Earlier this summer, an invite to Roux at The Landau popped into my inbox, with thanks from Balvenie, the Speyside Scottish Whisky distillery. Michel Roux Jr. himself would be there! I’d be sitting a few mere feet away from all of his twinkly-eyed-niceness. (Seriously…doesn’t he just seem like the nicest person??) The invite was for a Balvenie Craftsmen’s Dinner, which we would experience over lunch.
A few years ago, I spent my 40th birthday at The Langham, home to Roux at The Landau, and it was during this visit that I decided on some major life changes. You know…like quitting my job, selling all my beautiful Danish furniture (sob), and returning to London. (I was living in Chicago at the time.) These decisions were hard but made all that much more easy given the soft-as-marshmallow Langham hotel bed and the delicious delicious cocktails at The Artesian.
With this background, perhaps you can understand how easy it was to say yes to a visit to Roux at The Landau for the Balvenie Craftsmen’s Dinner.
Our meal included all of the wonderful products included in The Craftsmen’s Dinner YouTube series. If you don’t have any plans tonight, I suggest a little YouTube gorging. The series is just five episodes long and each episode is about 10 minutes. It follows Michel’s interactions with urban cheese makers Wildes Cheese, the family-owned car producer Morgan Motor, Wooster Bakery, and Bermondsey Street Bees. All of these beautiful hand-crafted products are close to nature and use all of your senses. Check out the Balvenie Craftsmen’s Dinner trailer for more.
Balvenie Craftsmen’s Dinner Season 2 Trailer
After a Q&A session with Michel to start the afternoon — he had just celebrated his birthday in New York City and also told us about the new pub he was opening at The Langham — we headed to the dining room.
The Balvenie Craftsmen’s Dinner Menu
Here’s our lunch menu, with all of the beautiful purveyors featured…
This was an amazingly beautiful lunch — one of those times in life where you look around at all the vaguely-famous looking people and wonder “How did I get here?”
Breaking it down… savory Balvenie-cured smoked salmon with a bit of sharp wasabi cream…
Gorgeous veal loin with honey and thyme glazed sweetbreads, the honey from Bermondsey Street Bees. I mean…how fabulous is that presentation…
An amazing cheese platter, featuring Wilde’s Cheeses with Balvenie-soaked prunes….
And whisky galore! Now if only I hadn’t had to work later in the day! The Balvenie Caribbean Cask was a favorite — the whisky is held in casks that had previously stored rum, providing hints of toffee and vanilla.
Visiting Bermondsey Street Bees
After this pretty amazing lunch, the team rolled us all over to Bermondsey Street Bees for a visit. We were dressed up in full beekeepers’ attire and said hello to the residents of the hives on the roof of Dale Gibson and Sarah Wyndham Lewis’ home — Dale and Sarah are the owners of Bermondsey Street Bees. Here’s Dale showing off one of his hives below…I have to admit I was totally freaked out by being so close to so many bees, but we were totally fine and they actually seemed quite sleepy and disinterested.
Afterwards, we headed inside for a honey tasting. We tasted some of Bermondey Street Bees’ own honey, plus honey from all around the world. I was impressed by the depth and variety available — and also the controversy! (If it says EU honey, is it really EU honey?) We tried some supermarket honey that was so one-dimensional in comparison to what Bermondsey Street offers and I truly don’t think I will ever buy honey again without tasting a bunch first.
And then of course what better way to end the day then with some Balvenie whisky. London’s own Miss Whisky took us through our quick tasting…I had a conference call later in the evening though so it was tiny sips for me…but still a great way to end a wonderful and very unique afternoon. So please if you can, check out the Balvenie Craftsmen’s Dinner YouTube series and also look for the purveyors featured in the series as you are out and about in London and elsewhere.
The Balvenie Craftsmen’s Dinner
From the press release: The successful online series ‘The Balvenie Craftsmen’s Dinner’ is back to celebrate modern day artisans from urban bee keepers to experimental cheese makers.
Following the success of last year’s series, The Balvenie has launched the second installment of The Craftsmen’s Dinner, which tells the stories of four exceptionally skilled craftspeople through a series of short films, demonstrating that true craft is not about what you make, or where you make it, but how you make it.
This year, the online series, hosted once again by renowned Michelin starred chef, Michel Roux Jr., showcases the dedication to British craftsmanship by a group of specialists, each using traditional techniques to create their artisan products in the most unexpected of places, from a rooftop overlooking The Shard to a council estate in Tottenham.
The series follows urban cheese makers, Wildes Cheese; the family-owned car producer Morgan Motor Company, who embrace new technology whilst preserving tradition; artisan bakery Wooster’s, who restored the old family mill; and Bermondsey Street Bees, who champion food sustainability from a central London rooftop. The stories that emerge highlight the common values between the different craftspeople, Michel Roux Jr. and The Balvenie; who all share an intimate understanding of their trade and a desire to leave a mark through their produce, taking no shortcuts.
The series concludes with the four-course ‘Craftsmen’s Dinner’ at the Langham curated by Michel Roux Jr. with dishes that showcase the exciting collaborations with each of the craftspeople. The delicious independent menu features spit-roast veal loin with sweet breads glazed in Bermondsey Street Bees’ honey, Wildes Cheese’s Roland cheese with Balvenie soaked prunes and Wooster’s sourdough ice cream.
Check out The Balvenie Craftsmen’s Dinner on YouTube. Thanks for reading, and thanks to Balvenie, Roux at The Landau, and Bermondsey Street Bees for the lovely day out.