Safari, so good: Clare Smyth’s final meal

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Powered by article titled “Safari, so good: Clare Smyth’s final meal” was written by Interview by Dale Berning Sawa, for The Guardian on Friday 22nd May 2015 11.00 UTC

“I’d have a cheese course before dessert – only one cheese, the best in the world: a four-year-old comté from Bernard Antony. It’s quite rare; there’s none available at the moment,” says Clare Smyth

I’d be in a luxury camp in Kenya in the middle of the Masai Mara, surrounded by all the animals. The Masai Mara is quite simply the most magnificent place on earth. It puts everything into perspective.

It’s where I got engaged. My partner is South African and we went there on safari about three years ago. It’s the only place I’ve ever been where I couldn’t wait to go back.

Sunset is the most beautiful time of day, especially in the summer, during the migration time. I love animals, having grown up on a farm, and I’m always struck by how immaculately beautiful they are. I saw everything when I was there, including a rhino – that was something special.

I have five favourite foods and they’d all be on the menu. We’d start with caviar, with all the trad garnishes – egg yolk and whites, chopped separately; shallots and parsley very finely chopped; creme fraiche; blinis and a few melba toasts. We’d also have Iberico ham, just as it is, which is one of the best foods in the world to eat. So full of salty, rich umami, and the nuttiness from the pigs’ acorn diet.

To drink we’d start with Dom Pérignon, before moving on to a Romanée Conti, probably the finest wine in the world. I first had it at the Square restaurant in Mayfair.

With it I’d have black truffled linguine, with 3- or 4-year-old parmesan and a couple of dashes of barolo vinegar – very clean and sharp, it really hits with a punch and brings the dish to life.

After that, I’d have a cote de boeuf, from a 100% grassfed, 7-year-old Highland heifer, cooked over an open fire and served with chips cooked in beef fat, a salad of tomatoes, shallots, and romaine lettuce, and a sauce choron – which is basically a bearnaise, finished with tomato and tarragon.

And for dessert I’d have a rum baba, which is my favourite dessert of all time. It reminds me of the Louis XV, Alain Ducasse’s restaurant where I used to work. It’s perfect: the texture of the whipped cream, the amount of rum, the Tahitian vanilla in the cream … Everything that is simple is difficult – there’s nowhere to hide, it’s all about the perfect ingredients. I like a Barbados rum for this – sweet with vanilla notes.

We’d eat outdoors and there’d definitely be music. I imagine people with guitars, in a setting like this. I really appreciate people who can do things, who are extraordinary talents, so I’d love Adele – who is a real pure talent – to be there, singing. No one song in particular – she has so many that I love.

  • Clare Smyth is chef-patron of Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in London and will mentor the UK and Ireland representative at the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Competition final in June

  • This article was amended to correctly name the bearnaise sauce with tomato and tarragon as sauce choron © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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