Food

Winter Warmers

Martine Nouet meets a chef with a passion for peat.
By Martine Nouet
A roaring peat fire popping in the fireplace, a cosy sofa and a good novel. That’s the way to get into a winter gear.And also the perfect time for mulled wines, toddies and cocooning. Well, if you don’t have peat to throw in the fire, or any fire at all, why not put it in your plate? Why not a warm up with peat this year?David Mansaud, the young and inspired chef of Astor Hotel in Paris took the challenge up.He has cooked a specially designed menu for Whisky Magazine, featuring three peated single malts.Well, before starting warming up the pot, check with your guests that they like peated whiskies. The specific aromatic profile of these whiskies does not suit (soot?) every palate. It is often a question of love or hate. Mind you, maybe this is a new criterion to choose who is going to join your winter table this year: “Peat Freaks only” !For the starter, we have selected the new Laphroaig 18 Years Old.Medicinal but also creamy with luscious vanilla and crème brûlée notes. A natural pairing for shellfish.“This single malt has been a true revelation for me,” David Mansaud explains. “I was flabbergasted at the aromatic intensity. These hospital aromas, this smoky and woody flavour immediately appealed to me. They give the dish a kick and uplift the spicy flavours. Without masking the lobster delicacy.” For the main dish, a beef fillet traced from a Norman cattle farm, the chef based the matching on mushrooms, more precisely boletus and chanterelles. A “wild” flavour that Benriach adopts. The port finish conveys fruity notes to the meat stock-based sauce.“When you taste the dish, you first think that the boletus overwhelms the flavours,” the chef comments.“Then the whisky follows behind and makes all the flavours linger. The smoke comes as a veil which teases the tastebuds”.For the sweet, let’s talk fusion. A marriage in heaven between chocolate, candied chestnuts and Highland Park 18 Years Old.David Mansaud loves the malt’s refined profile. “The peaty notes of this single malt are more integrated into the oak. They also are more subtle. When compared to the previous whiskies, it appears as more “neutral”. In fact it expresses itself in halftones. The amarena cherries echo the malt candied aromas.” A rich but scrumptious dessert.After all, it is getting chilly out there. So let’s indulge ourselves in sinful delights! DAVID MANSAUD 32, A LOBSTER FAN A true Parisian (if it can be admitted that such a thing exists), David Mansaud is a seashore cook though. He worked for a while in the United States, first in Philadelphia then in Boston, the “lobster city”.Thus his taste for shellfish and fish. Meeting French three Michelin star Alain Ducasse and two Michelin star Yannick Alleno has also put him on Mediterranean cuisine rails. He likes plain “uncluttered” plates and is keen to respect the nature and flavours of the raw produce without drowning the dish into a flood of flavours. A headchef at the Astor for a year now, he designs eight à la carte menus a year, insisting upon offering new suggestions in between the seasons, so as to celebrate “l’air du temps” as much as possible.Everyday, he also has a plat du jour which reflects his mood of the day. ASTOR SAINT-HONORÉ HOTEL The Astor Saint-Honoré is a charming hotel between Opéra and Champs-Elysées. A British atmosphere in the bar, a refined restaurant, cosy and tasteful bedrooms make it the perfect hideway for enjoying romantic Paris.Hôtel Astor Saint-Honoré, 11 rue d’Astorg, 75008 Paris – Tél. + 33 (0)1 53 05 05 05 – www.astorsainthonore.com See images right: The hotel’s bar and dining room. BEEF FILLET STUFFED WITH WILD MUSHROOMS, MASHED CELERIAC Serves 6 1kg beef fillet 250g fresh chanterelles 200g boletus 1 celeriac bulb 3 potatoes 100ml sunflower oil 100g butter 5 flat parsley branches A few juniper berries 50 ml Benriach 12 Years Old “Importanticus Fumosus” (Portwood finish) 300ml single cream 1 big onion (diced) 1 Cook potatoes and celeriac and mash them, using 60 per cent celeriac and 40 per cent potatoes. Add cream and butter. Season.2 Clean and brush the mushrooms. Fry the onion in butter until soft, add the chanterelles and chopped parsley. Cut the boletus in thin slices. Sauté them in oil for 2 min. Thread onto skewers. Keep warm.3 Brown the beef fillet on all sides in sunflower oil. Cut into 6 thick slices. Cut each one in two and stuff the steak with the chanterelles. Keep the fillet steaks in the oven (low heat).Deglaze the pan with the whisky, add a glass of water and the juniper berries. Reduce by half and sieve.4 Arrange the stuffed fillet steaks on the plates, adding the mashed celeriac and a boletus skewer. Spoon the sauce around the meat.The flavour tip Marinate the chanterelles in whisky 10 mins before cooking them BRAISED LOBSTER, SEASON VEGETABLES, SAUCE AMÉRICAINE Serves 6 1.5 kg Brittany lobster (or three 500g ones) 250 ml dry white wine a bouquet garni (bay leaf, leek leaf, thyme) 2 large eggplants 1 big celeriac bulb 3 leeks 6 carrots 12 green asparagus 6 sun-dried tomatoes For the sauce 100 ml olive oil 8 tomatoes (cut in dice) 6 shallots The lobsters shells 2 carrots (cut in dice) 700 ml double cream 60 ml Laphroaig 18 Years Old 3 thyme sprigs 1 Bring water to the boil, adding the bouquet garni and the white wine. Cook the lobster in it for 5 to 8 mins, depending on its weight. Clean the vegetables and cut them into dice. Cook them in a steamer or in boiling water.2 Shell the lobster (keep the shells) and keep aside.3 Prepare the sauce. Chop the shallots and season them in olive oil with carrots and thyme. Add the lobster shells and sauté for a few mins. Deglaze with the whisky. Add tomatoes. Reduce the heat to low. Pour the cream and let simmer for 15 mins. Sieve and keep warm.4 Warm up the vegetables and the lobster. Divide the vegetables into 6 hot soup plates. Pour the sauce and place the lobster on the top.The flavour tip Add a tablespoon of whisky to the warm sauce before serving CHOCOLATE AND CANDIED CHESTNUT FEUILLANTINE Serves 6 300g dark chocolate 400g candied chestnuts (chopped) 20 g custard 50ml Highland Park 18 Years Old 100g whipped cream 80g chestnut purée A few amarena cherries 1 Melt the chocolate and spread it on greaseproof paper. Use rings to make eighteen 5 cm diameter disks.2 Add the whisky to the custard. Mix the chestnut purée in. Then add two thirds of the whipped cream, thoroughly but delicately mixing in.3 Arrange on plates, starting with a chocolate disk, then the custard/chestnut/whipped cream mixture.Place chopped chestnuts all around the cream. Then start again three times, finishing with a chocolate disk.Decorate with the rest of whipped cream and the amarena cherries.The flavour tip Marinate the chopped candied chestnuts in whisky for 15 mins.