WEDNESDAY 19 OCTOBER 2011 • LIVE DINING AT HARRODS WITH MARTELL
Live Dining in the Window of Harrods with Martell
The day after the Harrods window experience… For many of you this may have seemed like a terrible mistake: first, to cook this dinner party and then to share it publicly in the windows of Harrods. I must confess that I thought so after the preview of the first dinner. Access to services, communication problems and no proper kitchen nearby, the main kitchen being 7 minutes away. And to compound the problems whilst cooking, the electricity cut off. Yet would I do it again? Oh yes!
This dinner was to celebrate what is truly beautiful in France. Its craft, its food tradition passed on from one generation to another, its heritage, its history, its arts de la table as much as arts de vivre.
Arts de vivre is so French that it is actually untranslatable in the English language. Arts de vivre is everything that goes into making our life joyous, elegant and expressive. Arts de vivre touches the nobility, the purity and authenticity of the produce (le terroir), which the cook will transform into a feast of the senses. Then around this marvellous table the friends will gather, celebrate and be happy. The best linen will dress the table, the china and the cutlery will glitter, every wine glass will be designed to receive and enhance the very best flavour of that particular wine. The conversation will flow and grow, the ideas the spoken words and creative ideas will gather into huge momentum...and for a while life will be perfect.
I feel happy and proud to have created that feast with Martell as a Master of Ceremony. They have themselves celebrated the arts de vivre and good drinking since 1715 when their firm was created – they are the oldest cognac house in France.
I was able to invite some of the people I truly admire, such as Sir Terence and his wife, Lady (Vicki) Conran, who have revolutionised the way we understand space and objects. Sir Terry Wogan, accompanied by his wife Helen, who with his Irish wit and his joie de vivre is probably the greatest entertainer and one of our best loved personalities. I also made new friends, the gorgeous and engaging Jodie Kidd, the very smart Karren Brady – although she doesn't have the same ideas as me in terms of football, as she is the current Vice Chairman of West Ham United and I have a strong commitment to Arsenal Football Club of course, and the wonderful Diamond Club Restaurant there. And of course, my lovely Natalia whose wit and humour have delighted me for many years.
This meal was also the celebration of a new relationship between Martell, myself and Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons which I hope will be longlasting and fruitful. Martell will be supporting me in creating a hugely exciting new project: 'Le Festival de La Culture Française' which will take place in April 2013. This Festival will be a three day long extravaganza of French gastronomy, innovation, arts de vivre, culture, and of course lots of warm conviviality. Of course, as I have been so many years in England, it will also support and embrace British gastronomy and all that Britain has to offer.
Finally, what really made this dinner so special, besides being staged in the best window in the world, and with the most wonderful company in all senses of the word, was the fact that all donations will go to one of my charities, Action Against Hunger.
A huge thanks and all my gratitude go to my wonderful team, including the Adam, and to the very gracious Harrods staff for their support. A big thank you to you all.
Tonight's party has been a glorious moment. Thank you to Harrods for having the imagination to stage this unique event in one of the most famous landmarks in the world and to Martell for uncorking some of the oldest and most divine "L'Or de Jean Martell"; a feast of the senses. Merci.
I look forward to welcoming you to Le Manoir or to a Brasserie Blanc soon to re-create those celebrations… in a more private environment.
Best to you all
Nature morte d’automne
Butternut squash purée; butternut squash fondant; pickled thai shallot; baby ruby beetroot; red wine essence; deep fried parsnip crisp; deep fried sage leaf
Risotto aux truffes noires et blanches d’automne
Truffle risotto with the last summer truffle and first white Alba truffle
Darne de Turbot rôtie sur lit d’aromates, fumet de vin rouge
Grilled turbot steak, liquorice, star anise and spices, red wine jus
La ronde des fromages fermiers
Artisan cheeses, chutneys
Trio au chocolat
Variations on the theme of chocolate
Café pur Arabica, petits fours et chocolats du Manoir
Coffee and petits fours
L'Ermitage Le Méal 2008
Rhône Valley, France
Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes 2008
Domaine Frédéric Magnien
Côtes de Jura Vin de Paille 2004
To read some of the other blogs written about the Live Dining at Harrods with Martell and Raymond Blanc, click on the links below:
A Hedonist's Guide To...
The Luxe Chronicles
PS Please tell me what you think of my blogs and my website: I want to hear from you!
Raymond Blanc's new book, Kitchen Secrets, featuring recipes from Kitchen Secrets Series 1 & 2 and many more, was published by Bloomsbury on 14 February and is available to buy online from Amazon, from Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, Brasserie Blanc, Maison Blanc, and from online and retail bookstores.
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