dines at Tuddenham Mill... The Tasting Menu...

Having eaten Paul Foster's GBM Menu the night before, we moved on to his tasting menu.This is a better reflection of both the ethos of the kitchen, and of their technical skill.  Ingredients can be foraged from the meadows around the mill and the emphasis is very much on local and seasonal produce.  Paul is a very accomplished chef, and here you get a better sense of his vision and his developing style.

Mussel broth, with lemon spots, cucumber, stonecrop, buckthorn, dill and a dash of parsley oil
This is a delightful dish, and begins the evening with the lightest and most delicate of broths, teeming with flavour and scent.  Everything is crisp or succulent, and thought through.  The lemon puree adds acidity, but by being combined with agar allows you to taste it in droplets, rather than overwhelming the dish.   As summer approaches, this is the perfect starter.  [For molecular cooks, the lemon dressing is achieved by combing lemon juice and agar in a water bath at 90ºC for 1 hour - I shall blog it once I've tried it this weekend]

Now, Hubby and I were gossiping so much about our racing finds at Newmarket, that I managed to completely miss photographs of two courses.  This is not unusual if I'm enjoying a menu!  One of those dishes is the hake brandade, with a slow cooked hen's egg, and a scattering of crispy bacon.  The egg of course perfectly cooked at 62ºC, with its unctuous yolk breaking over the salty hake.

Asparagus, chickweed and cobnuts

Here seasonal ingredients are the star, with new season asparagus, asparagus purée, raw asparagus,  chickweed, and grated cob nut. 

The second photograph I missed was an amazing beer dish, with a Adnams beer noisette, a slightly sweet pickled onion, some melt-in-the-mouth oxtail and flaxseed.  I may not have taken a photo, but my note book is full of little stars.

Salt baked lamb rump and shoulder, with yoghurt,
wild garlic, celeriac an celery leaf

The lamb is slow cooked and is succulent and fall-apart tender .  The salt-baked celeriac is echoed in the celery leaf, which provides a brighter note, accompanying the satisfying sourness of the yoghurt, with the metallic tang of the wild garlic.  I'm not terribly keen on lamb, though I will always try it, having once eaten sensational lamb cooked by Albert Roux.  Whilst this didn't have the finesse of Mon. Roux's dish, it more than made up for it in flavour.  I am a firm convert again, and think it's particularly interesting that it's the "lesser" cuts Paul uses which have really delivered on flavour in several of his dishes.  It's admirable to see a kitchen steering away from predictable ingredients and combinations.

Egg custard tart, apple, buttermilk, nutmeg

Yes, you probably gather from my photo that I delved straight into the dish before remembering to take a photo - of course it looks prettier than this!  As well as the custard, there were crisp batons of green apple, slices of raw apple flavoured with caramelised toffee apple, and buttermilk.  Very dense, smooth and creamy, with a distinct savoury edge delivered through the saltiness of the custard.  This almost has the savouriness of a cheese course.

Chocolate mousse and soil, sea buckthorn granita, and hazelnut 

This dessert has many elements: there's chocolate soil (made with cocoa, ground almonds, flour, butter and sugar), a chocolate mousse scatter with cocoa nibs, a sea buckthorn granita, powdered hazelnut scattering (made with hazelnut butter mixed with maltose), and a tiny garnish of yarrow.  Somehow like the best jaffa cake deconstructed - but better.  Where others rely on orange, Paul uses the acidity of the sea buckthorn to contrast to the rich earthiness of the chocolate.  One would imagine the whole dish to be slightly too bitter and tart, but the various nut elements ground the dish.  There's also the contrast of textures and temperatures at play, all working harmoniously on the plate.

I enjoyed Paul's Great British Menu, but on the whole I prefer this one - the dishes are more complete, and worked together better to give sense of direction to the meal.  Tuddenham Mill isn't far from London, has rooms (which deliver room service breakfast!), and staff who are enthusiastic and charming.  I understand it's also possible to go on a foraging walk around the meadow, which would be fantastic fun.  Add in a trip to Midsummer House and Alimentum, and you have a culinary weekend you'll be talking about for a very long time.

Tuddenham Mill
High Street
Suffolk IP28 6SQ

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