For those of us ancient enough to remember the GLC (Greater London Council) and even its predecessor the old LCC (London County Council), the opportunity to see inside and dine at the iconic County Hall was something not to be missed.
We were warmly welcomed by our host and fellow Gastronome, Theresa Maw FIH MI, who is General Manager of the London Marriott County Hall Hotel – which now occupies a significant part of this iconic building.
The reception was held in the hotel’s Gillray’s Bar, a fine example of the wonderfully sympathetic restoration work undertaken by Marriott Hotels. What better place to enjoy yet another example of the great champagne-style sparkling wines now being produced in English vineyards? In this instance we all really appreciated the fruity and well balanced Digby Fine English Vintage 2009 kindly provided by Trevor Clough CEO and Co-Founder who later joined us for supper.
For supper we were seated within the magnificent and restful library, surrounded bygoodness-knows how many books, as well as many fellow Gastronomes and their guests!
The amuse bouche provided the perfect opening to the meal, contrasting a perfectly cooked scallop with the sweetness of a smooth and flavourful velouté.
This was followed by a seafood starter of a rich and tasty crab cake served with an excellent mayonnaise. It was accompanied by a well-chilled and citrusy Cloudy Bay Chardonnay 2011, Marlborough, New Zealand that was the ideal partner for such a dish.
Everyone was then really looking forward to the unusual main course of Goose and the anticipation was well deserved. The Goose was succulent, tender and served pink, without displaying any of the fattiness for which this particular bird is renowned. The accompanying confit leg hidden beneath a timbale of spinach and topped with a fig was well chosen, as were the fondant potato and slightly zesty lime leaf jus. This course was served with a spicy Kleine Zalze Shiraz, Family Reserve 2007, Stellenboch, South Africa that simply oozed with ripe blackcurrants and red fruits.
The dessert managed to combine the relative lightness of texture with a fullness of flavour. The panna cotta itself was a smooth as silk, and the balance between the chocolate and coconut was particularly successful. It contrasted very well with the freshness of the sweet-sharp pineapple and more aromatic mango. The Riesling Kabinett 2009, Mosel, Germany that accompanied the dessert was fragrant and controlled, with none of the sweetness of the type of wines usually chosen for the end of a meal.
It was entirely appropriate that such a wonderful supper should be ended with the serving of a selection of Fine English Cheeses, served with Taylor’s 20 year Old Tawny Port.
Philippe Rossiter, President Réunion des Gastronomes then formally thanked Theresa and her staff for making this such an enjoyable and amicable evening. He then announced the results of the charity draw, and Vic Laws was (yet again!) the lucky winner of dinner for two at Leander Club. Philippe’s chosen charity – for Westminster Kingsway College to assist any hospitality students as they felt appropriate during the course of their studies – benefited from a generous donation of £440.