Valentine’s at Cured

February 15, 2017

Last night I broke the habit of a lifetime and dined out on Valentine’s night. In truth that habit was possibly more  do with having been single than because I was desperate to avoid poor food served to desolate couples going through the motions.

This year not only have I entered coupledom, but I saw the opportunity for something a little bit different with the Valentines menu at Cured at Brewdog. I’ve enthused about Martin Powdrill’s work before and was confident that this would be a evening without the usual  cheesiness.

Upstairs at Brewdog is  a cool space with something of a warehouse vibe and there was a relaxed feel for the evening which saw six couples served the same menu at the same time. Tickets were £29.50  (though thanks to my Great Food Club card there was 10 per cent off) and included a welcoming cocktail  – in our case hoptails which were both sublime, mine a framboise beer with bourbon, lemon juice and raspberries, hers combining punk ipa with kraken rum, which brilliantly brought out the grapefruity character of the beer.  These came with canapes of Cured’s marvellous stout-cured salmon.

First course was a couple of apple bhajis, nice and crunchy on the outside, rather intriguingly gooey on the inside and matched creatively with a dab of sweet hazelnut paste – lovely.   Then a really good pea veloute with cured ham hock.  This had a perfect texture and great layers of flavour – there was some close-textured but light and springy beer bread with hoppy and malty notes served with it.

wp_20170214_003

Main course was soy and maple cured duck breast – a good rather than outstanding item that also seemed to have Korean spicing going on somewhere and a delicious sour berry compote. The accompanying sauted savoy and boulangere potatoes were perfectly done.

Desert saw us sharing a very rich chocolate and raspberry mousse, a bit too rich for her ladyship, topped with some underpowered ginger cream and three brilliant raspberry bon bons. Putting three such lovelies on a desert designed for sharing between two seemed to be asking for trouble, but naturally I did the decent thing and settled for just one.

We finished up with homemade coffee flavoured Turkish delight – a nice alternative to the by and large unwanted late night caffeine hit of an espresso.

A very pleasant and laid back evening that showcased a competent kitchen that has a highly creative edge.  Cured will be launching a new menu soon  – more info in due course  – which sounds like an excellent excuse to try if you’ve not been  or to go again if you have.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Food Club Awards

March 22, 2015

Many readers will be members of the Great Food Club, Matt Wright’s project to highlight and celebrate great independent restaurants, retailers and food producers here in the Midlands. Now for the first time GFC is running an Award programme, giving everyone a chance to vote for their favourite in each of these three categories. There will be shortlists produced for each of the six areas GFC covers (Leicestershire & Rutland, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Warwickshire & West Midlands) and the writing team at GFC (which includes me) will select overall winners.

You can vote for anyone as long as they based in the Midlands and are not part of a national chain. Note also you don’t have to be a member, though if you’re not, you really should be – membership is totally free and your card gets you a range of discounts and special offers at some 200 of the best food places in the region. More importantly, perhaps,  it plugs you into a network of news and information about what’s happening through detailed profiles, newsletters, blogs, recipes and events.

So go here to vote, and then here to join up. Voting is open until late May.

GFC card

 

Pie Night at The Lansdowne

February 25, 2015

The UK’s all-powerful pie industry has declared next week to be British Pie Week. Now obviously our county is the spiritual home of the greatest of all pies so no doubt Melton will be closing the schools and putting up the bunting.

Actually in all seriousness I am quite impressed by one response to this PR puffery, and that concerns the Orange Tree group and its bar The Lansdowne on London Road, Leicester. Having made a success of the Smokehouse in it’s O Bar venue by giving one of their chefs the chance to pursue something,  they are showing further initiative by getting their chefs to develop a special pie night as one of a series of food-led evenings.

The Lansdowne

The Lansdowne

On the menu from 6 to 9pm on Thursday 5 March will be the likes of venison and wild mushroom wellington with port jus (£12.50), ox cheek pithivier (£10.50), smoked fish pie with cheddar mash (£9.50), chicken, chorizo and kidney bean in cornmeal pastry (£9.50) and a couple of vegetarian choices including a vegan mushroom wild rice and porter pie (£8.50). There’s even a lobster pie with seafood broth(£14). Pies are all served with spring greens and mash or chips.

There’s a big kitchen at the Lansdowne, huge compared to The Smokehouse, and it’s good to see they are prepared to explore the potential for developing the food offering there. And more good news, Lansdowne has joined the Great Food Club and members ordering main courses on Monday to Saturday can now get a free glass of wine or bottle of beer – for details see here.

 

 

Great Food Club

August 8, 2014

Many, maybe most, readers will know about Great Food Club. It’s a great initiative for the East Midlands, providing a great source of information about the region’s best independent restaurants, cafes and food producers and supplying handy discounts too. Founder Matt Wright, for whom I do the odd bit of writing, has produced a short (74 second!) film that explains what it’s all about.  Membership is free so if you’ve not yet joined, have a listen to Matt and see what you think.

 

You can also find out more at www.greatfoodclub.co.uk

Rutland Food Festival

September 16, 2012

I made a late decision yesterday to drive over to Empingham for the Rutland Food Festival. A very good decision as it turned out.

For once in this rain-sodden summer it was a lovely warm sunny day. The festival had a sumptuous setting by Rutland Water, where over a hundred little sailboats were having some sort of race thing (come on, you all saw the Olympics – who had a clue what was going on?)

It was, in Rutland style, a small but classy event. Cooking presentations from leading local chefs including Brian Baker, Sean Hope and Dameon Clarke and around maybe 30 food stalls including familiar stalwarts such as Pick’s organic meats and Hambleton Bakery, newer businesses such as baked goods from Les Rosbifs restsaurant (left)  and Johannah’s Patisserie. I picked up a end of festival box from the later which included some of the best bakewell tart I’ve ever encountered. They are opening a shop next month in Oakham so look out if you’re over there. 

Other goodies I came away with included venison from Fen Farm, pain Levain from Les Rosbifs, spicy plum chutney from Rutland Preserves, spicy N’awleans  rub from Gourmet Spice Company, and a bit of punt, a bottle of Rutland table wine – a Bacchus from Abbey vineyards. A little tasting suggested an off-dry wine with a surprising amount off fruit showing through. Whether it will hold-up away from the feel-good environment of a sunny food festival I’m not sure but at £6.50 it felt like a deal. 

I ended up staying most of the day helping sign-up people for the Great Food Club, along with fellow Great Food magazine contributor Hazel Paterson and partner Glen.  Hazel’s a really creative cook and photographer, if you’re not already following her work in the magazine or  through her blog and tweets, I recommend you investigate.

%d bloggers like this: