About cumbriafoodie

Who is Cumbriafoodie ? Alan Spedding from Whitehaven in West Cumbria , Food lover , Restaurant goer ,Wild food forager , Amateur kitchen dabbler , Cumbrian food photographer and general lunatic.As for the food photos, just shout up if your food need lovingly snapped.

Quique Dacosta – 3 stars in Denia , Spain..

Quique DacostaQuique Dacosta , one of a very special breed of premier chefs from the category of  “ There`s Chefs…..and then there`s Chefs”. I was extremely blessed to spend the weekend with Quique and his teams at his flagship restaurant in Denia and also his 3 other busy establishments in Valencia  – El Poblet , Mercatbar and Vuelve Carolina. My sidekick on the trip was fellow top level  food geek  Mr Finediningexplorer. Now you`ve all seen Laurel and Hardy so I shall say no more. Maybe we should be on a stage performing somewhere as a double act.

Quique started working at the restaurant in 1989 when he was 17. Originally it was a traditional Spanish restaurant called El Poblet. Quique took over the business after spending 10 years there and in 2003 the restaurant got its first star. The second followed in 2007 and finally the third star in 2013. The restaurant was renamed Quique Dacosta and a new restaurant opened in Valencia under the original name of El Poblet.

After an overnight stay in Elche , the first call of the day was to the town of Elda to meet one of the Worlds best pastry Chefs, Paco Torreblanca. Paco climbed the ladder at the same time as the Roux brothers and Pierre Herme and now sits right at the top of his game in the world of sweet treats .The trip to his laboratory was akin to a walk into the world of Willie Wonka. The Workshops were full of students from USA , Brazil , Italy and Spain making sugar bubbles and Roses – impressive. Paco is very much old school and a total master of his art. Examples of his sugarwork were on display throughout his workshop and a huge selection of pastries , Pannetone and Macarons were there for the sampling.

paco torreblanca

The thing that impressed me most about Paco is that he`s managed to keep alive his culinary roots but he`s also moved along with the times as well. Highly skilled examples of Pacos Molecular desserts adorned the many cookery books on display at the workshops and I was most impressed by an edible notebook complete with a Chocolate spiral ring binder inserted to keep the leaves together. There was also another visitor looking around while we were there. DaDong the Chinese God of the Peking Duck was touring Europe to see what new culinary ideas he could take back East.

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A one hour drive to Denia came next and  then straight into Quique`s restaurant for lunch. We were warmly greeted by Quique and his manager Didier and before we knew it the show was underway. The Spanish sun was hot that afternoon but ice cold Champagne and our first snack of chilled Vine Peach Sangria soon sorted the heat problem out.

quique dacostaThere`s not many restaurants at this level that totally change their menu every year but at Quique Dacosta they do exactly that. 40 new dishes were introduced at the start of the 2015 season and we were here to experience Quique`s  latest delights from his new menu “States of Mood” .The menu here normally showcases the Red Denia Prawn but for our lunch we were to give that a miss because we had very special plans after the meal. We would go with Quique to the fish market and get our special Red Prawns directly off the boat ,  straight through auction and then back to the restaurant. Our evening dinner would be a celebration of the Denia Prawn cooked in the development kitchen….Enough said , wait for the next post.

1st Act  –  Snacks ( These were served in the garden )

1,  Sangria of Vine Peach. – This was served in the style of a semi frozen slush drink , very refreshing in the afternoon Spanish heat.

quique dacosta

2, Light Beignet of Codfish.

quique dacosta

3, Rice a banda “Socarrat” – Socarrat is the layer of toasted Rice at the bottom of the Paella pan.This one was Quiques translation of the same thing.

quique dacosta

quique dacosta

4, Corals. Dehydrated sea flavoured Rice crackers with delicate little prawns incorporated into them.

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5, Carbon of “Pericana”  – This amuse definitely impresses. The smoking hot Charcoal comes with a traditional regional  creamy sauce served as a dip. It`s called Pericana which is made of dried Peppers and  salted fish . I looked around for some bread or a spoon but all there was to dip in was the hot Charcoal , still emitting smoke. I picked the Charcoal up cautiously only to discover it wasn`t burnt wood at all. It was infact a savoury Meringue dyed Black with Squid ink. The smoke had come from a smouldering bed of fresh hay which was sitting hiding in a tray underneath…Marvellous and very quirky.

quique dacosta

6, Ravioli of Edamame – The Ravioli is filled with crunchy Edamame Beans mixed with a Kimchee flavored sauce….like a rich Tomato soup.

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7, Cordifolia –  This plant is locally picked in Montgo national park. It`s  called Raim de pastor ( Sedum Sediforme ) but more commonly known as “Stonecrop” in the UK. It has a taste that is reminiscent of pickled capers and it`s served as a little amuse to create smiles and discussion from the customers. Eat the leaves and stem and then chew on the root… Simple.

quique dacosta

8, Mojito of Ginger….and walk this way sir. This was a little iced refreshment served to us outside. We were meant to sip the frozen slush from a straw on the way through to our table but I struggled badly to get anything up the straw and was pretty frustrated when I couldn`t get a spoon inside to scoop out the wonderful goodness in the glass. I defrosted it by hand and slurped it noisily down.

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2nd Act – Pickled

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9, Dry Octopus – Dried in the sun on the roof of the restaurant.

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quique dacosta

10, Roe of Mullet. – Sliced Mullet roe ( Eggs )

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 11, Salad of Pickles. – Tuna, Artichoke, Edamame, Onion, Almond, Olive mousse.The Garlic shape was encasing liquid Gazpacho. All resting on a thin jello of Tomato and Olive.

quique dacosta

quique dacosta

12, Coca of Tomatoes – A wafer thin square of dehydrated Tomato powder , big strong flavours here.

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14, Dried baby Squid. – These were a  little too chewy and caramelised so the flavours of the seafood were lost. … Far from unpleasant though.

