For the past few years Harrod’s have had a “Chef of the Season” and it is currently the turn of Tom Kerridge. Tom is the Bristol born smiley chef who can’t be mentioned without someone saying he runs “the only pub in the world with 2 michelin stars” which he earned at his pub the Hand and Flowers. Tom is also famous for presenting 2 television series, winning the main course on Great British Menu twice and for losing an astonishing amount of weight. It is not unfair to say that Tom used to be huge, he was like a walking mountain and then he lost it all and turned into a svelte chap. Well done Tom! Losing all that weight can’t have been easy for a guy who cooks delicious pub food. I ate at the Hand and Flowers a few years back and had some incredible sweetbreads, a venison and beetroot tart and a souffle of dreams – if I was confronting that on a daily basis I don’t think weight loss would be an easy ask.
So Tom comes with a great track record and the dishes on offer at Harrod’s range from starters such as potted Cornish crab with cucumber chutney or game terrine with cranberry relish to main courses of beer braised ox cheek with pearl barley and braised carrots or goose and ale pie (coming to this blog soon) with desserts of spiced orange cake with plum and cinnamon sauce and the topic of todays blog post a whiskey panna cotta with blueberries and thyme. Everything in the counter looks beautifully presented and delicious and considering this is Harrod’s, the dishes aren’t ridiculously expensive.
The panna cotta arrived in a plastic serving dish with a side tub of oats to sprinkle on before serving. It was topped with a couple of thyme leaves, three blueberries and a light, watery jelly that caused the blueberries to slide around on top like an edible ice rink. I sprinkled on the oats and got stuck in. Unfortunately for a dessert with so much promise it was a bitter disappointment. Texturally it was all shades of wrong, there was the aforementioned watery jelly, coupled with an over set yet bland panna cotta, mixed with the burst of dry blueberry, all finished with an admittedly pleasant oaty topping. It was like trying to eat the ingredient equivalent of opposing magnets, you put them in your mouth and try to force them together but the harder you try the harder they repel and you end up with a mouthful of mulch with whiskey back notes. Underpinning all this though is a poor quality panna cotta and when the main element isn’t good nothing is going to save it. Instead of a rich, wobbly, creamy spoonful I got an under powered, almost rubbery white lump that seemed to be relying on whiskey to add some flavour because there wasn’t any inherent flavour in the panna cotta itself.
I had high hopes for this one and was sadly let down. Considering the skills of Tom Kerridge and the attractiveness of the dish it was a shame that it didn’t deliver the goods. At least I have a goose and ale pie still to try so fingers crossed Tom will find redemption there.
Tom Kerridge Whiskey Panna Cotta – £4.95