Archive | July, 2012

The Parlour (Chorlton)

19 Jul

There are some strong opinions in Yorkshire about how a Yorkshire pudding should be made. Having said that there are generally strong opinions in Yorkshire on anything you care to ask a Yorkshireman about, but in this case they are justified. The consistency and shape of a Yorkshire pudding should be thick batter and quite flat. This is because it was traditionally served with gravy as a starter. It was designed to be a filling dish to compensate for a lack of meat in your main course.

Heavenly beef, top class roast spuds and that Yorkshire pud

Today however, meat is plentiful and Yorkshire pudding are light and are sometimes made to resemble a mushroom cloud explosion on a South Pacific island. At least that’s the case at the Parlour in Chorlton. Rated for having one of the best Sunday lunches in Britain by the Observer Food Monthly awards, the quality of every ingredient is expertly prepared. The Roast beef, provided by Chorlton’s own W. H. Frost (my favourite butcher) was cooked pink on the outside, browned on the out, but most importantly, the thinly sliced meat was moist and delicate. This was almost to the point at which it didn’t need the gravy, though I was glad it was there. Rich beef flavour and an even consistency coated the whole plate in a delicious, well prepared gravy.

Going back to the Yorkshire pudding though, I’m a purist and while the crisp, mega-pudding is eye-catching and tasty, I want the thick, chewy homemade style ones. So does that mean I didn’t enjoy the meal? Of course it doesn’t, Id be back there in a flash, but this is just proof that even with top quality ingredients and great cooking, you can’t please all of the people, all of the time.

This may sound like a negative end to this review but do believe me when I say, no matter how strong your opinions of Yorkshire pudding configuration, this is a lunch worthy of your Sunday afternoon.

Competition – Barbecue Taste Testers Wanted

19 Jul

We urgently need your help! We are cooking up huge quantities of barbecue food to make sure that our recipes are perfect for our Southern Summer Barbecue but we need someone to help us taste it all.

If you have what it takes to kick back with us in the yard, sample barbecue food, sip on a beer or a bourbon and just generally be cool, then you’re the person we’re looking for.

You have 48 hours from the time the competition opens (12:00 GMT BST, 19th July 2012) to get on Twitter and retweet one of our competition tweets or alternatively, just tell the world why you should be our barbecue taste tester with the hashtag #southernbarbecuetime

Details:

  • You will need to be able to get to the Chorlton area on the afternoon of 5th August and have an hour or two to spare
  • There are two positions available for this role and we will allow one guest for each person
  • The competition will close at 12:00 BST on 21st July 2012 and the winner will be announced on Sunday 22nd July 2012
  • Details of the day will then be emailed to you
  • You may not get to try the entire menu, but there will be plenty of good meats, sides, sauces and bourbon to keep you going

Good luck and hope to see you soon.

Fire & Salt Cookout (Manchester)

13 Jul

Fine, this is a piece of shameless self promotion. Since the Observer Food Monthly aren’t kicking down my door yet to write any articles about my food, I’ll just have to write it up myself. Now I can’t really be looked to to give an objective view of my own food, which is awesome by the way, so this is mostly going to be photo based. The people were great, the food was delicious and the night was a brilliant experience for me and for the diners. So here’s how it all went.

The menu for the evening went something like this:

Our little menu

After a day and a half of prep, with the house not just the food, we were ready to host a few guests. To start everyone off we put out a taster of our pork infused bourbon. With a twist of orange peel and some maple syrup for sweetness, these were a real hit, even if one person did accidentally swallow the orange peel.

Pork infused bourbon lined up and ready to go

So how did all of this barbecue delight go down? Here are the pictures.

Chow down folks!

Chow down folks!