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15, Ice cream sandwich of Basil and Tomato – Ice cream sandwich of Tomato foam with fresh basil leaf…. Refreshing.

quique dacosta

quique dacosta

16, Herb finger with Lamb juice. –  A plant for us to pick at using our fingers . It’s herb crusted Lamb but a modern version…a crispy Almond tuile filled with a herb mousse inside. We were then instructed to eat it and then sip the Lamb consommé on the side. A good Intense flavour.

quique dacosta

quique dacosta

 3rd Act – Tapas

17,  Tobacco leaf and “Toro” – Served on a Tobacco leaf crisp were slices of Toro Tuna and Dashi (Japanese stock) jello. The drink paired with this was a 100 years in the barrel Sherry which unfortunately masked the delicate flavour of this very expensive cut of Tuna.

quique dacosta

quique dacosta

18, Fish Lemon and half Lemon. – A Ceviche course of “Fish Lemon in Lemon”.  Chunks of raw fish (the sea is just 50m away from the restaurant) and the Lemon is from their own restaurant garden…..very refreshing. 

quique dacosta

19, Aspic of Crayfish. – Served in an Aspic was Crayfish Bisque with jello at the bottom made with the juices from the head of the shellfish. The flavours were very intense and quite spicy. At the bottom of the dish were Peas offering bites of raw freshness and an interesting texture.

quique dacosta

quique dacosta

quique dacosta

20, Sailor Knot – Tarhay. – Ok so i`m not so sure what the Tarhay means here. The Razor Clams were carefully wound together to resemble a sea knot. The Clam was delicate , Lemony and sweet. I notice that a lot of Quiques dishes were very sweet and no complaints from me as i`m just a sweet guy , and the end of the meal is the part that I always look forward to.

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The other part of this dish was a tartare bathed in a light Hazelnut foam.

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21, Carbonara. – Ultra thin transluscent Iberian Ham. Strands of Spaghetti on Enoki Mushroom.  The sauce at the bottom was amazing ,sticky, powerful reduction from Pigeon and Chicken. 

quique dacosta

quique dacosta

4th Act – Mains

 22, Satay of King Crab – Crabmeat, Crab roe, Mango, Peanuts , crispy, nutty and a spicy sauce.

quique dacosta

quique dacosta

quique dacosta

23, Fried Oyster. – Deep fried Oyster and Oyster cream.

quique dacosta

quique dacosta

oyster

24, Toast of Sea Snails. – Toast of sea Snail , served in little ceramic sea themed pots. Even the spoon was a sea shell. The Green sauce was made with Parsley, Olive oil, and Seaweed. The small shell on the side contained little pearls of a local liquor.  This course was inspired by a trip Quique had in Belgium to eat snail, but he created the sea version here.

quique dacosta

quique dacosta

quique dacosta

25, Rice “Albufera” of Peas and Cuttlefish Egg. – We were very close to the heart of Spain`s largest Rice production area,The Albufera area of Valencia. In this dish Quique showcased this product simply and effectively with Cuttlefish Eggs and Green Peas.

quique dacosta

quique dacosta

5th Act – Meats.

26, Pizzon al Funghi. – Pigeon and wild Mushroom Pizza .Rather than a Pizza this is a very thin Pastry crust covered with small Mushrooms, tiny slivers of Pigeon and shavings of Truffle with a thick and intense pigeon reduction. It sits on a magnifying glass…..interesting and totally wacky.

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27, Egg in Ashes – Spherification was used here to mimic an Egg with a liquid centre.

quique dacosta

quique dacosta

quique dacosta6th Act – Desserts.

28, Mojito of Cucumber – Served as a `pre -dessert` , a Mint Sorbet with an intense Lemon syrup and Seaweed ( hmmmnnnn….I think it was a seaweed )

quique dacosta

quique dacosta

quique dacosta

quique dacosta

29, Strange flowers – Ohhhh this was stunning , highly perfumed and a delight to eat for a dessert lover. Mango puree with Passion fruit , Dill , Meringue , Lychee … Beautiful.

quique dacosta

quique dacosta

quique dacosta

30, Cinnamon branch – Prunes. The Prune is actually not a Prune. It`s an edible bag of Prune purée with an Almond inside to mimic the stone. The Cinnamon is actually not cinnamon. Good technique going on here and the main thing…..It tasted great.

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quique dacosta31, Petals of Roses.  This one arrived in a vase , it`s a Dacosta classic and because I had done my homework then I know what to expect otherwise I would have been eating petals. The inside of the flower is very carefully removed with knife and tweezers and then the Rose is filled with Apple shavings coloured with Grenadine and flavoured with Rose water.

quique dacosta

quique dacosta

32, Gin tonic of Apple…with hints of Juniper.

quique dacosta

Ok to summarise my experience at the 3 Michelin starred Quique Dacosta….. Interesting , extremely interesting and a delight for anyone that loves their food with a passion like mine. The food was inventive and exciting and although there were a few little items that I personally would “tweak” a little. All I seen was smiles , laughter and empty plates so someone is doing things right backstage. The Diners were happy so that hits the nail right on the head. Would I return ? Damn right I would…Loved it.

Click HERE to view all of the photos from the lunch on my Flickr account.

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Issaya Siamese Club Bangkok , Stunning Thai food in a beautiful restaurant.

Issaya Siamese club , bangkokIssaya Siamese club , currently sits at  number 39 on the list of `Best restaurants in Asia 2015`. I`ve been to Bangkok many times and this was my first visit to Issaya.Suitably impressed i`ll certainly be back for more as soon as possible. My stay in Bangkok was only a quickie before heading off to Chiang mai so I booked into Issaya for lunch. It`s a really good menu with lots of choices. One of those menus  with so many dishes that it`s impossible to choose as they all sound totally wonderful  but I decided to go for the Tasting menu to see what the place was all about. My meal consisted of a number of courses served together in traditional Thai style at 2,500 baht ( £49 ) showcasing chef Ian Kittichai`s  cooking and the use of some premier Thai produce. There`s also a set menu at 1500 baht ( £30) and the extensive a la carte which is individually priced.

Issaya Siamese club , bangkokThe word “ Issaya “  is an ancient Thai word meaning “ Rainy season “. The lush greenery of the restaurants gardens reflect Thailands rainy season.So to pay homage to that beautiful rainy part of the year the owners decided to name the restaurant after this.The restaurant design is modelled on that of an old school members club and chef Kittichais menus reflect on his own personal journey and upbringing around food  , hanging out at the markets and the cooking of the produce with his mother. The ingredients at Issaya are the true stars of the cuisine here. They`re sourced from the local markets and are Organic and as fresh as possible to produce chef Kittichai`s seasonal , innovative and traditional signature dishes and menus.

Issaya Siamese club , bangkok

Issaya Siamese club , bangkok

 The tasting menu started off with 3 tasting dishes – Banana blossom and heart of Palm salad , crispy Shallots and roasted Peanuts in a Chilli jam dressing  / Tuna tartare Thai style / Crispy rice pancake with pulled “turmeric” chicken ,Beansprouts and Coconut.

