I visited Sopwell House in St Albans for renowned Grand Chef André Jaeger’s Gourmet Encounter.
A few weeks ago I visited Sopwell House for the evening, for an exclusive banquet style dining experience hosted by renowned chef Andre Jaegar and Sopwell House’s Executive Head Chef Gopi Chandran. This special three-night gastronomic event was held from 8 until 10 February 2018 in The Restaurant at Sopwell House.
André Jaeger is a pioneer of fusion cooking, blending culinary traditions from Europe with his Swiss heritage and Asian techniques. Jaeger boasts experience from The Dorchester in London, Hotel Eden in Lugano and Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong. Taking over the family business of the Rheinhotel Fischerzunft in Schaffhausen in 1975, Jaeger secured his position as a world class Chef.
We jumped on a fast train to St Albans from St Pancras which took just under 20 minutes. A short drive from St Albans City is the stunning Sopwell House – a 18th Century Georgian house located deep within the Hertfordshire countryside. The hotel is the idyllic getaway just outside of the hustle and bustle of the capital and the perfect place to dine boasting a 2AA Rosette restaurant, a vibrant Brasserie, an elegant cocktail lounge, and conservatory bar, all of which look out on 12-acres of beautiful gardens.
Following a welcome glass of Champagne, we were seated at our table as it was time to indulge in a luxurious five-course menu with wine pairings.
First up was the Amuse Bouche, we shared a platter of Tuna with Thai vinaigrette, Atlantic shrimp with Gloucester old spot bacon and coriander, and Tea smoked quail. This Asian themed platter was a nod to Jaeger’s fusion cooking and use of Asian techniques.
Although served to share, I could have easily devoured these dishes all by myself. They were all so delicious but the smoked quail was the highlight for me. A small dish but big in flavour, and so tender that it just melted in the mouth.
With a further nod to Jaeger’s Asian fusion cooking, for starters we were served Onsen egg in dashi jelly with sesame cream and Oscietra caviar. This was paired with a glass of Muscadet Sur Lie Sevre et Maine.
What is an Onsen egg? Onsen means hot springs in Japanese, and in Japan Onsen eggs are slow cooked in Japan’s warm hot springs water. By cooking them like this the eggs are perfectly poached inside the shell – the white turns out soft and the yolk firm but with a creamy texture. The eggs are cooked at around 65-68°C to create this perfectly poached egg – as egg yolks usually solidify at 70°C and egg whites solidify at 80°C.
Our intermediate course was a fish course – delicious Black cod with sour tien sin cabbage and Vin Jaune cream sauce. A delicate dish with a wonderful flavoursome sauce – and beautifully presented too! This was paired with one of my favourite white wines – Villa maria Reserve Sauvignon Blanc.
For the main course we were served a gorgeous 28 day Aged Scotch beef, teriyaki style with baby artichoke, heart of palm, olive and black bean gravy. This was perfectly paired with a glass of Cotes du Rhone.
Out of the five courses, this course had to be the stand out dish for me and the wine was the perfect pairing – warming with delicious hint of spice.
Unfortunately living in Kent we were unable to stay for the final fifth course – a very tempting Chocolate opera with pistachio, kirsch, stewed pineapple and cherry ice cream paired with a glass of Spanish dessert wine. However we did get to sample the delicious pre-dessert which was perfectly satisfying for my sweet tooth.
A three-course menu was available for £75 per person, a five-course menu for £90 per person and a seven-course menu for £105 per person. Pairing options start at £105 per person. A vegetarian menu is also available.
Keep up to date on Sopwell House’s website for further events.
For reservations, please call: 01727 864477