If you’ve not read my previous post about Cheval Blanc, you may not know they’re a little bit obsessed with wine and pairing it with great food.
So when I was invited to see what Cyd was cooking in the kitchen as part of their new spring menu, I pretty much ran to Moseley there and then!
From the creative minds behind The Humble Pub Co, the establishment is ran by GM / Sommelier Abigail Connolly and Chef Cyd Tachdjian. The decor is light, eclectic and, like most things Moseley, a touch on the bohemian. Not forgetting the most fabulous wine cellar in the area:
Anyway, onto the menu. Cyd has highlighted some fantastic sounding dishes such as Cured Cold Smoked Mutton Leg, Chicken Liver & Port Pâté, and Poached Duck Egg Meurette & Sourdough Toast.
After a meet & greet and a touch of wine in the front, we were taken into the back room for a more private dining experience. Cyd was cooking just behind us whilst we settled down into our seats.
Cyd took us through a whistle stop tour of the menu and mixed up a few of the dishes, whilst Abigail paired them with aplomb.
First up was a Earl Grey Tea Cured Salmon, Celeriac & Granny Smith with a grain mustard dressing, paired with a Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc, a Domaine Masson-Blondelet 2014 Les Angelots (Pouilly-Fumé).
The Earl Grey salmon was delicately smoked with a delightful bergamot edge to it, paired with a sharp tang of the apple and celeriac, lifted by the sweet-hot mustard dressing.
The Sauvingon Blanc was strong on a lime acidity but tempered by a rich green fruit nose.
Next to the table was my favourite dish of the evening, Confit Duck Wings with Honey, Orange and Ginger Glaze& Rocket Salad paired with an Australian Cabernet Franc, a Jamsheed Wines 2016 Ma Petite Francine, from the Yarra valley.
The wings were in, a word, amazing! I would’ve been very happy with a bucket of these, a bottle of wine and a corner to park myself in for the remainder of the evening. Duck is a favourite meat of mine but it seems to be used mainly in French (as with Cyd) or Chinese cuisine and not much else in between, as it’s a gloriously flavoursome meat. These were no different: deliciously sticky and scattered with sesame seeds, and like manna from heaven. I tried to be polite and use cutlery but alas, like the savage I am, fingers soon got messy! I’m not a massive rocket fan (I find it too bitter for my palate) but I can understand the need for it to cut through the honeyed dressing.
The wine was a perfect compliment to Cyd’s gastronomy, a Cabernet Franc, made in Beaujolais style. It’s bottled after four months in a clean style, no finings or filtration for this one. What this means to the wine is it retains a lot of the fruit and tannins; it bursts with juiciness with a lilt of herbs. This would be a wine which, if not careful, would disappear by the bottle quickly.
If Abigail and Cyd wanted to make an absolute fortune, a bucket of these wings, maybe a sharing dish of Boulangère Potato (or Pomme Frites if I could be so vulgar), and a bottle of Ma Petite Francine on a table for 4 in the sunshine would make a very, very, happy evening for all involved!
For our third course, a Red Mullet Fillet, Tomato Compote, Green Olives and Capers and Crab Arancini paired with a South African Chenin Blanc, the AA Badenhorst Secateurs.
Whilst serving, Cyd told us he thinks mullet is a hard done by fish. It has a light delicately flavoured flesh but requiring pin boning, it’s one that doesn’t appear on menus too frequently, which is a real shame. This portion was delicious and happily bone free. The fish broke up almost on contact with the fork and had a lovely clean flavour on the tongue. The crab arancini was well stuffed with seasoned crab meat. I loved the compote and the olives but capers are my enemy: sour, salty and a flavour I’ve grown to have a deep personal dislike of, so they were quickly marshalled to the side of the plate.
The Chenin Blanc was fresh with an almost fruit crumble nose and taste to it, a gently spiced fruit flavour which went well, balancing between the light mullet and rich crab.
Our final savoury dish of the evening was a Corn Fed Chicken Mousseline, Crispy Chicken Skin, Potato Gratin, Beans and a Morels Mushroom and Cognac Cream Sauce and paired with a Turkish Öküzgözü A 2011 Kavaklıdere Prestige.
