Coming home from the Isle of Skye last week it was a pleasant (joy jumping!) surprise to see an invitation to attend Miele's Nordic Cuisine Chef's Table with Martyn Meid in my inbox. Hailing from Lithuania, wanderchef Martyn is inspired by cuisine on the opposite side of the Baltic Sea and at his restaurant Ink he creates Nordic inspired dishes that look effortlessly beautiful with simple and clean flavours.
I wasn't entirely sure what to expect having not been to one of Miele's cookery events before. Miele has two locations for their courses/events, luckily for me, our dinner with Martyn Meid was at Miele's London venue. With huge windows opening out onto the street, you could easily mistake it for a Miele showroom with so many appliances on display. But these appliances are not all for show, as I said, Miele holds cookery events here and Martyn Meid used them to create us a spectacular 7 course taster menu!
Never one to turn a 7 course meal or any meal down, I hopped (on a train), shuffled (off the tube) and walked (ran!) to meet the other eight guests attending, and get down to gorging myself and/or business! As a bit of a wine lover, although by no means buff, I was excited to find the sommelier from Ink had paired each course to a different wine (and a heady shot!).
I always try to be careful not to eat too much bread before the start of a taster menu just because by the end I'm normally in a tricky situation where I have to undo the back of my dress and sit there with my jacket on because I'm uncomfortably full. But I couldn't help myself, the butter with burnt leak ash was so good! The ash tasted like my favourite condiment sumac but with an onion twang and I'm not sorry to say I ate all of the bread, butter and leak ash on offer.
You might start to sense a theme to this menu, in addition to his love for Nordic cuisine, Martyn is also a pyromaniac; he loves to burn things. And why not! Burn away I say when it produces delicious results such as our first course of burnt lobster tails with a squid ink and chicken sauce, burnt onion, leek ash, raw pumpkin, watercress and pansies. The burnt onion lent a lovely sweet caramel flavour to the dish but kept it's bite being raw on the inside, this and the glass of prosecco on the side balanced out the rich and creamy squid ink sauce and the buttery lobster shined through it all.
Surströmming is a traditional Scandinavian dish of fermented herring which we, in the UK, are often not the biggest fans of compared to our Nordic cousins. Martyn's take on this dish featured herring fillets two ways, slow-cooked in oil and pickled for 12 days. Served with pickled carrot and cucumber, a gluten free linseed tuile and sprigs of dill, it was a refreshing lift after the rich first course. We were all unprepared for a shot of the traditional Scandinavian schnapps Akvavit but it definitely helped break the ice amongst us!
Is this hand dived scallop from Scotland sprinkled with sea salt on a cow's milk puree garnished with coriander and pansies not the prettiest fish course you've seen! This was served with one of the best white wines around La Toledana Gavi di Gavi Vandemmia 201, I won't pretend I'm a wine connoisseur but I do know that Gavi di Gavi means you're in for a good wine. Crisp and dry it went well with the sweet scallop and grassy milk puree. As the scallops at Ink are all hand dived they are all different sizes, somehow I landed the biggest scallop on the table; an achievement I will cherish.
After the rich scallops we had a palette cleanser of what I call an explosion of peach/our middle of the meal dessert. Burnt peach cheek met peach puree and dill, which blew my tastebuds to peachy smithereens when served with essence of peach to spray onto your spoon and Fernlands Sauvignon Blanc, Malborough, New Zealand 2013.
Our second no salt dish (the first course of lobster being the first) was my favourite course, ballotine chicken with a lobster bisque served with leak, mushrooms, watercress, more pansies (!), and salmon and lobster roe, with a chicken and burnt leek ash consommé on the side. This course spoilt me rotten! Served with a glass of Roaring Meg Pinot Noir 2013, Frankie a blogger and born and bred New Zealander was quick to tell me the Roaring Meg was a river running through her homeland and from there we got onto several further chains of conversation ending in what better names there could have been for the seven dwarves in Snow White.
This dish Martyn introduced to us as the 'Hunter' and with a tender and crisp duck breast on a barley and mushroom medley, onions and potatoes drenched in a pork and duck stock cream sauce, it was the kind of simple but warming supper you'd imagine for a hunter gatherer/one hungry blogger. I love duck so I greedily gobbled this down, realising the downside of eating all my bread at the beginning was that I had none to mop up my remaining sauce. Probably a good thing. This was served with a delicious and widely celebrated on it's appearance Chateau Musar Hochar, Bekka Valley, Lebanon 2009.
The finale, Martyn's pièce de résistance a ricotta doughnut filled with his Grandma's Chantilly cream I would fight someone over, was served with a elderflower and peachy jelly made from kuzu (a Japanese root starch) which had a subtle taste of aloe vera and a glass of Muscat, Limari Valley, Chile. Alongside the doughnut the wine was the supporting star, rich in sweet apricot and elderflower.
Overall this event was amazing and the service at Miele was so smooth and the atmosphere so relaxed it created a friendly intimate dining experience and by the end bloggers and diners were hugging each other goodbye! Miele hosts an assortment of cooking and dining experiences with prices starting from £30. the price of this ticket to the Nordic Cuisine Event with Martyn Meid was £75, which is very reasonably priced compared with other restaurants' taster menus. Now I just have to wait for a super special occasion to try the 72 hour taster menu at Ink!