Edible fairy lights, tasty tinsel, pork baubles and a partridge in a pear tree! Chef Heston Blumenthal goes Christmas crackers at his Bray restaurant (and so could you for 300)
First ever Christmas tasting menu lunch at his restaurant The Fat Duck, West Berkshire
12 courses for 300, excluding alcohol, over three December Sundays
His two Bray pubs, The Hinds Head and The Crown, also hosting festive magic
Martha De Lacey
11:37 GMT, 16 November 2012
12:12 GMT, 16 November 2012
Ah, Christmas dinner, that famous feast of edible fairy lights, red Scotch egg baubles, frankincense and myrrh broth, ice cold mulled wine and nitrogen-poached meringues which look like snowballs but taste like pine trees.
Er, hang on.
Welcome to the topsy-turvy festive table of chef Heston Blumenthal, a new treat from the mad scientist of cooking, who may have failed his chemistry O-level at school but has more than made up for it since by introducing the world to the whizzbang world of molecular gastronomy.
For the first time ever Heston Blumenthal will be hosting a special Christmas lunch in his flagship restaurant in Bray, The Fat Duck
This Christmas, Blumenthal is laying on a bonkers feast of completely doolally dimensions at his flagship Bray
restaurant, the three Michelin-starred Fat Duck.
The 12-course tasting menu lunch in West Berkshire costs 300, excluding alcohol, and will be held over three Sundays in December (2, 9, 16).
The Fat Duck – known for its year-round 195 tasting menu which features dishes such as snail porridge, the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, red cabbage gazpacho, salmon poached in liquorice gel and Sound Of The Sea, which involves listening to an iPod while you eat – will offer a
unique Christmas experience designed by Blumenthal and his busy
team to celebrate the festive season.
A standard Christmas turkey lunch…..very unlike what you will get in Bray this December
Diners will be treated to
brand new dishes including a Christmas tree decorated with edible pork Scotch egg baubles; savoury lollies (Waldorf rocket, salmon twister and mulled wine feast); and something called the Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh which involves dropping a gold bar into broth.
There's also edible snow, partridge with pear, edible tinsel, nitro-scrabled egg and bacon ice cream, and plates named Advent and Like A Kid In A Sweet Shop.
Speaking to MailOnline, Blumenthal said: 'The man-power involved in making the Christmas menu is phenomenal. It's a lot of work. If you started from
scratch, the time it would take one person to make one menu would be about 10 days. It's crazy. Luckily we have a whole team doing it!'
Pigeon with pistachio, on a standard tasting menu at The Fat Duck
THE FAT DUCK CHRISTMAS LUNCH TASTING MENU
Nitro-poached pine aperetif
Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh
Hot & iced spiced cider
Nitro-scrabled egg and bacon ice cream
Like a kid in a sweet shop
The Fat Duck's Christmas lunch is being held on the 2, 9 and 16 December. It costs 300 per person, excluding alcohol and service. To book visit the website.
Describing the impetus behind his festive feast, Blumenthal said: 'I'm basically a big kid. I'm not a scientist – I failed chemistry O-level – I'm just a bloke who likes to know how things work.
'And I think Christmastime brings out the kids in all of us – that excitement and the smells and the memories. We've had a lot of fun making edible Christmas decorations like gold and silver and red baubles that hang on a tree, edible
tinsel, edible snow…we're still working on the edible fairy lights.
'The idea is that each table gets a little tree at the beginning of the meal to pick at. Like a selection of canapes. And it looks great. So realistic.
'The baubles are coated in coloured jelly, so there is a Scotch egg one coated in red pepper and cardamom jelly, and one covered in edible glitter. Another one is blown sugar. Another is prawn cocktail.'
Bray Village, home to Heston Blumenthal's three dining rooms, covered in snow
The Fat Duck's chicken – not your average Sunday lunch
And things don't stop there: 'Later in the meal there are things like a little gold bar you drop in a gold-flecked broth of frankincense and myrrh; cutlery wrapped in fish leather and a partridge smoked over coconut shells served with chipolatas that are filled with celeriac and pear.
'Then there are the liquid nitrogen-poached meringues that look like snowballs but actually taste like Christmas trees, and a glass of mulled wine that is hot when you drink from one side, and ice cold when you drink from the other. It looks like one liquid but it's actually two. It's quite fun.
'My favourite thing on the menu is the Botrytis Cinerea, a bunch of balls that look like grapes, developed using the flavour molecules in Sauterne wine, but each one tastes completely different.'
Mrs Marshall Margaret's Coronet on the standard taster menu at The Fat Duck
Heston Blumenthal in Bray outside The Fat Duck, left, and The Crown pub just over the road, right
Over in the Bray pubs he runs over the road – The Crown and the Michelin-starred Hinds Head – Christmas is in the air too.
'We worked with a French perfumier
called Christophe Laudamiel and developed the Smell Of Christmas – a mix
of apple and cinnamon and pine – which we're pumping into the Hinds Head.'
On the 17 and the 18 December the pub
will transform its upstairs private dining room into Santa's Grotto
with delicious bites and gifts and the opportunity to meet Santa
himself. Children can have a present from Santa for 10.
The chef adds the final touches to a dish in his three Michelin starred restaurant
Blumenthal – who is entirely self-taught and whose first paid job as a chef was when he opened The Fat Duck – does occasionally step back and see the 'ridiculousness' of the situations he finds himself in.
WHAT DOES HESTON EAT HIMSELF
'I'm a big picker, as is the nature of my job, so have to be careful not to eat too many carbohydrates. I love chicken. Last night I had some roast chicken with lentils, but I do have a weakness for pork pies. What can I say I'm a kid of the Seventies so I do love a bit of food kitsch.'
He said: 'It's quite funny when I talk really seriously about the hurdles we come up against in certain situations, and then I step back and take a look.
'I remember once having such a conversation about the logistics of a certain dish while I was literally stuffing live blackbirds into a massive pie. It was quite surreal. And there are a lot of moments like that in my life.
'It's funny because I always wanted to be a chef, but I never for a second imagined it would be anything like this. And it was never the case that I was really ambitious and desperate to succeed – it was always more that I just had an enormous fear of failing.'
Heston setting fire to his enormous Christmas pudding at Dickens' World in Chatham, Kent, as part of Channel Four's new series, Heston's Fantastical Foods
Heston's Fantastical Food – the chef's foray into creating super-super-supersized culinary offerings – is currently screening on Channel Four, and has seen the imaginative chap creating a giant boiled egg and toasted soldiers (actually cake to dunk in mango mousse and yogurt) and an enormous Christmas pudding.
But what will the man himself be making for Christmas lunch
'I certainly don't go as overboard as I do in the restaurant! I tend to make chicken or goose – I like goose with black pudding, confit legs, roast potatoes and red cabbage, and if I'm doing chicken I'll make green cabbage.
'It's very decadent but Christmas is the one time of the year when I have truffles. I'll take one from the restaurant and just grate the whole thing over everything!'
Heston Blumenthal hard at work over a plate of shells, sea foam and iPods
Inside the Vicars Room at The Hinds Head
By the fireplace at The Crown