The time, thought and effort that has been put into Andrew Fairlie's first-ever Afternoon Tea is obvious from the minute the sharing plate of amuse bouches (pictured above) is set on the table. To be sampled between two and in strict rotation according to chef's instructions, a shot glass of tomato mi-cuit topped with bronze fennel pollen is followed by a breakfast radish chaudfroid decorated with marigold petals and finished with a tranche of warm pissaladiere with marjoram and oregano. Not only a visual delight, its flavours and aromas too are clearly designed to be part of the experience. Entitled A Taste of Provence as a nod, I reckon, to Fairlie's early days in top French kitchens, this is a most sophisticated and nuanced start to a sensory journey that is both celebratory and highly contemporary, while lightly drizzled with Proustian nostalgia. (Continues...)
Fairlie's 'Flavours of the Secret Garden Afternoon Tea' is inspired by his cherished - and private - Victorian walled garden situated some 20 minutes away from his two-Michelin-starred restaurant at Gleneagles hotel at Auchterarder, Perthshire. It is to be served for one week only in the newly-opened Ochil House at the hotel by Gleneagles' newly appointed executive pastry chef Phil Skinazi.
Each element - a delicate lobster tartlette whose buttery, paper-thin short pastry is infused with French tarragon and fennel; a finger sandwich of rare roast beef spread with a Wasabi-esque nasturtium butter; an exquisite cucumber and black peppermint macaron; and the all-important, ever-evocative warm Madeleines sweetened with honey made by the Scottish native black bees that inhabit the Secret Garden hives - has been conceived to showcase the rare and heritage vegetables, fruits, herbs and edible flowers grown at the garden by head gardener Jo Campbell (pictured below) and her all-female team. Fairlie has said that the "remarkable ingredients Jo produces continue to surprise us all, and now guides our cooking season by season". (continues ...)
Running from August 20-26 only, this is the first in a series of collaborative afternoon teas priced at £40 a head taking place at Gleneagles Hotel from August to November 2018. Next up is Tom Kitchin in September, followed by Claire Macdonald in November. No pressure, then, guys.
More info at www.gleneagles.com.
[Please see Published Work on this site for my previous interviews with Andrew Fairlie and features on his Victorian walled garden.]