Issaya Siamese club , bangkok

Issaya Siamese club , bangkok House made fresh Shellfish sausage with a Hua Hin style seafood broth.

Issaya Siamese club , bangkok

Grilled imported tender Beef , fresh herbs , Organic vegetables in a charred birds eye Chilli vinaigrette.

Issaya Siamese club , bangkokCrispy harbour Shrimps , Melting Eggplant and hard boiled Eggs with Chilli Tamarind dressing.

Issaya Siamese club , bangkok

Spice rubbed baby Pork back ribs , glazed with Issaya house blended Chilli paste.

Issaya Siamese club , bangkokSteamed whole Maine Lobster with Lobster Curry Custard , fresh Coconut milk and sweet Basil….I`ll definitely go back for this one again.

Issaya Siamese club , bangkok

 Grain fed Australian Veal cheek simmered in house blended spices , Hand pressed Coconut Milk and Kaffir Lime leaves.

Issaya Siamese club , bangkok

Slow cooked smoked Salmon with Jerusalem Artichokes from Chokchai farm in a home made Red Curry sauce. Issaya Siamese club , bangkok

Asian multigrains , Chiang Mai Mushrooms and Garlic sprinkled with Mushroom scented Oil

Issaya Siamese club , bangkokIssaya seasonal vegetables.

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Assorted house made desserts.

Issaya Siamese club , bangkok

Jasmine flower Panna Cotta

Issaya Siamese club , bangkok

Pandan Macaroon

Issaya Siamese club , bangkok

Coconut Mochi ice cream with young Coconut shavings.

Issaya Siamese club , bangkok

Saree  – An old fashioned Thai ice cream sandwich with Jackfruit Semifreddo.

Issaya Siamese club , bangkok

 And so for the bill  –  Quite an attractive price for Chefs Tasting menu using prime ingredients, a decent sized Lobster, Cocktails and bottled water set us back 2,880 baht each  ( £56 / $87 ). Well worth a visit to eat the food of a Chef right at the top of his game – Highly recommended.

Issaya Siamese club , bangkok

Issaya Siamese club , bangkok

Issaya Siamese club , bangkokIssaya garden entrance.

Issaya Siamese club , bangkok

Issaya Siamese club , bangkok

To view all of the photos on Flickr then please CLICK HERE.

Issaya Siamese club , bangkok

The Inn at Ravenglass , Seafood heaven.

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In the tiny village of Ravenglass on the West coast of Cumbria , Spring is finally in the air. The Winter months haven`t been too bad this year but there`s been many days when the fishing boats can`t even get out out to sea. Nice to know that the Chef at ” The Inn at Ravenglass” ,Craig Niven has still been knocking out some stunning seafood throughout the duration of the poor months. Craig still manages to source enough fresh produce to fill 2 or 3 blackboards with daily  seafood specials , very Impressive. If I was setting up my own restaurant then I would definitely want the chef here to run my kitchen , simple as that. I don’t know anything about Chefs background but after over half a dozen visits here he just continues to deliver some amazing seafood .Basically he`s just a gifted chef that can cook prime produce very well.
The pub is owned by the Pennington family ( Muncaster Castle ) along with a few other local businesses. It`s very much your `village local` and attracts quite a crowd most days. I`ve decided not to say much about the décor here as i`m quite used to it now , I`ll take the 5th on this occasion. I`m not coming here for anything other than top shelf fresh seafood cooked perfectly and served with an ice cold glass of Muncaster Cider or locally brewed ale….enough said. Just for your information folks , you`re not required to wear a jacket and tie so relax and dress down here, there`s no airs n graces.Take it for what it , be prepared to sit on the next table to a local in flat cap with his pet terrier and just get stuck into the amazing Cumbrian seafood which you can see below.

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I had a little look just over the road on one of my visits and within a minute or so I had discovered this lot growing within a stones throw of the kitchen. I don’t think chef is brave enough to use this just yet but here`s hoping. From left to right –  Sea Aster , Sandwort , ??? ,  Arrowgrass and Purselane.

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                                       A view of The Inn from the beach.

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Menu boards at the Inn are hand written in the kitchen once the daily catch is brought through the door. On my last visit , Chef was actually waiting for the catch of the day to arrive minutes before service kicked off. “ In Cod we trust” , “ Skate , Rattle and Sole” and “Not bad , Cod do better” the three specials boards are crammed to capacity with fresh seafood . Many restaurants would be blessed to have the one of these boards.Thanks to Steve Hallet from Ravenglass fish for braving the cold Cumbrian seas. You can follow this crazy guy on his Twitter account HERE.

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Scallops baked in the shell with buttery mash and glazed Cheese. Coquille st jacques.

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Prawns in Garlic Butter , plain , simple and with a big wedge of crusty Bread.

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Local Lobster with Mango and Pak choi.

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Battered Squid with Saffron Mayo.

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Seared Scallops on Cauliflower puree.

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Little freebies – Pissaladiere.

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Little freebies – Scallop mousse and smoked salmon tartlettes.

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This one is easily my favourite main course at the Inn. Griddled Irish sea Scallops on a light Apple chutney. Pan fried sea Trout on Buttered Cabbage and Bacon with creamy mash and a Beurre blanc sauce.

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King Prawns , Pilau rice.

P1120634 - CopyFillet of Halibut on a Pistachio Risotto with Ham hock fritters.

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Tandoori Tiger prawns , Lemon Risotto.

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Fillet of North sea Turbot on a healthy Mussel and Chorizo broth.

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Irish sea Scallops , Chorizo and Mussel Porridge with Butter poached Chicken thigh.

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Pan fried Skate wings with Lemon ,  Caper and Parsley black butter.

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Monkfish Wellington , Sugar cured cheeks , Kohlrabi and spinach puree.

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Prawn and Monkfish Thai red curry.

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This poor guy aint a pretty sight but chef made the very best of a poor mans fish , the Gurnard. Roasted and basted in sea salt and butter then served on a bed of local Samphire and wild mushrooms.

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Muncaster reared Quail with a Scallop mousse filling , Lemon Risotto , Irish sea Scallops , Crevettes and Shrimp.

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Just a little look at our Cumbrian portion control….no complaints here then. I went for the Monkfish Kiev on yellow Pea and green lentil ragout. My son Max had the Cumbrian surf n turf. Fillet steak , Garlic prawns , Chips and salad.

