Galvin at Windows, situated on the 28th floor of the London Hilton on Park Lane, was one of the first ‘posh’ restaurants my husband and I went to. Within our first year of getting together we went there to celebrate his birthday. We also spent our wedding night at the Hilton Park lane and although we didn’t dine at Galvin at Windows that night, they sent some of their marshmallows to our room, simply because we had mentioned how nice they were to the person who checked us in. As the restaurant is quite sentimental to us my husband surprised me and took me there for a date night. As we were shown our seat, right next to the window, we were given postcards, which could be sent anywhere in the world courtesy of the restaurant. I wrote them out to my children, all the way in sunny Kent. The views are incredible, you can see for miles, from our table we overlooked Buckingham Palace. We were given an Amuse-bouche of crayfish and some freshly baked bread. The bread was delicious, still lovely and warm and the butter melted into it as I spread it on. My husband had purchased a voucher which entitled us to the Menu Prestige. The menu had a good variety, for starter I choose San Marzano tomato gazpacho, Sicilian red prawns, peach compote & basil and my husband, shockingly didn’t order the foie gras, went for the Scallops ceviche, Aquitaine caviar, pickled kohlrabi & sweet soy. My dish was really good, the gazpacho was so refreshing and the little tomatoes had so much flavour and were lovely and sweet. It looked pretty too. I had a little taste of hubby’s, that was pretty impressive too. Next up was the main course, now my husband and I very rarely order the same dish but I love lamb so I choose that, he would have ordered the beef I think if it were not for the supplement. There were additional sides too, at a cost, we didn’t order those. Rump of lamb, slow cooked belly, devilled sweetbread, spring vegetables & spiced jus The mains were presented, the portions were huge! Sides were definitely not needed as the portion was more than adequate! The lamb was gorgeous so tender and soft, not at all chewy. The sweetbread, which I’m used to eating fried, wasn’t fried but still a nice addition. The slow cooked belly was melt in the mouth. The jus on the dish was incredible, it had a spicy cumin kick and worked so well with the lamb, I literally moped every drop up with the bread. Such a hearty flavoursome filling dish. I’m used to tasting menu portions so this left me felling very full! Dessert menus were given to us, great choice of desserts. I liked the sound of meringue and black pepper ice cream so opted for that. Hubby went for the chocolate dessert. Dark chocolate Palet D’or, raspberries & white chocolate ice cream Nougat parfait, caramelised banana, Muscovado meringues & black pepper ice cream Both desserts were presented beautifully! My was quite funky. The taste and texture was like a banoffe pie, and the crunch on top of the banana was pefect. My husband was very selfish with his and I barely had a taste. These were awesome desserts, a real treat. I loved having a full size dessert! Along with the bill came some chocolates and the amazing marshmallows. When my husband asked for the bill, there was a bit of confusion, the manager was very apologetic, he arranged drinks in the bar to make up for the mistake and amazingly we got to even walk through the kitchen out onto the balcony!!!! We had been quite privileged to this and this more than made up for the slight error. So overall a great meal, the food is absolutely delicious and filling, I know some people complain about small portions in Michelin star restaurants, but it definitely isn’t the case here. My only negative of the meal is I personally feel the service could have been slightly more attentive, by that I don’t mean the service was bad, quite the contrary, I just would have liked more interaction. I would have liked a description of my food when the dishes were presented to the table. But this is a personal preference and something that I am accustomed to. I think Galvin at Windows is a great restaurant. The views are incredible, the food is amazing. I think it’s a great starter restaurant if you are new to fine dining and Michelin Star restaurants. You are made to feel welcome but not fussed over and it’s a perfect venue for a romantic date.
I enjoy baking and I’m fairly artistic so I decided to test my talent and make my first ever proper iced birthday cake. I watched a YouTube video for instructions on how to ice it so I’m good to go right?
So a basic cake mix I always use is
175g of self raising flour
175g of caster Sugar
175g of butter or baking margarine
1tsp of baking powder
So, if I’m feeling lazy, I literally chuck ALL the ingredients in a bowl, whisk it and bake it. As I was making the cake for a special occasion I made more of an effort and did it the traditional way.
