When we arrived, we were shown to an impressive dining room. A large retangular wooden table was adorned with cutlery in a raised part at the back, partitioned with red curtain. We started off with a delicious punch which consisted of passionfruit, prosecco and a little pineapple. It was summer in a really cute glass - bought from Ebay, apparently. I coveted it.
Onto the steak tasting. I must say, I learnt an awful lot about the complexities of aging meat. Dry aged? Wet aged? I am now an expert. Well, not quite, but dry aged is preferable to wet for flavour, whereas wet aging is more economically viable as dry aged meat shrinks, but suffers in the flavour stakes.
When I was presented with the steak tasting sheet, I was overwhelmed with glee. There were 17 note boxes - which means 17 different mouthfuls! We kicked off with the sirloins, of which the South Devon beef, supplied by Wild Beef was my favourite of them all. The cows are 36 months old when they go to slaughter and this produced a deep grassy flavour, ever-so-slightly chewy. Not that this is a bad thing, mind; I have healthy enough teeth. Of the sirloins one of the marked differences I found was in texture. For example, the West Cork Hereford sirloin was very loose in texture, whereas the Angus / Charolais cross was much denser in flesh.
All the cuts of meat were cooked to medium rare. Whilst I go for rare when ordering sirloin or fillet I think it's vital to have rib eye medium rare, as the extra time on the heat gives the fat more of a chance to melt, resulting in a tastier bite.
And so came the rib eyes. I'd love to say I can recall each and every one of them, but since I've come away from the experience, I know which ones stood out and which ones were favourite and which ones were least impressive. The Casterbridge (Modern Cross) rib eye bled a lot on the plate, which according to Huw is not a good sign. It had a lighter flavour and was the least complex of the lot. The same is said for the Ruby Red Devon - such a pretty name, but failing to live up to expectations. On the otherside of the spectrum, the Longhorn from Ginger Pig was a delight - some of us (including me) said it had a Stilton-esque flavour to the rich, silky and unctuous fat. Similarly, Farmer Sharp's Galloway had a caramel, almost toasty flavour to the fat and the flesh.
This was Aberdeen Angus, from Jack O'Shea. Look at the beast! We placed a fork next to it for comparitive purposes. The flesh had an almost livery flavour and was pleasantly gamey, but unfortunately it defeated us and was taken away to be made into doggy bags for us to take home.
What a fantastic night. Having consumed around 6kg of steak between 12 of us, it was definitely a case of pescetarianism for the next few days, but my god. What a night. It also confirmed that Ginger Pig' Longhorn meat is the daddy of all steak, and that the Hawksmoor lot know what they're doing as that's the steak on offer on their menu. The restaurant's food is cooked here:
Barely room to swing a cat. I don't know how they do it, but it's magic.
When we were offered dessert, I laughed. But then again, having had a cursory glance at the menu, I spotted jelly and I do love jelly so. I ordered one to share, and we had much fun giving it a good ol' wibble wobble. The moulds were designed by Bompas & Parr, the jellymongers. It was a light and refreshing end to the meal.
I waddled off home a happy girl.
Read more reports on the night here, here and here.
If this doesn't motivate you to get yourself down to Hawksmoor and try their steak, then I'm afraid I haven't explained myself very well.