A Visit From Chef Karl Tyler For My Daddy Bird's 70th Birthday
I’ve said in the past that we’re a tight-knit Flock, so when the year came to celebrate one of The Tribal Elders getting even older (!) it was a no-brainer that it was going to be a family get-together. It was my Daddy Bird that was the celebrant of a milestone birthday, and he does like good grub – now you know where I get it from (and the gluttony!!).
In the past, Chef Karl Tyler has come to the nest and cooked a meal for His Nibs, myself and some of our friends, and everyone has always loved the food. I did toy with the idea of going out to eat, but fancied something a little different for this special occasion. The great thing about Karl is that he’s always up for throwing ideas around and can accommodate all budgets, allergies, and Vegans and Vegetarians alike. Seriously, you can chuck anything at him and he deals with it all like some sort of Zen god!
So, we decided on a menu that would please everyone (even Chickadees’ Boyf Bird!): Ham Hock and Chicken Thigh Terrine with Piccalilli and Toasted Sourdough to start, 12 hour –Braised Feather blade of Beef, Fondant Potato, Burnt Onion, Carrot and Kale, and Red Wine glaze for main, and Lemon Brulee and Cardamom Shortbread for pudding. Chick and BB had Chocolate and Salted Caramel Brownie with Honeycomb, White Chocolate Soil and Vanilla Ice Cream for their desserts.
We kicked things off with chilled Champagne and a cheeky Gin and Tonic whilst Karl was working his culinary magic in our kitchen. Our poor pooch didn’t know where to be – with his fave humans or with the dude that had lots of meat! I couldn’t help but giggle as I heard Karl having a “conversation” with him.
Karl informed The Man Bird that starters would be ready shortly, so we rounded The Flock up and took our seats at the table, eagerly awaiting the first course. It didn’t disappoint! The Terrine was marvellously chunky and both meats had a superb taste to them, gently enhanced by fresh herbs chopped and added to the mix. Karl had made his Piccalilli on the finer side texture-wise, which suited the Terrine, but what amazed us all was the fact that BB liked it. To say that this guy is cautious when it comes to food is an under-statement; it isn’t that he can’t eat (trust me, he can scoff through a larder full of food like a plague of Locusts), he’s simply an “I know what I like and I like what I know” sort. Thoughtfully, Karl brought out more sourdough for us all to share; clearly he’s a feeder – my sort of fella.
The Tribal Elders were full of praise as Karl came to clear the empty plates away, and sat enthralled as he took them through the process of making the terrine. That’s the other bonus of having Chef Karl Tyler come to your home and cook – he can take time to really chat and explain his dishes; something that restaurant chefs don’t have the luxury of.
We all sat sniffing the air greedily, soaking up all the marvellous aromas that drifted through from the kitchen. General chat and family banter ensued, and pooch circled the table slowly, making sure that there were no tit-bits to be had that had fallen un-noticed.
Gasps of delight escaped from mouths as the first bite of the slow braised Beef was taken, it is just incredible with a depth and richness of flavour that can’t fail to impress. The tower of meat that Karl assembles is deceptively filling too. Whilst intact, the tower looks fairly manageable, but when you pull the meat away it seems to expand exponentially and fill the majority of the plate! Carnivores, this is your wildest fantasy come true, believe me.
Super smooth Potato is formed into rounds and sealed to brown and crisp it and by golly does it taste good! Chef Karl Tyler seasons it perfectly so that it has a taste and texture that could be appreciated in its own right, as well as within the wider dish. We all loved the honey glazed, still firm to the bite Carrot, and the Salt seasoned Crispy Kale. His Nibs’ eyes lit up with joy as BB asked if he would like his Burnt Onion (he really doesn’t like Onion); one man’s loss is another’s gain, as they say! The Red Wine glaze was lovely too, robust enough to partner the meat in a complimentary way.
Yet again Karl came in to find every single scrap of food gone from the plate; the highest compliment a Chef can get is what he said. Trust me Karl; you earned every bit of praise - your passion and talent come shining through in every dish you serve!
Our puddings were sublime with their light, clean citrus note chirruping away on our tongues. The fragrant notes of Cardamom balanced beautifully with the Lemon Brulee and the shortbread itself was crumbly, buttery and warm – utter perfection. Over the years The Tribal Elders have done their fair share of globe-trotting, and one place they’ve returned to over and over is Paris. Daddy Bird was bowled over by his dessert and made Chef’s evening when he said that even on all their travels and dining experiences he’d never had such a good Brulee. Praise indeed! And genuine; My Daddy Bird isn’t one to say things willy-nilly or not mean what he says.
Both Chickadee and The Boyf Bird scoffed their Brownie at break-neck speed, huge grins splattering their mushes as they did so! I managed to pinch a sneaky mouthful of the Chocolate and Salted Caramel morsel and it was deliciously gooey and rich in its cocoa notes. The honeycomb was sweet and sticky as it melted in the mouth, yielding a lovely crunch when bitten into. There was a generous amount of creamy White Chocolate soil to scoop up and mix with the Ice Cream, something they both did!
To finish up, Karl had made us some Macaroons to go with our after-dinner coffees and surprised us with some Champagne and Chocolate Truffles from Studio Chocolate of Nottingham. The Macaroons had light crisp shells and soft, gooey middles; Mummy Bird and I do like a nice Macaroon, and we could’ve eaten many, many more! The handmade Chocolates were works of art – there really is no other description for them. Azure blue domes with delicate flecks of white and black, the chocolates did indeed resemble galaxies, which is the name of the collection they come from.
Well, what a terrific night from start to finish! The company was great; everyone was in high-jinks and celebration-mode, but the food and drink was what it was all about. If you want top-notch cuisine and service without the stuffiness and pomp then you won’t find a better man for the job than Mr Tyler of Chef Karl Tyler Catering and Events. You sir, are a legend! Hot Wings given by the multitude.