Galton Blackiston is the chef-patron of Morston Hall near Blakeney in Norfolk and proud owner of one Michelin star. Sous-Chef and I holidayed in the area a number of years ago but missed out on the opportunity to sample his wonderful cuisine at the time. I was therefore thrilled to be invited by The Guild of Food Writers to his recent workshop at Westminster Catering College. The theme of the evening was fish, which is not surprising in view of the publication last autumn of his most recent cookery book, Hook Line Sinker: A Seafood Cookbook, and we were treated to series of wonderfully classical and traditional fishy preparations. No foams, no smears, no smoke - just perfectly cooked fish and gloriously deep, savoury sauces, based on well-reduced fish stock, lots of cream and even more butter - not my style of cooking but oh SO good! I loved all of it!
Galton was ably assisted by his friend, Mr Aldsten, a retired farmer turned cookery teacher's assistant, and brought me back to basics with his demonstration of classical and traditional sauce preparation, and all the painstaking, methodical steps involved in creating real flavour. Shallots or onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms and fresh herbs all found their way into the pans, to be gently sweated in butter until soft and golden, before joining champagne or wine, cream and butter in the final rich, velvety sauce.
The menu included crisp purple potato shells filled with lobster bathed in a sauce of champagne and caviar; fillet of cod in a sauce based on Japanese miso and accompanied by a caramelised shallot purée and sautéed baby gem lettuce; a crab, brown shrimp and samphire tart with wonderfully crisp pastry; and my personal favourite, a whole fillet of seabass which was encased in a salt meringue before being baked, resulting in beautifully silky, tender flesh, perfect with the creamy Dijon mustard and lemon sauce.
The recipes are all featured in Hook Line Sinker so I look forward to repeating the experience in my own kitchen - and a trip to Norfolk for the express purpose of dining at Morston Hall is definitely on the agenda.