We are instructed to open them and place them on our tongue. As the succulent woody flavours dissolve and dissipate in our mouths, the garden starts to erupt with dry ice invoking a misty morning lost in the flavour of the forest. "Now you have tasted Oak Moss," the attentive waiting staff reliably inform us.
What follows on The Fat Duck Tasting Menu is a perfectly balanced and creatively textured dish of Quail Jelly, Crayfish Cream, Chicken Liver Parfait with a side of Truffle Toast; a warm and enriching crescendo to the cool, neutralising introduction featuring an aperitif poached in nitrogen.
We sludge through snail porridge and are treated to Mock Turtle Soup and optical illusions at The Mad Hatter's Tea Party before we are washed up to the shore in 'Sounds of the Sea'.
Course after imaginative course is brought to us in a perfectly timed ensemble, which although never rushed, leaves very little spare in the three-and-a-half hours of allotted time. Our expert waiters are on hand to provide excellent and timely advice for what to drink to ensure maximum sensory enjoyment. A complex Riesling was a light accompaniment to the earlier courses, followed by a Saki to complement the main courses and finished off with a smooth, deliciously sweet and fragrant dessert wine.
The Fat Duck was established in 1995 by Heston Blumenthal; by 2004 was awarded three Michelin Stars and in 2005 was named the best restaurant in the world by the British Magazine 'Restaurant' based on a poll of international chefs, restaurateurs, food critics and gourmands.
Blumenthal is best known for the novel way he approaches gastronomy and is attentive to all senses. The website shows examples of the way other sensory experiences contribute to eating; from touch and texture of the menu, to the smell and sound in the aptly named and much talked about 'Sounds of the Sea'.
The infamous dish is presented as a beach scene an accompanied by an mp3 player inside a shell with, as the name suggests, sounds of the sea to complement the visual and taste elements of the dish.
Our waiter tells us with a coy smile on his face that from the seed of an idea to fruition takes a dish around nine months to appear on the menu. Blumenthal starts with a single element to inspire him and his dedicated research team assists in bringing the dish to perfection and onto the menu. His creativity certainly has a sense of academia to it; no element of any course is superfluous and each flavour is levelled to carefully point you to another aroma or sensation on the tongue.
An inaccurate but quaint world map with miniature 'wine gums' as whiskies of the world is brought over for us to sample as I start to feel not just full, but satisfied. The 14 courses are well portioned so as not to overfill and nearing completion, the courses changed from being primarily about taste to heightening the whole experience.
The exquisitely arranged food and the sweet and attentive service in the slick and high quality premises left a delicious taste in my mouth. And it wasn't all over, as we left the building hours later like 'kids in a sweet shop' happily clutching the final course – a bag of sweets to take home and savour.