Just Because I Promised
Poached Tasmanian Salmon on Creamed Leek Fondue
Seared Australian Beef Fillet with Balsamic Red Onion Compote and Sweet Potato Roesti
Apple Tart with Caramel Sauce
OK. That was the basic list of food.
However – the salmon was somehow layered and utterly sumptuous, with a melting slick of creamy sauce over a thick bed of simmered leeks. Leeks are not known here, so the local guests who came (which included several Ministers) were interested. They were even more interested when we pointed out that they were the national vegetable of Wales – but mostly because they couldn’t think why anyone would want a national vegetable. This led to a debate on which one Egypt would choose, which did not reach any conclusion.
The beef was a disc of rich dark fillet a full four inches across and a good three inches high. I have never worked out to cook meat in these proportions as I tend to get charred and dry on the outside, raw in the centre. This was delicately rare in the centre, perfect on the outside.
I had gone to the kitchen to check the process early in the evening and found that crew cooking in the dark. They had decided that they didn’t want to sprinkle everything with dill and the tiny green insects were out in dive bombing squadrons. So they turned out the lights. I had to pick the Australian accent to find the cook – a lovely man I also knew in Jordan. He is from the Grand Hyatt here, and they do most of our catering.
The tart sounds simple, and like all the best food, in a way it was. It was a crisp thin shortcrust pastry bowl of apple with high golden sides. The apple was sliced paper thin, swirled into the crust, and only just cooked till tender so it still had a faint flavour of fresh apple. The caramel sauce was rich and very home-made, drizzled over the apple and spiralling around the base. It was served with a generous scoop of real vanilla icecream.
Not on the menu was the totally divine selection of tiny petits fours served with coffee – long thin sticks of almonds barely held together with light toffee, almond meringues, low and flat and filled with coffee cream, and tiny friands studded with raspberries.
Better still were the leftovers as a quick lunch on our return from Al Arish. There is nothing like wonderful food from a party appreciated in the solitary tranquillity of a day later. I wonder if they realise they left a whole three litre tub of vanilla ice cream, regularly speckled with tiny black seeds.