A night of fine-dining with chef Marianne Lumb at Miele Precision Dinner
Most food lovers in the capital will be familiar with Marianne Lumb, her intimate Notting Hill restaurant a firm favourite for anyone that can snag a booking. Tonight she’s been tasked with cooking a beautiful five-course meal using a Miele steam oven, though it seems less like a challenge than it does an opportunity. These ovens are rapidly becoming recognised as some of the most valuable bits of hardware a chef can have in the kitchen, considerably more versatile than one might imagine.
Things get off to a simple start, with a Steamed Courgette “Soufflé” of sorts. Rich, pillowy, and spiked with the most gorgeous notes of aged comte, it’s a delight to eat. The courgette is cooked to perfection, fresh and light against the indulgence of the souffle. Turbot Poached in Celeriac sounds a little odd, but the juice from the celeriac lends a bit of heft to the delicacy of the turbot, giving it enough weight to stand up to some beautifully cooked fennel. Generous dabs of beurre noisette are a brilliant addition, lending a rich, indulgent nuttiness to the dish that the ordinary butter and cream sauces turbot often finds itself swimming in can only dream of.
Palourde Clams with a Parsley and Wild Garlic Velouté is a explosion of colour: a vivid, vivacious blast of lime green topped with a few dark clams. Looks can be deceiving however, and the intensity one might expect is instead a refined elegance, the clams beautifully cooked and seasoned and the veloute surprisingly delicate. The wild garlic is just about there, faintly peppering the sauce with its pungency but never threatens to take over as we’d feared.
Highland Wagyu Featherblade, Braised in Tamarind is a dark, sticky cube of meat that falls apart at the touch of a knife. Those rich tangle of meat go so well with a perfectly creamy mash, in a comfort meal combination taken to new heights through spicing and sheer technique. Tamarind is an inspired choice, its sticky caramel notes working perfectly with the meat’s own melting ribbons of fat to bring out a sweet side of beef that’s rarely seen outside of North African cuisine.
Yorkshire Rhubarb, Crème Brûlée and Pistachio Nougatine concludes our meal in style, and is a lesson in simple elegance. Perfectly light pistachio sponge sits alongside slicks of gorgeously creamy custard and picture-perfect strips of fresh rhubarb. Intensely seasonal, the fruit is at its best right now and it’s a testament to the skillful balance of flavours on the plate here that, despite the sourness from the rhubarb, the pistachio manages to hold its own with seeming ease whilst remaining delicate and natural.
The sommelier has matched it with a 2006 Tezza Passito Bianco, a beautiful wine from the. His eyes light up when asked about the choice, his passion both endearing and infectious. You get the distinct impression that he would happily spend hours talking about the minutiae of why Tokaji and Sauternes are just the tip of the dessert wine iceberg, not just out of professional politeness but due to personal enthusiasm.
Fittingly enough, the man himself is a great pairing to Marianne’s cooking. Such precise, clean, technical dishes, full of foams, subtlety and shocks of vivid colour on powder white plates, too often lack a soul; fresh built Knightsbridge penthouses on a plate. Not so with Marianne, whose food can only really be described as joyous. It doesn’t so much sing, as it does serenade, whispering sweet nothings in your ear from the start of your meal to the very last forkful.