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The Harrods Guide to Gourmet Food

Feature: Long Read
Words By Bill Knott

Can Champagne be too cold? How does the way that smoked salmon is cut affect the flavour? And did you know that when it comes to making the most of truffles, keeping it simple is the secret? You may be au fait with the finest fare, but are you up to speed with the best way to enjoy it? When it comes to the world’s most decadent food and drink, these dos and don’ts should help steer you in the right direction.

Caviar

Only a bone, wooden or mother-of-pearl spoon should be used to taste caviar – metal can taint the flavour. Ideally, the tin should sit over crushed ice, with crème fraîche and a mound of warm blinis alongside. Alternatively, for a truly decadent breakfast, spoon caviar over buttery scrambled eggs piled onto toasted brioche, allowing 30g per person for the full experience; as the saying goes, there is only one thing worse than no caviar, and that is not enough caviar.

Oysters

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Oysters are graded according to size – connoisseurs often choose the medium-sized 3 – and should be eaten soon after opening. Try them with mignonette sauce, a mix of finely diced shallot, wine vinegar and cracked black pepper. Rock oysters are also (purists, look away now) delicious cooked and served on the half shell, most famously to make oysters Rockefeller, for which they are typically covered in a deep-green herb-rich sauce, topped with breadcrumbs and grilled until bubbling.

The old stricture that you should only eat oysters when there’s an R in the month was, in the days before refrigeration, a sensible piece of advice. Happily, however, it is now way out of date.

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Oysters are graded according to size – connoisseurs often choose the medium-sized 3 – and should be eaten soon after opening. Try them with mignonette sauce, a mix of finely diced shallot, wine vinegar and cracked black pepper. Rock oysters are also (purists, look away now) delicious cooked and served on the half shell, most famously to make oysters Rockefeller, for which they are typically covered in a deep-green herb-rich sauce, topped with breadcrumbs and grilled until bubbling.

Champagne

Champagne is one of the most versatile of wines, unmatched as an aperitif but also pairing beautifully with food. A delicate blanc de blancs, made from 100 per cent chardonnay grapes, is perfect with seafood, while a richer pinot-based blanc de noir is great with cheese and charcuterie. Beware of serving it too cold as that will suppress the wine’s myriad aromas and nuanced flavours – around 10˚C is the suggested optimum drinking temperature.

Bubbling over with more fizz-related queries? Check out our Champagne Guide.

Black Truffles

The black Périgord truffle – named after its heartland in southwest France – is arguably the most prized fungus on the planet. Should you manage to get your hands on a ‘black diamond’, carefully brush any soil from its surface, use a truffle grater or mandolinto shave it into thin wafers, then use it simply: among the layers of a potato gratin; as a luxurious garnish for fried or scrambled eggs; or over a pasta dish, perhaps.

In this recipe for charcoal spaghetti with truffle-infused egg yolk and shaved truffle, the delicate taste of black truffle brings a whole new flavour profile to the egg, then is shaved to perfection to top it all off.

Black Truffles

Serves 2
200g fresh charcoal spaghetti
1 bulb garlic, top sliced off
15ml extra virgin olive oil
100g unsalted butter
1 black Périgord truffle
2 large eggs

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    Serve with...

    "Pio Cesare is a world-renowned producer of Barolo, a wine that pairs perfectly with Black Truffle."

    Shop Now

Smoked salmon

Smoked salmon is usually either long-sliced, in which instance the blade is held parallel to the fish, or D-cut, where the slicing is perpendicular to the side of salmon. Connoisseurs often choose the latter: the taste is different on the surface (the belly of the fish), in the centre and next to the skin, so the D-cut offers the perfect balance of all three in one mouthful. Serve with warmed blinis and crème fraîche – and bear in mind that the best smoked salmon absolutely doesn’t need drenching in lemon juice.

Ready to put your new knowledge to the test? Make sure you're serving in style with a table dressed to the nines and our pick of the most sophisticated glassware, tableware, and cutlery.

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