27 Jan 2008


The Ledbury, Notting Hill in three words: beautifully calibrated creativity.
An indulgence of texture and colour. Too precise to be playful, but pleasure smoothly, reasurringly wafted from every glamorously preened plate! From paper thin amuse-gueule with foie gras paste, to the breath of bacon brioche and puffed sourdough.
A starter of flamed mackerel, innermost moist, to main course of partridge (pictured), arranged 'a la post mortem': body warm heart on silver spike, cheekily crossed legs, and cooked hay spun bale of viscera. My companion was issued a beautifully handmade implement to elegantly dissemble: a Nicaragua Cocobolo wood handled Laguiole.
My dessert was no hasty afterthought, but the very best passion fruit soufflé waiter penetrated by an oval spoonful of Sauternes ice cream, slowly enveloped, gradually gliding, into the steaming quicksand, the texture of setting polenta. Signature dish strength. Humbling, haunting.
To crown these assertive riches, gelatinous, aromatic petit fours bathing aboard a suprisingly cleansing sea of pure cocoa shards, the size of small rice grains.
Whilst my first wine choices were unavailable (Gaja's Ca'Marcanda and Alpha Estate's Xinomavro), the ad lib replacements were succesful, particularly Franz Haas' versatile Manna '04 from Trentino Alto Adige, which followed Henriot Champagne. Grape expectations from this smart north Italian producer for its innovative collage of Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and late-harvest Gewürz were fulfilled. A luxurious, deepening yellow with a silk texture. Pure, cleansing and never dominated by a single variety.
Also '04 and Italian, the brashly packaged, flash, sweetly drinkable, Le Cupole di Trinoro, second expression of Tenuta di Trinoro, the estate whose proprietor caused the first lady of wine, Jancis Robinson MW to swoon: 'Andrea Franchetti looks like a youthful Yves Saint Laurent.' A Bordeaux blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot interspersed with a duo of dense Italian varieties.
To finish and refresh, sunny wheat coloured Sämling, which, according to Berry Bros. is 'a modern German grape variety created from a cross between Riesling and Sylvaner ... seen increasingly in sweeter, late-harvest wines.' Succulently at the centre of the acidity-sweetness Venn diagram...

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