Foodie favourite blogger Alice Davidson meets MasterChef judge and legend Gregg Wallace at one of Surrey’s favourite pubs The Wiremill
FoodieAlice Davidson took a journey into Surrey to celebrate good food – as good food ‘is part of your upbringing, memory and soul’ she says.
Gregg Wallace describes himself as ‘just the fat, bald bloke on MasterChef who likes pudding,’ so when the opportunity arose to attend a 4 course-tasting menu with this honest personality it was an offer I couldn’t refuse.
The event was held in the rural North Lingfield bistro pub, The Wiremill. On arrival, guests were welcomed with a glass of prosecco and big smiles as we were all seated to ready, steady eat! Prepared by the Wiremill head chef, the first course was promptly served; a beetroot sponge, with delicately placed pickled vegetables and edible flowers alongside a jug of warm butternut squash veloute. We learnt that veloute translated into velvet, and this sauce definitely delivered.
In true MasterChef style, Wallace introduced each course highlighting the culinary challenges and encouraging questions about the successful 12 years series. Questions included, ‘Is the food cold by the time you get to the last competitor?’ Wallace explained that despite the length production process, food is only ‘cold’ when refrigerated and the dishes are simply room temperature, no different to the second half of your Sunday dinner.
Crispy, sustainably sourced cod cheeks made the base of the second course with a pea reduction and potatoes that can only be described as rice crispies. Topped with a tartar foam, this course was designed and cooked by Michelin-star chef Joe Prudanes showing no compromise on taste or flavour in the professionally constructed ‘posh’ fish and chips.
Whilst waiting for the main, Wallace described his former life as a Covent Garden greengrocer providing fresh produce to the likes of Jamie Oliver, Marco Pierre White and the Dorchester Hotel. The theme of the evening was celebrating locally sourced and sustainable food, and Wallace opened the floor to discuss whether organic food champions in taste. There was a mixed response, but Wallace explained 85% of organic fruit and vegetables are imported. The length of time produce is spent out of the ground is the only factor affecting taste and flavour, which is why professional chefs regularly utilise frozen supplies to lock in goodness.
The main course featured seared Greshams duck breast, liver pate and a quail scotch egg. Each element was cooked beautifully, and my only complaint would have been the lack of jus, but the blackberries dotted along the plate added extra juice and flavour complimenting the perfectly pink duck breast reflecting game season.
Before dessert hit the tables I had a chance to catch a one on one with Gregg. I asked him what his favourite restaurant was in London and he picked La Gavroche and Michel Roux, 2 Michelin stars. I also asked him what he liked to cook and home and he told me ‘my fiancé, 29 year old Italian called Ana loves cooking her own bread and pasta. My specialty would be veal, with a tuna sauce – it tastes much better than it sounds. I then asked – what would be your perfect meal? With no hesitation he replied with whitstable oysters, Roast Lamb or Beef, rhubarb crumble. Finally, just for fun I asked – are you meant to keep eggs in the fridge or not? He replied, ‘no idea, does it matter?’
Dessert was a brown butter crème brulee with a pistachio meringue crumble and almond cream. It might have been unnecessary but was it was a delicious end to dinner, and the smooth nutty cream perfectly contrasted with the crispy top of the crème brulee.
In summary, it was a glorious evening at The Wiremill- the food was stunning and the staff and chefs at The Wiremill can hold their heads high for an outstanding performance and fantastic feast. Each course from starter to main echoed the overall theme of sustainability and the importance of eating locally.
See more of Alice’s food reports at www.sipchewdo.com
The Wiremill, Wire Mill Lane, North Lingfield, Surrey, RH7 6HJ
0134 283 2263