Nespresso recently invited me to a lunch to ‘find out what was missing’ from a meal at Texture restaurant, the Michelin-starred, modern European restaurant and champagne bar in the heart of Mayfair. The chef – Agnar Sverrisson – takes British produce, alongside ingredients from his native Iceland, and gives them something of a twist. Agnar was asked to prepare a special menu and it wasn’t until we were given our coffee were we told about the food we had eaten.
Agnar uses no, or minimal cream or butter in his dishes. The food he prepares is quite natural with pure flavours, so don’t expect heavy cream-laden soups or butter rich sauces. He is, however, a fan of ice – which I love a nod to his Icelandic home, no doubt.
The bread was warm and had a great crust, olive oil and volcanic black salt was the answer to butter.
We began with an amuse bouche of pumpkin soup, the crunch of creamy hazelnuts made up for any lack of cream and finished with rich olive oil.
The Scottish scallops were divine, a beautiful plate of food with the main showstopper being three perfectly grilled meaty bivalves. Razor thin and icy cold mouli, ginger, lime leaf and lemongrass were delicately placed in sauce, ice and dressing. A small pile of coconut shaving intensified the flavours and was a great way to add to the various nuances.
For the vegetarians a beautiful plate of Colchester Bay beetroot with pesto, goats milk, pistachio and herbs.
My main was Icelandic lightly salted cod with juicy prawns, barley and grapefruit bisque. Not one diner went for the cauliflower textures, with girolles, pickled, soup, puree.
A pre-dessert granita helped to cleanse the palate.
We finished on Icelandic skyr a low-fat dairy product, native to Iceland and like strained yogurt. This had been given the freezer treatment and sprinkled with rye breadcrumbs, there was thinly sliced fennel, fennel seeds and perfectly poached GoldRush apples in the rest of the dish.
A plate of petit fours included cardamom truffles, the best I’ve tasted pistachio Madeleine, a fruit-filled macaron and a minty ‘Fisherman’s Friend’ meringue.
Now, the point of this glorious meal was to illustrate that some food and drink tastes fabulous even when key elements are excluded. The sauces were still as tasty without butter, the ice cream rich and velvety without the use of cream.
Nespresso ended our meal, and it was then we were asked to guess what had been removed. The room was silent. Could it be the caffeine? This rich, luxurious full-bodied Nespresso coffee I was drinking was in fact decaffeinated and we were here at the launch of three new decaffeinated Grand Crus.
Nespresso have taken three of their most popular Grand Crus – one each from the Intenso, Espresso and Lungo ranges – and created decaffeinated replicas. No one immediately pinpointed what had been removed from the coffee because it tasted as good as the regular. No synthetic taste, no loss of flavour and certainly no real obvious distinction from the caffeinated pods. Clever.
Arpeggio Decaffeinato is dark roasted and rich in flavour, and has the same strong character, intense body and indulgent cocoa notes as the original Arpeggio Grand Cru. The split roasting reveals the specificities of each origin: longer roasting yields a darker bean and releases the intense, cocoa-like flavours of the Brazilian and Costa Rican Arabicas; a shorter and lighter roasting of the selected Arabica from South America highlights its softer fruity notes. Intensity 9
Volluto Decaffeinato: Delightfully sweet and smooth, Volluto Decaffeinato has the same rich flavours and round body as the original Volluto Grand Cru. The selected pure Arabica beans are roasted separately to highlight their specificities: a shorter roast unfolds the sweet biscuity notes of the Brazilian Arabica, while a longer but lighter roast preserves fresh and fruity notes of the Colombian beans. Intensity 4
Vivalto Lungo Decaffeinato: A complex yet balanced blend, Vivalto Lungo Decaffeinato has the same rich character as the original Vivalto Lungo Grand Cru: roasted, lightly woody with sweet cereal and subtle floral notes. It is a pure Arabica blend from several origins including South America and East Africa. Separate roasting of the beans brings out the characters of the different origins and develops the complexity of the flavour: a shorter and lighter roast preserves the subtle flowery bouquet of the Ethiopian beans and the fruity notes of the Colombian, while a darker and longer roast reinforces the character of the blend and develops its bitterness. Intensity 4
Nespresso lovers can now enjoy coffee at any time of the day or night.
I’m a massive fan. Can’t wait for that cheeky post-dinner coffee without the added insomnia, or my favourite a Nespresso Martini.
The new range is available now and will cost 31p for the Espress and 32p per capsule for the Lungo – look for the striking red dot on the top of the capsule to distinguish your caffeinated range from your decaff. Buy in the Boutique or online.