Despite the forecast earlier in the week we were once again blessed with brilliant sunshine for what was the President, Alison Frith’s second event during her term of office, that of course has been blighted by the Covid epidemic.
The committee had chosen to seize the opportunity of visiting Gastronome, Andrew Gosling’s – Garden Pavilion Restaurant at Chiswick House and Gardens.
As August is reputedly a time when many are away on holiday Gastronomes took the opportunity of inviting members from Livery Company – Worshipful Company of Glass Sellers of London, Royal Commonwealth Society Wine Club, Association of Catering Excellence (ACE) and Foodservice Consultants Society International (FCSI).
It was interesting to note how many of the attendees confessed to passing Chiswick House over numerous years but had never visited. Whether entry to the grounds was via the A4 and Car Park or Burlington Lane from the A316 delight was expressed at this jewel of a garden and house. The House itself is one of the glorious examples of 18th Century British architecture. The third Earl of Burlington who designed this Roman Style Palladian Villa, drawing inspiration from his many tours of Italy.
The wonderful gardens had been the birthplace of the English Landscape Movement. They have re-opened after a major restoration which also revealed the original vistas and repaired many of the statues.
Making our way to our venue – a Summer Palace in the form of a grand marquee with terrace. This had been erected as a temporary structure for wedding receptions, corporate events, and parties for the Summer. Andrew Gosling owner of the Foodshow together with Head Chef, Max Uyanik had conjured a ‘pop-up restaurant’ – The Garden Pavilion at Chiswick House & Gardens. Voted as one of the Best Pop-Ups in London by Country & Town House Magazine and by I News we were not to be disappointed.
On the terrace elegantly furnished and decorated in a modern style and the inside was bright and airy, scattered with featured trees festooned with small lights giving a magical and fairylike aura. Bright coloured orchids and rich green foliage complimented bright white flowers all enhancing a calm and luxurious atmosphere.
Our adventure started as we arrived – greeted by host Andrew Gosling and Gastronomes Secretary Vic Laws who quickly directed us to trays of bubbling, bright Coates & Seeley Rose NV. An English Sparkling wine from Hampshire. A pale salmon pink colour. It has been a winner of Gold and Silver Medals in numerous international wine competitions. It complimented the bright sunny day and our frivolous moods at being out once more, communing with colleagues and friends – some old and some newly made.
In time we were duly summoned to take our places for Luncheon – order was called.
President Alison Frith welcomed the gathering making particular reference to the representatives from other Organisations and Associations that were also in attendance. Andrew Gosling gave a short introduction describing the venue and what they were doing and endorsed the welcome already expressed by the President.
Conversation resumed whilst baskets of hot crispy rolls were passed – plain or black olive. Glasses were poured with Picpoul de Pinet 2019, Reserve de la Roquemoliere. This now popular grape varietal wine showed well – crisp and dry to the palate with hints of acacia, hawthorn blossom and citronella.
Our eyes were to be delighted with the arrival of the starter set on a beautiful white plate with a centred outline of a tall black tree. The collation on the plate masked by a jet-black Sea Coral Tuille that hid underneath
A Nutbourne Heritage Tomato Salad, Burrata, Black Garlic, Basil Ice Cream
It was a pleasing sight to behold and stimulated the taste buds with bursts of fresh summer flavours enhanced with the pungent and aromatic Basil Ice Cream. Ooo’s and Ahhhh’s were harmoniously heard, complimenting the vague light jazz music that could be just heard in the background.
Enthusiastic conversation continued as the expired plates of delight were removed in anticipation of what would be coming next.
Arriving at the table came the next wine – eyebrows raised as a Joseph Drouhin, Chablis was poured – Vaudon Chablis Reserve De Vaudon 2019. A beautifully coloured, elegant wine. A typical Chablis nose with aromas of citrus and salty sensations. Bright on the palate and vigorous with finesse and good balance. As an alternative Pinot Nero DOC 2019, Colterenzio. An elegant, subtle Pinot from Northern Italy offering the fragrance of redcurrants and black cherry, with ripe berries in the mouth, slightly restrained by a lovely acidity.
It was then that the ‘service’ entourage appeared from the kitchen carrying bright white bowls that were carefully placed in front of each person providing the opportunity of seeing the contents. Yet another eye pleasing sensation that can been seen from the pictures.
Pan Seared Fillet of Cornish Sea Bass, Risotto Primavera, Wye Valley Asparagus & Parmigiano-Reggiano Snow
The delicate flavours burst on the palate, blending textures and the expectancy that the eyes had perceived. The whole plate a delight, tickling all the senses. Yet again murmurs of delight humming across the room as each guest experienced this new contribution to our Luncheon.
The leisurely pace of service allowed each delight to be carefully absorbed. There was no consciousness of delay nor of hurry. Just as a Summer Luncheon on a bright Summers Day should be, surrounded by the beautiful 65 acres of elegant gardens.
Our journey continued when glasses on the tables were corrected and checked making way for the service of Garonelles 2018, Sauternes, Lucien Lurton & Fils.
A golden luscious looking Sauternes with a heady pineapple and mango nose beautifully balanced with a hint of citrus acidity.
Again, we were to be entertained with a visual delight. This time stark white plates with a centred bare golden tree – dotted with dots of Passion Fruit Fluid Gel.
Deconstructed Pina Colada, Coconut Panna Cotta, Passion Fruit Fluid Gel, Compressed Pineapple and Rum Sorbet
Refreshingly satisfying with complimenting flavours that touched all corners of the taste buds without being too rich or heavy.
Onwards to the treats of Chocolates, Gourmandises and of course coffee or tea if preferred.
Gastronome Paul Evans was called to propose the Loyal Toast and the President asked all to raise their glass to ‘Sante du Chef and Service’ to which a rousing round of applause was given to all the staff that had been party to our experience.
More glasses of wine if requested were poured and our watches advised us that we were already heading towards late afternoon.
Some left to visit Chiswick House – some had visited before our gathering. Others taking booking telephone numbers vowing to return before the opportunity expired.
This latest culinary experience of the Reunion des Gastronomes was certainly an experience that should not have been missed – many expressing delight with comments like ‘one of the best meals I can remember having!’
Paul A. Wenham