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This is a little treat for those that don’t do fish. Roast of the day £9.95. Perfect portion size and at a superb price.

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An amazing local brew, Muncaster Cider using Apples from the Castles ancient orchard. The Apples are pressed and then made into Cider by the people down at Cowmire Hall.

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Well…what do we Cumbrians  make of this delight ? Or is this key forensic evidence that we have a crazy Scotsman in the kitchen ? Deep fried Mars bar in what could be Irn Bru batter served with every Glaswegians tipple of choice ” Buckfast ” ice cream. It was my first ever taste of this classic “Glasgow Chip shop” dessert and it made me laugh , created happy discussion and although it`s never going to win any awards for dessert of the year I thoroughly enjoyed that lovely sticky goo inside….it`s a happy pud.

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Sticky Toffee Apple Brioche with Vanilla ice cream. I can honestly say that ive never had a better Bread and butter pud anywhere in the world…..I would return there for this one dish , it really was that good. ( please keep this on the menu as a signature pud , it`s a winner ) The puds are also all home made , something else which needs to stay.

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Fresh Raspberries set in Elderflower jelly with home bakes Shortbread.

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Strawberry cake , vanilla ice cream.

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Burnt Orange Cheesecake

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Rhubarb n Custard  liquid centre Cheesecale

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The potential is there and waiting to be exploited at The Inn. The fish so fresh its almost jumping from the sea, over the road and into the restaurant. The restaurant has the ability to get put right on to the food lovers map , a destination restaurant for seafood lovers. I think that I hit a bit of a raw nerve when I asked about the décor. It seems that the majority of the customers comment on the amazing food and then the next sentence will be about the extremely strange décor , Wooden tables , Red carpets , a sports lounge area , and a typical country stone floored bar area complete with locals in flat caps sitting on “their” seats.It`s a potential Rick Stein Seafood restaurant in Padstow  with a customer base of 10,000 people in a big factory ( Sellafield ) up the road waiting to try it and yet the management seem to be ignoring the feedback on tripadvisor and the general feeling of their customers….strange one. My own view is that the whole of the restaurant needs taken apart and refurbished to a standard which matches the food on the plates. Trouble is though , I mentioned this and I was told that “It`s already been redecorated” …..Ermmmm…..okay.

Keep it up guys and I really can`t wait to see what you`ll be doing in the summer. In the meantime I shalll continue to dream my dreams of Lobster,  Crab and Seafood platters with cold wines and freshly baked bread with Cumbrian Butter…Ahhhh    20150313_140453        P1120694 P1120702            P1150232

Mr Coopers House and Garden, Manchester.

mr coopers house and garden , Manchester.

I reckon I must be the last of the Northern `foodies` to try Mr Coopers house and Garden restaurant. Some greedy Gannets like number one food blogger Hungry Hoss have dined here on multiple occasions in the 18 months that the restaurant has been open. Cory, my daughter needed to be in Manchester for a meeting with her new agent so that left me with a couple of hours to eat. It was valentines weekend and the whole city seemed to be booked solid.  Mr Coopers was, as I expected, fully booked and so a quick message to Mr `Hungry Hoss` and a few Tweets later we had a table for two put aside. And so my Valentines weekend unfolded. A romantic table for two with  `The Hoss` , complete with his flat cap and a foot long goatee. He really didn`t really  make good `eye candy` tableside viewing so hopefully the food would tickle my fancy a little better.Chef Simon Rogan runs Mr Coopers house and garden restaurant as well as “The French” ( and 4 other UK restaurants). Both are situated inside Manchester`s Midland hotel. The last time I was in the Midland Simon took me for a little look  at  Mr Coopers house , it was an upside down building site. 3 weeks after that it was transformed into the beautiful restaurant you can see below.

mr coopers house and garden , Manchester.

One thing that really impressed me was the Menu, it was attractively priced with plenty of choices to pick from. 10 starters priced at around £6.50.  10 Mains around £16 and 10 Desserts at £7. At these prices it brings high end well cooked food into the scope of most diners so that was really nice to see. Over the last 10 years I have been really blessed to sample all of the stages and developments of Rogans food  . I`ve been there since Lenclume opened its doors and followed the team through all of their ventures throughout the UK to their current project “Fera” in Claridges , London. The Rogan empire now consists of 6 outlets encompassing Pub food , Bistro and fine dining. There`s something there for everyone so pop along to the Midland hotel and give Mr Coopers a go…Don’t know why it took me so bloomin long. Ill be back for more soon though.

PRICES – 3 courses a la carte for an attractive £25.00. 3 course Sunday roast lunch for £19.00,  and a 3 course set lunch. £20.00.

Cocktails in the bar area

mr coopers house and garden , Manchester.

Home made Sourdough , whipped Butter and Salt flakes.

mr coopers house and garden , Manchester.

Blue cheese puffs , Celery and Chilli.

mr coopers house and garden , Manchester.

Pork scratchings and Apple gel

mr coopers house and garden , Manchester.

Raw Beef with pickled Paw Paw , toasted Rye bread croutons and sweet Chilli jam.

mr coopers house and garden , Manchester.

mr coopers house and garden , Manchester.

Buttermilk fried Oyster , Kimchee puree , Pear and pickled Fennel.

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mr coopers house and garden , Manchester.

Roasted sweetheart Cabbage steaks , Teriyaki sauce , grated Wiltshire Truffle and hot Wasabi mayonnaise.

mr coopers house and garden , Manchester.

Cumbrian Rib steak , Truffle pudding and purple potato Latkes

mr coopers house and garden , Manchester.

Carrot and Olive oil cake with blood Orange sorbet.

mr coopers house and garden , Manchester.

Caramel tart with Marscapone ice cream.

mr coopers house and garden , Manchester.

Lavender dusted Churros , Caramel and Junket mousse.

mr coopers house and garden , Manchester.

mr coopers house and garden , Manchester.

To view all the photos from our lunch then please CLICK HERE

Mr Cooper's House and Garden on Urbanspoon

A quick foodie fix in Bangkok… “Again”.

I have already blogged about these two Bangkok restaurants before so this time  i`ll cut out  the chit chat and just present some up to date photos of the current food that they`re doing here. The first stop during  my  Asian  Xmas break was the restaurant  Sra Bua by kiin kiin.This  high end restaurant is currently sitting at Number 21 on  Asia`s  best restaurants list. The restaurant is situated inside  the Siam Kempinsky hotel which is just  behind the exclusive shopping mall  “Siam Paragon” on Sukhumvit road. The restaurant is modern Asian serving some classic recipes with a bit of a molecular twist. We chose the a la carte lunch option as it had a little more choice than the set lunch.

