Alyn Williams at the Westbury – Preview Supper Club:
Last year I was lucky enough to visit the Westbury to review, a stunning five star luxury hotel in the heart of Mayfair, London’s most exclusive shopping district. I was hoping to be able to visit Alyn Williams at the Westbury then, but sadly the restaurant was closed so instead I dined at Tsukiji Sushi Japanese Restaurant, the hotel’s other main restaurant. So, you can imagine how thrilled I was to be invited back, this time to preview the 5 course Supper Club in conjunction with Nyetimber which will be held on 24th July. The stuff of culinary dreams, we enjoyed a bespoke menu, complete with pairings of Nyetimber, many from the Vineyard’s own library and no longer available to the public.
Some tiny cheese choux pastries and canapes with pea and cream cheese as amuse bouche were served with delicious house-made bread and butter. Accompanied by the current Nyetimber Classic Cuvee – a deliciously fresh, light English sparkling wine that I buy myself for (very good) friends as a treat – I had to keep reminding myself not to eat all the bread.
Our starter of the lightest pea mousse with a hint of mint and a yoghurt granita, beer onions and radish to add texture, was paired with the no longer available 2009 Nyetimber Classic Cuvee so that we could see how the wine had changed over time. Just that little bit softer in the mouth it was a fascinating insight into how sparkling wine matures in the bottle and an interesting insight into the challenge of producing a Classic Cuvee.
The fish course was a delicious and delicate poached halibut topped with yellow courgette, a sprinkling of dulse and served with a frothy lemon verbena sauce
Probably my favourite dish of the evening, it was accompanied by 2010 Nyetimber Blanc de Blanc. A Blanc de Blanc champagne is actually 100% chardonnay grape, here with 3% oaked wine to create a light, toasty, nutty wine. Nyetimber use only their own estate grown grapes and so, since production started in 1992, there have only been 7 releases of Blanc de Blanc – produced only when there are sufficient Chardonnay grapes for both the Classic Cuvee production and Blanc de Blanc. We learnt that the Classic Cuvee differs from non-vintage champagnes in that, although it is made using the three classic champagne grapes (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier), at Nyetimber they use reserves of older wines from the estate to create the Cuvee while in Champagne, the blend depends on different ‘Cru’.
A wonderfully balanced plateful of roasted pork jowl with fennel, pickled rhubarb, pollen and pork loin was served with the 1998 Nyetimber Blanc de Blanc. Having enjoyed the 2010 vintage, I was astonished at how this wine aged to produce a deep rich gold champagne with just a little more softness on the mouth and stronger nutty notes. Our pork was meltingly tender and the light sauce and aniseed notes of the fennel provided a perfect contrast in flavour.
The first of our sweet courses was modified for me, since I have a strawberry allergy.
Instead of the strawberry concoction above, I was offered what was listed as a raspberry tartlet with lime and vanilla.
Perfectly plump ripe raspberries served on a vanilla pannacotta with a lime granita, a light almondy tuille and a vanilla meringue leaf made for a light and fresh dessert that paired beautifully with the NV Nyetimber Rose, a Pinot Noir based wine.
Next, a dessert which Alyn Williams introduced himself and explained that it had something of a reputation at the restaurant. If you are anything like me, you will remember Walnut Whips with great affection (you can still buy them, but I haven’t done so myself for years). Each Christmas the toe of my stocking would contain a mandarin orange and a couple of completely inpenetrable walnuts in their shells. The next item would always be a walnut whip – the first chocolate of Christmas because it was just small enough to be eaten at 2am or so, when I’d be foraging through the stocking left on my bed by my parents who had dutifully stayed up as late as possible to ensure we were all sleeping (of course none of us would be!!!)
Alyn’s Walnut Whip was an altogether more glamorous affair with a light, caramel walnut mousse topped with a gilded walnut
A fitting finale to the meal served with Nyetimber Demi-Sec – the only sweet wine of the evening with 40g of sugar, again a 100% Chardonnay wine which was designed to pair with desserts.
Now, our evening was just a preview of the real supper club which takes place on the evening of Tuesday 24th July in the two private dining rooms at Alyn Williams at the Westbury. Guests will be treated to a selection of canapes and another five course bespoke menu paired expertly with Nyetimber by their Brand Ambassador. Alyn will be on hand to introduce his menu and describe his inspiration. Tickets at £144 a head include a full pairing of Nyetimber wines throughout the evening and all food. It’s something of a once in a lifetime opportunity so if you can, do book
+44 020 7183 6426
Alyn Williams at The Westbury
London W1S 2YF