- Posted on 03rd January 2013 by Nicola Holden
Let me start by wishing all my readers a very happy New Year! I have had a good break, spending Christmas in Ireland with my sister and her family, and then a quiet New Year back in London, and I am now full of energy to launch myself into 2013!
It’s been a little quiet here on my blog with life, work, and travel getting in the way of blogging. But, before we get too far into the year I thought I’d share with you my exciting news. Whilst in Zimbabwe in October my beloved popped the question!! I have been waiting for that day for a long time, so the answer was definitely a ‘yes’ – we will be getting married in a few months’ time!
So, after a couple of busy months setting our plans into motion, we finally got around to buying an engagement ring from the lovely Lewis Malka of Joseph Sterling Jewellery, and then, during a lull between Christmas and New Year, we celebrated our engagement in style, treating ourselves to a fabulous 7 course tasting menu at Viajante.
I have long been wanting to experience this gem of a restaurant tucked away in the grand grade II listed Bethnal Green Town Hall in London’s East End, far from the glitz of the more established fine dining areas. Viajante (which means ‘traveller’ in Portuguese) opened in March 2010 and gained a Michelin star just 10 months after opening. The man behind Viajante is Portuguese-born chef Nuno Mendes, who is well known for his avant-garde style of cooking. His restaurant is one of the highlights of the London dining scene, and it was a delight!
First stop was the bar for a cocktail, before going into the restaurant. The interior of the restaurant is generally calm, with pops of colour like the beautiful wall hangings by Tzuri Gueta, and the ceilings lamps that seemed to scribe patterns across its surface.
Viajante pride themselves on doing a ‘surprise’ menu – you don’t know what you will eat until it is right in front of you. And, the Viajante journey doesn’t just travel through flavours – one is catapulted through smells, textures and new cooking concepts. The exquisite gastronomic delights are prepared in an open kitchen by a team of tweezer-wielding chefs. Some of the dishes were even delivered by Nuno himself! The meal started with a selection of canapés, ending with ‘Bread and butter’ – beautiful thin potato flutes and rustic chunks of bacon & walnut sourdough bread served with two different kinds of butter.
Then began our 7 courses:
Langoustine with buttermilk and frozen pine
Halibut with vanilla and yuba
Cod and tripe with onions, parsley and potatoes
Salsify with toasted flour and black truffle
Iberico presa with fermented squash
Wood pigeon with cep mushroom and chestnuts
Cucumber with reduced milk sorbet
The ‘Milk’ pudding was one of my favourite courses – as its name suggests it was simply different preparations of milk, similar in taste to sweetened condensed milk, but with an interplay of different textures and temperatures. Sublime!
All in all a real treat!
“There is no sincerer love than the love of food. “
George Bernard Shaw