Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Christmas lunch fit for a Queen

After the successful competition to cook for the Queen’s 80th birthday, the winning chefs have returned. Richard Corrigan, Marcus Wareing, Nick Nairn and Bryn Williams have sharpened their knives and grabbed their frying pans and are fighting for their pride and country in the challenge is to create the ultimate Great British Menu Christmas feast. Each day they produce their perfect exponent of canapés, starters, main and dessert with the criteria that it should be seasonal, representative of their regions and be re-creatable by us mere mortals at home this Christmas. The contradictory trio from last time is judging them: Oliver Peynton, Pru Leith and Matthew Fort. Though the great British public have a say also. Oliver in particular has quite bizarre ideas what represents Christmas for him, I think unless it’s Christmas tree-shaped or covered in holly he may feel it’s just not festive enough!

I have been looking forward to this show as I think D and I need to be tormented again by trying to recreate a really complicated menu. So I hope they choose well and we may have to attempt all or some of the winning dishes!

On Monday we were treated to the following canapés:

Bryn William's: 'Pan-roasted' langoustine and pear, Black pudding with apple compote and potato crisps and Caerphilly cheese and thyme pastries

Marcus Wareing's: Angels on horseback, Smoked cods' roe with toast and Honey-glazed pork belly

Nick Nairn's: Isle of Mull cheddar fritters, Seared hand-dived scallops with crab, celeriac and apple salad and Potato wafers with smoked salmon, watercress and horseradish cream

Richard Corrigan's: Roast wild duck with beetroot purée, Tartare of Irish beef with bone marrow and soft-boiled quails' eggs and Oysters with spinach and tarragon butter

Probably my favourite chef of the quartet is Richard Corrigan with Marcus Wareing a close second. I ate at Richard Corrigan’s Lindsay House for last year’s birthday and I enjoyed Marcus’s tasting menu at Petrus earlier this year.

I think Marcus’ pork belly sounds amazing but I am not crazy and the smoked cods’ row. Nick’s Cheddar fritters sound lovely but as a deep fryer avoider, I couldn’t recreate them at home. And who's ever going to complain about scallops and crab? Richard’s beef tartare sounds delicious, as does the wild duck. I think the judges favoured Marcus’ offerings as they found the some of the presentation a little too chi-chi!

And then today we had the four starters prepared for our delectation:

Bryn William’s Smoked salmon and potato salad with horseradish and deep-fried caperberries

Marcus Wareing's English field mushroom soup with scallops and wild mushrooms

Nick Nairn's Lobster crumble

Richard Corrigan's Roast pumpkin soup with walnut relish and game livers on toast

Nick’s lobster looked amazing but apparently was lacking in flavour. Marcus’ unbelievably rich wild mushroom and scallop soup sounded extremely interesting but maybe needs to be served in a smaller bowl. And as Richard did such beautiful smoked salmon in the Great British menu last time, it was brave of Bryn to try and recreate it. I thought it seemed a little dull after Richard’s. And talking of Richard, his pumpkin soup seems a winner though everyone thought it was under seasoned. Interesting!

I really hope the recipes from this series will be available as I would like to tackle some of them, the thought of the two soups in particular have piqued my interest.


Anonymous said...

Oh dear, the blog entry I was dreading has arrived.......only joking, J. I am totally up for recreating at least a couple of the delicious dishes, if we can lay our hands on the recipes! As LLcoolT will attest, the soup piqued my interest also.
D xx

J said...

Ahhh, you'll be D-lighted to know that they've published all the recipes now! Fabulous! Be afraid, very afraid!