Sunday 25 January 2015

Star Inn - Harome, Yorkshire #MichelinStar

As a big fella with a ridiculous beard, I like to think I resemble Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart from two time WWF Tag Team Champions ‘The Hart Foundation’ but in reality I know I look more like Dr. Zaius from Planet Of The Apes.

My beard got a lot of attention in Vietnam – children would giggle and point; men would smile and give the thumbs up and women came up to me to stroke it and rub my belly like a lucky Buddha.

Not only limited to my travels, unwelcome beard attention has also occurred closer to home - on two separate occasions, I have been approached by random strangers and asked to join a historical reenactment group as a Viking.

As much as I like Vikings, the idea of spending my weekends running around in a muddy a field, waving an imitation weapon and being cut down by some banker in a tunic and sandals does not float my longship.

One reason for my Viking liking comes from watching World’s Strongest Man as a kid; I’d often imitate Jón Páll Sigmarsson’s cry of “I am a Viking!” as I slashed at my brother with a plastic sword.

Jogging this memory, it was watching ‘strongman’ this Christmas that I decided I’d finally make the journey to York to visit the excellent Jorvik Centre.

The next decision was where to eat – my first thought was Andrew Pern’s Star Inn the City but it seemed only right to go to the original ‘Star Inn’ which had recently regained a Michelin Star; this meant a bit of a detour up to Harome, which proved to be worth it.

What Michelin say: ‘14C thatched pub with a delightful terrace, a low-ceilinged bar and a brasserie-like restaurant with a chef's table. Dishes have assured flavours and a skilled, classical style; they use the very best of local produce, including veg from the kitchen garden and meats from their own pigs and chickens.’

What I ate:

Haslet of Yorkshire Reared Gamewith pickled plums, cinnamon, ginger and roast chestnut brioche. With my mum originally hailing from Lincolnshire, haslet was something I ate regularly when growing up.  The Star’s wasn’t as herby as I recall my mother’s, which was particularly sage laden but I did like the accompaniments, particularly the roast chestnut brioche.

Dressed White North Sea Crabwith crushed hazelnut & fennel salad, lemon verbena mayonnaise, Yorkshire ‘fettle’ and prawn crackers. This was my wife’s choice; she commented to enjoying it but felt the prawn crackers were unnecessary on a plate, which already boasted a number of flavours.

My wife enjoyed her main: Roast Sirloin of Beeflocally reared in the village by Nick Marwoord, with Yorkshire pudding, stump puree, ‘Two Chefs’ ale & root vegetable gravy.

I loved my main: Fricassée of Harome shot Pheasantwith prunes and apples, Ampleforth Cider cream, garden sage mash. Having seen the birds hanging as we arrived, I fancied the pheasant before we even got to see the menu. With tender chunks of pheasant, indulgent cider cream, crunch of apple, subtle sweetness from the prunes, smooth mash and crisp sage leaves, the fricassée proved to be a delightful dish.

First of the season Forced Rhubarb Burnt Creamwith fresh ginger, black treacle and parkin crumb, with a shot of homemade rhubarb schnapps. My wife and I shared the dessert; it looked the part and had great textures and but did not quite deliver on flavour. Early season forced rhubarb does tend to be sweeter than its late spring sibling but the cooking seemed to have removed all but the subtlest of flavours; likewise, for our taste, the molasses flavours could’ve also been turned up a notch or two.

At the end of the meal, we decided to take our coffee in the rickety upstairs, under the thatched roof of the oldest part of the building. This is a great space and we would’ve stayed longer if the Vikings of York had not been calling.

Sunday 11 January 2015

The Railway Café by Mughli – Alderley Edge, Cheshire

Opened last week, The Railway Café in Cheshire’s Alderley Edge is a “pop up” collaboration between Mughli and highly regarded Chef David Gale. Although making restrained use of familiar spices, the creative yet compact menu is a world away from the "Curry Mile" favourites that once helped Mughli to build their brand. 

With Chef Gale planning to open his own place in the centre of Manchester, this partnership is scheduled to only last 3 months – hence the “pop up”.

I’ve already been three times - I’ll write something more detailed when I get more time but as the window for going is short, I thought I’d get some pictures up quick smart so you can see what it’s all about…

It was all fab but I’ve included some stars (*) to rate my favourite dishes.

*Saffron & Chilli Pickled Vegetables

Green Papaya & Mango – radish, cashews, coconut

*Beetroot & Avocado – cumin yoghurt, garlic toasts

*Lamb Lollipops – chickpea purée, pomegranate

**Tamarind Duck – onion, peppers, papadam wafers

*Crispy Chicken – spiced rice, tomato curry

**Tuna Tartare – coconut, chilli, cucumber

*Popcorn Shrimp – cumin batter, citrus soy

*Grilled Seabass – coriander crust, Bombay potatoes

Mushroom & Spinach Pakora – garlic mayo

Indian Nachos – chickpeas, yoghurt, chutney

***Spiced Vegetable Smash – brioche, salsa

Warm Cinnamon Churros – caramel sauce

Tuesday 6 January 2015

L’Enclume – Jan 2015

I’m going to be 40 this year… senility has already started to set in… forgetting to take my camera on a trip to L’Enclume has got to be the start of a slippery slope.

What follows are pictures taken with my phone - normally I wouldn’t want to post photos that do not do the food justice but I like to record the progression in the food and the seasonal changes of the many visits I have made to L’Enclume over the years (for some stunning pictures of the menu, check out Stephen Perez’s flickr – here)

Of the snacks the standouts were the dim sum-like Game dumpling and the Crispy chicken, squid, redcurrant – a squid ink wafer and emulsion with crispy chicken skin, chicken liver parfait and, the star ingredient, a redcurrant gelée.

Once again, the Artichoke with goat’s cheese, tarragon, stout vinegar and malt was my favourite dish however the new Hake with crab and pine, leek, celeriac and sorrel was a close second – as you'd expect, the hake, enrobed in fat, was beautifully cooked but, for me, it was the ingenious injection of acidity from a tartly sweet reduction of Granny Smith apples, sorrel and wild ramson capers that made the dish sing.

Oyster pebbles

Game dumpling

Crispy chicken, squid, redcurrant

Smoked eel with ham fat

Raw scallop and caviar

Creamed turnip, Tunworth, lamb’s tongue


Baked squash, Maran egg, nasturtium, chestnut, goose leg

Valley venison, charcoal oil, mustard and fennel

Butter poached lobster, parsnip, scurvy grass and black radish

Artichokes with goat’s cheese, tarragon, stout vinegar and malt

Hake with crab and pine, leek, celeriac and sorrel

Penny Bridge Dexter, creamed kales, carrot and mead

Apple and rosehip tart (scoffed without a pic, get me!)

Almond, pear, anise hyssop

Beetroot slate, apple marigold and cobnut

Caramel, poached quince, walnut and perilla


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