We are heading into Oxfordshire for lunch at The Nut Tree in Murcott. It is a few years since we last visited the Nut Tree but we have been encouraged back as an opportunity to catch up with friends, Roland & Jasmine. Plus, the food should help us finish our 2015 eating adventures on a high!
We start this stage of our culinary tutorial with an amuse bouche of warm parsnip soup, curry oil and toasted almonds. It is an interesting start….and earns high marks. Rock, Roland & Jasmine all have the pave of smoked Loch Duart salmon with whipped horseradish cream, pickled cucumber & Avruga caviar. The salmon is simply beautiful. I have the Cornish crab salad with citrus fruits, seaweed crisp & coriander. The seaweed crisp is an education in itself … it tastes far better than it looks and works really well with the crab and citrus flavours.
Roland and I move on to the roast saddle of Scottish venison with potato puree, creamed spinach, sautéed wild mushrooms and a thyme jus. The meat is beautifully tender, all elements of the dish are cooked perfectly – I’ve had venison numerous times this year and this one is top of the class. Rock has the pan-fried fillet of sea bream with a green herb rissotto and a wilted pousse (which I learn is French for shoots). Jasmine has the fresh open lasagne with a fricassee of wild mushrooms and tender leeks.
Between main and dessert courses we are served a complimentary white chocolate mousse with caramel and salt, presented like an out of context Easter egg, in a real eggshell! For dessert, Roland chooses the artistically presented sticky toffee pudding with caramelised apple tart and praline ice cream. I am unable to resist the warm vanilla rice pudding with Armagnac marinated prunes, honeycomb and caramel ice cream. But, I find it too sweet and the honeycomb tastes slightly burnt – that will teach me to give in to temptation. A small blemish on an otherwise fabulous meal.
Overall the Nut Tree has performed to high standards and passed the oral examination with ease.