When one of Bubble’s long-standing clients asked London’s avant-garde event food design company to join forces with a prominent Michelin starred chef, Ollie Dabbous was at the top of the wish list.
Michelin-starred restaurant Dabbous opened in 2012, serving seasonal food that is simple, light and delicious, in a relaxed, upbeat setting. The ethos was to avoid the usual fine-dining pomp or ceremony and focus on the very best ingredients respectfully handled and served thoughtfully, but without fuss. Dabbous enjoyed 5 star reviews from A.A. Gill and Faye Maschler, among others, and won a Michelin star just months after opening.
"Jens and the team at Bubble were very organised, accommodating and enthusiastic. They executed an ambitious menu to a high standard, and did so with calm and confidence". Ollie Dabbos
“We wanted to work with a chef who chimed with our imaginative and inventive approach.” commented Bubble Executive Head Chef, Jens Nisson, “We knew that Ollie’s intelligent and minimalistic style, with its bold and striking aesthetic would work perfectly for the brief we had been set. The client asked for a modern twist on Victorian classics and high end comfort food. On the surface, the dishes looked simple, but this belied some complex cooking techniques. It was fantastic for me and my talented team to work with Ollie and food historian, Marc Meltonville, in tailoring some of his signature dishes for this event, all of which received outstanding feedback from the client.”
Held in palatial surroundings, the brief was to reflect the traditions of the lavish banquets and feasts hosted at the venue over the centuries, whilst celebrating the best of modern fine dining. Using the only the very best ingredients, each course needed to incorporate a strand of historical authenticity, creating a truly memorable and unique event.
“The study of food history turns out to be the study of everything.” remarked Marc Meltonville, “Our loves and hates, trade and travel, ideas, and even prejudices. By learning from our culinary history we can truly start to understand our place in the past.“
Guests were greeted with Champagne and a selection of Bubble’s suitably majestic canapés including Native lobster, watermelon, mint, borage flowers, spices; Chickpea and rosemary biscuit, sweet cheese, damson, mustard; Pea and almond wafer, pea shoots, arbequina oil; and Duck parfait, mandarin.
In the past, no noble meal would have started without a soup, whether this was a warm broth in winter or a cooling salad based soup in summer. Often the host would serve soup to each of his or her guests, with each bowl being handed around to the diners by uniformed footmen. Guests enjoyed Chilled cucumber; scallop and lovage tartare or Summer vegetables in a light Spenwood broth as vegetarian option. Both soups showcased herbs and flowers from the palace gardens, and were accompanied by artisan dinner rolls served in paper bags featuring a traditional format menu with a watercolour rendition of the venue.
The second course was Coddled egg with smoked butter and summer truffle. A perfectly cooked egg was difficult to achieve in palaces where the kitchen was often situated far from the dining table. The answer was to cook the eggs at the table – King George III even had a solid gold egg boiler that sat on his breakfast table. Using the coddling technique means that the egg doesn’t touch any water or hot oil, resulting in greater depth of flavour.
This was followed by Slow roast goose, lacquered with Highgrove honey, caraway and wild thyme; slow-roast heritage carrots and a palate cleanser, The Apple – compressed apple infused with Earl Grey tea and pink grapefruit, served on crushed ice.
Inspired by Queen Victoria’s love of the English pudding and afternoon teas, dessert began with Buttermilk pudding topped with rosemary-infused Highgrove honey. The pudding was served in vintage tea cups and saucers, accompanied by a shortbread biscuit decorated with edible flowers from the gardens. Reflecting the historic custom of menus moving between sweet and savoury, the next course featured another of Queen Victoria’s favourites – sweet English ale - Sweet ale rarebit on toast.
Concluding the dinner with coffee and Petit Fours – the guests enjoyed Tobacco infused chocolates and Canales cooked in beeswax.