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.