It’s nothing to do with Easter, it’s pure coincidence. And a happy one at that. Krug’s latest catalyst to inspire chefs to create a menu with a single ingredient has elected that 2016 be the “Year of the…Egg.” It just happens to be kicking off at a time when ova the world over – see what I did there? – are consumed indulgently, irreverently and indefatigably. Call it timely marketing.
If you’ve managed that opening paragraph and have no idea what I’m talking about, allow me to enlighten you (as I was, in fact, recently at the St James Hotel). A few years ago, purveyors of fine champagne, Krug, struck upon an idea to inspire chefs to exercise their craft with a single ingredient. It began with the tomato, then the crab and, last year, the potato. It was a call to action to show the simplicity and versatility of one elemental foodstuff. And celebrate it with a drop of Grand Cuvee.
This year, at the St James’s Hotel’s cosy dining enclave Seven Park Place, recent Michelin-winner William Drabble has taken up the challenge and concocted an almighty homage to the humble egg. The interpretation, as you can imagine, leaves a lot to, well, the imagination. There will be eggs of different kinds, employed in different ways and even defined by styles of cooking we associate with them. It is, in short, an eggsperience in eggsperimentation. With some eggsquisite results. And that concludes my puns, too.
Drabble cut his teeth doing 19-hour days at Pied-a-Terre, so he knows a thing or two about preparing fine dining taster menus. We open the batting, at a grand table in the hotel’s library, with a poached duck egg on a warm potato mousse with cured ham. “It’s a take on egg and chips,” he tells us. Ooh, and lest I forget, we’re tasting these dishes with Krug’s Grand Cuvee. A signature bubble to pimp a delectable take on comfort food.
A word, if I may, on Krug and what makes them a fitting accompaniment to this menu. You see, Krug, when it was founded, was done so with the intent of making not just fine champagne from its annual crop – as such they don’t do vintages – but fine champagne, period. It makes theirs the single malts of the bubbly world, blending ‘vintages’ to make exceptional cuvees – theirs, too, aren’t ever oaked (a little crib for you, by the way, when tasting Krug never, ever remark on its oakiness).
The Grand Cuvee carried us through to the puree of foie gras on champagne jelly (made with the Krug, naturally) and brioche. Pate on toast, basically. And the egg? A poached quail egg hidden in the pate. Egg #2 and we’re moving up through the gears.
Into the fish courses and we begin with a tartare of hand-dived scallops, Scottish, sourced that morning, with a truffle dressing, and rinsed down with a crispier, subtler Vintage from 2003. But I didn’t think Krug did vintage, I hear you protest? Semantics, dear reader, semantics. It’s what they call their release when a single crop stands out in a year, but it’s still created with the best from the cellar. The egg in this course comes in the form of caviar. Clever, eh?
The egg in the next is cleverer still, it’s in the hollandaise that accompanies a lobster tail and asparagus. There’s Krug, too, in the sauce. As well as eggs, Drabble has incorporated the champagne into every dish and next he turns the whole thing on its head, ‘poaching’ our turbot in champagne. Could this get any more indulgent?
Oh, yes. Our ‘Year of the Egg’ concludes with a pink champagne – there’s a tale to Krug’s rose, too, but I’ll leave that for your delectation when you enjoy the meal yourself – and strawberry jelly with, of course, a vanilla egg custard.
It is a mighty, rich, epic feast. One to clear the next day’s diary for, to savour, to enjoy, to toast the arrival of spring. All the better when you consider that the St James Hotel’s restaurant is the country’s smallest, catering for just nine tables. As if this dinner wasn’t special enough, if you do the maths, it makes it rather eggsclusive too.
Sorry, couldn’t resist.
William Drabble’s 2016 Krug ‘Year of the Egg’ taster menu at Seven Park Place is available now and throughout April at the St James’s Hotel, priced at £95pp, or £155pp with a half bottle of Krug. For more information, visit www.stjameshotelandclub.com.
For more information about Krug, including food pairings and details of their Krug app, visit www.krug.com.