Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Marathon Weekend 2013 - Interlude - Victoria and Alberts Food Porn

So I had a few people ask me about the Chef's Table experience at Victoria and Alberts.  First, I had heard about this dinner back when WDW today had an episode on it.  Not only were they talking about it, but they had a vegan guest on, Emily Westhoeff from Babycakes in DTD.  Being that both Ellie and I are mostly vegatarian, I got really excited from their review to check it out.  We knew it was expensive, but it's sort of one of those once in a lifetime experiences.  V&A only have one seating per night and it's only available 5 nights a week.  It usually books 190 days out on the dot.  I tried to get it for my birthday when I was down there in November, but was put on the wait list.  Liz's friend Paula just happened to get it for two days before the 1/2 marathon.

The inside of V&A

We were told to be there at 5:00 PM sharp.   The doors to V&A were locked when we showed up.  Soon after they let us into the restaurant.  They walked us through the main dining room, through the kitchen and back to the chef's table.   

Chef Scott Hummell

Once we were seated, we were introduced to our two waiters that were ours completely for the night.   After going around the room, verifying our allergy/preferences and seeing who was drinking wine, Chef Scott Hummell came back to our table.  He went over our menus with us and we all had a nice champagne toast with the Chef as well.   

The Table

They quickly told us to pace ourselves, that it would be a 5 hour dinner and there would be 10 courses.  It actually ended up being more like 14 courses with bread and chocolate.   If we wanted to ever take a break and walk around, just let them know and they would escort us through the kitchen (we always had to have an escort as it was a bit dangerous with all the hot liquids and pans).  

View of the Kitchen

Not only was it great food, but also we had a amazing view of the kitchen.   They even encouraged us to talk to the Chef's while they were working if we had any questions.  One of the cooks was having a pretty hard day and he was the one closest to us.  It must be hard for them to be on-stage the entire night.  I think he was pitting and removing stems off of cherries for over 2 hours.

First Course - Amuse Bouche - Costa Rican Hearts of Palm Jar

The first course they brought out for us was a Heart of Palm salad served in these little caviar jars.  Joelle wasn't sure if she'd like it but once she tasted it she thought it was amazing.  They even served it with these little mother of pearl spoons.  I guess that's pretty common for caviar so that nothing taints the taste.  They just let us use them for this course as well.  

1st Bread Course - Baguette with Salted Butter

Next up with a house baguette with salted butter.   One of the more plain courses of the night, the butter was incredibly rich.   

2nd Course - Roasted Beet Carpaccio with Miniature Greens

I'm not a huge fan of beets myself, but the sauce they marinaded them in was delicious.

3rd Course - Cold Smoked Cauliflower with Fuji Apple and Curry Dressing

So here they had a nice presentation for us.  They had a plate with holes in it where they had dry ice below.  They poured the fuji apple curry sauce over the plate, and it set off the fog from the dry ice.  It had a great fragrance overall.  

4th Course - Vegetable Ravioli with Tomato Parmesan Broth

One of my favorite dishes was the vegetable ravioli.  The sauce was light and had just enough flavor without being overpowering.  The Ravioli was perfectly cooked and was filled with different types of squash.

2nd Bread Course - Black Truffle Bread with Truffle Butter

Talk about richness.   If you look closely we even threw some white truffles on the bread that we had shaved up.  After eating this piece of bread I was a bit truffled out.

5th Course - Housemade Gnocchi with Pearl Vegetables

The broth that they had cooked the gnocchi in was a parmesan butter sauce.  Seriously I could have died and been buried with a casket of this sauce.  I really really really wanted to lick my plate clean.

 6th Course - Red Cabbage Tart with Forelle and Asian Pears

I'd say that this was the most disappointing dish of the meal.   The pastry dough was perfect but the red cabbage I think could have used a bit more flavor.  The sauce was really supposed to compliment it but I remember thinking that it was an odd combination of flavors.

3rd Bread Course 

I can't remember what type of bread it was exactly except that it had a really hard outer crust.  They also served it with a specific type of butter, but I can't remember that as well.  

7th Course - Potato Cannelloni with Arugula and Spinach

So this is the one place where Joelle was pretty disappointed.  They asked us what we liked and didn't like before we started the meal.  I had mentioned that I'm not fond of mushrooms, and she mentioned that she wasn't fond of mashed potatoes.  They ended up making the potato cannelloni right on top of mashed potatos.  While they were delicious, she felt like that the dish was pretty much ruined because of that.

8th Course - Cheese Plate (Sottocenere al Tartufo, Parmigiano Reggiano, Colston Bassett Stilton, Gouda Reypenaer XO)

Ahh, yes the cheese plate.  So I don't really like blue cheese either but I was determined to try the Stilton.  Confirmed that once again, even if it's high quality, I am not a blue cheese lover.  The rest was delicious and it was served with a 100 year old balsamic vinegar.  

Fancy Coffee Pressure Pot

I had been weaning myself off caffeine in order to get ready for the race.   I decided that I couldn't pass on the coffee so I ordered a cup.  They brought this really amazing pressure pot to brew the coffee with.  Really intricate and some of the best coffee I've ever had.  

9th Course - Blood Orange Timbale with Array of Fruits on a Raspberry Veil

I think in general I liked this dish except for the raspberry veil that it all sat on.  It was basically a raspberry fruit roll up but a bit less firm.   I think the texture just didn't go with the rest of the dish.  

10th Course - Peruvian Chocolate Cylinder with Elder Flower Sauce, Chocolate and Navan Bubble

Now this was my favorite desert course.   In the upper left-hand corner you can see what appears to be a spoon with a brown object on it.   It was a chocolate egg that was being served in brandy.   You just popped it into your mouth and it exploded into chocolaty goodness.  The golden sauce you see is a 24 carrot gold infused elder flower sauce that was quite good.  On the left-hand side of the plate were what they called caramel caviar.  I think I could eat a complete bowl of those.  

11th Course - F_ckton of Housemade Chocolates

Then as a surprise of most everyone, they brought several plate of housemade chocolates.  By now we were all completely stuffed.   Included in these were several chocolate covered cherries that they soak in brandy for 2  years.   What we didn't eat they boxed up and sent them home with us.  

We were stuffed!

In conclusion, it was an amazing meal.  It took over 5 hours and I won't even get into what it cost but I felt like it's something that everyone that is either a Disney fan or someone that enjoys fine dining should try at least once.  

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