The very fact that we can now indulge in Michelin Star quality dining at home is, in itself, something very special indeed. Icons of the fine dining culinary world, Chef Jordan Bailey and Restaurant Manager, Majken Bech – Bailey, the widely renowned husband and wife team behind Aimsir, have very cleverly re-imagined the Two Star Michelin dining Aimsir experience with a brand new offering.
Having tried unsuccessfully to secure a table in Aimsir last December we were thrilled with the announcement of Aimsir at Home. Currently available for collection on Saturday’s from the home of Aimsir on the grounds of Cliff at Lyons Estate in Celbridge, Co Kildare. Delivery is available throughout Dublin and certain parts of Kildare also.
The menu is seductive, sophisticated and provenance – led. The very thought of pitching our culinary skills and finishing off our Michelin Star carte du jour at home was just the escape we craved in these uncertain and let’s be honest, monotonous times.
The box, packed to precision with each item numbered to facilitate easy co-ordination of the ingredients required for each course. The addition of a medical grade tweezers and shucking knife flung us completely into full on competitive mode. Feeling ever so slightly intimidated by this burgeoning box of impressive ingredients, a quick scan of the QR code provided and all anxiousness was alleviated courtesy of the clear, concise video guidance of Chef Joran Bailey.
Our Aimsir at Home adventure began with Puffed Cod Skin. Four super crisp shards of puffed cod skin topped with pert globules of earthy tasting burnt chive emulsion coupled with the subtle saltiness of the smoked cod roe. Dotted intermitedly with Elderberry Capers, these tangy little balls of flavour making each mouthful symphonic. Finished with a flourish of Fennel Fronds, this was our first rodeo with the tweezers and we were unashamedly proud of our results.
The aforementioned video guide had us fully informed on how to best achieve that all important aesthetic.
Fellow food geeks will appreciate the thrill of taking those medical grade tweezers in hand to see just how much finesse we could achieve in the presentation stakes. Carefully following the guidance provided we ended up with four very inviting looking snacks.
And let us tell you, the effort that goes into the assembly and presentation alone gives you a whole new appreciation for the expertise required for menus of this grade.
The wine paring of Maison Bereche, Brut Reserve, Champagne, France, NV was exceptional. A subtle fruit profile with confit lemon, dried apricots and floral tones of chamomile. A chalky mineral finish adding to the complexity of this exceptional champagne.
Next up were the Flaggy Shore Oysters, begging to be shucked and served. The sweet, salty smell emanating from these marvellous looking mollusks encouraged eager shucking. Poaching buoyantly in roasted Koji butter. A drizzle of Highbank Orchard apple balsamic adding a touch of tartness resulting in a sublime unity of flavour. What a great example of the importantance of quality ingredients and in-depth knowledge of flavour.
Again, the pairing of Maison Bereche, Brut Reserve, Champagne, France, NV with this course was sheer perfection.
Oh how we miss the glorious breads we have so frequently taken for granted when dining out. Step forth two miniature loaves of Ballymore Organic Heritage Wheat Soda Bread. Heated for five minutes to restore to full glory. Black treacle, Guinness and the fact that these little loaves were cooked in aged beef fat made this a little food memory all of its own. Served with Aimsir’s own 6-day cultured butter sprinkled with Achill Sea Salt, sensational.
Moving on to the Line-Caught Pollock. We have a small steamer which made this very easy to prepare but as Jordan advised in the instruction video, a sieve over a saucepan would work just as well.
The mild flavour and flaky structure of Pollock always calls for a heavy hitting sauce. Steaming the Pollock over a Bay Leaf Tea resulted in beautifully fragrant fish. Steamed lightly to maintain a wonderfully pearlescent sheen. Served with a luxurious fish cream sauce that only required gentle heating and a sprinkle of finely chopped garden stems.
The Pollock was expertly paired with the super crisp Emmerich Knoll, Gruner Veltliner, Federspiel, Wachau, Austria, 2019. Extreme freshness and complexity suggestive of lemon zest. With a lively and long finish this is definitely a wine to savour.
Enthralled by the pine branches included in the ingredients for the completion of the Wild Co. Clare Deer, five courses in and our love of this complete escapism was growing with each course.
Once the meat is seared you are then advised to lay the pine on top of the meat whilst basting the pine topped deer steak to infuse the sweet, herbal, natural perfume into the meat. A dish that unreservedly engages all of the senses in the most therapeutic manner we have ever experienced.
Served with an exquisite side of caramelised artichoke, with crispy onions dusted in black garlic accentuating the sweet, almost smokey accents of the caramelised artichoke. The accompanying sauce made from deer bones spiked with minuscule cubes of Pickled Turnip was truly magnificinet. Chickweed, foraged from the Aimsir garden, gave us a much wanted chance to use those tweezers again. There is something so intensely satisfying about seeing a beautiful looking and tasting dish come together on the plate.
A full bodied beauty was the only acceptable wine pairing for this gorgeous Game and Domaine Audran-Roche, Cotes du Rhone, France, 2018 did not disappoint. Forest Fruits and Black Cherry on the nose, a marvellous match.
A generous serving of the very decadent Ballylisk Triple Rose, grilled just to oozing level served with grilled pear from the Aimsir orchard. Lavender honey from Aimsir’s native black bee’s proving itself as the perfect glaze when warmed and brushed across the warm cheese and pears using the Lavender sprigs provided. Generous slices of stone aged bread for serving. A truly indulgent cheese course that we split over two sittings.
In a haze of food bliss we had reached the penultimate course of Apple Roasted in Black Quince Caramel. Ribbons of crisp apple served with a delightfully light puff pastry. A sprinkle of brown sugar before heating and a generous varnishing of apple toffee harmonised beautifully with the acidity of the apple. Finished with an unsparing helping of creme anglaise and delicate leaves of orange thyme, our final foray with the much loved tweezers!
The opportunity to try a new wine is not something we ever like to pass up. Killahora Orchards, Rare Apple Ice Wine, Ireland, 2018. This sweet but incredibly well balanced dessert wine was a flawless match.
To finish a phenomenal evening of eating, some Ballyhubbock Raw Sheep Milk Fudge sprinkled with Achill sea salt accompanied by some more of that wonderful Rare Apple Ice Wine, utter utopia.
Aimsir at Home is the ultimate food lovers treat. Re-creating a Michelin standard meal at home is an emotive experience. No wild or wonderful gadgets are necessary, think more along the lines of saucepan, grill, frying pan and of course the much loved and talked about tweezers which is included in the box.
What is absolutely necessary to make this an enjoyable and successful experience is the allocation of a minimum of three hours. With eight unique Michelin Star quality courses to finish, serve and relish we think the more time you allow yourself the better.
With each course oozing with vivacity and sophistication it is clear to see how Aimsir has retained its Two Michelin Star status. With exceptional ingredients and supreme mastery of flavour to the fore, this is one very special food experience.
Cliff at Lyons,
WRITTEN BY KEITH MAHON & OLIVIA BYRNE