Words cannot begin to describe what an amazing day I had today. And possibly not even pictures. But I'm willing to give it a shot.
Two months ago, the CG enlisted the help of multiple friends so he could bag us a table at Heston Blumenthal's famous The Fat Duck for my birthday present. Miss J came through with the goods (have I mentioned how much I love this woman?) so on a gorgeous sunny day, we headed to Bray for the foodie experience of a lifetime.
After a pre-drink at the local pub, we excitedly traipsed over to the main event. Every single person working at the restaurant acknowledged us as we entered, and the same level of service continued for the whole five hours we were there.
While we sipped champagne, Mr S and I pored over the bible of a wine list, plotting our lunch accompaniments.
First up, amuse bouche. A beetroot and horseradish mouth explosion that melted on your tongue.
Followed swiftly by nitro poached aperitifs - vodka and lime for the CG and I, and gin and tonic for Miss J and Mr S.
Now I'm just going to say up front: please excuse the amount of superlatives that I'm going to litter this blog post with, but I just can't get over how incredible every course was. The whole theatre around the meal left me gushing over every little detail - from the flavours, to the effects, to the crockery, to the stationery. Every. Single. Detail.
The gazpacho made me want to lick the bowl clean.
But it was soon overshadowed by the smell of oak moss rolling across the table in dramatic fashion while we dined on truffle toast and a multi-layered savoury concoction.
Deliciously hearty snail porridge was next.
Followed by roast foie gras and scallops.
A crazy Mad Hatter's tea party had us oohing and aahing over dissolving gold pocket watches and super tasty mock turtle soup in a teapot, accompanied by toast sandwiches.
And as if that wasn't enough to impress us, we then listened to the sounds of sea while we feasted on foam that tasted of the sea, sand with a heavenly salty crunch, and super fresh shashimi. For a seafood and Japanese cuisine lover like me, this dish was heaven.
Perfectly poached salmon followed quickly after, then our pigeon "main course".
Savoury dishes done, we cleansed our palates with hot and iced tea. As in, the left side was hot, and the right side was cold. I have no idea how they do it. Different temperatures on top and bottom, I'd probably understand - but left and right?
An egg was presented to us next - the shell made of chocolate, and the inside a creamy, tangy, sweet filling. This time it was the CG who was in heaven.
Vapourisers spritzed the air around us for the "BFG" (black forest gateau), evoking the smell of the forest.
Before we went on a tour of Scottish whiskys, with an American one to boot.
Finally, we were handed bags of sweets to finish with a menu that actually smelled of sweet shops. Just brilliant.
Impressed beyond belief, we popped over to Heston's pub, The Crown, for a sober up drink in the beer garden to make the most of the sun.
10 hours after we left home for lunch, we returned. Best birthday present EVER.