On The Menu: Mount Street Deli picnic; ceviche; Courvoisier cognac; The Feathers hotel; Serious Pig salami
This week I've been eating... Mount Street Deli picnic
The Queen was indulging last weekend, so I thought I might, too. Not in a restaurant, though. I got a picnic instead. One so posh that I ate it at a table, with, horror, cutlery.
The curtains of rain that fell over most of the four days had a hand in the eating arrangements, but so did the fact it was from London's Mount Street Deli, which, it is often said, attracts a "well-heeled crowd", another way of saying it's "pricey".
But some of the food does come from its brother restaurant, Scott's. So fair's fair. So what was in it? First, salads. Three of them. Best was a brown rice and harrissa vegetable dish masquerading as salad: fabulously fresh with spiky-flavoured veg. The chorizo quiche was moist and meaty. A cheddar sandwich as big and indelicate as you want with food made for eating cross-legged on a rug. The fruit tartlet was sticky, well-pastried and in a rich custard.
Along with crisps, juice, mints and a pastry it came to £33 and fed three of us.
You want raw?
Most of us hadn't even heard of ceviche this time last year. The Peruvian dish of raw fish in a glug of lime with sea salt and a hint of chilli was probably something only known about by the more intrepid type of gap-year kid and a handful of serious foodies. Nowadays it's fetching up all over the show.
Ceviche in Soho kicked things off, but for those with less capacious pockets a new pop-up opens in east London next weekend and runs every weekend until 6 July at 5 Balls Pond Road. Raw fish not your thing? Head down for a pisco sour or three instead.
Cognac connoisseurs prick up your ears: Courvoisier has released a new version of its 21-year-old, and it's outstanding. Made from the best eaux-de-vie from the Grande Champagne cru and aged in Tronçais oak caskets, it has a big operatic flavour spanning warm and sugary figs and ending with a note of spice. As you'd expect, it isn't cheap. In fact, it's massively not cheap at £159. But, if you could stretch to it, it's a cracker of a father's day gift.
Can you have too much of a good thing? It's a question as old as the wind and one that The Feathers hotel in Woodstock has obviously answered in the negative.
The hotel's bar has just been awarded the Guinness World Record for "the largest gin collection". Taking 45 minutes to count them, the Guinness inspector noted 161 in all, including a rare 1960s bottle of Suntory Japanese gin. Fancy making inroads into the 161? Head to the hotel on the last Friday of the month, pay £5 and you can join a tutored tasting.
There is a certain tang – not too strong, or insignificant, either – which makes salami so addictive. The product of a decent balance of white pepper, garlic and fat, and a good knowledge of fermentation and drying, few people master it. One who has, however, is George Rice, whose snack-sized meats are just fabulous.
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