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All aboard “The Cathedrals Explorer”.

6.00am on Friday 18th May saw a team of Ampersand chefs and front of house staff boarding a train to prepare for the eight day "Cathedrals Explorer” to Scotland pulled in total by three different steam trains.
With the furnace stoked and the guests all boarded the No. 60163 "Tornedo” pulled out of Victoria Station bound for Durham. The 250 guests on board were going to see some of the most beautiful views from a train line and enjoy the menu that had been lovingly created by our train chef, Tony Keen.  As we travelled past Peterborough the guests were sipping back Laurent Perrier Champagne and tucking into a starter of whisky marinated salmon with barley and pea salad.

Day two "The Union of South Africa” took us across the border and over the Forth Bridge before "The Tornedo” returned to pull us through the Highlands up some very steep gradients to Inverness, breaking the record for a steam train over this gradient.  Potted north coast prawns and shrimps with spiced lemon butter and sour bread and a confit of Duck with puy lentils and fondant potatoes ensured no one went hungry.

Sunday saw a trip from Inverness to the Kyle of Lochalsh and then a well-earned days rest allowed the team to enjoy Loch Ness, the Glenmorangie whisky distillery and the fairy tale castle of Dunrobin. The next day the journey from Inverness to Edinburgh was complimented by succulent heather reared lamb hot pot with pickled red cabbage followed by a chocolate, orange and Drambuie parfait. This was being enjoyed whilst travelling through the broom covered hills of Deeside onto the Capital, Edinburgh. 

During the period that the train was in Scotland our team at Holyrood Palace Café were busy doing all the preparation for the two meals served daily on the train. Refrigerated vans drove to designated spots around the Highlands to transfer the prepared food to the train chefs to finish off in their very small carriage kitchen. The lunches may just have been three courses but in the evenings our guests were spoiled with a five course dinner preceded by canapés.

Day six gave the guests a chance to have a circular tour of Fife going over the Firth of Fourth to Kirkaldy and back through Loch Gelly and Dunfermline. Day seven saw the return to English soil past Lockerbie, Carlisle, spending the final night in Hellfiled.  Our final meal was served as we returned through Rutland, the Midlands and Bedfordshire to London.

Ampersand Food

Pea panna cotta with brioche
Beenleigh blue and poached pear

Leek and potato veloute
Celeriac and apple salad with Cumbrian ham,
wild rocket and sweet mustard dressing

Confit of Loch Duart salmon, broad beans, asparagus and St. Nicholas potatoes

Rich chocolate and praline truffle with almond milk

Selection of cheeses;
Slipcote milk, Shropshire blue and Black Crowdie

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