Fifty –four would appear to be a dangerous age, an age of transition from questioning and rational sceptic to grumpy old man. You would have thought that I would have mellowed over the years, but no, the more I stick my querulous nose into new experiences the more peevish I become. Take for instance my penchant for haute cuisine…
I have hinted at this before, but in our house it’s not only the Fatdog who’s partial to their tucker. For more years than I care to remember J and I have enjoyed trailing around restaurants, pubs and cafes looking for either something really good or something that bit different. Once the kids grew up this process became marginally more feasible on the pocket though we still have to re-mortgage the house on an annual basis to head for a Michelin star restaurant or similar standard for a “fine dining” nosh up.
So far our not so expansive list of top end eateries includes Martin Wishart, The Kitchin, Kinloch Lodge, The Three Chimneys and Aux Armes de Champagne amongst a host of other maybe not so esteemed transport cafes.
We owed ourselves a meal from last November’s 30th wedding anniversary and with J’s birthday now approaching we had booked into The Kitchin in Leith for our most recent gastronomic treat.
Leith is ideal for a good feed with a number of top class eateries all within staggering distance. Within 200m there are Martin Wishart, The Plumed Horse, The Shore and Fishers to name but four. On our annual splash out we park ourselves in Malmaison which, although expensive, sits on the same street and thus makes the late evening staggering even easier. Saturday’s venue was chef Tom Kitchin’s eponymous restaurant and I was curious to see if his claims of using only the freshest seasonal produce would be up to the mark.
I could go into detail about the whole meal, which would be fair and even-handed, but I came to the conclusion that, as it was my blog, I didn’t have to be. I did try, but I was on page 4 before hitting the main course and reckoned that most blog readers would have lost the will to live after page 2. All in all it seemed pretty pointless carrying on with the expanded version.
After great deliberation (and half a bottle of an excellent M&S red) I decided to concentrate on one course of our tasting menu. Having found a couple of reviews, one by a highly respected food critic, I thought I would quote from them…and then give my own take on the dish.
Langoustine and Pig’s Head.
“Another poised dish is of roasted Anstruther langoustine tails matched with a puck of shredded rolled pig’s head, and shards of fried pigs’ ears that crunch like savoury peanut brittle
The crowd are Michelin star-fuckers; well-fed, conservative couples with serious wines, testing the new boy for themselves.”
Terry Durack – Independent
“They had come for langoustine tails the size of Mike Tyson’s fingers, properly seasoned and properly roasted, with a small cake of braised pig’s head and a paper-thin tuile of crispy pig’s ear. They had come for food which pays more than lip service to the seasons.”
This is where I have to hold my hands up. I’m not a professional writer so I lose marks for an inadequacy of eloquence but I recognise a pile of pretentious verbal s***e when I see it. After all I’ve been producing it myself for the past few years.
“I didn’t mind the concept of pig’s head with crispy pig’s ears but for the life of me I couldn’t understand why there was a de-shelled langoustine on the plate. It was a pretty small langoustine as well, though I have to admit it was the best langoustine I’d ever tasted. Anyway back to the pigs head. By way of reassurance to my more squeamish readers it didn’t look anything like a pig’s head. It more resembled the 1 inch section of stuffed marrowbone that I’d previously bought for the Fatdog in Pets at Home. I can’t verify if it tasted the same, as the Fatdog refuses to share. Given that I can also pick up crispy pigs ears in Pets at Home I’m not convinced of their suitability as a gastronomic treat. Again the ears looked nothing like ears but like a crisp of incredibly thin bacon strands. Sorry chef but the crispy bacon strips in M&S have more flavour and are less hard. I also have to say that I was not blown away by the dish. I couldn’t but help recall the much feared potted meat that my dad had such a liking for in the 60’s.
I think we’re talking here about a dish which is style over substance and sadly not even in an attractive way. However it was served with Trimbach Gewurtztraminer from Alsace which was a perfect foil for the greasy meat.”
Where the Fatdog Walks Restaurant Review June 09
If there is any demand at all I’ll serialise the review (break it down into chunks the hillwalkers can cope with without the need for a photo). Don’t worry Tom (Kitchin) it’s not all bad news!
Never been called a “Michelin star-fucker” before 😆 . Don’t know if it’s supposed to be an insult like “bagger” , “stovie” or “muggle” 😉