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The Aficionados Series 2012
Our new programme of exclusive events for personally invited guests was launched earlier this year to great acclaim. The idea behind this initiative was to showcase elements of Heritage Portfolio’s work and also to give some of our closest partners and suppliers a stage on which they too could ‘perform’ to a specially invited audience of like-minded souls.
Our inaugural event saw 120 guests congregate for a spectacular demonstration and talk by our Development Chef, Robbie Gleave. The TV-style demo kitchen created for the occasion at Mansfield Traquair, all black and chrome complete with big screens and aerial mirrors, was the setting for a whistle-stop account of Robbie’s internship at Noma in Copenhagen, named the Best Restaurant in the World and a source of inspiration for any serious chef. The audience was spellbound as Robbie brought his experience at the Danish culinary hothouse to life, demonstrating how incredible ingredients, total dedication and a touch of technology have taught him to make a myriad of strange and wonderful things.
One feature of the Aficionados series was to encourage just a touch of audience participation¸ so it was a case of sleeves rolled up all round as our guests tried their hand at some of the tasks Robbie was faced with at Noma, from scraping the inside of apple peel to – everyone’s favourite – dissecting crab meat in a giant fridge under the eerie blue glow of UV light.
We called upon international business consultants Shirlaws for Aficionados event number two. This turned out to be a stimulating, thought-provoking and surprisingly passionate session with our audience sharing stories of their own business challenges and getting their teeth into the very topical subject of how to shape a business plan to align with the economic upturn. Our friends from Alliance Wines made a welcome appearance for this focused and insightful event, with the entertaining ‘To Oak or not to Oak’ chat and tasting, leaving guests with much to ponder and renewed vigour in tackling their own business aspirations.
Next in the Aficionados series was the gloriously named Sorbets – Stuck in the 70s or Seriously Sexy? when a touch of the Arctic (climate, not Roll) was introduced, along with Reno Di Rollo from Di Rollo of Musselburgh who kept us spellbound with the story of his family business and some of the more unusual ice-creams he’s been asked to make – often by us, it must be admitted – including a fiery horseradish number and a delicately flavoured lavender concoction. Development Chef Robbie talked us through the fascinating way flavours change depending on temperature. Sorbet-making is a real art, from getting the texture right with the correct level of freezing, to selecting flavours which will still sing when very cold. Key, we were told, was keeping things simple (as so often in life) which means one or two strong flavours which will hold their own but also complement each other. Robbie is a bit of a sorbet nut and likes to create interesting combinations which shouldn’t work but do. There was lots of tasting with unusual flavours like spicy tomato and strawberry and basil. A far cry from the glutinous lemon stuff ladled out 40 years ago. These sorbets were zingy and made the taste buds tingle. Our guests were delighted to take part in an Alan Sugar’s Apprentice type team competition, creating a sorbet using everything from wasabi to passion fruit. Important lessons were learnt including go easy on the wasabi!
Finally wine again helped proceedings with a slick and informative presentation from our partners Alliance Wines – also somewhat interactive (sipping and guessing – great fun) as our guests were expertly tutored and entertained on the subject of food and wine pairing. With samples of stilton and strawberries we were all surprised by how successful pairings are not necessarily the most obvious (for example, cheese and a delectable little pudding wine were pronounced everyone’s favourite). After a light restorative supper guests left happy and keen to demonstrate their new-found expertise, phrases like ‘a cheeky little Burgundy´ tripping off their tongues.
See the full album of amazing pictures from this event on our Facebook page here