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Sra bua , Bangkok

Lunch menu at Sra bua , Bangkok –  We started with Crispy Kaffir Lime scented Lotus root and Squid and Prawn chip with Oyster Aioli as the house Nibbles.

Sra Bua , Bangkok

Sra Bua signature dish , Frozen Red curry Lobster with Lychees.

Sra bua , Bangkok

Wagyu Beef , Cucumber spicy salad.

Sra bua , Bangkok

Quail poached in aromatic Coconut milk with sautéed Mushrooms.

Sra bua , Bangkok

5 Spiced braised Pork belly , Cracklings and Pumpkin puree.

Sra bua , Bangkok

Banana cake , Salted ice cream , toasted Almonds and Caramelised Milk.

Sra bua , Bangkok

Pandan ice cream , Pistachio cake , frozen Coconut and jelly.

Sra bua , BangkokThe food at Sra Bua was “ ok “ but I won`t return to eat there again as there`s many many more places in Bangkok serving food that I would much rather eat. Molecular Thai doesn`t really work for me in Bangkok when there`s so many lovely restaurants on every street. Service was `acceptable`  and the restaurant was beautifully designed  in the traditional Asian style.

Lunch for 2 inclusive of drinks, VAT and service was 5,225 Baht (£107 / $160)

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So on the the next Bangkok restaurant , BoLan , ranked  28th on Asias best restaurant list. This was very much a last minute stop on my way back to the UK. I had one day in Bangkok and  time for  one restaurant to dine in. I needed a Thai food fix that was guaranteed not to disappoint and so the choice was a simple one…BoLan.

BoLan , Bangkok

BoLan , Bangkok

We booked in for lunch and headed up to BoLans new restaurant site on  Sukhumvit Soi 53 ( Thong Lor station on the skytrain ).  There`s a choice of a la carte dishes or a set lunch but of course we have to be different. Chef Dylan came out of the kitchen for a quick chat and offered to cook us a selection of dishes straight from the market , some street food and a couple of classics.  “ Chef , just cook whatever you want us to eat …and Thai style please….Spicy “. How`s about that for a lunch treat  then ? We would just eat whatever we were sent out , chefs choice….Love it.

To start the feast –  Passionfruit Mojitos.

BoLan , Bangkok

Rice Noodles with Galangal braised Chicken , The first of 3 starter courses.

BoLan , Bangkok

These savoury / spicy accompaniments arrive with most Thai meals.

BoLan , Bangkok

Southern style braised Rice and Spanish Mackerel with Mint dressing. 2nd starter.

BoLan , Bangkok

A typical Thai salad encompassing all the taste sensations that makes Thai food so very special – Sweet , Sour , Salty , Spicy , Bitter.

BoLan , Bangkok

Stir fried minced Lamb with Chilli and Holy Basil as per Tinnakorn family. This dish is called Pad Krapow and is a very popular breakfast dish. Definitely one of my favourites to eat for brunch and always topped with a crispy fried Egg.

BoLan , Bangkok

BoLan , Bangkok

I can`t quite remember what this one was. I think it was Chicken in young Coconut milk with Banana blossom and Vietnamese Mint.

BoLan , Bangkok

Red curry of grilled Pork neck with bitter Winter Melon .

BoLan , Bangkok

BoLan , Bangkok

Dessert with Basil seeds.

BoLan , Bangkok

BoLan , Bangkok

 Thai fruit selection.

BoLan , Bangkok

I`ll stick with what I said from last time I dined in BoLan . My personal opinion is that this is the best place to dine in Bangkok to experience authentic well researched Thai food at its very best. The atmosphere in the new restaurant is typically classic Thai in both décor and oriental aromatics .The food hits the nail right on the head. The prices are very attractive and if you start or finish your Asia trip off here then you certainly won`t be disappointed. On this occasion I dined with a foodie friend who eats all  over the city. He agreed with me that BoLan is right up there with the very best in the city so give it a go and see for yourselves.

Pink Hibiscus , BoLan gardens.

BoLan , Bangkok

Thai olive.

BoLan , Bangkok

Green Bananas growing in the restaurant garden.

BoLan , Bangkok

BoLan , Bangkok

BoLan , Bangkok

BoLan , Bangkok

Sra Bua entrance inside the Siam Kempinsky hotel.

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To view the photos on Flickr then please CLICK HERE.

 

Lake Road Kitchen – 125 day old Beef.

lake road kitchenSince my first visit to Lake road kitchen in Ambleside a couple of months ago  there`s  been a very special  piece of Beef hanging in the fridge with my name all over it. I was so tempted to return earlier to try it but a  reservation had been entered into the restaurant  diary on the day that the Beef had been maturing for 125 days. Yes folks , it`s not a typo….One hundred and twenty five days. To my knowledge there`s nowhere in the UK that hangs their meat for this length of time. The only one that I could find was Thomas Keller in the USA who serves 140 day old Beef….and where did our Lake road kitchen Chef and owner work ? …..Thomas Kellers `Per Se` in New York. Ok , so let me explain. Chef James Cross  buys his Beef  somewhere between 70 and 80 days old from his supplier. It then gets trimmed up and put on a hook in the fridge at 3 degrees. At this temperature the nasty organisms cannot breed  and so the natural ageing process evolves. Every few days the piece of Beef is taken down and scrubbed with salt , bathed , air dried and rehung again. You`ll notice that there`s a natural “Bloom” appearing on the meat from the photo below.

lake road kitchenThis age old salting and hanging process could  then be continued until all the moisture has been removed from the meat. What you would have then is a fine piece of cured meat ( charcuterie ) which could then be put on a slicer and carved off deli style. The key to success in our case was to catch the meat somewhere in between therefore allowing it to be cooked and served as a steak.

lake road kitchen

So my piece of Beef was on its 125th day when  James chose to cook it for me. A generous slice was cut off the Beef and it was then  very simply cooked , a  quick searing and then rested. The accompaniments,  a charred Lettuce and a bone marrow sauce were served to add even more richness and moisture. To describe the experience honestly , I could probably eat it again… but not in a hurry. The “sniff test” gave my senses a rather “high” dose of Blue Cheese , well hung game and the sensation of walking into a deli. The flavour of the meat was very similar to eating Charcuterie , a bit like a cured Sausage with an aftertaste of Stilton cheese. It was however a new culinary experience and being a foodie then this is what my voyage of discovery is all about. Chef James and restaurant manager George Norrie were all too keen to get my feedback and to then gather all of our views together on the dish. We all agreed that  maybe 125 days was pushing boundaries into the territory of the hardened connoisseur and perhaps 90 days would have been the perfect hanging time for the optimum flavour and texture. So there you go….Next trip , the 90 day Beef experience.

