Spring is fast approaching and that means preparations for summer sporting events are in full swing. One of my favourites is tennis so I’m very much looking forward to the Wimbledon Championships. I’m delighted to say I had the great honour of being invited to an exclusive food tasting at the All England Club to sample some of the dishes that may make it on to the final menu of the Gatsby Club at the event.
World-class chef Albert Roux is in charge of designing the three-course à la carte menu for the restaurant, so as a fan of his exquisite cooking I jumped at the opportunity to attend. You can imagine my excitement when I sat down with the team from corporate hospitality provider Keith Prowse and spotted Albert himself at the table.
With the introductions made, I composed myself just in time for the first choice of starters to come out. I must admit that I wasn’t too sure about this one, as our host referred to it as a “strawberry gazpacho” with basil, black pepper and olive oil, but my taste buds were surprised at the delightfully light flavour of the unique concoction. We were also treated to a bite of the most amazing Caesar salad I think I have ever had and the perfect summer starter – chilled garden pea soup with mint, buttermilk snow and prosciutto.
Next up we sampled the mains, starting with a fabulous seafood stew cooked in cider, leek and barley. The pièce de résistance was the duo of duck breast and confit leg in filo pastry, port wine and cherry sauce served with creamy polenta and snow peas. Dessert featured the ever-popular Eton mess, a lovely apricot and almond tart and my personal favourite, strawberry and pistachio gratin with white chocolate ice-cream.
After we ate, there was a heated discussion about the possibility of offering the posh mixed grill again because last year’s guests commented that they would like chips with it, which is apparently a logistical nightmare for the temporary kitchen to handle (the things you learn when you sit down with the people planning the event!) The argument promptly came to an impasse when Albert suggested using a system similar to the one at fast food joint McDonald’s, claiming that they have “very good chips”. Talk about a once-in-a-lifetime experience…
Now that I have an appreciation for what goes into planning such a prestigious event, I’ll look at things in a new light when I attend a match this summer and you certainly won’t hear a complaint out of me if this tasting is anything to go by.