Monday, 22 November 2010

When the Fellows Dine

Few, if any Colleges in Cambridge, can boast of sharing the best of their Fellow’s grub with the rest of their student body; that is of course unless the College in question is Pembroke! For many years now we have served both students and Fellows the same menus, with High Table, Formal, and Buttery meals being replicated on both ends of Hall.
However, once a term, even Pembroke treats it’s Fellowship to an ‘extra-special’ Parlour Evening dinner, one worthy of inviting spouses, partners and fellow Heads of House. This special evening is fully-booked far in advance and requires military style precision when concocting menus, seating plans, flower orders and the wine selection.
Last Friday, we hosted this term's Parlour evening dinner with forty-six Fellows and guests being treated to some extra-special food, not shared with Friday's Formal Hall diners!

We began the dinner with a blanquette of canellini beans, garnished with truffle oil and foie gras. This very special soup was served as an amuse bouche, and presented in a small coffee cup.

For the fish course, we served john dory, white and green asparagus, grapes and verjus. John Dory (also known as St Peter's fish), is an odd-looking creature with an oval, flat body and a large, spiny head. The white, boneless, meaty flesh is firm and flavoursome and can be cooked in a variety of ways: grilling, sauteing or poaching. It’s popular with chefs because it goes well with a wide variety of ingredients and flavourings.
Vegetarians received a white asparagus, artichoke and tomato salad, garnished with hazelnut and grape dressing.
The main-course featured Denham Estate venison, cooked sous vide and served with dauphinoise potatoes, cauliflower puree, wilted spinach and game jus. The Denham Estate occupies 1200 acres of picturesque Suffolk countryside with a herd numbering up to 3000 Fallow deer which have inhabited the region since their introduction in Norman times. The Denham Herd is internationally recognised as one of the elite fallow deer herds of the world.
Vegetarians were served a pea, herb, spinach and mushroom risotto.

For dessert, we served chocolate and star anise flavoured truffle cake with candied fennel and fennel ice cream. This unique recipe is from Dessert by David Everitt-Mathias.
After dinner, the Fellow's retired to the Parlour for cheese, dessert fruit, Port, Claret, coffee and petit fours.
Bon Appetite!

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