At last! It’s the post you’ve all been waiting for: the one which you may need a bib to read. I’m aware I promised it to you on Tuesday – and that all those global puddings got slightly in the way. But I hope you’ll agree that it’s been worth the wait.
You see, Ogglers, on Saturday – for the very first time in my life – I was taken to a Michelin-starred restaurant.
Can you imagine? All those swanky people in their fancy clothes, sipping Pimm’s while a Pud-Hog wallows in the mud around their ankles?
Actually, I’ll be honest: it wasn’t quite like that. For starters, there was no mud. Also, on the whole, I kept away from other people’s feet.
Anyway, the occasion was, of course, in honour of the Man’s birthday – a treat from his parents to which I was most pleased to be invited. The location? A pub called The Nut Tree, in a village not far from Oxford.
The weather was lovely, the atmosphere relaxed and casual, and the staff extremely friendly. But although my starter and main were both delicious, I reserved my judgement for course number three: the long-awaited dessert.
There were four to choose from on the menu, and with three of us ordering differently, that meant only one would escape our mass tasting.
Before the puds even arrived, things were boding well. To my delight, unlike the strange folks at Kopapa (who make all their ice creams and sorbets with gelatin), all of the options were veggie friendly. Well, nearly all: the orange jelly cubes that came with the Man’s Chocolate Fondant were the only things off-limits.
Talking of fondants, here it is:
Isn’t it pretty? Discounting the Man’s remarks that the smear of chocolate looked like a skidmark (what a puerile chap he is), it was just the kind of top class presentation you would expect from a place with a Michelin star.
Taste-wise, the Fondant was seriously chocolatey: very dark, with a warm puddle of sauce that spilled out from the centre. It definitely needed the sweetness of the ice cream – the Cardamom flavour of which was also a nice way to lift the chocolate up. As was my silver spoon…
The pudding I ordered was better still: a plate of Sticky Toffee Pudding, Caramelised Apple Tart and Praline Ice Cream.
It’s a weird-sounding combination, don’t you think? Never before had I thought of putting anything other than cream/custard/ice cream on a Sticky Toffee Pudding and the thought of adding a Caramelised Apple Tart to the mix seemed almost absurd (like something out of This Is Why You’re Fat).
Naturally, I was super keen to try it.
You’ll be pleased to know it was AWESOME.
There were so many textures and flavours, it could easily become a Pud-Hog classic: the zingy apple crisp, the biscuity band on the top (virtually flavourless – but pleasantly crunchy; as if the whole thing had a halo), the rich and gooey brick of Toffee Pudding (served with just the right level of warmth), the mouth-watering Praline Ice Cream (filled with sweet morsels of nut)…
As I said: AWESOME.
Sadly my photo of it hides one of the pud’s more intriguing components, the Caramelised Apple Tart, which turned out to be a small disc of crisp pastry, heaped in toffee-covered apple. Again, the mix of textures was just right.
Looks like I’ll have to serve all of my puddings with fruit tarts from now on…
Wait though, Ogglers. My gushing isn’t over yet.
Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better, along comes the pudding that Man-Pa ordered:
Sure, it might not look as fancy as the other two, but let me assure you: this pud here might well be the champ.
You can just about make out the pinkness of it from my photo, and the colour was just as vibrant and gorgeous throughout.
What you won’t get from this photo, however, is the taste. So while we all cross our trotters for edible websites, take it from me: this souffle was superb. Wondrously moist and light, surprisingly large (always a plus point), and totally – unmistakeably – bursting with the fullest cherry flavour you can imagine (outside of a cherry itself, that is).
No longer will I think of souffles as a vehicle made for cheese – or even the occasional spot of dark chocolate. No, sir. Souffle and fruit are a match made in heaven.
Spoons down, I can honestly say that these three desserts dispelled my Michelin-based suspicions: that luxurious joints such as these will always serve small portions, costing more per gram than a white truffle cocktail.
At The Nut Tree at least, the puddings were filling, hearty, and – at £7.50 to £8 a pop – pretty gosh darn reasonable for such a highly-rated place.
Perhaps Pud-Hogs and Michelin Stars are a much better fit than I thought.
As long as they don’t mind me cleaning the plate with my finger…