Tag Archives: beef

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…

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Pitt Cue Co. (Soho, London)

21 May

Smoked ox cheeks. Soft as butter and drool inducing flavour.

A luscious aroma of beef and pork wafts on the air of this tiny restaurant bar whose footprint is similar in size and layout to a child’s bedroom and en-suite bathroom. The small space with its thirty covers is as would be expected, massively over-subscribed with queues forming outside half an hour before the opening. The continuing trend of food trucks turned restaurants continues to be the new torment of the lazy and impatient or the golden age of the patient diner, depending upon your perspective and views on queueing. For those persistent enough to make it to the front of the queue, you will be offered the chance to wait in the bar for some time before a table becomes available.

Here you have the chance to get some drinks in you before the main event. Of special note on the menu is the ‘Pickleback’. You will be offered two shot glasses; one containing bourbon and the second containing pickling vinegar. My first thought was ‘What the hell, why not’ but maybe it should have been ‘What the hell? That’s weird’. Regardless, it was quite the experience with the bourbon taking away some of the bitter notes of the vinegar and leaving you with a strong but partially sweet taste from the vinegar. The only question that lingers in my mind is did I do those the right way round.

Pickleback – Shot of whiskey chased down with a shot of pickle brine

At the appointed time we were led to our table in the dining room / basement area via a small staircase. The room was incredibly small without actually feeling cramped. At this point I may normally have taken the time to describe the décor in the room, however what I failed to mention earlier was that while queuing up outside, we happened to be queuing next to a pub called The White Horse which allowed you to take drinks out on the street, therefore by the time we made it to the into the dining room via the bar I was fairly well sozzled.

The part where my memory didn’t fail me though was with the food. The special of the day was Braised Ox Cheek (£15) which comes with a selection of pickles for two sides, the baked beans and the chipotle slaw. The slaw was runny but amazingly spiced and the beans superbly cooked in a barbeque flavour which was tangy and savoury-sweet. The braised ox cheek was a magnificently cooked piece of meat. Having an incredible rich smoked beef flavour coming from this tender meat which came apart under the knife with an excellent consistency that was just joyous. I was forced to stop at several points to make small moans of approval before continuing on.

The beef ribs were of equal note having an intensity I previously thought reserved from for a prime cut of fillet steak. Even managing to retain its pink inner texture. And the true stand out champion for the side dishes was the bone marrow mash. A bone marrow jus atop a puree-creamy mash was almost too much flavour to hold in one jar but still subtle enough to play side dish to the brilliantly cooked meats.

Look at the freaking beef ribs. Served with smoked chicory.

Determined to at least find fault with some part of menu, we opted for dessert and shared a chocolate and raspberry brownie, but to no avail. It was indulgent, well complimented with the slightly sweetened raspberries and topped with a vanilla ice-cream and chocolate sauce to add that final finishing blow of sugar indulgence.

Raspberry brownie and ice cream. I want it now!

When we finally surface from the dining room / basement we were all fuller, happier people and clear in the knowledge that Pitt Cue Co. have a created somewhere which offers flavoursome barbeque with no compromise in intensity or flavour than you would find anywhere else.

As an addendum, we did receive a slight shock at the bill the first time round as some extra noughts and numbers were added to it, as you will see below. The meal actually came in a little cheaper than this.

The meal was good, but not 600 grand good

Salt Yard (Central London)

20 Mar

Not far from Euston station, which is of course the key navigation point in London for anyone coming from Manchester, there’s a place called Goodge Street. On this street there is a dimly lit place called Salt Yard. And in this ‘Salt Yard’ there lurks an unassuming dish called ‘Truffled Macaroni Cheese. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Salt Yard has been serving tapas with an Italian and Spanish feel for years. It is a highly regarded, award wining restaurant given praise in the press and through general reviews. The atmosphere is intimate, the decor is modern but luxurious and the menu looks exciting. All of which makes the experience a little more enticing, but ultimately it all comes down to the food. We took a range of dishes here but the key one which stuck with me was the Truffled Macaroni Cheese. So without any further ado, here it is:

A cheesy thing of beauty

Now let’s not be too hasty to move on. Let’s soak up the image here for a moment and contemplate this dish. The crisp, baked topping gave a parmesan flavour with a satisfying crunch. You can see at the edges of the dish, how creamy the cheese was and the rich consistency was matched by its flavour. The buttery cheese flavours were at no point overpowering as they were perfectly complemented by the spices in the mix. The overall effect was a silky, slightly sweet cheese cream. The macaroni was cooked just to the point it became soft so as to keep its hearty pasta ‘chomp’ without becoming soggy in the cheese. But there in the middle is the crowning glory of the dish. Its shaved truffle turned this great macaroni cheese into a masterpiece of flavoursome, luxurious delight.

I honestly can’t oversell this dish enough. To the point where writing about any of the other excellent dishes would just be redundant, because this dish alone should be enough to make you throw on your best eating trousers and make travel plans to get to this stuff immediately. For those who enjoy a little more salacious food photography however, here’s the highlight reel.

Venison carpaccio, Lardo, Dandelion, Marcona Almonds and Qince vinegarette

Cripsy Soft Shell Crab, Fennel Salad and Piquillo Aioli

Grilled Underblade Fillet of Beef, Artichokes, Black Olive and Piquillo Salsa

Need I say more. At between £6 – £8 a dish, it’s not that shocking that you’ll need to book ahead. I’m booking train tickets to London as we speak.
Salt Yard on Urbanspoon

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?!?