Eye on the prizes

August 13, 2014

A very quick post offering congratulations to a couple of local producers. Firstly, Oakham Ales (a Peterborough-based brewery now but one I still think of as local, not least because I often drink their beers in my local bar Babelas) have come second in overall search for the UK’s Supreme Champion Beer at Camra’s Great British Beer Festival with their pale, refreshing, grapefruity ale Citra200citra.

This beer single-handedly turned my mate from a lager-lover into an ale-admirer. It’s a great transitional beer for those looking for hoppier flavours but put off by darker beers.

And then there’s another success for Archer’s Butchers on Queen’s Rd (whose owner Sean – below – can on the odd occasion be found in the bar mentioned above). His hugely popular biltong won a Gold Star in the Great Taste Awards announced this week.

IMG_0666Having a very quick look at the awards, there was more local success in the form of  a coveted three Gold Star rating for Northfield Farm’s 21-day aged mutton and single stars for their merguez and pork and herb sausages and for Woodhouse Farm’s Tamworth sausages. A couple of Long Clawson cheeses also picked up awards.



A couple of months back the Bistrot Pierre chain introduced an interesting little promotion whereby they would post a recipe of the month and encourage people to cook it, take a photo and email/tweet it back. Then they select  one entry to win a free meal for up to  four people.

 There’s nothing too taxing and I’ve finally got round to giving it a go, cooking the June dish of toulouse sauages with poached egg and warm tomato dressing.  It’s very straightforward and obviously depends a lot  on the quality of your ingredients but it made a very pleasant light supper indeed. Here’s how mine turned out:

toulouse sausage

A little detail then.  The toulouse sausages are from Archer’s on Queen’s Road, expensive but very lovely indeed. They are cooked in the oven for 15 minutes, then chilled in the fridge, sliced on an appealing diagonal and put in a hot pan for 2 minutes to colour before serving. The poached egg is a duck egg – they are that bit bigger and richer than chickens and not much more expensive. Maybe it’s psychological but they always feel more of a treat.

My favoured way to poach is to tear of a sizable piece of cling film and put it loosely over a mug or glass to create a pocket. Add a little dash of oil, seasoning and maybe a preferred flavouring – a dash of balsamic  or some finely chopped herbs.  Then add the egg and carefully bring the sides of the film up together and tie little knot to create a sealed bag. This can then go straight into a saucepan of boiling water for about 3mins (or a bit longer for a large duck egg).  It’s straightforward to then pull it out and cut the bag open – it peels off very easily.      

The warm tomato dressing was something of a treat. Peeled and diced tomatoes, mixed with lemon juice, olive oil, finely sliced, garlic,  parsley, rosemary, salt and pepper. I added the lemon zest to beef it up. Then it’s just lightly warmed through – I found this  kept all the flavours strong and distinct. It was lovely – I’ll definitely try this again. 

Oh and  I’ve sent it in to Bistrot Pierre.  Wish me luck  – if I win I’ll report back.

A pie of rare quality

January 21, 2011


Had a very interesting morning talking with Tom Cockerill of Entropy about his use of rare breed meats, touching on the philosophic and ethical differences between breeding and raising animals for maximum yield or for improved eating quality. 

As part of it  he prepared one of the restaurant’s classically simple British dishes – beef and smoked oyster pie.

...and smoked oyster...

For the full story you’ll need to get the next issue of Great Food Leicestershire and Rutland  (just £15 for an annual subscription!), but basically the dish he cooked features rare breed South Devon steak supplied by Archers of Clarendon Park, Colchester oysters smoked in the kitchen over oak chippings  and a lovely gravy from beef stock,  Guinness and an individually made bouquet garni of fresh herbs. With the possible exception of the homemade beef stock, there wasn’t anything the competent home cook couldn’t have a go at.


Tom knows his restaurant is more expensive than his local competition but hopes his customers will appreciate what he’s trying to do. Certainly the results are evident in this wonderful pie, where beefy goodness is backed up by little hints of smoky saltiness. High up on the pieometer this one.

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