“I suppose that’s why you shouldn’t blow crumble”

Raymond Blanc was only on the outskirts of my radar until I had lunch with him last summer. Now I think it might be love.

He was the first big interview I’ve done. I was “fresh” back from Glastonbury, or as fresh as you can be.. I’d washed, more than once, but reality was still a bit blurry. And my editor met me with a simple question which I have to admit quickly relocated my heart to the bottom of my boot – “you ok to have lunch with Raymond Blanc in two hours?” I’ll be honest I headed straight to google, once my pulse had settled down.

He is lovely. Beyond lovely. Just the two of us sitting in Maison Blanc oblivious to the hum of customers coming and going on what would be a normal lunchtime.. you know… if I wasn’t having my salad dressed by a world famous chef. We chatted for hours, shared some house wine – as he dismissed my protests of having to go back to the office with a smile and he asked me if I would mind reviewing his upcoming restaurant in the city.

Now this met with an intake of breath from me and his PR lady. Obviously mine was in delight – “sure iconic chef I will eat your food!” While the PR ladies, I found out later, was due to the fact NOBODY was supposed to know. I crossed my heart and promised not to tell.

The next time I saw Raymond was in a field. I’d be invited mushroom picking by a different PR lady and never one to turn down an outing in wellies I donned my woollen hat and headed out into the cold. It was just before christmas and bitterly cold so just my eyes were peeking out from my layers upon layers – I am not the most fashionable of people but I have skills when it comes to keeping warm.  So imagine my surprise when he lifted my hat a little and exclaimed with a smile and in his perfectly French edged English – “I thought it was you!” It was pretty mad. I mean he must meet about 60,798,210 press people everyday and I’m lovely but I’m nothing special : )

Anyway, to the point and to Raymond’s restaurant. Brasserie Blanc in Chichester. We first went mid – February to celebrate my Father’s birthday and we went again this week. I love it. If anything I am glad I haven’t (yet) reviewed it officially because I am not really one for compliments and despite my skills with words I just don’t think I could do it justice.

The setting is just right, sophisticated but not so posh you feel uncomfortable. The menu is big, or little. The little one being the “Wine and Dine” menu which I could quite happily marry. 3 courses, a glass of wine and all for £15ish (lunchtime) or £18ish (dinner.) Normally little menu’s are tiny in choice but not this one.

Feast your eyes on these tempting dishes…

Domaine de la Provenquiere VDP Cabernet Sauvignon
or Domaine de la Provenquiere VDP Sauvignon Blanc
Parsnip soup, honey & lemon dressing (gf/v)
Smoked ham hock & pea risotto (gf)
Celeriac salad, poached egg, shallot crisps (gf/v)
Main Courses:
Pork & black pepper sausage, purée potatoes
Fillet of gurnard, bouillabaisse sauce, olive mash
Fillet of Seabass, mussel & herb broth (gf) (£1 Supplement)
Blue cheese macaroni, celery & walnut (v)
Apple & almond crumble, vanilla ice cream (v)
Steamed chocolate sponge pudding (v)
Blood orange posset (v)
The only problem is choosing! I had the Parsnip soup (creamy with a nice crunch from being topped with lightly roasted Parsnip shavings and a great depth of flavour), the Fillet of gurnard (a fish I had never had before but I trust Raymond and after eating here last time I knew I was in safe hands to venture into the unknown) and the Blood orange posset (a fresh thick yoghurt, nice and light the perfect end to a real treat of a meal.)
I think you’ll agree the price is very reasonable and trust me when I say the food it simply stunning.
Nice bloke and great cook?
I think he is in trouble if our paths cross again… it’s going to take all the power I have not to get down on one knee.

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