It’s not often you see a creamy sauce on chicken nowadays, it’s usually accompanied by a “jus”. But this was delicious, the well cooked chicken mousseline was liberally doused with the creamy congac and morel mushroom sauce, morels with that unique enigmatic nutty flavour combining well with the rich cognac. The rosti was also a delight, crisp on top but soft in the middle, yum!
Three words you wouldn’t have heard half a decade ago but now gives happiness whenever it’s heard: Crispy Chicken Skin. Not exactly sustenance, this crackling of the poultry world is a delight wherever I see it, and this was no exception. Even though it was more of a garnish for the dish, I put it aside till last as it’s that much of a favourite and I savoured every last microsecond (a little secret but don’t tell anyone, try gribenes!).
Öküzgözü, means “bull’s eye” in Turkish and its a grape variety grown throughout the Anatolian region. I’d never heard of it before this meal but it’s a big, bold red to counterbalance the richness of the dish. The main flavours I could get were cherries and raspberries.
Trio of Desserts
To finish, Cyd spoilt us with not one but three desserts. We had Chocolate & Pear Cake, Rhubarb Tart & Blueberry Cheesecake, and an Australian Muscat, Stanton and Killeen Rutherglen Muscat.
All three desserts were sweet and decadent but my personal highlight was the blueberry cheesecake. I’m a glutton for a cheesecake at the best of times but this was fantastic with big bold blueberries oozing down the side, a little mouthful of bliss.
The muscat was also delicious with a rich raisin and nut flavour, and a perfect round off to an almost perfect meal.
I’ll be looking forward to a future return to Cheval Blanc soon. Hopefully it will feature a bucket of duck wings and some crispy chicken skin… …excuse me whilst I put on a couple more stone in mentally!
Disclaimer: For this visit, I was a guest of The Humble Pub Co, Cheval Blanc & Paul Fulford, this provides no bias to the post. This blog is my own personal opinion and strives to provide an independent view, promoting, enjoying and reviewing the range of exciting food and venues in and around Birmingham.
Coming from the creative minds behind The Humble Pub Co, owners of The Prince of Wales, The British Oak and next door neighbours The Dark Horse, Cheval Blanc comes with an estimable pedigree.
Run by GM Abigail Connolly and Chef Cyd Tachdjian their aim is to bring a wine bar with impeccable food to Moseley. Wifey and I heard about their special weekend offer on Mussels and a glass of Wine for £10 (also available as Mussels only for £5), so we took the brother and sister-in-law over for a taste on one of their rare visits from Jersey.
The decor could be described as eclectic, with bottles for light shades, vintage lampshades and mismatched chairs, all tastefully done. The star of the show is the wine cellar. Positioned in front of the bar and topped with thick glass, it’s a nice touch to look down and see some of the bottles on offer.
The wine to the accompany the mussels was Clip, a Portugese Vinho Verde. Made by two friends, Pedro Barbosa and João Maria Cabral, they are aiming to celebrate the local variety Loureiro grape. This is done by following a policy of minimal intervention and care for the ecosystem, in order to grow grapes that ripen well and can display the terroir from which they come. The wine wasn’t dry but crisp, at the same time with a slightly floral taste and a complex almost mineral aftertaste.
The mussels themselves were no small portion – a huge bowl, full of large juicy morsels in a chilli and lemongrass broth. The mussels were very fresh with no overpowering ‘fishy’ taste. The broth was heavy on the lemongrass but enough chilli to make its presence known. Perfect for Wifey but brother-in-law would have preferred a touch more heat (maybe some chilli flakes on the table as an added extra would have allowed us to adjust for taste).
The accompanying crusty bread was delicious and soaked up the broth nicely, my only disappointment was there wasn’t enough! After munching through the mussels, there was still plenty of broth which I would have loved to dunk an extra slice or two into like the savage that I am! Maybe an option to pay a pound or two more for an additional portion of bread for the table would be welcome.
All in all, we loved the experience and will look to return again soon. Cyd will be rotating the recipes for mussels with other flavours such as chorizo, paprika and madras sauce. There’s enough temptation to keep returning…
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