Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Scotch Beef Feast, London

I had the huge privilege of being a guest at the Scotch Beef Feast, held at Plateau Restaurant in Canary Wharf.

The Scotch Beef label is a run by the Scottish Government, so it is a publicly funded promotional body, and enjoys Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status. They really do things properly, and are a cheering example of public sector success.

I can honestly say I was bowled over by the quality of the meat and the preparation of the dishes, by Head Chef Allan Picket.

We were treated to champagne before the meal and a wonderful selection of reds from sommelier, Piedad Tenorio, matched to the dishes. I enjoyed the champs and wine rather excessively, but that did not stop the food from shining for me.

Left to right: My friend Rupert Parker, me and 
the lovely Anna Krzebietka from 
Carat Media - pre-feast drinks.

During the meal, charismatic Scotch Beef representatives, Laurent Vernet (yes, a Frenchman) and Suzie Carlaw explained what PGI means for their product. Among many other things, each animal effectively has a passport that shows every detail of any medication they’ve received, which farms they’ve been reared on, et cetera.

I thought maybe they could introduce the French butcher shop custom of displaying a photo and information on the counter, relating to the individual animals within. But on reflection maybe some Brits would be a bit squeamish about that; maybe Brits aren’t ready for that much reality yet, after so many decades of distance?

Here is the outstanding Scotch Beef Feast menu, with comments:

Amuse bouche - Tartare of Scotch Beef PGI, quails egg yolk, onion bread croûtes

Really good (hard to go wrong with this, if using good beef), but rather enormous for an amuse bouche.

Starter - Scotch Beef PGI tea, tortellini of ox tail

This dish really stood out, not just during this meal but in my bank of general food memories. It was the tastiest tortellini ever. The ox tail was like beef rillettes – mellow, melting and delicious. The beef tea gave a refined umami hit.

Middle course - Salt & sugar cured Scotch Beef PGI, wild roquette, 24 month old parmesan, aged balsamic

Lovely; delicate and moreish. Again, this isn’t difficult to achieve with such amazing meat and raw or lightly cured is the perfect way to showcase its qualities.

Main course - Roast fillet of Scotch Beef PGI, boulangère of cheek, caramelised shallot purée, Burgundy sauce

Wow. Very generous portions of the most tender fillet imaginable, with delicious accompaniments. I was very full by this point but soldiered on as the beef was out of this world.

Pre-dessert - Citrus sorbet, poured champagne
Dessert - White chocolate mousse, raspberries and sorbet

No comment on desserts – I was too full and wined-out, which is very naughty, I know. But this feast was one of the most memorable upscale meals I’ve had in a long time. It also achieved its objective with me, as I will definitely be looking out for and buying PGI Scotch Beef, as well as signing its praises to anyone who will listen.

Scotch Beef PGI tea, tortellini of ox tail

Photos courtesy of Carat Media

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