October 25, 2019
Delicious and decadent chocolate week, The Petersham Richmond
With the fantastic backdrop of The Petersham Richmond and the surrounding Richmond countryside, there was only one thing missing from my favourite things – chocolate!
The food itself in the Petersham Richmond is already award-winning, even though the accomplished executive chef, Jean-Didier Gouges have only been in residence for under two years. The key to his success is his passion for fine dining and pushing the boundaries on food combinations. But his ‘raison d’etre’ is chocolate, and this is apparent when you talk to him, which we were fortunate to do. Mention chocolate and his eyes light up, but the proof of his talent with chocolate was in the special menu created, which is available for lunch and dinner on the a la carte menu until 31st October. Three courses including chocolate in each – a chocoholics’ heaven!
We sat down with anticipation and curiosity as to how Jean-Didier had managed to make three courses combining sweet and savoury in the same dish, without compromising on his ability to produce both texture, colour and flavour in everything he creates, then we reminded ourselves that he had been making artisanal chocolate almost since a child.
Our first course was stunningly presented, pure magic on a plate. Seared scallop, soft and plump and lightly browned in the pan, came with a mushroom and white chocolate velouté – really? Yes, really. Who would have thought that mushrooms and chocolate could live together in such harmony? Put it this way, there was nothing left on our plates.
With an air of anticipation, we awaited our next course with gusto – Fillet of Smoked Venison with white chocolate soil, Jerusalem artichoke puree, beetroot, stone potato and a redcurrant and red wine jus. There was a light ‘smoky’ aroma in the air as our dishes were presented, but the venison had been treated with respect and the flavour was delicious – not over smoked or overpowering. The accompaniments were pure perfection and the jus added a touch of sweetness to the dish. Once again, even the tiniest mouse would not have found gratification on our empty plates.
We had no idea that the dessert would be such a showstopper. We could see the Black Candle Dessert being served to others who had arrived before us, and our initial reaction (although the candle was, in fact, black) was perhaps it was somebody’s birthday! The most incredible sculpted candle appeared, lit, to our table, and I certainly felt that it was my birthday to receive such a masterpiece. The outer chocolate covering dripped invitingly down the side of the candle and as we attacked the dish, a vanilla cake with chocolate and hazelnut mousse was a revelation, as was the marshmallow cream and charcoal ice cream. It was difficult to treat this dessert with much reverence, we simply wanted to eat it and enjoy!
Aspiring chocolatiers take note – this menu is from a master of chocolate and if you have the chance, get to the Petersham Hotel and experience the work of a true chocolate genius, before the chocolate week is over!
A: The Petersham Hotel, Nightingale Ln, Richmond TW10 6UZ
T: 020 8940 7471
W: The Petersham Richmond
Written by Rafa Zurita for Luxuria Lifestyle London and International