“Knowledge, theatre and personality just make things taste better”
Look right, and imagine that peculiar picture of me replaced with one of Giles Coren. In yet another deviation from what I probably should be writing, I am going to embark on the Guild’s first restaurant review.
Picture the scene. It’s post-World Cheese Awards in Bergen, Norway – which [reaches to blow his own trumpet] was a work of genius. Testimonials from our sponsors, from the city of Bergen and scores of judges back this is up. Record entries (3,472) from over 40 countries, judged by experts from more than 30 nations.
Anyway, with the judging wrapped up and Norway confirmed as a serious cheesemaking nation, Tortie and I disappeared up a remote fjord to Haaheim Gaard, a hotel-cum-concert hall, farm shop, cookery school and restaurant, with an ebullient patron, Torstein Hatlevik.
On night one, given absolutely no choice or menu, we were served a quite excellent virgin herring to start, which successfully traversed that fine line between seawater freshness and a mouthful of nasty brine.
This was followed by the most tender venison fillet with autumnal blackcurrant and mushroom jus. In light of the fact that this was almost certainly red deer (the wonder of Google images solved our breakdown in communication), this normally too-gamey meat was a light-touch triumph.
Each course was expertly described with nuances of seasonality, terroir, variety and species by our host – and sometimes in song (Torstein is also a professional opera singer).
Night two was nearly as good.
Night three: less so.
Perhaps the food was just better executed that first night? But I am convinced it was no accident that our colourful host was away from the hotel in northern Norway on nights two and three.
The moral of my story? It’s the same in our shops. Knowledge, theatre and personality are the added ingredients that just make things taste better.
To read more opinions from John click here.