Oxford dinners (part II)

    Guest post by Paul Simeon – “My trip to England for a summer school in plasma physics” – Read Part I

    Week 2 – Monday 19th

    Starter was the melon boat we had last week. Same thing. Some people were expecting the meals to start repeating themselves, but when we saw the main course come out, we were pleased that we would still have new dishes to come. The main course was medallions of meat (beef, I think) drowned in a gravy with mushrooms and pearl onions. I liked this dish, even though I was tiring of all the gravy on everything. The potatoes and green beans were nothing special.

    Dessert was peaches in some kind of alcohol-based sauce (liqueur?), topped with a square of ice cream, whipped cream, one of those infamous super-sweet cherries, and a crisp cookie to make it look like a turkey. I think most people stopped eating that cherry, as we had had it twice before already.

    Tuesday 20th

    The first course was a salad with what I think is a big pie of melted Brie with pine nuts on top, or something close to it. It was quite good but very rich. The salad was just for show. The cheese was the main part.

    Then came chicken with a light gravy on top. The peas were nothing to write about, but the potatoes were quite good. They were grilled or baked to make them brown on the edges. This was my favorite style of potatoes they served.

    The dessert was the heaviest of the whole trip. Bread pudding, with raisins and black currants. (We don’t have currants in America. I don’t know why.) They had a saucière of heavy cream to pour on top. Most of us were cautious not to pour too much, because there was already a small pool of butter at the bottom of the bowl of bread pudding. It was very good, but very heavy. It was probably the most filling of the desserts as well.

    Wednesday 21st

    Shrimp scampi for the appetizer. We also had this on Sunday the 11th, but I didn’t have my camera then.

    Previously during this trip, I sadly found out that the American and British definitions of shrimp scampi are wildly different. To Americans, they are shrimp sauteed in garlic butter and wine, and served on pasta or rice. To the British, they’re fried balls of small shrimp mixed with batter or something. It’s definitely not one big shrimp in there, but a pressed ball of stuff. They serve it with something like tartar sauce, which I’m not too fond of.

    The main course was roast pork with a scoop of stuffing (it probably has a better name). It went well with it, but I also like apple sauce with my pork. See Danish place. The potatoes were pretty good. The higher the temperature (and hence the darker color of the potato), the better tasting the potato, in my opinion.

    The endnote was a raspberry something covered in thick yogurt. Fresh and healthy.

    Thursday 22ndThe banquet(*)

    Six-course meal. Tons of utensils. Overall, there were 4 knives, 4 forks, 3 spoons, 4 glasses, and a tea cup.

    Set of utensils for the banquet at St. Edmund Hall, Oxford University - Picture taken by Tobias Hartmann

    Course 1- Fricassee of Wild Mushrooms on toasted bread, maybe French bread or a loaf like that. There was quite a large heap of mushrooms, with at least 3 or 4 types. Savory and good.

    Course 2- Pan-fried mullet on stir-fried vegetables. Two filets of fish with mixed veggies around. Everyone seemed to get different proportions of vegetables, and the fish varied in its brownness. It was very rich and covered in a thick slab of some type of butter. It tasted and spread like butter, but it looked like it was made from something else.

    Course 3- Champagne sorbet. I think they just froze champagne in blocks and put mint leaves on top. It splintered like slushy ice that barely froze, probably on account of the alcohol. I didn’t like it. The melted pool of champagne on the bottom grew until one was just drinking iced champagne with a spoon.

    Course 4- Lamb noisettes with roasted mediterranean vegetables with dauphinoise potatoes. The lamb was pretty tender as far as lamb goes, and a little fatty. It was good, though. The gravy was similar to the gravies they served before at this dining hall. The potato gratin dauphinois was like lasagna made out of potatoes as it had cheese mixed in and was baked until brown. It was nice.

    Course 5- Summer fruit pavlova. Strawberries, red currants, and raspberries mixed in a whipped cream and sugar cake structure. The base was hardened sugar.

    Course 6- Coffee and Chocolates. They had a plate of different chocolates. Two types that were minty, and one with crispy rice in it. Nothing special. They snuck coffee in my cup when I turned around listening to a speech.

    (*) Pictures from the banquet were taken by Wouter Devulder

    Other bites in England:
    Oxford dinners – part I
    Cous Cous Cafe in Oxford
    Soon-to-be new posts:
    From popadom to Bombay pizza
    – Pie and mash at the Ship Inn Upavon and Pieminister
    – England’s healthy fastfood chain: Pret A Manger

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