I actually only planned to go and have the Beef , a starter and a pud at Lake road kitchen that evening but it turned out at 10 courses….. Blame the Chef.

First course was the Guinea Hen with a Buttermilk coating – Amazing bar food and absolutely perfect with a cold Beer.

lake road kitchen

Norwegian cured Salmon , Whey and Nasturtium buds. –  Refreshing and simple use of a prime ingredient.

lake road kitchen

Slow cooked , pickled and fresh heritage Carrots and  seasonal Chestnuts – This one has quicky become established as Lake road kitchens signature dish.

lake road kitchen

Cauliflower cooked immersed  in Butter ,  Pickled and fresh Pineshoots , Pine oil. …OMG , The Cauliflower is actually cooked slowly submersed in a whole pan of Butter and then charred. It`s bloody wonderful and a star dish on the menu. A totally new dish for me. Imagine a Cauliflower arriving at the table looking like this.This is quirky and fun dining .It creates smiles and lots of Oooos and OMG`s.

lake road kitchen

lake road kitchen

Potato cooked in its skin , Black Trufflle , Black Truffle and Squid ink puree. – Tasting like it was straight off a bonfire and once again perfect use of a simple ingredient transformed into something extremely special. Potato and Black Truffle….Enough said.

lake road kitchen

lake road kitchen

Orkney Scallops with Sea plants. – Sweet sweet Scallops with Mornay sauce and salty foraged beach herbs. I could just eat a full plate of these.

lake road kitchen

Tongue , Cabbage and Caraway

lake road kitchen

Duck Egg , Crouton ,  Pumpkin , Sunflower seeds.

lake road kitchen

The 125 day old Beef , bone marrow sauce and charred lettuce. Mashed Potato with no cream or butter.

lake road kitchen

lake road kitchen

Buttermilk ice cream , Preserved Strawberry and Rose petal jam , Linseed wafers. – Winter is a real poor time for the forager and so James relied totally on preserved produce for this highly flavoured dessert.

lake road kitchen

lake road kitchen

Crème caramel , preserved Raspberries and Blackberries with Crème de Mure , Granola  and Wood sorrel. – Creamy , flavours of almost burnt Caramel  and boozy berries….Oh how I love my desserts.

lake road kitchen

Exciting times lay ahead for the Lake road kitchen team. Spring produce will be appearing  on the menu in a few weeks time,  leading on to the restaurants first summer. Keep a space in the diary planned for a trip to Ambleside  as itll definitely be an experience and a half if my 2 visits are anything to go by.

Lake Road Kitchen,
Lake Road,
Ambleside,
Cumbria
LA22 0AD
Phone:015394 22012
TO VIEW ALL OF THE PHOTOS PLEASE CLICK HERE

lake road kitchen

THE LONDON RITZ – A very special Sunday lunch to finish off 2014.

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The final restaurant of my pre Xmas foodie trip to London and my official festive wind down was well underway and the last blog post of 2014. I always save the best to last and after an amazing year of worldwide travels  my final UK meal  of 2014 was saved for my very favourite restaurant in the UK , the London Ritz. Now i`ve already blogged this place a few times  but I still can`t resist showing off the classic delights and the tremendously talented skills of the Ritz kitchen team. My menu today consisted of 10 courses , 5 of them would be savoury and 5 sweet. Ohhhh jeez , I love my desserts and what better than having the Ritz head  pastry chef Lewis Wilson come in to work on his day off to prepare them all for me….I`m very blessed. I`ve eaten a lot of meals over the years in restaurants all over the UK and my own personal views are that there is no better pastry chef working anywhere in this country. A highly skilled and dedicated young gent  and an absolute master of his art. A far cry from his strange hobby of photographing Graffiti and men in tight  leather… ( on motorbikes ).

I get the most amazing feeling simply by walking through the door into the hotel here , it just oozes class and history and carries such wonderful memories of some of the best meals of a lifetime. Service as usual is perfection with each of the staff members meticulously trained to the highest of standards. Wine service , well  what would you expect at the Ritz ? say no more. The Xmas choir and the Harpist take it in turns to entertain in the lobby and afternoon tea dining areas whilst  the forever smiling Pianist entertains in the Ritz restaurant. I always feel so special in there as the lady always  remembers to play my special tune “ From Russia with Love”  recreating happy memories of feeling like Bond , James Bond and sharing  some wonderful meals with my dearly departed best friend, bodyguard , and other half of the comedy duo –  “The Laird” …. Gone but never forgotten. The main reason why the Ritz will always hold a  very special place in my heart.

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So on to  Sunday lunch. There`s actually a couple of choices and the best value by far is the Ritz set Sunday lunch for £49. This consists of a 3 course meal with a couple of complimentary treats added. Then there`s the `a la carte` where dishes are priced individually. For those feeling a little adventurous then there`s always the option of the Ritz tasting menu consisting of several courses of seasonal delights priced at £95. I just like to let Chef cook whatever he wants to send to me. It`s a lovely surprise because I don`t know what to expect and I always get any `one offs` that arrive fresh that day with the morning order.

Selection of Ritz Classic Canapes. – Cheese Gougere , Smoked Salmon Macaroons ,  Prawn and Seaweed crackers.

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Lobster , Mango , Melon ,  Caviar amuse bouche.

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Goose Liver ( foie gras ) with Quince , Almond cake  and Yoghurt.

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Dressed Crab cocktail with spiced Avocado and Radish.

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Scottish Langoustines with Heritage root vegetables , Chanterelles , Pea shoots and Langoustine cream reduction.

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Turbot with Pumpkin , Mussels and Lobster sauce with candied Chestnuts and  Black Truffle. The finest fish that swims in the sea paired up with the Black diamonds of the Perigord….Do I really need to say any more ?

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Roasted Partridge with Celeriac , Bacon , Walnut and Salted Grapes and a sauce made from the goodness of the bones.

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Apple and Sauternes – This was a little pot of goodness served up just to get the taste buds on to the sweet treats that were to follow. Sauternes Cheesecake with Sauternes ice cream , compressed Russett Apple and Apple jelly.

