A taste of Romance 2018

Head chef of Liss Ard Estate picking flowers

Last night, Mr. Flavour and I headed to beautiful @lissard.estate and their A Taste of Romance tasting menu dinner. A Kir Royale reception preceded a monumental 8-course tasting menu peppered with ingredients that sang of Spring.

 

Chef @dannybarter and Sous @joshgraddon are a seriously creative duo who are not afraid to challenge the diners expectations and tastebuds. The series of photos to follow will take you through each course in turn, demonstrating how this team have achieved balance, innovation, a love of ingredients and technical brilliance.

 

Starting with the amuse, and the proclamation that “Good things are meant to be shared”… the amuse should spark your tastebuds and set the scene for what is to follow. A cold set tomato consommé topped with a vibrant and earthy lettuce volute and a creamed smoky bacon espuma. Pancetta Spears and crispy shallot rings for texture and a thyme panko crumb ring – The BLT Cocktail will send your food brain into a spiral. Is it sweet, is it savoury; is it a drink – more than once I’ll admit my reaction was to blow the contents of my spoon – a sure sign that 50% of my senses knew what was going on while the other 50% were scrabbling around trying to make sense of it all. I LOVED IT!

 

Food like this is fun, serious, weird and wonderful but the flavours were wonderful. Fresh and vibrant tomato was the bedrock, plenty of technical ability on display here but none of it superfluous.Our only criticism? Smaller please next time… we still have 7 courses to go!!!

pink gin cured salmon

First Starter at @lissard.estate A Taste of Romance dinner for such a diminutive looking plate was an absolute stunner! 

 

They say the best things come in small packages, and this plate of @gordonsginukStrawberry Gin house-cured local salmon, with an elderflower tonic gel whose delicate, translucent appearance belied its robust quinine flavour was quite the delectable combination. The texture of the salmon was firm yet silky, and the strawberry flavour of the gin redolent! Little salty bursts from the roe and fresh bursts of pea like flavour from the micro herbs were all fantastic supporting roles to the two stars of the dish! 

 

Mr. Flavour holds this as his favourite dish of the night, and for me this it only narrowly missed out on the winning spot by the main course! Devine!

tomato, mozzarella and pear

Second Starter at @lissard.estate A Taste of Romance tasting menu was @macroombuffaloMozzarella soaked in Saville orange juice, compressed heirloom tomatoes, roasted fig and fig syrup concentrate and THAT green apple gel…. 

 

@dannybarter that’s one recipe I need!! A beautifully light and fruity dish packed with little surprises everywhere, such as the unexpected but wholly delightful red pepper purée! But it will be that amazing green apple gel that will stay with me for a long while yet! It was like eating sweets – Apple Jacks to be precise, if anyone remembers those! Beautiful!”

scallops with popcorn

Fish Course at @lissard.estate A Taste of Romance tasting menu saw the reappearance of the fish course from last autumn’s Game menu: Hand Dived King Scallops, cured roe paste, shellfish gel, squid ink popcorn, black rock salt and candies garden beets.

 

Last time around this was our favourite course on the menu, so I was delighted to see it being given a second run. A few tweaks and new additions had been added: the cured roe more a mousse this time to be swept up with the scallops, the gel adding to that umami property of the dish and the beetroot which brought a much needed earthy sweet element to the dish that was otherwise very much about the taste of the sea. Squid ink popcorn is still banging too! 

 

I just wonder this time of the black rock salt was a saline element too much, but in every other respect this is still a fabulous dish that makes use of every single part of those precious hand-dived scallops. 

rack of lamb

And so to the Main Course of @lissard.estate A Taste of Romance tasting menu, and my favourite of all the courses: Half Rack of Irish Lamb, brown crab & Dublin bay prawn croquette, charred baby leeks, roast Jerusalem artichoke, salt baked radish and spearmint hollandaise.

