L’Escargot – Soho
Whilst many of our number declare the ethos of using seasonal food so far as is possible the question sometimes arises on objections to Game. Our rural communities benefit hugely from game shooting. It is not always realised that the countryside must be managed, or it will become a wilderness.
Land managed for game shooting provides huge benefits to the environment. It is a major resource in promoting biodiversity and assisting the UK to achieve the targets set in national and local biodiversity action plans; BASC’s Green Shoots conservation programme has been endorsed by Natural England, Scottish Natural Heritage, Natural Resources Wales & the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.
Most importantly, shooting provides something very special for the table. Game meat is natural, wild, healthy, and utterly delicious.
We do not debate the pros and cons but await each year for the season of new produce to be available for culinary delights. The start of the autumn season is hailed as the ‘Glorious 12th ’’ The beginning of the Grouse Season – 12th August and is a relatively short season lasting only till 10th December. Shoots of other game start later.
The Gastronomes chose to host its annual Grouse Supper in middle – late September, this year returning to L’Escargot in Soho.
As we gathered members were delighted to note the newly refurbished restaurant and were greeted with glasses of bubbling Champagne from Henriot, poured from Magnums. Our palates were also livened with Parmesan Straws, Foie Gras, and their traditional Cocktail Sausages. Chattering was loud as members recounted experiences over the past month or so of the traditional holiday season.
Our gathering was enhanced by the finalists of the Annual Gastronomes Award 2023.
In due course we were summoned to take our places for dinner. Excitement in the air wondering what delights Head Chef Jimmy Tyrell was going to entertain us to. The President, Bill Brogan welcomed all and duly presented some new members – following this, members introduced their guests, a hearty welcome was extended to all. Gastronome Paul Wenham then said Grace.
Chef Jimmy didn’t disappoint as the waiting staff which also included catering students from Westminster, Kingsway College (some of whom were also assisting in the kitchen) served Soupe de Truffe “Bocuse” This dish had been created on February 25, 1975, by famous chef Paul Bocuse for a luncheon given at the Élysée Palace by President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing and his wife. Many starred chefs accompanied Mr Bocuse that day as he received the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur (the highest decoration in France). The Soup, a broth with Foie Gras and Truffles with a Puff Pastry Crust.
The accompanying wine, a Muscadet 2022, Les Quinze Homées, Jérémie Huchet, Vin Biologique. Fresh on the palate, complimenting the richness of the soup.
We moved on to the prize of the evening – Traditional Roast Grouse, Watercress, Game Crumbs, Creamy Bread Sauce, Game Chips, Koffmann’s New Potatoes and Savoy Cabbage. The wine adventure was a 2022 Fleurie “Poncie”, Patrick Tranchand. A fine example of one of the famous 10 ‘Cru’ villages of Beaujolais and of course made using the Gamay Grape. Bright ruby red with fresh raspberries on the nose. It enhanced the flavour of the Grouse with its subtle tannins, notes of red cherries and violets on the finish.
Chef Jimmy then treated us further with one of his signatures. Individual – Souffle au Chocolat. A triumph indeed! Undeterred to compliment the chocolate we were treated to 2019 Chateau Ramon, Monbazillac. A blend of grapes that had shrivelled with the popular expression of ‘noble rot’ Grapes left on the vine to dehydrate and therefore concentrating the sugars. A nicely balanced wine that addressed the lush flavours of the chocolate.
As the night progressed – coffee and fresh from the oven in true French Style – Madeleines. We certainly had dined.
We toasted ‘The King’ – extended greetings to Town Members – Country Members and Retired Members – A resounding Toast to Chef, Brigade and Service.
A vote of ‘Thanks’ to Patron and Gastronomes Member, Brian Clivaz for hosting the event in true Gastronomes camaraderie. Mention was also made on the distinguished talent, expertise and stories that abounded in the room. Recently retired, Chef Herbert Berger, Michael Williams who had been made an Honorary Member having completed 50 years of membership.
As the clock continued to tick and time passed the President gave updates on future events and wished all a safe journey home and all looked forward to when we were to meet once more – The Annual Banquet in November.