The Hunger | Yannick Alléno for the Berluti dinner at Harrods
— September 7, 2012 —
In this column, Ananda Pellerin and Neil Wissink uncover the secret pleasures of the gastronome
Beef aspic with caviar and watercress coulis Photography by Neil WissinkThis week Berluti celebrated the launch of the brand’s first lifestyle store by holding a private dinner for 100 guests at Harrods. Bootmakers since 1895, Berluti are known for their exclusive collections of men’s shoes, bags, and accessories, and recently introduced their first clothing line.
The dinner, served at one long banquet table, was specially designed for the occasion by three-star Michelin chef Yannick Alléno. Flown in from Paris where he runs two restaurants at luxury hotel Le Meurice, Alléno also oversees a portfolio of restaurants internationally, including Le Cheval Blanc at Courchevel.
"Today, cooking is about emotion...We are lucky to have access to all of the best produce, but that’s not enough. Possession is not the end of the story."
The first dish of the evening was beef aspic with caviar and watercress coulis. The vegetal brightness of the watercress complimented the firmness of the aspic, and the caviar – arranged to look like blackberries in a garden – were small, delightfully salty explosions. Next came the perfumed and quietly decadent main of blue lobster, studded with lemon verbena, and served with fingerling potatoes and girolles sweetened with dried apricots. This dish was a testament to Alléno’s desire to find the “quintessence – the very best things about each ingredient.” Today, cooking is about “emotion,” he told us. “We are lucky to have access to all of the best produce, but that’s not enough. Possession is not the end of the story, the unique thing you can’t buy is emotion.”
Next was a dessert of disk-shaped dark chocolate under an acidulated meringue Mikado. Soft and pleasingly acidic, the sweetness of the chocolate was masterfully balanced by the sea-saltiness of a light Japanese seaweed at the base, and the citrus punch of a dollop of Yuzu sorbet on top.
Speaking about Antoine Arnault, who is Chief Executive of Berluti, and his father Bernard Arnault, the chairman of LVMH, Alleno said “Antoine and his father love creation, that’s why we stick. We all love to be challenged.”
Text by Ananda Pellerin