Tag Archives: tasting

‘Edinburgh’s prestige wines’ – Purslane

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Unique flavour combinations..

This week brings an exciting take on one of the most impressive dining experiences in recent memory.  The overall wine, food and service as a package was wonderful.  Inspired by a previous visit to ‘Purslane’ in Cheltenham, when sampling the Edinburgh dining scene, a visit to the completely unrelated namesake in the trendy Stockbridge area of Edinburgh seemed an obvious choice.

The opportunity to sample ‘premium wines’ was too good to turn down here.  It’s a fantastic way to get to grips with world class wines without paying the premium of an entire bottle.  Paired wonderfully with the 7 course tasting menu option, we were blown away by two wines and the port selection in particular and the entire evening guided by our wonderful server and sommelier extraordinaire, Alex.  Purslane is a small, intimate restaurant with approximately 20 covers, a relaxed atmosphere but fine dining quality food on offer.

Kicking off with celeriac veloute, paired with a crisp glass of Delamotte Brut Champagne, a swirl of rapeseed oil will have been a familiar site from last week’s kitchen hero entry.  Everything you want from an amuse bouche, this one.

The first starter of seared scallops with marmalade, pomegranate and carrot puree was very clever.  I have served scallops at home with chilli jam before but the bitter marmalade goes very nicely with sweet scallops and carrot.  The fresh pomegranate seeds cut right through the dish to finish cleanly.

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Pork, black pudding and apple..but not as you know it..

Our first main course, combining pork, black pudding, celariac and apple, each individual element combining for a cuddle on a plate.  Such hearty flavours but executed in a really refined way.  Small apple balls cut into the shape of a whole fruit, very clever.

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How crispy can you go?

Crispy skinned sea bream, mussels and a mussel and saffron veloute was brought to life by possibly our favourite wine of the evening.  A stunning Sauvignon Gris from Chile.  Our first experience of the less common and more mysterious relation of the widely available Sauvignon Blanc, this 2012 variety from Casa Marin was clean finishing but not before wonderful fresh and smoky oak flavours backed up by floral and spicy aromas.

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No yorkshire pud needed here..

Sunday afternoon roast rolled up into one next, with roast beef rump, fondant potatoes, tenderstem broccoli and a rich but tart oxtail and red wine jus.  A Spanish red with 100% tempranillo grapes swept you along beautifully with this one.

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Bakewell tart, Mr Kipling eat your heart out..

Cheese before pre-dessert, with our 1998 late bottled vintage port washing incredibly well with a smashing selection.  A recommendation for Epoisse if you can find it, a strong creamy cheese much like my favourite french cheese Reblochon.  Pre dessert and a twist on classic bakewell flavours with poached apricot was a unique addition to a tasting menu.

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Another fresh orange and chocolate combo..move aside terry..

Finishing with chocolate mousse, with orange, lemon balm and cardamon brulee, it was a truly incredible evening of food in a relaxed environment.  A huge thank you to Alex who went the extra mile for us with wine and food explanation in a relaxed way.  Casual fine dining may sound like an oxymoron, but for me it absolutely sums up this smashing little restaurant.  A must visit when in Edinburgh.

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‘A little magic paired with confidence’ – The Jetty

The Jetty in Christchurch offers a tasting menu that will leave you wanting to sample more

The Jetty in Christchurch offers a classy tasting menu that will leave you wanting to sample more

Firstly, a welcome back to my readers. With a recent trip to Barcelona under my belt, there is plenty more in store for the coming weeks, but first…

In search of the freshest and very finest seafood in the South of England, my next stop earlier this month was Christchurch, Dorset. ‘The Jetty’ offers an impressive À la carte menu, but the ‘Jetty Tasting Menu’ was far too tempting to resist for a first visit. A collection of light dishes designed to tempt you to return, and overall, they did not disappoint given my high expectations.