Good times at the main table

Good times at the main table

Ribhenge

Ribhenge – no-one knows when it was built, but it’s a awe-inspiring structure

Caramel pecan pies

Caramel pecan pies fresh from the oven

Having had some kind tips at the end of the evening and one person ask if we would adopt them, I’d put this down as a meal well done. For a first time out this was a successful venture but like all perfectionists, as soon as we finished I was already planning improvements for our next event. Roll on August and our Southern Summer Cookout…

14 North (Isle of Man)

5 Jul

Tower of Refuge – image courtesy of Wikipedia

Within Douglas bay in the Isle of Man is St. Mary’s Isle or the ‘Tower of Refuge’. Built as a refuge for shipwrecked sailors in 1832, it was commissioned by Sir William Hillary, founder of the Royal National Lifeboat Institute. Looking out at this seemingly submerging keep in the bay, you may ask why the architect designed it to look like a castle but you may equally well ask ‘Why would you stop there if you’re that close to the shore?’ The same could be said about finding a great meal on the promenade at Douglas. So why would you stop here when just five minutes down the harbour you can find 14 North.

The entrance to this little restaurant was a welcome sight to escape from the summer rain as we arrived. Led up the small staircase to the first floor dining room, the restaurant had a cosy intimacy that puts you at ease quickly, making it a more relaxing meal.

Diving straight into the menu I began eyeing up some good-looking dishes and because it was a business trip, this meal was going to be a bit of a feast. For the starter, I opted for the Goats cheese terrine. The cheese itself was flavoursome, with a creamy textured flavour. The beetroot puree added sharper overtones to the creamy cheese flavour and was topped with the flavour of the pickled beetroot. The sharp beetroot flavour giving way to the smooth cheese meant each mouthful left you wanting that tanginess from the next bite. Moreish stuff.

goats cheese terrine with pickled beetroot, beetroot puree and toast

Along side our starters, we were presented with a plate of queenies. A bit of a delicacy from the waters of the Isle of Man, this plate of Queen scallops were exceptional. Served up in a garlic butter and pesto sauce, the clean seafood flavour of the scallop shone through in what was an amazing example of fine scallops.

Queenies in garlic butter and scallops

Before moving onto our main course, we tried out some of the flatbreads. The original mozzarella flatbread was well made and had a deliciously firm dough base, but the winner out of the two that we ordered was the Smoked cheddar flatbread. Smokey, tangy cheddar atop tomato and mozzarella with red onions and sauteed potatoes. Sauteed potatoes were a small stroke of genius, adding a chunky bite to the smoked cheese flavour. Too rich to eat in quantity, but just right between courses with its convolution of flavours. I’d describe it is a high-end comfort food dish.

Smoked cheddar flatbread with sautéed potatoes and red onions

For mains, the roasted hake grabbed my eye. Served on a bacon mash with green beans and a mustard cream sauce. My personal favourite aspect of this dish was the rasher of bacon, cooked crispy and protruding from the hake. Even when having a sophisticated meal with colleagues, a big piece of bacon still makes me smile more than it should. The hake still stood up for itself though. Beautifully cooked to ensure the meatiness in each bite did not prevent the fish from flaking evenly and in full pieces. The roasting kept the fish moist meaning it was great too with the bacon mash. The mustard sauce was creamy, spicy and combined with the mash made a flavourful mix of salt and mustard spice. The sauce almost overpowered the fish but it all managed to hold together with the green beans to make a well-balanced and warming dish.

roasted hake, bacon mash potato, green beans and a mustard cream sauce

Rounding this meal off, mainly because I was physically running out of room to eat much more, I had my arm twisted to try the vanilla fudge cheesecake. Beautiful. Just beautiful. Taking the typical cheesecake topping and adding in a velvety rich fudge made the texture almost like a thick marshmallow spread. Sweet and chewy with a crunchy base. Too rich to finish after all of that but well worth the effort.

Vanilla fudge cheesecake

Leaving was hard, not just because I was weighed down by a massive meal but it was also a fantastic experience that I didn’t want to end. I’ll certainly be back again the next time I make it across the water and this will definitely be the only refuge I need.