It has been a while since the Unseen Restaurant made an appearance but I was so inspired by the abundance of wonderful autumn produce that I decided I just had to do a seasonal menu. Just as I was deliberating I received an unexpected but wonderful surprise: Geoff and Ali Robinson are regulars at The Unseen nights and have spent many an evening in very close and unnecessarily intimate proximity with the other guests as I decide I can seat 12 people around a table designed for eight. When they are not jostling elbows with their fellow diners they run (and live in) The Porthvean; a wonderful big old house in the centre of the St Agnes which is available to rent and perfect for those family reunions we all dream of but rarely organise (go on, you know you want to). So, back to the surprise, Ali contacted me and offered me the use of The Porthvean for an Unseen Restaurant night.
Now I didn’t have to think too hard about this – my domestic Rayburn stove and little dining room or a professional standard kitchen and a dining table the size of a football pitch? I snatched their hands off!
Menu finalised I posted the date on the Facebook page and had 14 takers in 5 minutes – fastest ever response I think. We even had some Unseen Restaurant newbies which is always nice.
The menu was a joy to plan. I love squash and pumpkins and it seems that every veg shop has an increasing range to try but I settled for butternut squash and made open ravioli of squash with sage and pine nut butter to start. I like open ravioli – it seems like a cheat (which it is) but I find that it also makes for a really elegant dish.
I settled on pheasant breast for the main course – pheasant can be a bit dry and tough so I slow cooked it in cider and made a sauce of cider, shallots and creme fraiche for creaminess. I served it with simple steamed carrots, mashed potatoes and an unsweetened Bramley apple sauce for a bit of sharpness (the sauce is very sweet). In retrospect roast potatoes or game chips would have worked better than mash to add another texture to the plate but I didn’t get any complaints.
Having used apples and cider in the main course I used that other wonderful autumn staple; the pear, in the dessert. Poached pears are sweet and delicate and the addition of some judicious spicing makes them perfect in my book and I will happily eat them just as they are but some people are a little disappointed to receive “just fruit” as a dessert so I added a rich chocolate sauce and some homemade vanilla ice cream as well as some crushed ginger nuts for a bit of crunch. I know it went down well because everyone cleared their plates and, judging by the occasional chocolate moustache, may have licked them too. I took pity on my guests, dispensed with the niceties and brought in the rest of the tub of ice cream and the remaining chocolate sauce and they too vanished in seconds.
All in all I think it was a succesful evening and Geoff and Ali could not have been more thoughtful, helpful hosts – Geoff even helped with the washing up! If you want to experience their kind hosting think about booking B&B at The Porthvean. If you want to cook for all your friends in their kitchen – well, you’ll either have to book the whole place or move to St Agnes and make friends with them.
If you just want to try this menu you’ll find links to the recipes below:
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