Sunday 12 August 2012

Nutters - 19th Birthday Olympic Feast

Andrew Nutter is a chef with a reputation for not doing things by halves!

I couldn’t believe a year had passed since I was last at Nutters Restaurant helping him to celebrate his 18 years of successful service (see here).

This year, the restaurant’s 19th birthday celebrations coincided with the start of the London 2012 Games of the XXX Olympiad – for Nutter, it was too good an opportunity not to push the boundaries!

Guests were greeted in style by flag waving waiters in patriotic morph suits and handed a glass of champagne on arrival. With Union Flags a fluttering, we knew we were in for a full-on evening of fun, frolics, theatre… and even flames! (and, of course, plenty of Grey Goose!)

The evening was set up thus: each chef, from commis to sous, had been allocated a country and charged with creating a dish to represent it and themselves in the Olympic Feast.

Each of the 196 diners then had the difficult task of voting for their favourite dish in order to crown Nutter’s very own Olympic Champion.

Kicking things off with an opening ceremony that I’m sure ‘local lad’ Danny Boyle would have approved, Great Britain’s entry with ‘The Great British Fry Up’ – like Team GB in the Olympics we were off to a flying start and it must have taken an Olympian effort from the kitchen brigade to fry 196 or so of those little quail eggs to perfection! 

Representing USA: Creamy Clam Chowder with Corn Wafers – this was a popular dish that won a good few votes from NOC (Nutter’s Olympic Committee) members on my table. (Gold medal winner!)

Representing Italy: Venison Carpaccio with a Rocket and Heritage Tomato Salad, Balsamic Basil Jellies – from the menu descriptions, I had this dish as an early favourite and it lived up to expectations and actually got my vote at the end; aside from the gorgeous venison, it was the little jellies that made it a winner for me. (Bronze medal winner!)

Representing Spain: Seared Scallop with a White Bean Casserole, Chorizo Crisps and Rioja Wine Jus – individually all the components were good (and another top effort from the kitchen to get a banquet full of scallops cooked so well) but I found the casserole and chorizo overpowered the scallop somewhat.

Representing China: Szechuan Braise Seabass with Coriander Noodles and a Ginger and Soy Reduction – straight out of the blocks with its fun presentation, this was another popular dish amongst the NOC members – the seabass itself was top quality. (Silver medal winner!)

Representing Greece: Roast Lamb Cutlets, Couscous Stuffed Peppers with Feta and Black Olive Torches – another strong contender on paper; the lamb was great but, unlike a Team GB rowing team, the rest of the flavours and components just didn’t pull together for me.

Representing France: Caramel and Vanilla Bean Torch – for theatre and drama alone, this fun take on a crème brûlée deserved a medal; the lights were dimmed as, mimicking the young athletes at the opening ceremony, we each got to light our own Olympic Flame. The brandy snap torches were pure genius.

Representing Belgium: Whimberry and Belgian Chocolate Torte 100m Sprint – Paired with the Belgian chocolate, Whimberries (also known as the Bilberry or European blueberry) were an inspired choice. Not only were they locally sourced and seasonal but each year around this time the Belgian town of Vielsalm celebrates the ‘Festival of the Blueberries.’ – fab research from Nutter’s team.

Representing Switzerland: Filter Coffee and Swiss Chocolate Torte – a great end to an imaginative and fun meal; made memorable by the great company and, as always, wonderful welcoming attitude and service from Nutter and his staff.

Founder of the IOC and father of the modern Olympic Fames, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, famously said, "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part.”

Cheesy, I know, but one thing, I’m sure, is certain, everyone who took part in or attended Nutter’s Olympic Feast 2012 felt like a winner - a champion evening! #bringonnextyear

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