Have you ever been to a masquerade ball? There’s something about getting glammed up, slipping into a posh frock and clutching a mask that feels just so darn festive. I was cordially invited by Derby Museums to attend their Masquerade Ball held at The Silk Mill last night. The meal was cooked by Chef Ralph Skripek, famed in Derbyshire for using locally sourced ingredients, shooting game and foraging.

After being warmly greeted by the concierge, we dropped our coats off at the cloakroom (nice touch), and sipped on deliciously steaming mulled wine. Here is the table setting, which I thought was rather lovely.


It was versatile three course meal kicked off with a starter of Derbyshire Hartington Stilton and wild mushroom tartlet. The pastry was delectably short, the filling emboldened by the salty tang of Stilton. I would have liked to have the tart a little warmer, but this was a personal point. I’m not a fan of rocket, but the balsamic glaze with Bakewell Brock & Morten smoked rapeseed oil rendered the salad moreish and delicious. I loved the nutty aftertaste of the glaze, and would love the recipe for this.

Derbyshire Hartington Stilton and wild mushroom tartlet
Derbyshire Hartington Stilton and wild mushroom tartlet

For main, we had local Derbyshire Turkey. Succulent roast turkey piled high was delectable with thyme roasted potatoes and sage stuffing. The quenelle of apple and cider sausage-meat packed a lovely herby punch in the flavour stakes. The river of rich gravy stock sauce was beautiful. It was a wonderful companion to the sides of braised red cabbage, roasted honey and mustard seed parsnips and sautéed brussel sprouts with shallots and rosemary. I like being surprised. I have never seen mustard seeds with parsnips, which took this humble root vegetable to another level. I could have easily eaten just the parsnips all evening. The brussel sprouts too were al dente (there’s nothing worse than mushy vegetables), so kudos to the chef for impeccable cooking of these sides.

Derbyshire Turkey, plus trimmings
Derbyshire Turkey, plus trimmings

Dessert of traditional fruit, nut, and brandy ‘Christmas Pudding’ was a thing of beauty. This half dome came marbled with a vanilla and caramel sauce, which was another surprise twist on a regular brandied pudding. The garnish of frosted winter berries was thoughtful, especially when interspersed with mouthfuls of luscious dense pudding.

Christmas Pudding
Christmas Pudding

It was a sublime night. A big thank you to the team at Derby Museums for the invite, and Ralph for cooking up a storm in the kitchen.

Rating: (1: Hate: I’d rather eat my shoe – 10: Love: I’d sell my kidney for a meal here)

Food: 8.5

Ambience: 9

Service: 10

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For more information about events held by Derby Museums, please go to this website. For more information about Ralph and his delicious food, hop on over to his website here.

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