Friday, 26 February 2010

The Pembroke Connoisseurs Dinner 26th February

My first big dinner at Pembroke was The Guggenheim Dinner of 2005. The evening sticks in my memory as we ran out of fish with half a table left to serve. It turned out that two trays of halibut hadn't made it out of the fridge and into the oven; not what a catering manager needs four months into a new job!

Suffice to say, changes were made and we’ve not had a repeat performance since. Last night’s connoisseurs dinner for 175 guests required the kind of military precision not on display five years ago. Ioana in the kitchen, and Savino, front-of-house, both brought their ‘A’ game to work and the evening ran smoothly.

Last night’s connoisseurs began their feast with an amuse bouche of salmon tartare cornet. This classic garden canapé is a signature dish at the famous French Laundry restaurant in California.
Following the amuse bouche we served a fish course of sea bream, spinach and parsnip puree finished with a saffron and vanilla sauce. This great starter was also borrowed from the French Laundry's repertoire of dishes.
Next we moved onto the main course of Moroccan Lamb Rump sous vide with harissa spiced couscous, chickpea salsa and jus. This wonderful recipe came from Alan Murchison's Food for Thought.
The lamb was first marniated in Moroccan spices (cumin, coriander seed, rosemary, saffron etc) and then cooked sous vide at 58C for five hours. The resulting lamb was beautiful and pink and as tender as a confit!
After the flavourful lamb we cleansed the palate with a pre-dessert of lemon sorbet, spun in our Pacojet machine.
The main dessert was a chocolate delice with caramel hazlenuts, white chocolate cake, yogurt sorbet and Kirsch coulis. The delice was the one prepared by Ramond Blanc in episode 1 of Kitchen Secrets.
The sorbet, coulis and cake recipes are from Pier by Greg Doyle.
The meal finished with coffee, homemade petit fours and much enjoyment, judging by the sounds echoing from the Hall!

Bon appétit!


  1. Was thrilled by this dinner last night. Scrumptious to the last detail! Indulgent and full of pleasant little surprises.

  2. An epicurean delight from start to finish. The attention to detail was superb given the scale of the catering. The surprise highlight of the meal: the parsnip puree; absolutely bursting with flavour!

  3. I managed to get a ticket for this at the last minute (literally) and was so glad that I did. An amazing meal!!! I especially enjoyed the tomatoes - how did you cook them?

  4. The fish courses were my absolute favourites! Thank you so much.

  5. I had the great fortune to attend this formal with many of my friends (whom I'd convinced that it was absolutely essential that they come), and it truly was the crowning culinary conquest that I had hoped and anticipated it would be!

    Knowing the unbelievable talent of the Pembroke kitchen for coming up with and perfectly executing delicious and inventive mouthwatering masterpieces, I had expected to dine like a lord (or, rather, lady), but went away feeling much more like an empress :)

    Each course was simply perfect. My many companions were initially unsure as to how to eat the salmon (or courgette, for vegetarians) cornet, but - once they had managed - there were words of admiration all around. And for something so small!!

    The sea bream that followed just melted in my mouth, and the parsnip and spinach puree was absolutely incredible (and, as with the cornet, it's hard for a 'side' or 'amuse bouche' to compete or even compare with the more prominent sea bream, especially given the generous portion, but they both managed to do so with ease!!).

    When the Moroccan lamb arrived, my friends simply could not believe their eyes! Those eating it commented on how perfectly cooked, tender, and juicy it was, and could find absolutely no fault. The chickpeas and couscous served as perfect complements to either the lamb or the falafel medallions (which I had).

    The lemon sorbed provided the ideal cleanse before we moved on to the dessert to which I had so been looking forward! I think simply saying what it was can express how incredible it was: chocolate delice with caramel hazlenuts, white chocolate cake, yogurt sorbet and Kirsch coulis - how could anyone resist? In fact, using as leverage the fact that I had invited them along, I managed to nab a bit of my neighbour's delice as well ;)

    Thank you again for an absolutely stunning meal! Please have another next term!!!