Valentines Day is one of those days, as a chef you half look forward to because you can be creative and have fun with a once off menu and half feel anxious about how busy it is going to be and how high everyones expectations are. You dont want to be the guy that ruined Valentines Day.
However, this year I was really looking forward to working on Valentines Day (don’t tell my girlfriend I said that). The menu we came up with at The White House this year was, in my opinion, fantastic! It was a good mix of Valentines Day classics, new experiences and big dose of “love”.
For starters we had a Valentines Day classic, a choice of either oysters with champagne & caviar or baked prosciutto wrapped figs with goats curd. Both dishes screamed Valentines Day from the roof tops, looked great and tasted fantastic.The stand out had to be the baked figs, it looked sexy on the plate and the combination of flavours and textures are a proven classic.
For mains we concentrated on big flavours. We had three options on the menu:
Up first was the lamb rump with parsnip purée, sugar snap peas, broad beans and rosemary jus. The lamb rump were beautiful little round cuts of meat marinated in garlic, thyme and olive oil cooked to medium rare served with a silky smooth parsnip purée. An absolute winner.
Second on the menu was crispy skinned barramundi with prawn & garden chive brandade and watercress veloute. This is a very well balanced technical dish, the fish is lovely and flaky with a beautiful crispy skin, the brandade adds a salty component to the dish and the watercress veloute has a great lemony, peppery taste. The mix together covers off every taste you could want to go with barramundi.
Lastly but by no means least of all we had gnocchi with asparagus, garlic greens, toasted pine nuts and a light tarragon cream. Of all the mains this one was my favourite, the tangy tarragon cream and asparagus went so well with the light fluffy pillows of potato. The gnocchi was made from baked potato instead of being boiled or steamed which intensified the flavour and also dried the potato out meaning less flour and egg was needed leaving the gnocchi light. Without a doubt this dish received the most praise, one customer even commenting that she was transported back to italy. As a result gnocchi turned up on our Winter menu!
Desert was a little bit special, we steered clear of chocolate which may have been a little bit of a risk given that chocolate is synonymous with Valentines Day. However the deserts we did choose were perfect for such a loving day. First was the Persian Love Cake which is a beautifully dense & moist cake made from almond meal and yogurt which we served with rosewater crème Chantilly and pistachio crumble. The second choice was raspberry frangipane tart with fresh raspberries and vanilla sorbet. The tart was studded with fresh raspberries which when baked became sticky and sweet and gave such a great flavour to the frangipane filling. After service I went for a walk among the tables to chat with a few of the customers, I walked in on one couples argument over which dessert they liked better, probably the best argument I’ve had the pleasure to be involved in.
Another Valentines down, many more to come… hopefully my girlfriend will forgive me for missing them all…fingers crossed!