Thursday, January 17, 2008

New Year's Dining

There are three dining experiences not to be missed. The Fat Duck in Bray and El Bulli near Barcelona were named the top two restaurants in the world last year. Both feature incredibly innovative science-driven cooking underpinned by classic Lovemark thinking. Mystery, Sensuality and Intimacy drive every taste, every serving, every course and every presentation. I’ll be at The Fat Duck again later in January with Stephen Jones, The Sunday Times rugby correspondent, and Sean Fitzpatrick to make sure Stephen does not indulge in excess Kiwi bashing.

The third great place to eat is Euro in Auckland (when Simon Gault is at the stove). Simon (pictured right) is New Zealand’s best chef and he and I used to have a restaurant together, which we sold prior to the America’s Cup. On New Year’s Eve, Simon flew back from vacation to cook for seven of us at Euro in the midst of the occasion's festivities.

Maybe Sydney Harbor is the best place in the world for New Year’s, but Auckland’s Viaduct Basin runs it close. Fireworks from on top of the Sky Tower can be seen for miles around, the Harbor is full of boats and the Viaduct is just full of people enjoying New Zealand’s beautiful summer. I don’t get back to New Zealand often enough and it was a fantastic New Year’s present for me when Simon said he’d come back and prepare the meal for us. George Duncan (the All Blacks' muscle therapist) and his Canadian wife Jennifer joined us, along with Malcolm, Michelle and Fraser McLeod from Queensland. George and Jennifer have been fans of Simon’s cooking forever, and this was to be a first for the McLeods.

Simon is one of those rare chefs who can combine French, Italian, Asian and the new scientific styles without missing a beat- as well as producing the most natural whitebait fritta from New Zealand’s West Coast you can ever imagine (this was a special request from George on the spot who remembered Simon cooking one for him 3 or 4 years ago). The highlights of our 8 course degustation included some hard to find grisini wrapped in even harder to find Bellota Gran Reserva (the king of the Ibéricos), along with an amazing slow poached egg (Simon picked the eggs up from the farm that morning and poached them for 45 minutes), on a mushroom polenta porridge with shaved Alba truffle. Heston Blumenthal and your snail porridge – watch out! We finished with Black Truffle ice cream, a poached egg which, this time, was yogurt centered with manuka honey and gorgonzola dolce, melon caviar with passion fruit sauce and apricot tea centered with lemon ice on four different spoons.

The full menu follows.

And if Simon is not at Euro, Shane Yardley and Nigel his two major elves can be counted on to do the business too.

New Year’s Eve at Euro

Grisini wrapped in Bellota Gran Reserve (the king of the Ibéricos) w fig & marsarla & rocket lettuce


Snap fried white bait (west coast) on parsnip puree topped w lemon curd sphere
Peking duck on parsnip puree topped w lemon curd sphere

Tuna line w melon & jalapeño caviar, apple ricotta salad w apple balsamic
Seared firstlight wagyu on harisa orange w bacon froth


Pork (Havoc Pork) cheek soup w green pea sphere


Scallops on white asparagus w Contreau & lime chive butter sauce
Potato gnocchi w trumpet (very new in NZ and only at Euro) mushroom and cognac sauce


Slow poached egg (45 minutes) on mushroom polenta porridge w shaved Alba truffle


Venison crusted in juniper & orange crush served on fennel & onion w giant white bean (sphere)
Centered w foie gras and duck w citrus jus (orange & onion)


Warm melting chocolate dessert w saporoso (Balsamic) ice cream & sesame wafers


Spoons 2010
Black truffle ice cream, poached egg (yoghurt centered w manuka honey and gorgonzola dolce)
Apricot tea centered w lemon ice, melon caviar w passion fruit sauce


Susan Plunkett said...

"Centered" appears word de jour for this restaurant.

I have an album of my father's from the Korean war and it's great to look back at a menu for a christmas or new years celebration.

And yes, Sydney Harbour really does have one magnificent New Years Eve display and does it twice. Once for family groups earlier in the evening and then a second at midnight.

Susan Plunkett said...

I have to ask..why do your shirt cuffs have half spherical shaped red bits on the inside?

Susan Plunkett said...

Ok, I have asked various people I know who inhabit the restaurant scene..what's icecream and poached egg like..and everyone blinked. So, is black truffle icecream and egg etc supposed to be a form of savory?

Piotr Jakubowski said...

The Pork and Peking Duck sound so tasty that my mouth is watering.

How far down has the Spotted Pig fallen? :)