Tuesday, 20 September 2011

[Restaurant - European] Short Take - Kaiserholycrappen; The Wolseley of Piccadilly

Location - Piccadilly, London [UK]

Obligations come in all sorts of forms, be they motivated by necessity, marital commitments, situational factors and so on ad infinitum. Some however are complete fantasy-derived tricks of the conscience, mere weak convictions to ease the guilt of a weak will. And as ever, I contest myself guilty. Though this time, with added scope! This time, a this late night dessert, was almost a requisite, as I wisely figured that a dinner consisting primarily of sake, would not suffice. Guilt, overruled! 

More self-deprecation, more self-ruing from a rather mindless self-indulgence, though this time largely influenced by an elevated blood alcohol level, wreaking havoc on my already weak power of will as of late. Before rambling on into obscure infinity, an explanation is due for the series of events leading to this latest of gorgings. Having scheduled my attendance at a Sake Tasting event at the Embassy of Japan, I was at once eased by the notion that unlike the previous tasting, there would be food provided, and thus energy would need not be expended to find provisions for stabilising the situation of empty stomach meets plenty of nutritious alcohol. I completely misjudged the notion of food being provided. Or rather, the voracity of the hunger of the people attending. How very dare they. For at once, as soon as the over-dramatic/intensely mind-numbing flower re-arranging [yes, really] ceremony had culminated, the sparse smattering of dishes meant to cater - in vain - to 200 odd people, were mobbed. Utterly so. Almost leaving the sake tables barren, leaving one with little choice.

When I did manage to arrive at some food, I was limited to a few measly skewers of breaded and grilled meat, a wagyu beef roll, a block of tofu and some sashimi. Which offered only false hopes to the couple of glasses of sake or so limbering in my stomach. Having not particularly planned for this oversight, I figured I would check out a cigar lounge in the vicinity, the prospect of a dessert over cigars painting a lovely picture of serene enjoyment. Serene enjoyment was to be had, with a delightful melding of a beautiful cigar and rum combination, in a quaint and serene setting. I had however misjudged food again, no food being served in the garden, and what little was available made the flower arranging ceremony seem an extreme sport. I did not fool myself that the olives and assorted bar nibbles I devoured would suffice. Obviously what a stomach full of sake needed at this point was further reinforcement of rum and displacing of oxygen in my blood with Partagas air. Fortunately, I was guided to a nearby establishment that just may answer my incessant call to eat, and being on my shortlist, I duly obliged. Not that I had much of a "choice". 
~ Dessert ~
- Kaiserschmarrn

As ever in my quest to broaden gastronomic horizons, or in less overwrought terms, get myself a culinary education, I always aim to try the more eclectic, left-field, or eccentric choices on a menu. Not knowing what sort of cuisine the Wolseley provided, I instantly chose the aforementioned. It sounded the most foreign. From memory, I knew it to be a sort of souffle'. It was also written in red ink, which a message stating the dessert was fit for two patrons, which caused a momentary inkling of doubt. Not that eating for two is much of a diversion from the norm, I have been eating for whole villages seemingly at some of the food fairs I have been going to, but really I should not be encouraging this sort of behaviour. Informed of such, the waiter egged - pun not intended, but welcomed - me on, stating that despite its planetary size, the dessert being composed of egg, was rather light. Not sure why I gave heed to his word [oh right, sake and rum!], I pined for the Emperor's Mishmash. 

