast.
I chose to start with seared squid and gloucester old spot pork belly. to say this was tasty would not do justice to how amazing it was. the waitresses must have thought me mad as I launched into a slightly audible soliloquy of praise. this audible soliloquy was to be a repeated occurrence throughout the meal. the aroma of the roasted pork belly hit me as I leant over the curls of tender squid and slices of pork belly bathed in a light creamy foam. I was extremely sad as I put the last forkful of pork in my mouth and savoured its juiciness.
my very clean plate was cleared away and I was presented with a fish knife. strange I thought. maybe the chef had done such magic to the pigeon I had chosen for my main that it now needed to be eaten with a fish knife. the mystery was soon solved as I was brought a little “something from the kitchen” – seared scallops with artichoke puree. or at least that’s what I think it was – I was beside myself with joy as I plunged into the depths of perfectly cooked scallops, their sweetness against the creaminess of the earthy puree. another wave of sorrow swept over me as I finished the last forkful. my only complaint about this dish was that it was served on a pretty plate that had grooves on its edges which meant that some of the precious puree was lost into the abyss of these grooves and civility prevented me from taking the plate to my lips and licking it clean.
my pigeon and snails arrived. snails from Herefordshire on my plate as I was informed. the pigeon was lovely shade of pink and its meatiness against the slight chewiness of the snails, the fluidity of the mash and puree, each forkful was a very pleasant cacophony of textures and tastes. the white asparagus added a slightly woody dimension to the plate which was not altogether out of place to this plate which conjured up images of country hunts in wooded forests, the security of barbour jackets and the comfortable warmth of blazing fireplaces in country manor houses. I’m not sure why, but that’s what I thought of as I ate every scrap of my pigeon.
briefly entertaining the notion of foregoing pudding, I decided to soldier on despite the slight attempts at protest emanating from my extremely full belly. I was brought even nearer to bursting capacity with the pre-desert offering in the form of a shotglass with black sesame parfait, crunchy rose jelly and orchid root foam.

it could be argued that I had been unable to read beyond the first line of the pudding menu, but I couldn’t have been more pleased with my choice of muscovado parfait, mandarin jelly and caramel craquant. the earthy intensity of muscovado shone through with each lick of my spoon as I ate greedily. the crisp shards of craquant with its dulcet sweetness against the mellowness of the citrus tinged cream.

I must apologise for the sometimes rather inaccurate descriptions of what I ate. I was blinkered into the prospect of diving straight into each dish, the descriptions provided by the lovely people who served me were lost in my inability to listen and salivate at the same time. i can’t wait for camp again next year – sharing a week (and the gospel) with lovely, vivacious and funny (albeit sometimes rather smelly) children - and it’s a fantastic excuse to stop off in Cheltenham on the way home for yet another pleasurable meal at le champignon sauvage.


Blogger fluffylyd said...

what a huge lunch!

7:02 AM  
Blogger tarw78 said...

I ate there on thursday the 8th of May 2008, i was not impressed at all. My amuse bouche was bland, my girlfriends, starter of brown trout was cooked well, but the peas underneath were chalky & not seasoned, it said on the menu that it came with asparagus but they were just the middle part if the lovely fern, & there was just to much wild garlic.My lobster was also cooked well, but the nougat foam just spoiled the lovely colours of the dish. Then came the main course of duck for the gf & my zander. The duck came with walnut potato puree, the walnuts tasted of nothing (probably better off making a puree of just walnut on the side??) My zander was not evenly cooked, black on the outside & raw skin in the middle, the cauliflower puree was good in consistency but no seasoning, the cauliflower florets were well overcooked (like on my old school dinner's). Then came the dessert...i had salted chicory iced mousse which was overly salted & very offensive, & behold i found a piece of cling film. This was not the worst, the table of five across the way also found cling film in they're desert. I have wanted to go to this restaurant for a long time now & have read Mr everitt-Mathias's lovely book. But 4 AA rossttes, & 2 michelin stars? As a chef it really makes me wonder.

10:58 AM  

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