Breadsall Priory, Derbyshire Life Luncheon

Faced with an unexpected fall of snow, Derbyshire LIfe enjoyed a warm welcome and a delicious luncheon at the oldest Marriott hotel in the World

The snow might have inconvenienced winter golfers, but pure white on emerald green, ice skimming the ornamental pond and a patchwork of white fields and hills beyond made the 400 acres of the Breadsall Priory estate look more stunning than ever on a crisp February day.

Guests at the Derbyshire Life Luncheon had the best view of all from a sunny first floor room with great bay windows through which to absorb the landscape. It’s hard to believe that the place is so close to the city of Derby and nice to think that there has been habitation here since the monks came in 1260.

The General Manager, Nicholas Dumbell, is justifiably proud of what his Marriott hotel has achieved in the past year and pays particular tribute to his chef, Karl Kenny. Initially we gathered in a room off the reception area where we were plied with delicious morsels elegantly presented in individual china spoons.

A refreshing starter of tea-smoked duck breast, citrus salad and a red wine reduction was a picture, with splashes of vibrant colour on rectangular white plates, vertically placed so that they even more resembled a painting in crimson, orange and green.

It was accompanied by a beautifully fruity Chilean Sauvignon Blanc. For the main course, the senior sous Chef Bart Komuneiki had prepared Fillet of Lamb Wellington, a delectable trio of tender lamb pieces in a light, flaky pastry. The savoury lattice of garlic r�sti pleasingly complemented the sweetness and softness of the red pepper compote, with a red wine shallot for extra flavour. The fruity tones of plum and blackberry and hint of spice in the accompanying Australian Merlot added just the right note of warmth.

Our chef had excelled himself on the dessert: an utterly mouthwatering almond and honey meringue roulade, the cream and accompanying ice-cream dotted through with plump, juicy berries and a delicious pool of red berry coulis to one side. The syrupy pudding wine was like nectar, and the petit fours that arrived with the coffee were sublime, including miniature French macaroons and chocolate lollipops.

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Conversation flowed freely round our table: we put the world to rights as well as reflecting on the fortunes of Derby County, the plight of Bradford city centre and how lovely St Tropez and Nice were as places to holiday. We marvelled why John Major still needed two bodyguards, at how a teapot could fetch �69,000 at auction and at how a man could live behind straw bales for four years to disguise his illegally built dwelling.

Snow in the south and east of the country prevented some of us reaching Breadsall that day. They certainly missed a treat.

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