Tag Archives: coffee

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:

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

Our Man in Hong Kong – unknown restaurant

22 Jan

In preparation for the Chinese New Year celebrations, I’ve put together one or two posts about some of the best meals from a recent trip to Hong Kong and China

I’m in Hong Kong on a trip / holiday but my secret mission is to taste the best Hong Kong has to offer.

First up is a little canteen opposite the Metropark Hotel Mongkok, directly opposite the garage entrance at 634 Portland Street. The reason I haven’t named the place is that its name is only in Chinese and I can’t read it.

If someone can tell me what this place is called, I'd love to know

An unassuming place. Lit to within an inch of its life and with 40 bamboo steamers going on the outside cooker, this place looks the business. The inside just got better; excessive use of mirrors, TV screens with local TV for those not inclined to talk and a frantic pace of staff flooding into and out of the kitchen. It is also open 24 hours a day, as I later found out from a friend who wandered over to pick up some char sui buns at 4 o’clock in the morning. The menu is typical Hong Kong fair of dim sum and Cantonese dishes, but with some noteworthy points to be mentioned.

My kind of menu - point & order

Firstly the two teas I tried. I initially tried the local Hong Kong tea which is a half/half mix of sweet tea and coffee brought about by the use of condensed milk in place of milk (common in former British colonies). It will certainly keep you awake with its sharp injection of caffeine and sugar. The second tea was the lemon and honey tea. I’ve had lemon and honey tea but not like this. No bitterness from the lemon or honey and the sugar level was perfectly balanced to make it easily drinkable.

Hong Kong Milk tea

The food was all fresh, which was the main selling point for me. Simple dishes but the quality of ingredients was what made it. The Gai lan and the prawns & scrambled egg dish we’re my favourites. Prawn and scrambled egg doesn’t seem to be ground breaking combination, but the adddition of sesame oil gives it a whole new dimension, putting the mild seafood flavour with the hint of egg in a slick sesame coating. Delicious.

Top notch prawn and scrambled egg

I didn’t get the names of all the dishes but with pictures to help, it’s easy enough to order.

For the vegetarians, there were excellent choices. The mushroom and bok choi dish was amazing. Thick, juicy shiitake mushrooms (or something similar) had the satisfying meaty chew that could replace any steak. Coated in the semi-translucent cantonese sauce with a distinct Cantonese spice it carries a mild sweet spice flavour. The same sauce coated the mushroom and fired beancurd as it satisfies the need for mixed textures of chewy, crispy and spongy with a great gusto of flavour.

Mushroom mountain in Cantonese sauce

Mushroom and beancurd. Get stuck in my good man

In the end with drinks, dishes and rice coming in at about HK$40 (£3.50 approx.) it was ten steps beyond the airplane food and definitely worth popping to again. The true joy here was the full-on Hong Kong canteen experience which made it worth every penny.