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Food As Art: McTague And Allen At Harvey Nichols

Jonathan Schofield likes it said with flowers

Written by . Published on August 6th 2013.

Food As Art: McTague And Allen At Harvey Nichols

THE Forager Dinner at Harvey Nichols on Monday 5 August was special.

Two of the great talents of the food and drink scene in the North West, Lisa Allen of Northcote Manor and Mary-Ellen McTague of Aumbry joined forces to produce an exceptional menu to mark Manchester's urban greening festival, Dig the City.

It was so delicate yet lovely it was like a fairy dancing a waltz on your tongue. 

The view of Exchange Square almost matched the food as the late evening sun lifted the clouds and flooded the civic space below Harvey Nichols' Second Floor Restuarant with a golden glow. The light quality enhanced the beauty of the temporary Dig the City wood below. 

Late sun of the Forest of Exchange SquareLate sun over the Forest of Exchange Square

The food was exquisite.

The amuse of fresh goat's milk curd with pickled cucumber, cornflowers, rocket flower and summer purslane was so delicate yet lovely it was like a fairy dancing a waltz on your tongue. 

The 33 day aged Longhorn beef with mustard leaf, nasturtium and pickled cockles had a firm presence with the beef and the glorious pickled cockles but also retained the grace and good looks of the amuse. 

These were my two favourites although both the intriguing wheat fed Goosnargh guinea fowl with its parfait cigar and the English strawberry dessert that resembled a city in a Star Wars movie were almost as good. 

The flowers that delighted the eye were the most obvious reference to the Dig the City theme and were spread across the menu. Nastutiums I tell you. Yum. I never realised how lovely they were. I'm going to get some for the garden. And the pot.

"Flowers used to be a very traditional part of people's diet," said McTague in the question and answer session after the event.

"We got out of the habit of eating them, but they were just another part of everyday diet in the past. Remember people had to eat what was readily available just to survive."

In otherwords, and in the context of this menu, Nihil Pulchrium Nisi Utile.

The latter Latin tag meaning Nothing Beautiful Unless Useful, was the one by which Charles Barry, later architect of The Palace of Westminster, won the competition to build the building which houses Manchester Art Gallery. The flowers in this meal were glorious to look at but they also had a role to play, they were useful.

Here are the pictures.

Feast your gaze upon them.

And if Allen and McTague should ever team up again make sure you grab a ticket.

It's a cigar parfaitIt's a cigar parfait

It's fairies dancing on your tongue - the amuseIt's fairies dancing on your tongue - the amuse

It's strawberries and a Star Wars cityIt's strawberries and a Star Wars city

Scrumpled in the pocket and stolen menuScrumpled in the pocket and stolen menu

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here @JonathSchofield or connect via Google+

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