Cheshire Life Luncheon - The Alderley Edge Hotel
PUBLISHED: 13:23 30 December 2009 | UPDATED: 16:05 20 February 2013
Cheshire Life Lunch, The Alderley Edge Hotel<br/><br/>WORDS BY RAY KING<br/><br/>PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN COCKS
When the canaps include lobster lollipops washed down with Laurent-Perrier champagne from the sublime 1999 vintage it's reasonable to suspect that lunch is going to be rather special.
But then, at the Alderley Edge Hotel's two-AA Rosette Alderley Restaurant, discreetly enhanced as part of a 200,000 improvement programme, the hospitality has never provided less than an exceptional experience. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of its opening in 1989, this award-winning small hotel, commanding panoramic views across the Cheshire Plain and beyond, has ceaselessly striven for the highest quality.
Guests at Cheshire Life's July luncheon gathered for their welcoming bubbly in the comfortable lounge-bar area of the 157-year-old former cotton merchant's house, now subtly remodelled by the removal of a wall and two fireplaces giving a more spacious feel.
Laurent-Perrier's long association with the Alderley Edge - home of the renowned annual Champagne Oscars - is reflected in the name of the hotel's main function suite and was enthusiastically toasted by guests with flutes of the '99, poured from magnums. And those lobster lollipops came alongside delectable cubes of melon coated in Japanese panko breadcrumbs, mini rocket and goats' cheese tarts, wild mushroom and Parmesan quenelles and dainty nibbles of chicken and foie gras - tantalisingly delicious precursors for head chef Chris Holland's main event.
Chris, who leads a brigade of ten chefs, has been nurtured under the careful tutelage of general manager Ahmet Kurcer since entering the Alderley Edge's kitchen 13 years ago and has become one of the most talented chefs in the county. His forte is to take the finest and freshest local ingredients and produce outstanding dishes through a skilled and highly innovative combination of modern and classic cuisine.
The light and airy conservatory housing the 80-cover Alderley Restaurant - now all on one level, enabling dinner parties of up to 25 people to be accommodated - provided the perfect setting for a memorable four courses.
We began, at tables set with a variety of fresh-baked breads and herbed butters, with carpaccio of delicately flavoured veal served with a perfumed liquid truffle croquette and locally-grown asparagus, dressed with a lovely lemon thyme vinaigrette. The dish looked like spring on a plate; a feast for the eyes and the tastebuds.
The fish course brought a hot and cold tasting of seafood including delicious scallop and seabass, paired with intricately fashioned 'minestrone' of young vegetables. The white wine served with the first two courses, an elegant 2006 Chablis offering crisp green apple fruit with a racy dash of honey, not only complimented them admirably but was perfect for the occasion.
One of fine dining's enduring marriages - lamb and claret - was celebrated with the main course and both 'bride' and 'groom' were absolutely tip-top. New season's spring lamb came three ways - comprising a cutlet and rump, carved pink and beautifully tender, presented alongside a pressed tian of slow-braised and gorgeously-flavoured neck. English peas and broad beans with a red wine pure completed the perfect example of what Chris Holland's modern take on classic cooking is all about. The claret, 2004 Chateau Blaignan Cru Bourgeois from the Haut Mdoc region of Bordeaux oozed class with its finely structured berry fruit harmonising with subtly sweet oak.
We rounded off in magical style with wickedly creamy yet wonderfully light white chocolate mousse whose sweetness was deftly counterpointed with the piquant flavours of elderflower and textures of rhubarb, grown in the hotel's garden.