It's arrival also coincided with the figurative dropping of my jaw. I had thoroughly underestimated its size. It would seem to be a running theme of the evening. Served with a side of plum compote, dilly dallying would serve to nothing, so I commenced, sectioning off the gargantuan dessert off into quarters, in a vague attempt of controlling portions. Spoon off a deceptively soft piece and consume. Damn that waiter. It is light. Exceedingly so, providing all the density of a piece of cotton wool, it was a gigantic pocket of air with a gentle, very lightly sweetened essence of egg. This, for all intents and purposes, was essentially a gigantic souffled omelette, in taste, texture, and appearance. Not for the worse mind you. It was very delicate, being extremely pillow-soft in texture, with an ever so light sweetness lingering on. The egg-flavour was not pronounced, but evident, with the inclusion of a few raisins adding some mild interesting diversity. It was however, mild. Very mild. Beyond looking, tasting, and feeling like an omelette souffle, there was not much else to it. Trying out the plum compote, I had perhaps been made acquainted with end of season produce, finding it rather sour amongst little else. It did add variety however when combined with the Kaiserschmarrn, the egg suffusing the sourness and adding a bit of richness to the compote - it was too light to be the compote do the supplementing. 

Restraint was hard however, and despite the attempts at sectioning off to create scale, half was gone in no time at all. Feeling like I had eaten eggy air, bites flew through, and the entirety of this monster was consumed. I have solace only, in the sparsity of carbs. Bah. At least it garnered a subtle applause from the devious waiter. 

~ Drinks ~
- Calvados Alexander

Acknowledging the predicted wait for my dessert for two for one [pig], I figured the best solution for combating a slight inebriation was to douse it with more alcoholic persuasion, obviously. Not finding anything of interest in the menu, I opted for a classic and a bit of a favourite, forfeiting the brandy for Calvados. Looking as delightful as ever in its caffe' latte hue with a generous sprinkling of nutmeg in a sturdy martini glass, I duly sipped the concoction. Which did not provide the decadent creaminess I was hoping for, the cream quotient either being fat-free or diluted down, too healthy either way. It was however generously infused with the scent of nutmeg, the Calvados not overpowering the drink. It was generally rather diluted, but otherwise acceptable.

- Coteaux du Layon St. Aubain: Domaine des Forges [2009]

On the suggestion of the nefarious waiter who had convinced me to eat a pachyderm-sized dessert, I opted for the following dessert wine. It was suggested its light aroma and body would suit the equally delicate dessert. Such was very much the case - whilst not writing down anything more than "subdued", that was the immediate impact I received from this mind. A soft one. It was very restrained, not presenting much in its aroma, which carried on to a light bodied palate. Not that I could distinguish much, and whilst this does not sound like the most enticing of drinks, it did however suit the dessert rather well. In being similarly light-hearted, and only lightly sweet, it did not overwhelm the omelette pizza, providing in its stead some subtle fruit aromas over the subtle eggy richness of the Kaiserschmarrn. Subtle, but pleasant.

I came, I saw, I conquered, and I also finally accomplished what I sought. In what amounted to a proliferate number of oversights, I had finally achieved the act of supplementing the burning fire of inebriation in my stomach, with a meal of substance. More physically than figuratively, as would be the case of eating a portion meant for two. A benevolent atmosphere in the separate dining room, away from the hustle and bustle of the main foyer, I was affronted with amicable and efficient service, helpful suggestions, and even some comradery. My main prerogative was to devour a dessert, perhaps one of substance, but very much one of thorough enjoyment. What I met was a series of subtleties, if not physically. The initial shock of the Kaiserschmarrn's size gave way to a delightfully light dessert, which softened the guilt of having consumed it in its entirety. The dessert was matched by an equally subtle wine, which was preceded by another delicate cocktail.

These nuances all contrasted rather well with the former events of the evening, the chaos and franticness of the sake tasting being calmed by the intensely pleasurable experience in the serene setting of the cigar garden, giving lieu to a gently enjoyable experience when I managed to sink my teeth into the long awaited dessert. All too soon, my mission was thus complete, and I left, in a hurry. This time very much by obligation, as having rushed quite frantically to add more alcohol to my veritable meal repertoire of that evening, I had almost forgotten that I had enlisted the services of Public vaguelyTransportation for the day, and with my strategic planning of events, time was certainly of the issue. Time well spent however. 

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