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Raspberry and Lime –  A very clean looking and mysterious little cube consisting of Vanilla mousse , White Chocolate  Feulletine , Raspberry and Lime insert and Raspberry sorbet.

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Banana and Hazelnut tart – What lies beneath  the Chocolate masters creation here ?. The removal of a carefully crafted Gold dusted lid  revealed the delights within. Hazelnut Ganache with caramelised Bananas , Hazelnut ice cream  and Gianduja  cremeaux.

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Coffee and Marsala. – The photo says it all. 10/10 for technical skills here and probably the best dessert of 2014. The chocolate cage was so fine that it almost broke from my breath alone. Chef informed me that the cage was created using tempered chocolate and a comb device on Acetate. This was then rolled up and allowed to set . A work of absolute precision and the taste of the Amaretto and Marscapone Mousse….Ohhh wow.

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Mont Blanc –  Yet another variation of the French classic  Chestnut dessert. I think i`ve now had 3 different versions so ill look forward to the 2015 creation. This one was Caramelised Pear with Rum , Chestnut Chantilly , Rum ice cream and wrapped up in a crunchy Chocolate Sugar Tuille.

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Sweet treats from the Ritz.

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Once again I had to leave early to catch the train back to Cumbria so I missed the beautiful sweet treats , a lazy Coffee and a little tour of the kitchens. Next time i`ve made my mind up…. I`ll book and extra night in London and for once I won`t have to rush off back to work again. Thanks to Lewis and the team at the Ritz for giving me such a wonderful end to a fantastic year. Now I just need to start planning something even better for 2015….Watch this space.

To view all of the photos from my Ritz Sunday lunch then please CLICK HERE.

To follow Lewis Wilson on Twitter then please CLICK HERE.

FERA – At Claridges , London.

fera at claridges

It was a cold December Saturday night in London and my first ever trip to Claridges for dinner. I was accompanied by a couple of my foodie friends ( David from the Critical couple blog and Kevin Finediningexplorer ).I `was` going to leave my camera at the hotel and have a blog free evening but seeing as though it`s surgically attached to my face I ended up taking it. Basically we were just heading there to support Simon Rogans new venture and to have a good old lads gossip and plenty of wine as this was the official start to my Xmas wind down.

fera at claridges

The `Fera` xmas tree in all of its glory takes centre stage inside the restaurant.

fera at claridges

So straight on to the food. We opted for the Tasting menu (£95) and also the accompanying wine flight selected by our Sommelier. Our Chef for the evening was Dan Cox who took up the position of Head Chef after spending the last few years up in Cumbria at Rogans flagship restaurant  Lenclume in Cartmel.

fera at claridges

Stewed Rabbit with Lovage.

fera at claridges

Mackerel , Horseradish and Seaweed.

fera at claridges

Smoked Roe and Red Cabbage.

fera at claridges

Swede dumplings with Isle of Mull Cheese and Wiltshire Truffle.

fera at claridges

Raw Veal , Oyster , Kohlrabi and Apple.

fera at claridges

Prawns in Sprout leaves, Crispy Pork and Sunflower seeds.

fera at claridges

fera at claridges

Scallop , Carrots , Hazelnuts.

fera at claridges

Sea Bass , Salsify , Razor Clams and Sea herbs.

fera at claridges

Goosnargh Duck breast with Cabbage , Leek , Chanterelle , Mead and Juniper cream.

fera at claridges

fera at claridges

Cornish Lamb ,Sweetbreads ,Potatoes and Onions, Garlic Chives and Apple Vinegar.

fera at claridges

Chocolate Malt nitro , Prune and Dandelion.

fera at claridgesAerated Rosehip mousse , Anise Hyssop , Sweet Potato and White Chocolate.

fera at claridges

fera at claridges

Figs,  Gingerbread, Yoghurt.

fera at claridges

Liquorice cake , Pumpkin and Whiskey , Elderberry Marshmallow , Hazelnut Jelly.

fera at claridges

fera at claridges

fera at claridgesfera at claridges                    fera at claridges

fera at claridges

To view all of the photos from the menu then please CLICK HERE
Fera At Claridge's on Urbanspoon

HEDONE , London – The`Carte Blanche` menu

Chef Mikael Jonsson runs his London Chiswick restaurant Hedone with total precision and passion for the sourcing and cooking of the very best of ingredients . It was a return visit for me after being so impressed during my initial trip a year ago. I dined at the Michelin starred Hedone during game season last year so if that meal was anything to go by then this one would also be superb. Quality and freshness are key here and premier suppliers are extremely high on the list of importance as Mikael basically wants his produce walking or flying into his kitchen.

White Truffles were on the menu during my visit. I was told that they were still in the ground in Alba , Italy 24 hours  prior to my visit. They certainly smelled incredibly intense. We were asked if we would like some Truffle with one of our courses – “Absolutely”. I noticed that many other diners were also going for the Truffle option. One mistake I made ( as no doubt others did ) was not  asking  the “supplement” price. It was £35 per person per dish. Well at least I had the experience but personally no food on earth justifies a £35 per dish `extra` for a few wafer thin slices of  White Truffle….Never again.P1130928

The menu started off with various little appetisers Cherry , Foie gras , field mushroom , Tuna Tartare  Amuse bouche.

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Avocado / Crab

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Hedone Sourdough.

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Lobster ,  Coral sauce –  The Lobsters ( bless the poor lil creatures ) were on the work tops just in front of us still alive with legs going like the clappers – Until they were skewered for cooking that is. As fresh as fresh can be.

hedone

Scallop , Seaweed and Dashi.

hedone

Liquid Parmesan Ravioli.

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Pollock , smoked potato puree – This was Mikaels favourite dish. I would never order Pollock off a menu , it`s a tasteless  fish and the texture isn`t good. We just throw them back into the sea when we`re fishing.

P1130972 Foie Gras with fresh and smoked Figs ,  Lemon – My kind of food , heaven on a plate. A huge piece of Foie Gras which I ate very slowly savouring every mouthful. A wonderful dish and definitely best part of my menu.

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Hare , Red wine , Chocolate , Sprouts , White Truffle –  Gamey , very rich and classic flavours. Very much a luxury and very expensive plate of food which was superb to eat….but next time no Truffles.

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I don’t know what this one was. It had fruit and cream inside and kept falling over.

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Textures of Tiramisu.

