Had rather a good week with three noteworthy meals locally.

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At the weekend I thoroughly enjoyed the Best of Maiyango tasting menu of which I wrote last week .   We’d been travelling up from down south on the day and were stuck motionless of the M25 for three hours and hence missed the first course.  Staff though were extremely helpful and flexible for us – stand out dishes for me were a super piece of seabass sat in a pool of lightly spiced coconut laska and with a fantastically bright and zingy coriander, mint  and green chilli chutney, plus a witty  terrine combining smoked ham, a mousse of cheddar cheese, quail’s egg, apple and a lip-smacking sweet-savoury relish of bacon jam.  But it was all good  – much as I’m looking forward to Maiyango’s replacement, I’ll really miss this level of food. There may be places left for the last two nights of the restaurant  on Friday and Saturday this week  – check on 251 8898 if you fancy going.

Then out in Rutland we had a super lunch at the King’s Arm’s, Wing. A leg of wild boar was wonderfully gamey and came with an intense sticky jus,  an apple stuffed with black pudding, red cabbage and a lovely rich dauphinoise. We also had a tremendous piece of turbot, sat on a hollandaise with samphire, asparagus and crayfish – caught by chef himself I believe. Here’s a restaurant that really takes produce seriously – it’s one of the few places where cliches about home made, artisan, and local and seasonal really merit being taken seriously. Every ingredient of these dishes was first rate. Sadly no pictures I’m afraid.

At a less exalted level but still very enjoyable was a light lunch at the Knight and Garter by Leicester market. A tasty porchetta and rocket sandwich  in a large crusty roll had a pot of pokey mustard sauce for dipping – it went down well with a pint of the unfiltered Budvar which is the bar’s speciality. Also impressing was a salad of perfectly cooked duck egg, with sauted jersey royals, asparagus and shavings of parmesan (or similar anyway).  I’d be happy to go back for more.

 

Real Bread

May 4, 2012

If there’s one way in which my diet has changed in the last two years, it’s that I eat a lot more bread. There’s several reasons for this. One is that is that since I went freelance (aka “was made redundant”), I’ve been working from home and thus am looking to eat breakfast (never used to bother) and to make a decent sarnie at lunchtime.

The other, more significant, reason is that the supply of decent bread has grown significantly enough to bring home both how unpleasant (or at best bland) most bread I’ve ever eaten has been, and also just how tasty it can be. The bread I had last month at The King’s Arms in Wing was absolutely a highlight of the meal, while the butter-drenched manchet I had for breakfast today from Hambleton bakery in Oakham was a fantastic start to the day – half breakfast roll, half lovely cakey brioche. I’ve also really enjoyed the Leicestershire beer and honey loaf from Lucy’s Foods in Stoneygate produced by Knighton Kitchens.

Foccacia by Leicester Born and Bread

A key part of this virtuous circle of building demand and supply for real bread (let’s make that Real Bread for now), has been the rise of domestic bakers, spreading the word and baking loaves for friends and neighbours on small-scale commercial basis. One such who I have written about here before is my pal Jessica who runs Leicester Born and Bread. She informs me that next week (May 7 to 13) is Real Bread Maker Week – an initiative of the Real Bread Campaign to get even more people  into baking lovely traditional-process, additive-free breads. Jessica is offering 10 per cent discount on her bread making classes booked during the week – if you want to know more go to the website or call Jessica on 07957 726308. Even if you remain sceptical about wanting to get floury yourself, the week is surely a good opportunity to try something new new or different from a real baker.

Update

I forgot put a link to a song from the wonderful Natalie Squance, Leicester’s finest folk-tinged singer and guitarist. Her song The Baker is a dryly funny tale about a sexy French boulangere with commitment issues (he’s not just a baker, no he’s a heart-breaker) and this post seemed a good opportunity to give her a plug – so have a listen or better still download or buy the cd  – http://natalie-squance.bandcamp.com/track/the-baker

King’s Arms, Wing

March 30, 2011

Driving back to Leicester from Lincolnshire I was wondering what to do about lunch, when it hit me. I’d been meaning for many months to get out to the Kings Arms at Wing and here was a perfect opportunity for a quiet midweek lunch.  This characterful Rutland Inn has a great reputation for its game and for its nose to tail, everything home-produced or locally made ethos. With an onsite smoke house this applies to all the smoked produce and charcuterie as well as breads, stocks, chutneys etc.

With the rain begining to pour outside I fancied something comforting and picked the leg of hare from a specials board.  It was lovely  – cooked sous-vide it was as tender as a leg could be and oozed gamey richness. It was not even the star of the plate though, with the  bang on season purple spouting broccoli being simply outstanding.  There’s been a lot of hype about this vegetable this year and this stuff almost seemed to justify it – lightly cooked, slightly sweet with an almost meaty texture, it was the antithesis of “eat yer greens they’re  good for you”.  Beautiful red cabbage, curly kale, green beans, smooth mash and proper gravy completed a lovely dish for just over a tenner.  

The landlady sweet talked me into a desert but I was glad she did.  A pastry chef  just back from Denmark was on fine form she assured me and I tried her suggestion of the raspberry tart.  Made from preternaturally thin, crisp pastry it contained sweet fresh raspberries swirled together with coulis and creme patisserie. Accompanying raspberry sorbet lacked a bit of punch but it didn’t really matter, the tart was a compelling enough item.

So off I sped off feeling very well fed and with a pack of home-smoked pancetta to boot. Result. Keen to go back and try the full menu now.  How can you not warm to place offering a starter of  “Duo of Pilton Mangalitsa – set brawn, crispy cheek, smoked tomato & celeriac remoulade”?

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