Posted on Wednesday, 21st December 2016
THE FROG -PARMESAN CELEBRATION
I reviewed a lovely meal at The Frog recently, but last week was an opportunity to try more of Adam Handling’s excellent cooking at a bloggers’ event (again at The Frog), this time to celebrate parmesan cheese. Adam Handling “leapt” to fame as a finalist in Professional Masterchef in 2013 and since then has gained further awards along the way. And on our night to celebrate Parmigiano- Reggiano, Adam came up with a creative 3-course menu take us through the various ages of Parmigiano-Reggiano, a much revered cheese, not only by Italians, but in every corner of the world.
The event started with a lively reception in the conservatory area of the restaurant. Italian prosecco Ca’di Alte accompanied a generous array of Italian cured meat antipasti – a spread of Parma ham, bresaola, mortadella as well as freshly baked bread with olive oils. Plates with chunks of Parmesan cheese were dotted around tables to flag the star ingredient of the evening. We had to be careful not to nibble too much as the dinner was still to come, although good quality Parmigiano and fresh bread were hard to resist.
Soon we were seated in the restaurant for the tasting dinner. Even though the actual menu sounded quite simple, we knew we were up for a treat with Adam’s love of playing with various cooking techniques.
Adam introduced every course and gave a short introduction to the ages of cheese used in each dish. Being a Scot he smartly compared the importance of cheese age with whiskey. His remarks added additional flare to the dinner and made it quite informal and interactive.
The starter, Cheese and Truffle Doughnut (a regular on his normal menu) came “powdered” with finely grated 24-month old Parmigiano and truffles. The doughnut itself was crispy outside and velvety gooey inside. So moorish that we remarked that one was most definitely not enough! A fruity New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc Paper Road accompanied the starter.
The choice Mac & Cheese for the main course was quite “American” in concept, but in the usual “The Frog way” came with a twist. This another regular on his normal menu, on this occasion Adam went up a few months in cheese maturity for this dish – 6 to be precise. The Mac & Cheese came in a shape of a dome and resembled a heap of fresh snow. A dome, made with 30-year old Parmesan, totally covered perfectly cooked pasta. The maturity of the cheese was felt through the intensity of the flavour, yet weightless cheese sauce. It was ever so slightly salty, but rather addictive on the palate. The choice of wine – Macon-Villages, Domain Perraud – from Chardonnay, France was perfect for the dish. With its citrus acidity it complimented the richness of the main course nicely.
We knew that more Parmggiano was coming our way with the dessert – Burnt honey, parmesan, malt and lemon. According to Adam it took a month to perfect the dessert and the final version came out only two days before the actual tasting dinner. We noticed some nitro activity in the exposed and inviting restaurant kitchen. It was indeed a welcome break for us to stand up, and walk off some of the calories we gained from the first two courses and see some action.
For the dessert the chef used the less mature 18-month old cheese. The plate was a combination of various textures and flavours – sweetness and saltiness coming together supporting each other.
Personally we enjoyed the menu. It was an evening for the cheese lovers in the room and Adam Handling fulfilled the challenge of creating his Parmegiano – Reggionale menu with flying colors.
For my recent review of The Frog, click here.
Note: Written by Karina from Russian Revels in conjunction with myself.