The Jetty is set beautifully overlooking Mudeford Quay in Christchurch, Dorset. Within the grounds of Christchurch Harbour Hotel, the restaurant prides itself on sourcing local, fresh ingredients. Naturally, the stars of the menu are the locally caught seafood. The Jetty is very lucky to have a fantastic outdoor decking and one can only imagine the beauty of dining outside with a Summer sunset.

In addition to the £55 per head tasting menu, we opted for wine pairings for the evening. At an additional £35 per head, it is not to be taken lightly on the wallet. Despite that, the quality and selection of wines on offer throughout the evening most certainly impressed. With the set tasting menu, the restaurant offered an opportunity to swap any of the courses for a light version of a dish from the À la carte menu. We opted for a swap on the dessert, more on that later.

The evening of food kicked off with an extremely impressive amuse bouche of a mini crab tartlet, topped with a quail egg, boasting a delicious runny yolk. Dressed with asparagus, the plate was worthy of a course on the tasting menu in its own right. Incredible bursts of flavours and exceptionally beautiful on the plate. Left with some confusion at this stage as to whether we should expect a wine pairing for this ‘course’, a sparkling wine aperitif arrived with an explanation that they ‘didn’t normally do a wine pairing with the amuse bouche’. A fair comment, but perhaps it was not that we were expectant of a wine pairing at this stage, but more that once we had opted for the wine pairings, we were not presented with a further opportunity to order any drinks other than the water on the table. A common theme throughout the evening was a slightly disjointed approach to the serving of the paired wines as the food left the kitchen. The head waiter who dealt with the wine pairings did his very best to serve the wine shortly before the arrival of each dish, but this was not always achieved because he was simply occupied with other tables in the restaurant. A little refinement of this process is needed to avoid dishes sitting on the table waiting for their accompanying wine. A small tweak at most needed in this department. Communication is so important between the kitchen at the front of house.

Our first ‘proper’ dish arrived, a wonderfully rich pork belly and succulent prawn with lime and ginger flavours. Classic Oriental notes executed excellently for a beautiful start. To follow, perfectly seared scallop, squid and chorizo was accompanied by a warm salad of chick peas, spring vegetables and a punchy pesto, packed with powerful basil and garlic. A very pleasant combination of flavours, a touch more seasoning on the salad needed to capture the imagination.

The next dish left me frustrated, more because some elements were simply outstanding, whilst others went missing. Monkfish tail and oxtail. ‘Tails’. It certainly was two tales, with the monkfish perfectly soft yet meaty and full of richness, whilst the oxtail was a little chewy and under seasoned. A beautiful herb intensive vegetable broth finished the dish leaving it a notch down from brilliance. The oxtail really let an otherwise indulgent dish down. Moving on to quail three ways, this plate of food really was inventive and exciting, displaying the chef’s true culinary capabilities. Rich and soft poached breast meat, golden and crispy cromesquis leg, and soft quail egg ravioli with a strikingly delicious runny yolk centre. Finished with asparagus and a lip-smacking albafura style sauce, the trend, at this stage, was very much upwards.

Next, the simplicity of a palate cleansing ‘goats cheese waldorf salad’ was blown completely out of Mudeford Quay’s water with the most surprising, mourish and well balanced salad I had ever experienced. The sweet grapes and apple jelly cubes, smoky and soft goats cheese, crunchy toasted walnuts and delicate mixed leaves were breathtaking when finished with the superbly paired sweet pineau des charentes cognac wine.

The final course was dessert heaven, textbook execution of a chocolate fondant, accompanied by shards of a deconstructed black forest meringue. The sweet and sharp fresh fruit, coulis and crunchy meringue cut through the indulgent, rich chocolate superbly.

In summary, The Jetty’s tasting dishes do a superb job of enticing diners into returning to sample the À la carte menu. The very few shortcomings of the evening were certainly not deal breakers for the price bracket, however, a little refinement of the logistics of the wine pairing offer is needed. The pairings themselves, faultless. The Jetty wins an impressive 8 out of 10 for a really enjoyable dining experience. I will return for the À la carte menu later this year, confident that it may squeeze an even higher score.

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