Time passes by so quickly and wouldn't you know it, I'm on my 100th London food post. This is special indeed and for my 100th, I decided to write about my Loft Project experience.
To those who remember my first experience and wonderful birthday present at the Loft Project. It has been barely a few months and I'm back!
This time, it was for chef Sam Nutter. Sam Nutter started out in Rose & Crown Hotel at Romaldkirk before moving on to Michelin-starred Vineyard at Stockcross. In 2008, Sam left England for Copenhagen and Noma. He left subsequently for brief stints at Oud Sluis (Holland), Aqua (Germany), Per Se (USA) and le Dauphin (Paris). Finally, he returned to work in the development kitchen in the now No. 1 restaurant in the world, Noma.
I truly had no idea what to expect. Will I be getting dishes that are typical of Noma? How much influence integrates into your own style of food from your training?
Nordic cuisine it was not as I was greeted with pub snacks upon arriving. A seemingly British welcome!
We were served beer with beech nuts, pork crackling and vinaigrette egg as snacks. Those beech nuts and pork crackling were awesome. I found myself gravitating towards eating more of those them snacks as we had to wait for some severely late arrivals. I was hungry!
Seeing our hungry faces, Sam came out with a tray of puffed up dough balls which holds a mushroom filling. It was so fluffy and light with just the right amount of grease. It reminds me of Yorkshire Pudding and this is his re-interpretation of it. I find myself making a number of these seemingly re-interpretation of classic British food as the night continues. I happily immersed in these tiny delightful discoveries.
Finally, we were requested to take our seats for the dinner to start.
By now I was quite hungry and it didn't help that the bread was so inviting with a fantastic crust and with a smothering swipe of butter and ooh la la, it was hard to stop myself. It was a struggle between me and the ever being replenished bread basket during the whole service. My mind says to keep the space for the food while my heart speaks 'Got to have more of the bread'.
It was with some relief when the first course arrived. A vibrant and colourful display of the Salmon roe with cucumber and dill. I like the play of textures and it was a teasing invite to the rest of the dinner. It did remind me of the classic prawn cocktail but a much better version.
Next came three stalks of leeks with a different condiment on each. I never knew that leeks could be so juicy and my favourite was the hazelnut combo.
One of the great things about the Loft Project is the option to walk around the kitchen and even help out if you so desire. I was put to work serving some dishes during dinner, that might have been Sam's way of getting me out of the kitchen. Lol!
The blue mussels, potato and shallots came laid in a unique swirling design that I couldn't help admiring. Dip the spoon into and under the layer of potato and you find mussels swimming in a broth. If I thought what I had before was great, this is foodgasm indeed. The vinaigrette broth complimented and cuts through the starchy mash potato and works so well with the mussels. Eating this, I was reminded of Shepherds Pie. I did say different British food pops into my head as I dined away.
Fish was next with pike being served with a sauce that tasted quite mineral but was so good that I couldn't resist more bread to mop it up.
We each received tiny mugs of Sloe Gin and Sam passed out the twigs that were used in the gin that came from the tummy of the Grouse? I thought I heard wrongly but that was what he said, these were the twigs that were fermenting in the grouse's tummy!
The Wemmegil Grouse with ramson berries looked like a blood spattered painting. The berries lends a zingy and tangy balance to the grouse.
Topped with a chocolate of powdered mushroom, how seductive and romantic did that sound? That was described by Sam when I asked about the top layer of the next dish, mushrooms, yolk and herbs.
The multi-layers of different mushrooms harmonises and shines with the creaminess of the yolk which lingers at the end.. Sip on your matching wine and the wine opens up the food and brings an overall lightness.
With the Pork Belly, rhubarb and onions being Sam's favourite, I was quite looking forward to it. I have to say that this didn't wow me as much, crunchy crackling and the texture was yielding to the pressure of the knife with a slight rubberiness to the fat with no unctuous ending taste. It was really good but maybe I'm too used to the chinese roast pork.
The first dessert of rose petals, beets and yoghurt was warmly received as I think I only just had enough space for desserts now. The perfume of roses is the first note to hit you and you'll be thinking, roses? These were pickled which changes the texture, paired with the natural sourness of plain yoghurt and the sweetness of beetroot, it was a trio of flavours and textures. I love it.
The second dessert of the night comprises if tiny balls of apple in a malt caramel sauce and thyme. I love the concept and think if the apple balls were bigger or there were more, it would have not been as drowned out by the sauce. I loved both desserts a lot and it left me feeling wowed and satisfied.
I think Sam Nutter did a great job and I gave him a hug for serving such a wonderful dinner which just left me in cloud nine. I can't wait to see what the future brings. As always, The Loft Project never fails to bring unique and memorable dining experiences.