Hey foodies, it’s been a little while since my last post. The past few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind to be honest, but I have some news for you…
I am now a writer for Taste Today, which is a brand new website promoting everything to do with food in the North West and beyond. It’s an online magazine style site which promotes, praises and publicises all things food in the region, and really celebrates local produce and independent producers.
Taste Today delivers the latest food and comment from across the whole industry, plus features recipes, offers and competitions. I am so glad to be part of a team which champion local produce and aim to get it into the shopping baskets and onto the plates of local people. We want to raise awareness that everything we need is locally available, and more often than not is produced with love, care and pride!
I will be writing a range of features for Taste Today, mainly falling into the Dining In and Dining Out categories. Here is the link to my bio on the website: tastetoday.co.uk/about, please keep your eyes peeled for my first article featuring the wonderful Cheshire Smokehouse! I will be posting regular updates from my Twitter account (@sophiesscran) and you can also follow Taste Today directly – so please do (@TasteTodayHub)!
I sincerely hope you enjoy taking a look around the site, please let me know what you think. If you think you know of a story which would feature well on the site, you can contact Jo Cooksey (Editor and Founder) on email@example.com, or drop me an email direct on firstname.lastname@example.org.
On my recent quest to find out more about the North West / Cheshire based contributors to The Great British Cook Book – I discovered an absolute gem of a restaurant. Situated on Wilmslow Road in Handforth, just a short drive out of Wilmslow town centre – is Restaruant One Eighty – part of the BW Plus Pinewood Hotel. This year the restaurant and kitchen alone have received a £1.5m renovation, and it shows.
The new 85 cover restaurant, opened in April this year, is visible from the hotel reception and is elegantly decorated with a modern, tasteful touch. The staff were very friendly and knowledgeable about the menus and dishes. Our waitress offered to talk us through the options; a Seasonal Menu – which features Executive Chef Colin Starkey’s enhancement of current seasonal produce, all sourced from local suppliers. From this menu you can select dishes individually or sample a 6 course tasting option which Colin has put together, to give a true feel for all the dishes it has to offer.
The second menu option is their A La Carte Menu – a selection of classic starters, lite bites, mains, grills, sharing plates and desserts – all with a modern twist. We opted to combine choices from each menu, to ensure we sampled the best of what Restaurant One Eighty had to offer – and we were not disappointed.
To start, Bradley opted for the ‘pigs’ in blankets in a sticky mustard glaze. As you can see from the photo, these came served in a cute silver pot stuffed to the brim with juicy, meaty, morish little bites of sticky goodness. He was reluctant, but he let me try one. Absolutely divine, and with a sort of festive feel to them. Not your average starter – but very satisfying, especially for meat-lovers!
I opted for the smoked garlic king prawns, celeriac & pear ‘slaw with dressed lambs leaf. A great sized portion – the ‘slaw had a creamy, mustard flavour which wasn’t at all overpowering and coated the prawns perfectly. A light, fresh, excellent start to get the taste buds eager for the next course…
On to the mains, Bradley AKA meat-lover of the century, OF COURSE opted for the steak burger. And this one did not disappoint. A brioche beef and pork steak burger with applewood cheese, dry cured bacon, onion marmalade and aspen fries. To say this was a taste-sensation would be an understatement. As you can see from the image (*drools*), the meat was pink throughout, mouthwateringly succulent and it was perfectly seasoned. We later found out from Colin that the burgers are slow-cooked for 2 hours in a water bath to achieve this amazing ‘melt in your mouth’ taste and texture. A really excellent burger – one that would be tricky to replicate at home, so if you’re in the area I urge you to go and try it. As for the glossy, soft brioche bun – perfectly glazed for that amazing high-shine finish. It just seemed to ‘hug’ the burger so neatly, which is a breath of fresh air compared to many burgers out there which are served on thick slabs of bread, making it almost impossible to pick up and eat properly. The aspen fries (coated in truffle oil and sprinkled with grated Parmesan) were also to die for, crispy, soft and a great sized portion. This was a very impressive main course indeed!
I opted for a more ladylike option of Seared Sea Bass with a warm baby fennel salad & new potatoes, tapenade and sauce vierge. What a delight – the sea bass was crispy, tender in the middle and the potatoes were sauteed and slightly buttery. The sauce vierge was fragrant with basil, a delicate accompaniment to the fish which was seasoned to perfection with beautiful, floral presentation. Altogether an excellent fresh and satisfying main course, leaving just the right about of room for pudding…. 😉
The above dishes were all from the A La Carte menu – however, when it came to dessert time we decided to switch it up a notch, why ever not?! Both puddings were from Colin’s Season’s Menu – it was rightly noticeable that this menu showcases a more ‘fine dining’ approach, and it was so good to be able to combine the two experiences.
I chose (after much deliberation, as they all sounded so divine) the Black Berry Trifle with Limoncello. The description didn’t give much away – all I knew was I love trifle, love limoncello and was intrigued by the element of mystery and anticipation – so I went for it, and it’s safe to say it was a great choice. The dish was a deconstruction of the traditional trifle – all the elements were present, just not in a way you would expect, which I loved. The edible dark chocolate pot was filled with a silky fresh cream and topped with a sweet biscotti and flaked almonds. Around the edge of the plate were little drops of sweet limoncello blobs, a sharp berry compote and some crunchy dried berries. All in all a great variety of textures and flavours – hats off to the chef!
