La Belle Assisette – stress free entertaining

Having friends over for dinner at the weekend, or even midweek is great fun, but the advance planning and deciding what to make for everyone can often get complicated. Especially when people share at the last minute that they no longer eat red meat, or don’t like mushrooms – there’s always one! Well not this time…

Short rib of beef with Bordelaise sauce

Short rib of beef with Bordelaise sauce

…La Belle Assiette came to the rescue when they contacted us and asked if we would like to have one of their private chefs come round and cook dinner for eight of us. As you can imagine we all moved heaven and earth to ensure our diaries coincided and we could all get together.

While it is always a treat to dine out and try out new places, there seemed to be even more excitement at the thought of being cooked for by a professional in the comfort of our own home. Once a date was set I liaised with our chef, Patrick Gilmour to check on any special guest dietary requirements. He then designed a three-course menu for us, which we all reviewed and it received a unanimous thumbs up. So, the menu planning was complete all that remained was for the day to arrive along with the guests.

On the Friday afternoon Patrick arrived at 4pm ready to prep ahead of the dinner at 7pm. He was calm and relaxed about the set up and completely unfazed by the sight of the Aga in the kitchen. After a quick tour of the kitchen we left him to it, the magic began and not long after 7 all the guests had arrived.

The champagne was being poured and the lively conversation and banter among the EF ladies had begun, but then we very quickly focused on food with the arrival of various canapés to enjoy with our bubbles. We had three to sample which included chicken liver parfait on brioche, avocado and wasabi crème on a cracker and the fabulous gruyere gougeres – those little cheesy numbers were the hot favourites and the ones we were all fighting over.

Meanwhile in the kitchen Patrick was putting the finishing touches to our starter – Goat’s curd, poached fig, honey roasted beets and crispy quail egg salad, black sesame cracker and beetroot puree. Although fig is not one of my favourite ingredients I was intrigued by the combination and have to say the texture and tastes from the key elements of the starter really complemented each other, as well as looking vibrant on the plate.

Goats curd and poached fig

Goats curd and poached fig

The thing I noticed the most about the evening as it progressed was the fact that as the hostess I was not missing out on chunks of the conversation. I didn’t need to be clearing plates, darting back and forth to get the next course ready, I just had to top up people’s glasses.

Patrick blew us all away with the main course – Slow cooked short rib of beef with a Bordelaise sauce pommes puree, Savoy cabbage, roasted shallot and Jerusalem artichoke crisps. The beef was so tender and I loved the Savoy cabbage and pomme puree. I’m not normally a savoury head I typically look at the desserts first and then work back from there given a chance. However, on this occasion the beef was an absolute winner and my favourite course of the evening.

We certainly ate very well and the portions were generous, so that when we arrived at the final dish of the evening the amount of space left was quite limited. Dessert was coconut mousse, mango sorbet, coconut biscuit and passion fruit cream – the mango sorbet was a welcome refreshing end to the night and I liked the texture of the desiccated coconut biscuit as it took me back to my childhood and coconut biscuits I used to make with my mum.

Coconut mousse and mango sorbet

Coconut mousse and mango sorbet

Normally by the end of a dinner party my kitchen looks like a bomb site with the sink piled high with dirty pots and wine glasses lining up at the side to be washed in the morning, but not this time. Patrick was very well house trained and while we were sipping coffee he had the kitchen spotless, probably in better shape than when he arrived.

So, while we are all foodies at heart and love experimenting and trying new dishes, there would always be a time and occasion when you might decide you wanted to hang up the oven gloves for the evening and let someone else do it for you. I’m sure it wouldn’t take long to find that reason and contact La Belle Assiette.

Thanks to La Belle Assiette and Patrick Gilmour for hosting Edinburgh Foody.

Twitter: @LaBelleA_UK @gilmourgallace

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About Nicki Sturzaker

Chief chatterbox and Mum on the run! Nicki is a foodie at heart and is in constant search for the best scone in Edinburgh, but in their absence she always has a secret stash of dark chocolate to get through the day.

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