Thursday, August 28, 2008

JULIANA's is a jewel at Cotswold House in Chipping Campden (Gloucestershire, UK)

We arrived in the Cotwolds after the long drive south from Yorkshire and settled in to our totally cool and modern suite at the Cotswold House Hotel, which is a true gem. I should preface this rave of a review for Juliana's and its chef Stephen Love with the fact while we were guests of the sales manager, a friend of mine for several years, we had an awful experience the next day when we were told we had to move rooms....across the street to another hotel to a very hot and noisy (although amazingly historic) room. The experience, along with the hotel misplacing my jewelry and house key and losing much of the next night's sleep at the liability of the hotel, was most unpleasant...but has not changed my mind about the amazing meal we had (see, how FAIR I can be!).

We sat down with Declan, our friend, to champagne and hor's d'oevres in the bar which consisted of
a POTATO with SMOKED SALMON, Creme Fraiche & Caviar
Crispy PORK BELLY on AVOCADO (this was supreme)
Parmesan SHORTBREAD with TOMATO Fondue and Feta

As we perused the menu, it was hard to choose, so we all decided on different things so we could taste lots more. A bottle of SAINT VERAN Domaine Jean-Claude BOISSET 2005 started us off on what had turned out to be a quite warm and almost muggy day for England...about 77 degrees....

The amuse was a Warm BEETROOT Puree with Poached QUAIL EGG and GOAT CHEESE that was also superb and we knew that more good stuff was yet to come.

The starters were 65degree(Centigrade) Coddled Free Range EGG, Braised PIG CHEEK, Pork Belly (actually more like bacon), Wild MUSHROOMS and "Hogan's Cider" (actually in jelly form) Seared SCALLOPS with Peanut Textures, Pickled and Raw Cauliflower, White TRUFFLE and APPLE Salad and my CUCUMBER and LANGOUSTINE which had a cucumber sorbet, papaya, cucumber soup and Royal Baer;s caviar.

The starters were all god but not really superlative....I think the pickled part of the scallops tuned me off and the egg, was again as in Yorkshire, an matter how intense the cooking procedure.

We moved to a bottle of LA CADENE Cotes du Rhone 2000 from Domaine Chaume-Arnaud that was just perfect at this age and great with all the main courses: 21 Day Matured BEEF(a 4ounce Herefordshire fillet) with Braised Ox Cheek, Oyster, Garlic, Blackcurrant, Onions and coffee brittle. As you can see Chef Love is inventive and creative to the max.

LIGHTHORNE LAMB Loin, Braised Shoulder and Epigramme (actually saddle of lamb, pressed and rolled in breadcrumbs) with Sweetbreads, Leeks, Mint Jelly and Girolles was also quite excellent, the highlight being the saddle.

My GOOSENARGH DUCK two servings came with the first platter of Breast, Winglet, Liver and Gizzard (these latter three gorgeously glazed), Peas, Carrots, Apple, Cumin & Dates. Second came a plate with CONFIT LEG and smashed pineapple. I was in heaven.

We all wanted dessert, but could not resist the awesome local we split a cheese platter which was perfect:
Cotswold Organic Brie served with Quince Jelly (Kirkham Farm) Berkswell with fig & almond wheel (like a small paste brick) from Ram Hill
HEREFORD HOP with apple. apricot & vanilla chutney haisl from Pind Farm and is a gorgeous crunchy, yeasty treat that we returned to again the next night!
CERNEY ASH GOAT with chilli jam was a great combo. a light goat dusted with ash
ST EADBURGHA came with tomato and pear chutney an is made at Gorsehill Abbey in Broadway (where we actually are tonight) and while Brie-like is creamier and richer like a double cream and was one of my favorites
St OSWALD served with plum and ginger chutney from the same Abbey is another treat that is not to be missed in the region
COTSWOLD BLUE is light again like the Yorskshire and was served with fig jelly and also comes from Kirkham Farm.

I do not know how I will survive back in the US without these magnificent treats.

We moved on to dessert and had the RHUBARD-RHUBARD which included ices, fritter and a rhubarb-ginger parfait with macadamia nut and custard on top. I loved the variety and fact that it was like three different dishes--well, you all know me by now.

Marinated Poached PINEAPPLE came with Coconut Porridge and Sesame Seed Crisp was not real porridge and was a bit of a disappointment for Will, and the STRAWBERRIES and CREAM with port wine, local vanilla ice cream, pink champagne jelly and smoked macadamia nuts was gobbled up pretty fast by our host Declan.

After some port (Grand Marnier for me), we rolled back to our suite and had a great night of sleep...which was good, as the next day was to bring a disaster.