Back from sunny Spain, invigorated and full of inspiration, sangria and cerveza.
Topic of the moment - grouse. Especially in The City. Bringing part of the countryside into a London restaurant.
After being hung for at least a week to ripen and mature the flavours (my tip - never eat Grouse on 12th August as this would have been last year's bird, thrown in the freezer for 6 months), these birds are ready to eat after the 18th.
The best way to cook the grouse is to extract all entrails, hearts, lungs, guts etc. to make a nice pate. And believe you me these stink! Traditionally, the accompaniments to grouse would be game chips, bread sauce, bacon and gravy made from the pan juices, otherwise known as 'jus'.
However, the Lionheart way has to be what the bird likes to eat and what more seasonal than fresh, ripe elderberriers straight from the bush.
With these I make a lovely elderberry jam to accompany the bird. I confit the legs (slowly cook in olive oil, garlic and rosemary for 3 hours) and make a buttery savoy cabbage parcel stuffed with new season carrots and a pinch of caraway.
After roasting the bird on the crown for 8 minutes in a hot oven, it's important to leave them to rest before I de-breast them (nudge, nudge, say no more) and plate up, finishing off with the pan juices de-glazed with a splash of double cream.
To start the season we did a lunch table yesterday with 9 toffs and big-wigs from the City who chose Krug champagne, Puligny Montrachet 2005 and magnums of Chateau Durfort Vivens claret to complement.
The current trend in the City (see the Daily Telegraph) is which restaurant can do the cheapest grouse? I do believe we're currently in the lead by charging £25 per head - a bargain.