What more delightful way to spend a Saturday afternoon than having a flutter on the gee-gees? Not that I condone gambling of course, but you have to make an exception for the institution that is Ascot. What a fabulous place to take clients for a hospitality experience that combines glamour, excitement and world-class cuisine.
I was fortunate enough to be invited to preview the fine dining options that will be on offer at this summer’s Royal Ascot and what a sumptuous spread it is to be sure. Train delays meant the beau and I missed the delicious-sounding canapés, (thanks a bunch, First Great Western!) but I know caterer Rhubarb of old and can vouch for the indisputable quality of their produce.
I was cross that I had to forgo their amazing Foie Gras Rocher, which have hazelnut outside but are filled with savoury foie gras ganache, and the Garden Pea Pannacotta sounded equally amazing. Luckily, the transport contretemps did not prevent us from sampling the starter by Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar, who served up pan-fried sea bass with beet mash in a glorious turmeric coconut sauce – the very definition of moreish.
A hard act to follow as they say, but the main course, courtesy of Tom Kerridge, owner of the renowned Hand & Flowers pub in Marlow, was more than up to the challenge. The cooked-to-perfection filet of beef apparently owed its melt-in-the-mouth qualities to being marinated in treacle and was accompanied by a divine béarnaise sauce, dinky potato wedges and the best onion rings ever, bar none.
Just as I thought things couldn’t get much better, the dessert was brought out: a marvel of mint and chocolate fashioned by Sodexo executive chef Steve Golding into an After Eight-style concoction that combined sorbet, gel and biscuit in a myriad delectable ways.
You might think that after all that fantastic fare we couldn’t possibly have room for more. Well, if you’d put a bet on that at Totepool you’d have come a cropper because by 4pm the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party (pictured above) was in full swing, with a tempting array of magical goodies including a green apple candy floss tree, squidgy marshmallows and dainty sandwiches. Roll on the summer season, that’s what I say