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Adam Handling at the Caxton, London, SW1…….lunch and a bit of a hot flush.

Way back in 2013 I sent one of the Masterchef (the Professionals) a tweet. I don’t normally tweet people on the television, I am a grown woman for heaven’s sake. But I did, and (based on the trailers alone) wished this rather attractive young Scottish guy good luck. As the series rolled out it was clear he was not only exceptionally talented, he was also funny and charming and responsible for a number of swooning moments in our household (might have been my hormones of course) but either way, it caused much mortified eye-rolling from my daughter.

Still, Adam replied to my tweet and we have been “twitter followers” since then. He was a “runner up” in Masterchef (a travesty) and I can’t recall who won. But I have watched with great pleasure his ensuing success. So it was with much (“God, mum you are such an embarrassment”) enthusiasm that we arrived for lunch at the Caxton last week, on a sunny July day when Adam was cooking. I had stayed for work at the next door hotel (St Ermin’s) many times in the past, I don’t recall the food, on this occasion I won’t forget it.

The food was sublime, a truly amazing range of unusual flavours and unconventional combinations, with an Asian theme running through them (my first Yuzu, indeed!).  I am a cook, and by no means a chef, but I resent paying out good money for food that I could make better myself at home. This happens startlingly often, so I don’t bother blogging about it. No danger, whatsoever of this happening here. Honestly, the boy’s a genius.

With only my iphone on hand the photographs to follow don’t really do the dishes justice (as they are as beautiful as they are tasty)…. well, it might be that, or might have been that I was on my second carafe of wine and a bit giddy. (“Mum, for God’s sake you are too old to be a chef groupie”). Adam was a gracious host and much to our surprise and delight, augmented our selection of dishes from his Tasting Menu with his own choices, for which generosity we can’t thank him enough.

Adam Handling Sourdough

We started with a “snack” of warm sourdough and chicken butter.  Butter with crispy chicken-skin pieces. You just knew it was going to be good.

Cured Mackeral

Okay, this kind of blew our minds – Cracker, cured Mackerel and Yuzu. I am pretty sure the cracker was made with sago? Sago had already featured that morning (more of that another day). This was such an interesting mix of flavours. One was not enough!

crab donughts

Doughnuts with dressed Crab. I mean, come on, how fantastic are these. Light and airy doughnut batter, sweet and creamy crab. No wonder I was getting hot flushes..

Beetroot

Beetroot, Beetroot and more Beetroot. What was this? How can Beetroot taste so sublime? sweet, sugary crispy shell and unctuous, oozy middle. Are pickled beets even related?

tuna

Yellowfin Tuna, citrus, soy, avocado. How pretty was this dish?

King fish

Oh, this was to die for, KingFish, Jalapeno dressing, confit shallots and chive. Possibly my favourite. The fish was so thinly sliced, so delicate, like lace, it was translucent, must have some damn sharp knives in that kitchen.

cauliflower tempura       Betroot  asparagus

Tempura Courgette Flowers, Honey, Thyme and Goats Cheese, Beetroot with Yuzu, Dates and Caramalised Yoghurt and Asparagus with Garlic, Verbena, Green Tea,  and Wasabi. Oh my, these were truly amazing dishes. The asparagus was so perfectly  al dente and all so fabulously presented. I am sure I have some of these hand-crafted plates left from my pottery course, will dig ’em out.

Burnt beef

This made us smile, Adam introduced this dish with “It is burnt, it is all burnt!”. Okaaaay. And it was, and it was delicious. Beef Ashed, Burnt Cabbage, Artichokes and Onion Jam. The beef was some of the most tender and succulent I have eaten. Moreover, I have a new way of introducing any culinary faux pas I may make – if Adam can make “burnt” cabbage work, so can I.

Spring lamb   

Sea Bass

Spring Lamb, Cauliflower, Kimchi, 14 year Caviar and then Wild Sea Bass with Just a Good Balsamic. The Bass was possibly a contender for favourite (amongst so many). Fabulously cooked fish, just perfect, I didn’t want to share this. We dived on the plate and it was gone within about 10 seconds or so. Not very elegant, but hey, it was just so good.

desert

We ended our meal with a selection of Adam’s chocolate from his eponymous range.

This was a glorious meal and on a sunny summer’s day in London, the Caxton didn’t look half bad either. Adam, if you read this, we can’t thank you enough,  for your charming hosting and your generosity, and especially for the lovely Happy Birthday dessert for my daughter.

It was also an absolute pleasure to meet Adam, who is just as delightful in person as he appears in the media. I am still kicking myself that I was too slow and too interested in what he was saying about the food to get the ubiquitous selfie, but I have a plan to put that right! That, and my inappropriate crush aside, Adam’s food is amazing. This Fishwife strongly recommends you pay a visit.

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