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You f’coffee? – Nespresso Boutique (Manchester)

26 Mar

Being a blogger has finally started paying off. I’m of course talking about freebies. Thanks to a fellow blogger, I scored my first free press-only event and felt like a winner. Problem is, now I’m tainted. How can I  write an independent review while I can still taste the free chocolates I received as we left?

Well the truth is I’m not really writing up the event for the freebies or even to talk too much about the coffee. I’m writing it up because of this man:

Thoughtful gaze at coffee

I’ll be honest, he didn’t look that pretentious all night, in fact, he was more like this.

Andrew Nutter and some random bloke

Andrew Nutter,  owner of Nutters restaurant in Rochdale and seemingly all round nice bloke had been shipped in by the good people at Nespresso to create a coffee based tasting menu for the launch of their new Nespresso boutique at the Trafford Centre. If you’ve never set foot in a Nespresso boutique, well the name gives you a clue of the setup. It’s a boutique, not a shop. As such you’ve got large, open floor space, beautiful dark wood paneling and everywhere you look, neatly displayed rows of Nespresso capsule boxes.

The technicolour Nespresso Coffee Wall

All of which provided a great backdrop to the tasting menu, which if I’m honest was the real reason I was there. So at this point, I’ve still not talked about the food. Let’s get going.

·         Cocoa Roast Beef Carpaccio with Chicory and Rocket –Served with a full-bodied Arpeggio Grand Cru

·         Slow Braised Pork Belly with a Hot Bean Casserole –Served with a woody noted Roma Grand Cru

·         Chocolate and Malt Crème Brûlée – Served with a honey and malt noted Dulsão do Brasil Grand Cru

–      Nespresso Ristretto Coffee and Toffee Eccles Cake  Serve with Nespresso’s Ristretto Grand Cru

You haven’t misread the last one. That’s a Nespresso inspired Eccles cake. The flavour of this cake was ridiculous. I’ve never been a huge fan of Eccles cakes and as such have felt like a food traitor, like a Frenchman who doesn’t care for Beef bourguignon or a Wigan man who’s never had a steak pie in a barm cake. This Eccles cake really turned that around for me. The condensed milk toffee and the Nespresso Ristretto coffee made a great kept the currents tasty and sweet. The Ristretto coffee is described in the blurb as

A blend of South American and East African Arabicas, with a touch of Robusta, roasted separately to create the subtle fruity note of this full-bodied, intense espresso.

In short, this translated to the usually tart flavour I have had in previous Eccles cakes becoming a sharp, sugary coffee taste. Truly brilliant.

Nespresso Eccles Cake

The other dessert dish I loved was the Chocolate and Malt Creme Brûlée. The flavour of a chocolate was great with the coffee, but the treat was in the carmelizing of the sugar on the brûlée. Using a special solution (which I no longer have the description of) onto the sugar topping of the brûlée and then ignited using a chefs torch. Then the magic happens and the sugar continues to caramelise as the solution burns off. Check out the video below to see what it looks like.

The flavour of the chocolate and malt drew out a comforting taste described by the chef as being like eating a gooey Mars bar with the crack of the sugar crust being the textural topper. to mix with this Mars bar in a pot was the Dulsão do Brasil coffee. The Dulsao do Brasil came described as:

SWEET AND SMOOTH:
A pure Brazilian Arabica, Dulsão do Brasil is a blend of red and yellow Bourbon coffees. Separate roasting of the beans ensures roundness and balance while revealing sweet notes of honey and malt
.

I’m not a coffee drinker so the extent of my coffee knowledge ends at understanding the sizing menu at Starbucks, but a coffee that works to enhance the flavour of a creme brulee was a real revelation to me. The Brasil was a great coffee for this dish and sipping it before the brulee intensified the chocolate and sugar in the brulee.

Sweet desserts and rich coffees. Can you imagine how much I bounced off the walls on the way out. This was a great evening and a brilliant way to celebrate the opening of the new Nespresso store, but more importantly it didn’t feel like a cynical bit of marketing. The menu, the food and the coffee were all prefectly blended to make a great event and show what coffee can do to enhance food.

I didn’t even get to the savoury dishes either, so there may be a ‘Part 2’ to this post coming up soon.

Now, to prove that I clearly didn’t sell out…

Nespresso’s luxury boutique at the Trafford Centre is now open.  Visit www.nespresso.com

And to see Andrew Nutters restaurant visit www.nuttersrestaurant.co.uk

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The Asian Express

29 Nov

Ready for the plate up. Five hundered salmon nigri please.Christmas is nearly hear and I was trekking through the Trafford Centre on an obligitory death march or ‘shopping trip’, whichever floats your boat. On the way, we decided to drop in to Selfridges for some Saturday shushi at Yo! Sushi. The sushi chain opened in 1997 in London to very favourable reviews, not only for good quality sushi but becasue who wouldn’t love a restaurant where your food moves round on a tiny conveyor belt. On a side note, I do sometimes wonder if they would have to close if that belt broke down. I’m not sure it would be the same to just have your sushi ‘handed’ to you.

Inari pocket is a sweet little treat

Regardless, we plowed through a mix of sushi and sashimi and other bits and pieces. The Inami Pockets were a great little start with rice and pickled radish surrounded by a fried soya bean roll (inami) which was sweet and sour in the right amounts. A spicy seafood udon soup had a great spicy tinge to the king prawns and squid cushioned on top of the thick udon noodles. The prawn katsu curry had the reliable comforting katsu curry sauce with fried prawn topped with tangy japanese pickle. From the sashimi menu we went with the classic salmon, which was a little on the bland side but more than made up for by the beef nigiri we had next. The crispy salmon skin ISO (inside out) roll was saltily good and a strong case for more use of salmon skin in dishes other than sushi. Before sushi fatigue set in, we made it to just one last dish of a crab hand roll and what a way to end. Tempura fried crab, rocket, more japanese pickle and a sweet chilli mayo wich proceeded to leak out onto my hand.

The higher end of noodle soup - Spicy Seafood Udon soup

The food is delicious and its one of the few restaurants where the food rotates more often than the customers your sat next to at the counter…

We didn’t stop there however as my sisters called and said they were coming down to do some shopping and would we like to get something to eat with them. ‘Could it be’ I thought. ‘Could I really be about to sample the forbidden delight of Double Dinner?’

So that happened a few hours later. This time we were in Tampopo sampling pan-asian cuisine. I hate that phrase ‘Pan-asian cuisine’ as it sounds strange in my brain, like the sound of a cat clearing its throat or listening to Enya. Its not wrong, just weird. Given that we’d already eaten, we went for a Tampopo Platter to Share. To cut down on the explination time, here’s what’s on the platter Goi Cuon (Vietnamese spring rolls), Gyoza (Dumplings), Bulgogi (mmm…beef), Coconut Prawns, Satay Chicken & Tod Man Khao Pod (sweetcorn cakes. The mix was amazing, six mixed starters and six sauces. I loved this dish more than I thought I would. The up-market, street restaurant style has a strange mix of trendy and traditional; the plush cushions on wooden benches is the best example of this. The decor was secondry though as this platter disappeared in about four minutes flat. Not bad from two people having their second dinner of the night.

The Tampopo Sharing platter - drink it in

 

Double dinner took us across the Asian continent. Now all I need is a balti and I’ve got a full house. Next time: Triple Dinner?!?