Firstly I creamed the butter and sugar
Then added the eggs to the mixture
I used butter icing which I make with double the amount of icing sugar to butter. So I used a whole block of butter at 250g and a whole box of icing sugar at 500g no need to even weigh it!!! So cream this together, gently, as not to get clouds of sugar everywhere. To mine I added some strawberry food flavouring and pink food colouring.
I had envisioned how I wanted the birthday cake to look. A pink and white layered cake. I used this standard cake mix and added a whole tube of food colouring gel to make the sponge pink.
I chose gel as I have used the small bottles of food colouring before and the colour was too subtle. So I halved the mixture between two silicon baking trays and baked two layers pink and a further 2 layers I baked without any additional colour, again forgetting the vanilla essence! Silicon is great for baking as it peels straight off without the need to grease.
I spread a bit of jam on the underneath of the bottom layer to glue it to the cake board. You can buy these in the baking isle at the supermarket. I spread butter icing on the top and jam onto the underneath of the layer I was placing on top. This process was repeated until I placed on the fourth layer alternating the colour of the sponges.
Now at this stage to make it a nicer finish I probably should have cut the cakes edges off to straighten it up. I decided against this as I didn’t want to lose too much cake. So the cake was now assembled and I was ready to roll, the regal icing!
I watched a video on you tube to get an idea of the technique. Looked easy! I rolled out the icing which got stuck to the surface as I attempted to scoop it up. It took a few attempts to get it onto the cake. Once on it naturally fell into place. I didn’t do a very good job rolling the icing, it didn’t quite fit. So I patched it up and tried to smooth it over. This really is tricky and is made to look so easy in the video but with practice, as with anything, I’m sure I’ll become better.
I added some of the remaining drops of gel into some left over icing to make it pink, rolled it out and hand cut a 60. I made some little roses too just by cutting a semi circle and rolling into a cone shape.
So this is the finished cake. It doesn’t look to bad for a first attempt. My mum (the recipient) was really happy with it and said she liked the way it looked homemade. So although it didn’t come out exactly as expected it has given me confidence to try again in the future. So that’s my step by step guide to making a basic mix with endless possibilities. Have a go, it’s a piece of cake!
I was part of an exclusive event called the grand Gelinaz! Shuffle. Gelinaz! is a collective of some of the best chefs from around the world. And for one night only something incredible happened. From Japan to Chile, from Brazil to Slovenia, France, Turkey, Sweden, Thailand, Australia, UK, Italy, Peru, Spain, Canada, Belgium and Denmark and all throughout United States, 37 of the best chefs of the planet swapped restaurants! Our one off diner was being hosted in Hibiscus, London as Claude Bosi is one of the Gelinaz! Collective along with Massimo Bottura, Andoni Luis Adruiz, Rene Redzepi and Alain Ducasse to name but a few. So Claude Bosi had jetted off to a secret location and our guest chef was not to be revealed until we sat down on the night and opened the menu. We waited eagerly in the lounge area on arrival to Hibiscus. We were one of the first to arrive. As more guests arrived it was quite amusing to see how many people asked who the chef was tonight only to be told all will be revealed at 7!
Twitter had been buzzing with #gelinazshuffle cryptic tweets were being posted to give clues as to which chef was where. A few clues had actually gave me an idea as to who would be cooking tonight. I had mentioned to my husband earlier that I thought it may be Sean Gray. Would I be right????
As we were first to arrive we were first to be lead into the dining room. We sat down and opened up the menu to reveal our chef…………… Sean Gray! I was right! Sean Gray is the Chef de Cuisine of Momofuku Ko. Ko is located in New York and boasts two michelin stars. I had guessed as there were a couple of crucial tweets which gave the game away!
Once the dining room was full the meal kicked off. After some delicious snacks our first course was presented.
