Cheshire Life Diamonds and Tiara Dinner, Nunsmere Hall
PUBLISHED: 11:54 07 July 2014 | UPDATED: 11:54 07 July 2014
It was a sparkling night at the Cheshire Life Diamonds and Tiara Dinner at Nunsmere Hall
On August 4th this year, the world will commemorate the start of the First World War, a catastrophe that shaped the tumultuous century that followed. It brought to a close an age of elegance epitomised in Cheshire by the glamorous parties and aristocratic comings and going at Nunsmere Hall.
This summer, more than most summers, it is easy to imagine the atmosphere that prevailed in those halcyon pre-war days: guests at Cheshire Life’s Diamonds and Tiara Dinner at Nunsmere - converted to an hotel some 30 years ago yet conserving many splendid period features - drank in the Edwardian glories surrounding us.
Originally built around 1900 on a promontory almost surrounded by a sylvan-shored lake, Liverpool shipping magnate Sir Aubrey Brocklebank’s former home is steeped in history. He was a director of both the Suez Canal Company and the Great Western Railway; his Brocklebank Line lost a sixth of its fleet in the Great War. Later, as chairman of Cunard, he mused over the plans and models at Nunsmere that led to the construction of the mighty ocean liner Queen Mary. He died in 1929, five years before the great ship was launched at Cammel Laird, but his son John, brought up at Nunsmere, became Cunard chairman in 1959 and initiated the plans for the Queen Mary’s replacement, QE2.
Pictures of these great ships hang on the walls of Nunsmere’s gracious lounges where Cheshire Life’s guests were greeted by Prima Hotels’ Group chief executive Liam Walshe and his wife Sylvia, Nunsmere’s general manager Michael Scott and recently appointed Chris Gillett, managing director of Prima’s growing portfolio of managed hotels.
Champagne Taittinger Brut Reserve served with canapés, provided an excellent toast in celebration of Nunsmere Hotel’s retention of four coveted AA Red Stars and two AA Rosettes for its cuisine.
The Crystal Restaurant with its patterned ceiling and views into Nunsmere’s beautiful gardens that make this such a popular wedding venue, provided the luxurious surroundings in which to relish the award-winning cooking created by head chef Craig Malone and his accomplished brigade.
Dining at Nunsmere is an exaltation of the finest local and seasonal ingredients, so it was no surprise that our starter featured grilled asparagus, harvested at its best, to accompany plump seared scallops, delicious Cheshire air-dried ham and a silky smoked butter hollandaise. The accompanying wine, chosen, supplied and described by David Kelly of Matthew Clark, made a splendid match: the smokiness and gooseberry notes of Loire Pouilly Fumé working their magic with the hollandaise and the asparagus.
Lovely seasonal lamb, prepared two ways, provided the centrepiece of the main course. The loin, cooked sous-vide and served rose pink, melted in the mouth while slow-braised shoulder in a cannelloni ‘wrap’, delivered marvellous depth of flavour. Pea purée, bubble and squeak, cauliflower gremolata and Nunsmere wild garlic were the inventive and harmonious accompaniments. The red wine was a punchy concentrated pinotage - the signature pinot noir-cinsault hybrid from South Africa’s Western Cape.
Dessert was a piece of summer magic, combining perfect panna cotta with textures of strawberries - jelly, purée and sorbet - meringue and unctuous honeycomb. The accompanying wine was an elegant rosé from Portugal’s Alentejo region with subtle notes of summer fruits.
Cheshire Life Dinner Menu
Grilled English Asparagus, Seared Scallop, Cheshire Air Dried Ham, Smoked Butter Hollandaise.
Pouilly Fumé 2012, Cuvée de Tronsac, Joseph Mellot, Loire, France
Sous-Vide Loin of Lamb, Braised Shoulder Cannelloni, Pea Purée, Bubble & Squeak, Nunsmere Wild Garlic, Cauliflower Gremolata
“Writer’s Block” Pinotage 2012, Flagstone, Western Cape, South Africa
Madagascan Bourbon Vanilla Panna Cotta, Strawberry Jelly, Purée & Sorbet, Meringue, Honeycomb
Alandro Rosado 2012, Esporao, Alentejo, Portugal
Tea and coffee
Nunsmere Hall Hotel, Tarporley Road, Oakmere, Northwich CW8 2ES. Tel 01606 889100. www.primahotels.co.uk/nunsmere
Crystal Restaurant: Lunch £16.95 for two courses, £22.95 for three; dinner £27 for two courses, £34.50 for three; Afternoon Tea from £9; Sunday Lunch £27.