 

Where. To. Start…!Was it the absolutely perfectly trimmed, perfectly cooked majestic spring lamb? The lamb that melted in the mouth and was oozing with flavour? Or was is the roast Jerusalem artichoke – the perfectly light substitute for a potato, smoky and hitting the seasonal button hard? Was it the croquette which felt like an extra present on top of an already impressive haul of gifts? Or maybe it was that spearmint hollandaise? That was the best tasting hollandaise I have had. I wasn’t sure what that would taste like, but it was a match made in heaven. I would happily sit and dip things into a bowl of that all day long! Genius! Everything cooked to perfection and working together so well. Even the little salt baked radishes with their little salty and peppery punches were just the right amount – vegetables as seasoning…a novel idea, and one that I could quickly grow to like!

tomberries sorbet

Sorbet Course for @lissard.estate A Taste of Romance tasting menu: this one took a bit of live action googling to determine what we were eating! I do love it when a chef is being playful with their creations!

 

We all THINK that the sorbet course should be sweet, but what about one that is sweet, savoury and bitter?

Playing on the exciting new trend for bitter flavours, this sorbet is made from the Calamansifruit which originates from South East Asia and is a hybrid fruit with flavours of lime and lychee. Now then, you’ve learnt something new! But wait – there’s more!

 

Our menu said the sorbet was served with #tomberry and basil concasse. Neither me or Mr Flavour had heard of tomberries before. They look like cranberries/rowanberries but upon tasting we both agreed they tasted like tomatoes! Another quick google and we find out that these are a micro-tomato, a new variety hitting our shores about…well, now! Hailing from Holland, I am in no doubt they will be popular, like sweets!

 

Back to the flavour: a bitter sweet sorbet with hints of lime and something along the lines of Campari with a sweet savoury concasse. A bittersweet savoury sorbet … try saying that after a few glasses of vino!

 

It totally worked, and it was playful and on the edge where creativity can give was to madness! I loved that I was left to research the ingredients of my sorbet. A little food adventure all of my own! 

 

Turns out, bitter sweet savoury is the best break note to have between our main course and the sweets to come! Wonderful!

selection of mini dessert options

And so to #dessert…are you feeling stuffed yet? We certainly were!! At the @lissard.estate A Taste of Romance tasting menu you don’t just get one dessert, you get a platter of desserts – and two spoons, because… 

 

Deep breath…ready? 

Blood Orange & Tarragon Creme Patisserie Tart 

12 year old @jamesonwhiskey dark chocolate crèmeux

Salted Caramel Brittle

Vanilla Cardamom Cheesecake and pistachio crumb

And a surprise blueberry macaron.

 

Built for sharing it was just as well – this was quite the sweet feast. My favourite element was the cheesecake, mainly because I adore Cardamom; but likewise the brittle was to die for as was the silky smooth cremeux. In fact, who am I kidding, it was all devine! The sharp fruit in the macaron, and the sweet savoury mix of the tartlet was bang on.At this point, words seem pointless. I mean – look at it! Absolute perfection!

 

Looking back over the meal, what strikes me most are two things:

1. The way that the chef team are able to produce complex flavour balance course after course;

2. The multitude of different techniques that are showcased in each and every course. The fact that every technique and every element has a specific part to play and is not superfluous or a wasted effort is a craft in itself. Stunning meal from start to finish! Bravo!

big tasty cheese with mozzarella sticks

For the last hurrah at @lissard.estate A Taste of Romance tasting menu, or maybe to try and kill us off for good  was a whole baked Camembert for two topped with rosemary, black garlic and freeze dried onions! Dear Reader, we gave it a damn good go, but we were beaten by it!

 

As I have said before, a beautiful menu – impeccable service from a well trained, polished and professional service team; not least of all the talented chef team in the kitchen: @dannybarter & @joshgraddon all presided over by an attentive @shannon.aidan – it is always a special experience to dine here, and if you stay, then even better! Stay in the grand house, or a beautiful mews cottage, some of which are wonderfully pet-friendly, because they deserve a holiday sometimes too!

 

Thank you to @lissard.estate for hosting us – it was a great evening as always!

 

Blog Credit: Flavour.ie 

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