Cornish mackerel, cucumber, new season almond. So it’s no secret I’m not a fan of mackerel. I did try a slice of the fish but I passed the rest over to hubby. I enjoyed all the other components and soaked up the cucumber with some bread.
Hereford Snails, coco bean, lemon grass, coriander. This was my absolute favourite dish of the night. I’ve had snails a few times but never presented like this. I think the mention of snails is scary for most people, but trust me if your first taste of snails was served liked this you’d be an instant fan.
Wild turbot, tarragon, Jersey royals, carrots. The star of this dish was the potato. The tiny little spud had been smoked and was bursting with flavour. A surprisingly delicious addition to the plate.
English peas, shiso Meringue. I have never had peas as a dessert before so was really surprised by how lovely this dish was. Peas are sweet anyway so it kinda makes sense to use them as a dessert. They complimented the meringue beautifully and were a perfect finale to such an awesome meal.
As we were savouring our last morsels Chef Sean Gray entered the dining room to an applause. He then made his way round to each table shaking each diners hand. My husband got his menu signed. The grand Gelinaz! Shuffle was such an amazing experience and what contributed to it being so amazing was the incredible service from the restaurant staff, especially from the sommelier. I look forward to future events and hopefully the Grand Gelinaz! shuffle 2016
I’m a big fan of Pascal Aussignac and Club Gascon, although this was actually my first visit to the restaurant. I’ve sampled their food at the Taste of London festivals and my Husband and I always said that we must visit the actual restaurant, imagine what the food would taste like from an actual plate in a dining room as opposed to a plastic dish in a park. So that’s exactly what we did and my husband booked us in for lunch on April fools day.
Club Gascon is home to Head Chef Pascal Aussignac and specialises in cuisine from the South-West of France. The food is made with imagination, passion and most importantly love!
We were the first to arrive for the lunch service, and no surprise we had decided on the tasting menu, as usual. Prior to our arrival I had tweeted my excitement at having lunch at Club Gascon so we were given a special treat, a tour of the kitchen before we began our meal. We got to meet Chef Pascal in his domain prepping the foie gras which we would be trying for dessert?!?!?
The kitchen was teeny tiny, it’s so impressive how relaxed the chefs are in such a tight space. I know in my tiny kitchen at home it’s complete chaos cooking for just four people. I sometimes feel like a bit of a wally going into their kitchen but my husband and I are geeks who like meeting our chef idols, ha! I’m sure they appreciate their ‘fans’ too.
We took our seats and kicked off our meal with a glass of bubbles. We were also given gorgeous cheese sticks, bread and a small bowl containing a single ravioli in a beautiful coloured liquid.
Next up Landes white asparagus, black pudding emulsion, pork crackling.
This was one of my favourite courses. I love asparagus and it pairs so well with pork. I could not get enough of the black pudding emulsion. I asked for more bread so I could mop up every last drop.
Now for the most beautiful course of food which was Violet tea smoked seatrout, cardinale pulp, pickles, linen oil.
I’m finding seatrout appearing on menus a lot more recently. This dish was so artistic and pretty to look at, it was almost a shame to mess it up with my knife and fork.
For main course we had another stunningly presented dish of Roast guinea fowl, elderflower glazed chicory, mustard & wild garlic. It was delicious.
The dessert, Duck foie gras tagada, wafer & aromatic strawberries.
My brain didn’t understand the foie gras as a dessert but I could understand the concept as foie gras is very rich and creamy, obviously strawberries and cream is a classic combination. So I could understand why the components were put together but it wasn’t for me. I prefer a sickly sweet chocolate dessert. I did enjoy the fact that I had a sneak preview of this dish as we were informed that it would be one of the dishes presented at Taste of London.
At the end of the meal, to my gratification, we were presented with some chocolaty petit fours.
Such a lovely restaurant with such attentive service. We really were made to feel special. There were great wine choices to accompany our meal. Aside from the main courses all the other little bits were also delicious. Every plate had a contrast of beautiful colours, really artistic presentation. The plates of food are truly stunning and as well as tasting great they are beautiful to look at. My husband and I left very satisfied and feeling very spoilt.