Bradley, once again, chose the richest and most decadent dessert option possible – Michel Cluizel chocolate & caramel with Maldon sea salt, honeycomb and granola. Just wow. The chocolate was divine – smooth, silky and felt very indulgent, a real treat. This was offset perfectly by the salty crunch to the granola sprinkles. An absolutely perfect finish to an excellent dining experience!!
The Great British Cook Book (TGBCB)
Colin Starkey, the Executive Chef at Restaurant One Eighty, has also contributed a fantastic looking dish to The Great British Cook Book., and he was kind enough to share some images with me. The pictures below are of his Galloway-breed Ribeye beef steak served with tempura Oyster, duck fat chips and a rich, clean sauce to accompany. Doesn’t it just look incredible?!
The recipe is available now in TGBCB, and is adapted to be accessible and easy for people to recreate at home, as with many other dishes in the book.
Colin’s restaurant has already been awarded an AA Rosette and has also received excellent reviews since opening in April. If you would like to find out more about Restaurant One Eighty and to see their current menus, click here. Colin also posts regular foodie updates on Twitter, to keep updated follow @ColinStarkey37.
On a final note – if you would like to purchase or download The Great British Cook Book, you can do so here (which is the official site, and also the cheapest place to purchase the online copy!)
Fellow Foodies, listen up! This is big news, and something I have been waiting to share with you all for a few weeks now, but hence my busy work schedule and holiday to Gran Canaria it’s taken me a while for me to get the chance… I hope after reading you’re as excited as I am about this carefully crafted thing of foodie beauty!
I have received some exclusive information about an innovative new cook book, set for release later this month. It’s been years in the making and is aptly named: The Great British Cook Book. The makers behind the book have undertaken a nationwide search to find 200 different and diverse dishes from the 10 regions of Great Britain. The book is a celebration of our diversified nation and features a variety of Chefs, styles and foods to please any pallet.
The book will include 20 recipes from each of the 10 areas of the Great British Isles, which include London and the South, the North West, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. One thing that really caught my attention, is that the book does not purely feature ‘AA Rosette’ or ‘Michelin Star’ restaurants/Chefs but will cover a range of different venues that are passionate about food, use innovative and inspiring recipes with locally-sourced produce.
Another great element to the book is that it has been joined by some real household names such as; Rick Stein, Michael Caines and Nigella Lawson (to name a few). Adam Simmonds (Great British Menu winner 2014) is the books main ambassador, stated;
“When the guys first came to me a few years ago, I knew nothing of this magnitude had been done before and was instantly hooked on the concept, the support from the Chef world has been truly amazing!”
Gary Allen, Project Director for the book also quoted:
“We wanted to combine our love of food and some of the amazing Chefs and food producers we have come across through the years of working in the industry. The book has a real commitment to raising awareness on using local and sustainable produce where possible, just like some of the reader’s favourite chefs and restaurants. All book sales will be donated to Macmillian Cancer support and Hospitality Action.”
The book will feature 50 starters, 100 mains and 50 desserts as well as 10 in-depth features of unique and traditional trades in the UK. Some areas covered are Butchery, Fishmongers, Baking and Home Growing; offering a rare insight into how these traditional trades work in our modern society.
I really feel this book is going to take us fellow foodies on the ultimate food journey, through a culinary array of cooking techniques, flavours and produce origins. The makers of the book have done all the hard work, so readers just need to kick-back and enjoy the detail presented, and hopefully cook and share the recipes for years to come.
Over the course of the next 2 weeks, I will be posting further information about the North West based contributors to the book, before it’s release on the 20th November, so watch this space!
My beautiful #ArtisanSelection box from compareyourartisan.com has arrived, and first off I must say the delivery service was super-prompt. I can get a little impatient when it comes to food (because I love it so much, duhhh), so it was great they didn’t keep me waiting long at all!
I went for “The Foodie” – 8 assorted foodie-friendly Artisan selection items from their lovely range, and I let them surprise me, so had no idea what it was going to contain. It was as if they knew about my obsession with obscure and specialty teas (stemmed from a visit to Nepal in 2011) so I was delighted to see a box of wild, organic, hand-picked Mountain Tea from Greece… I have never seen anything like it, super intrigued… Cannot wait to try it. It also seemed a bit like magic that the box featured a chilli sauce – if you know me, you know I am obsessed with spice. These guys really do know their buyers & suppliers well, and I’m impressed already.
The box features a range of wonderful products, some local to the UK and some from as far afield as Italy & Greece! Details listed below:
Save 20% on tickets to the BBC Good Food Show by using the promo code WW20 at the check-out! We will be there on Saturday 29th November and our show of choice is the Two Greedy Italians: Antonio Carluccio & Gennaro Contaldo @ 12:30 PM!
The event is all hosted at the NEC in Birmingham! Other guest chefs are John Torode, James Martin, Tom Kerridge, Paul Hollywood, Mary Berry and the Hairy Bikers!