Now, Warriors, I don't claim to be a connoisseur of all that is culinary and gastronomical but I have been to some pretty nice eating establishments in my time and can recognise and appreciate fine dining.
For our anniversary a couple of years ago, for example, Craigy Boy and I found ourselves on the 28th floor of the London Park Lane Hilton, home to the Michelin-starred restaurant Galvin at Windows. It boasts stunning views of some of our capital's most iconic buildings and, funnily enough, the food wasn't too shabby either.
Then for my birthday last year, that delicious man of mine whisked me off to Claridge's - daaahling - where we sipped on mocktails (I know, the very epitome of hardcore) and indulged in some of the finest food I have ever had the pleasure of ingesting. But not THE finest food I have ever had the pleasure of ingesting.
Approximately ten minutes drive from my home town of Arbroath in Scotland lies the village and parish of Inverkeillor. With a population of little over 1000, a local primary school and a pub you may not think that there is anything particularly noteworthy about Inverkeilor but it just happens to be where you will find Gordon's restaurant and THAT right there, Warriors, is where I came across the finest food I have ever had the pleasure of ingesting.
I was in excellent company that particular evening: Craigy Boy was there, of course, and we were joined by my Auntie Yvonne, Uncle Steve and cousin Nicholas who was gearing up for his final law exams at Aberdeen University so was in need of and thoroughly deserved a good feeding.
We were warmly greeted at the door by Maria who alongside her husband Gordon and son Garry runs the restaurant. Maria takes charge front of house whilst Gordon and Garry come up with the kind of culinary creations that blow both mind and tastebuds. As such it is very much a family affair and it is clear to all who dine there that providing their customers with outstanding food and impeccable yet non-intrusive service is at the forefront of all that they do. The picture below shows Gordon, Maria and Garry collecting their award at the AA Hospitality Awards in 2011 after being named the best restaurant in Scotland, putting Gordon's firmly and justifiably on the culinary map.
It's a fixed price menu at Gordon's and if you click right HERE it will take you to a sample fixed price dinner menu, similar to the one we were scanning with our hungry eyes. Selecting one out of three choices per course was downright agonising! But make our choices we did and as we waited for our first course to arrive we were presented with a selection of homemade breads. I didn't realise it was possible for bread to melt in the mouth!
Before I knew it a bubbling, molten plate of cheese, otherwise known as the Isle of Mull Tobermory cheddar double baked soufflé was heading my way and my eyes widened in sheer delight and my stomach growled in desperate anticipation:
I don't think I need to go into great detail about just how unbelievably divine my starter was, even my amateur iphone pictures do the dairy (and calorie) laden dish justice. Craigy was equally as enamoured with his choice of West coast hand dived scallops, cauliflower purée with white raisin and caper dressing.
We were given just the right amount of time to recover from course number one before being served with our second course: Jerusalem artichoke and smoked bacon velouté.
The term velouté is from the French adjectival form of velour, meaning velvet and there really is no better way of describing the remarkably smooth and creamy texture. When something tastes this good my own personal feeling is that discrete bowl licking is perfectly acceptable.
For the main course I had opted for Scot mountain lamb rack, pistachio crust, confit shoulder, minted pea ravioli, butternut squash and tomato jus. I was practically dazzled by the vibrant kaleidoscope of colour that was placed before me!
The lamb? Soft and tender. The ravioli? Al dente, just how I like it. The asparagus? Crisp (not overly so) and bright green. The tomato jus? Tart yet sweet. In short, the entire dish came together in one almighty tastebud explosion making for one very happy and increasingly full Ginger Warrior.
But I, like you I'm sure, have different compartments in my stomach - one for savoury and one for sweet. Whilst my savoury compartment had reached saturation point the sweet compartment was empty, ready and extremely willing! But before I could tuck into the course to which I had been most looking forward (I'm a dessert girl EVERY time), chef Gordon invited us to a complimentary pre-dessert of lychee sorbet. I'm not a fan of lychees, can't stand them really.
Turns out, however, that I'm a HUGE fan of lychee sorbet. Good. Heavens. Above. My only complaint is that one scoop wasn't quite enough and for the second time in the same evening I may have participated in some discrete bowl licking. It was all quite clever and cunning really: I basically gasped and pointed over to a really expensive bottle of wine and while everyone unwittingly turned their attentions to the Cabernet Sauvignon I licked that bowl good and proper.
And then the moment I had been waiting for.
*cue heralding angels with trumpets*
Please just take a couple of minutes to fully appreciate what you're looking at. I know I did which is most uncharacteristic of me. The very instant a dessert is placed in front of me I generally lunge at it as though I only have a few seconds to get it down my neck before someone takes if off of me but this time was different. This time I sat back and took in every single sacchariferous detail, pausing slightly longer to admire the impressively thin dimensions of the apple crisp astride my ridiculously creamy vanilla ice-cream. And that caramel sauce, that calvados infused caramel sauce.. I had previously mentioned to Maria my love for and obsession of all things caramel and that wonderful, blessed woman brought me my very own jug of caramel sauce to do with what I saw fit. Naturally I poured some extra sauce over my apple tart and then..
I drank the rest. Straight from the jug.
Now, the average, mere mortal would, by this point, be slowly but surely entering into some kind of sugar induced coma but not me! You know when people engage in drinking games and push themselves to down another knowing full well it could all end up in a nasty puddle on the floor in front of them? Well I'm the same when it comes to sugar. Rather than knowing when to say "enough is enough" my motto is BRING IT ON and so they did, in the form of delicate, hand crafted and highly delicious petits fours. My fellow dining companions, all feeling rather defeated by this point and quite likely being more mindful of their insulin levels, had one each. I ate six.
It was at this point that I eventually conceded defeat and finished off the evening with a light and refreshing peppermint tea which is supposedly very beneficial for your digestive system. I had a feeling that my stomach would appreciate the help.
As the evening drew to a close and we sipped on our teas and coffees, our bellies protruding a great deal more than when we arrived, Craigy Boy, who is not generally one to use superlatives, declared that it was "the best meal EVER!".
And it really was. Almost as delicious as the man himself.
Ginger Warrior, over and out.