Food and Foraging

Do you fancy something sweet for your starter? Aiden Byrne and other Michelin-starred chefs reckon so

That’s black cherry and foie gras terrine with palm sugar mousse and gingerbread biscuits in the picture above.

Looks fantastic, undoubtedly tastes great, but is it the kind of thing with which you’d want to kick off your meal?

Aiden Byrne, the former Dorchester Grill head chef now hailing from the Church Green in Cheshire is the man responsible for this, in the fifth round of Great British Menu cooking.

And he isn’t alone.

Scot Alan Murchison kicked off the entire TV series with duck terrine with pineapple five ways.

I’ve also experienced the sweet at the start of meal in real life, at Claude Bosi’s Hibiscus (review below) recently, with an amouse bouche of hibiscus flower and pineapple foam.

And at Gordon Ramsay’s three-star Hospital Road restaurant he’s now serving pressed foie gras with peppered Madeira jelly, smoked duck, new season rhubarb and blood orange.

You’d expect a little bit of fruit here, some sweet alcohol or vinegar there – hence the Madeira jelly. But rhubarb and orange take it into a whole different territory – desserts.

There’s a tradition of mixing fruit with meat, vis pork with apple and redcurrant with turkey, and pastilla with pigeon in North Africa.

And meat or vegetables often benefit from caramelisation, giving slightly sweetened notes to add to the complexity of a dish.

But to kick off with so much candy-coating seems OTT.

Maybe we need to open our minds a bit; perhaps we’re seeing the future here. But I’ve yet to be converted.

Daniel Clifford is the man on Great British Menu

Daniel Clifford is turning in a storming performance on Great British Menu and frankly it makes me want to take up his offer to sample the food he’s turned out for the TV show.

He’s previously mashed up his MIchelin star billing with under par performances in the BBC kitchen, but this time Daniel has turned scores of 9, 9 and now 10 for the main.

Sat Bains managed a 10/10 with his slow-cooked duck egg with pea sorbet, ham and pea shoots and this latest effort from Clifford seems equally likely to have people heading to his restaurant just to smaple it.

"I’m not here to make enemies, I’m here to cook great food" is what he tells Aktar Islam.

And as from 24 April, Midsummer House will be serving the full Olympic-sized effortHere’s the full four-course lowdown of what’s on offer – get in there!

Starter – caramelised veal sweetbread, onion and cinnamon purée, burnt onions, wood sorrel

Fish course – stuffed red mullet, parmesan purée, confit!lemon, roast artichoke, green olives and Iberico ham

Main course – slow poached chicken, sweetcorn, wilted spinach with bacon and peas, chicken juices

Dessert – raspberry and tarragon roulade, white chocolate cookie dough, salt and pepper powder and tarragon oil