That Christmas feeling truly begins when you open the first door of your advent calendar and gobble down the festive chocolate; there’s something about the 1st of December that feels like there’s magic in the air!
A couple of weeks ago the Corinthia Hotel London and Laurent-Perrier joined forces and invited myself and 11 other
twitter addicts bloggers and digital journalists to take a our own piece of an Advent Calendar and celebrate the 12 days of Christmas with a bespoke festive experience. Each of us were given a gift to match the content and style of our digital platforms. To be honest, I couldn’t believe how well my festive ‘tip’ was suited to me, what could be better than a salmon carving masterclass and a luxurious Christmas breakfast at the beautiful Corinthia Hotel.
When the day of the experience dawned I headed down to the hotel that had been beautifully decorated in full festive regalia with elegant white frosted ornaments and a grand snowy and silver tree in the lobby. Though the Corinthia is still fairly new on the luxury hotel scene, it has a great location in Westminster and beautiful modern decor after a full restoration of the grand Victorian building.
I stuck my nose into the hotel’s main restaurant, The Northall, to check out the breakfast offering…
A beautiful buffet served alongside a wide ranging à la carte offering, plus the waitress told me they also served a large Asian breakfast selection. Next I was taken through to Massimo, the hotel’s Italian restaurant and led into their private dining room.
The room includes a state-of-the-art kitchen which allows the guests to feel like they’re right in the heart of the kitchen whilst still enjoying the plush surroundings of the private dining room and comfortable red leather seating.
Next I was introduced to Garry Hollihead, the Culinary Director, who oversees all dining at the Corinthia including both Northall and Massimo, in-room dining and private events. I loved chatting to Garry and his passion for local produce was evident as he sources everything from small farms, fisheries and artisan food makers. He showed me the menu for British restaurant Northall and pointed out that each dish is labelled with the farm of origin. In particular he has a close relationship with The Petworth Estate where he sources the game for the hotel and Watts Farm in Kent for the vegetables.
Chef Garry told me that all the fish comes from Matthew Stevens in St Ives in Cornwall and everyday he receives a new supply of fish fresh off the boat. The salmon itself is smoked at Severn and Wye Smokery in Gloucestershire before it is delivered to the Corinthia. Salmon is a hugely popular dish on the menu all day and the hotel can use anything from 150 to 250 sides of salmon a week; even more at Christmas.
The salmon used for the demonstration was a beautifully big fat, pink piece of fish and I couldn’t wait to try it. Regular readers will know I’m a *little* bit obsessed with salmon and it’s my all time favourite food. Garry shares my love of fish and will often forgo meat dishes for an all fish-based meal.
Garry took a sharp knife and demonstrated to me how he first prepares the side of salmon cutting off both the ends and then trimming down the sides.
Next he carefully sliced of the leathery top in order to ensure the least amount of smoked salmon is wasted. Severn and Wye Smokery use very traditional techniques for their smoking and much of it is done by hand including chipping all their own oak wood to give the salmon their signature taste. The smokery supplies to many of the top hotels and shops in London including Harrods, Selfridges, The Ritz, Claridge’s and The Savoy and all their fish is sustainable with minimum impact on the environment in every aspect of their business.
Garry showed me how he then removes the pin bones from the salmon with special tweezers…
… while I watched with a glass of Laurent-Perrier Rosé in hand. I’ve mentioned before that Laurent-Perrier is my favourite champagne and I love the rosé with its beautiful flavour of berries – quite literally the perfect pairing with smoked salmon. Even the colour is the perfect match.
Next Garry showed me how the chefs would portion the salmon in the perfect, finest of slices.
Before plating it and trimming off the excess. Garry told me that at the Corinthia they’re very generous with the portions of salmon (great for salmon addicts like me) and they fill half the plate with salmon ribbons. The large size means that each side of salmon garners only around three portions – which is why the hotel gets through so much.
Salmon at the restaurant is served simply with a lemon and capers (plus buttery bread of course) so that diners can make the most of the beautifully smokey flavour.
So what was the verdict from the smoked salmon connoisseur? Well, I loved it of course! The flavour was mild but with that perfect hint of smokiness and the texture wasn’t to fatty. And coupled with the Laurent-Perrier Rosé it would be the perfect way to start your Christmas Day.
I was a guest of The Corinthia and Laurent Perrier for the smoked salmon carving masterclass