P1140019The Hedone menu  “ Carte Blanche “ with wine pairing, a glass of fizz , service and Truffle supplement came to £249 per person.

Hedone on UrbanspoonAll the photos from the meal are on Flickr . Please CLICK HERE TO VIEW

P1140008Nice view of the action from my seat and the poor girl was so cool under pressure.       20141128_232350

Lake Road Kitchen – Another Diamond for the Cumbrian collection.

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At the time of writing Lake road kitchen has only been open for 20 weeks and finally i got around to eating dinner there last weekend. The tom tom drums were beating out the message within days of the restaurant opening but i held out for weeks waiting for them to settle in and start doing lunches but for some reason this never happened. The only reason that i wanted to dine there for lunch was to photograph the food in daylight as i`m pretty OCD when it comes to that. Lunches weren`t happening ( yet ) so i booked in for dinner.Food choices at LRK are currently a` la carte with around 4 very reasonably priced choices on each course. When i arrived at the restaurant i was offered the alc menu but also informed that there was  a few specials available and that chef could put me a little tasting menu together. I noticed that another table also had a similar dining experience so it`s definitely worth asking during booking if a multi course appeals to you.

So the restaurant is very young , similar to the team running the place. The service is relaxed , the chefs are relaxed and share big smiles and foodie banter with the diners – I really like that connection. Front of house staff led by George Norrie are extremely knowledgeable and well mannered. Its all about the food here at Lake road kitchen so expect big and detailed technical descriptions of each dish,  its origins and cooking methods.Personally i like that.

The owner and Chef is James Cross (32) he`s just one amazing guy with a CV to die for. Rene Redzepi`s 2 Michelin starred “Noma”  in Copenhagen ( world number 1 ) , Thomas Kellers 3 Michelin starred “Per Se” in New York ( world number 30 )  and Heinz Becks 3 Michelin starred “La Pergola “ in Rome…..Enough said. Cumbria is now extremely blessed to have James and the team setting up business here.I`m extremely excited for one and have a great feeling that this is going to be a very big hitter for the Cumbrian restaurant scene. Once the critics and the guides get hold of this one then i personally feel that it`s all going to take off real fast.

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So on with the meal. The restaurant is situated on Lake road in Ambleside and seats 27  (i think). It`s a small place with an open kitchen and all dressed out in rough cut timber. The kitchen itself is totally high tec and the fitting out price would bring a normal guy to tears. There`s no gimmicks in the cooking style here. Its Northern European food with a big accent on using the very best of Cumbrian sourced produce where possible. There`s no Espumas , Gels , foams or novelties that are meaningless on the plate. All you`ll find here is extreme attention to cooking the very best food to the highest standards possible , it`s all about taste and flavours. The chefs daily routine starts off every morning with a forage for Cumbrian wild ingredients.These treasures are then brought back to the restaurant for inclusion on to the days menus. This is also the main reason why Lake road kitchen doesn`t open for lunch ( yet ). The kitchen team of 3 then spend the rest of the day prepping the dinner menu which begins at 6.30. My meal started at 6.30 and i was getting back into my car at 12.00 so be prepared for an evening of entertainment. I`m sure if you`re around at the end of service then you`ll also be lucky enough to get a look behind the scenes…..its an education in itself.

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The Bread ….Ohhh the Bread. It`s so amazing here. I`ll go as far to say that along with Heston Blumenthals Bread at the Fat Duck James Cross makes the best Bread i`ve ever tasted in any restaurant or bakery anywhere in the World. It smells amazing , looks amazing and has the texture of freshly made Crumpets inside , along with a dark smokey brown crisp outer crust. James explained that he treats the Bread just like a baby and it gets loving attention every 45 minutes on the dot thanks to a bleeper system. I can`t remember the ins and outs of the production process but the Bread is made using the Sourdough technique and a Motherculture is constantly bubbling away providing the starter for every new batch. The dough was extremely wet when i seen it during one of its 45 minute “turns” and that was exactly the texture of the dough that went into the Bannetons for baking in the steam oven. Home made Virgin Butter and melting Bone Marrow came as accompaniments to James`s wonderful creation. Worth a trip to the restaurant just for this Bread experience.

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Buttermilk Fried Guinea Hen , Caesar sauce and Thyme oil. – A foodies refined version of  `Popcorn Chicken`. Moist and meltingly tender Guinea Hen pieces cooked in Buttermilk in a soft crumb coating.

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Bone marrow for the Bread –  Just melted in the mouth and would have been even better with a whisp of wood smoke as a background flavour.

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Slow cooked Chickens foot with Pine and White Miso –  Mmmnnnn….so the jury is out on this one. The Chef was very brave to offer this on the menu and i didn`t hesitate to get stuck straight into it. I`m already  used to chewing on these with a beer and a sweet chilli dip in Thailand so it was second nature for me. Bones , gristle , skin and cartilage . I ate the lot like a mad dog. My son laughed … ” Ermmmm dad , what do i do ? ”  We both  scoffed and giggled ,  as you`re meant to do….all in the name of fun and happy eating. A Chickens foot holds no culinary value whether it`s cooked for 4 minutes in deep fat or 40 hours sous vide but it gets the diner talking , smiling and it`s all exciting stuff and part of the overall experience.

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Norwegian Salmon , Raw and Cured Tartare , Wood  Sorrel , Rye crumb –  Gently cured and paired up with the Lemony wild woodland Sorrel. Refreshing and delicate flavours.

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Carrots with Truffle. – One of the highlights of my meal.  At the end of the day ” Its a Carrot ” but this is the magic you can create with it.  Raw Organic Carrots  , Pickled , cooked in Butter and enhanced with the addition of  fresh Truffle slices , Buckwheat and Sheeps milk Yoghurt. …Wonderful dish.

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Slow cooked Octopus tentacles –  Cooked gently  for 48 hours and then finished off on the grill to caramelise the exterior. Lots of full flavoured smokey goodness here with Peppery Nasturtiums, fermented wild Garlic , Yoghurt, and pickled Spruce tips to add a little something different.

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Raw “Roast” Beef and Squash with Scurvy grass. – A dish in progress. I enjoyed it and the Beef was as fresh as a Daisy. The dish over all was very simple in its execution and the subtle flavours were allowed to shine through.Personally i was looking for that little something to bring the plate alive….. Some kind of flavoured oil for example. Something with smokiness infused into it ( as you can tell by now , i love the smell and taste of smoke )

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Charred Onion petals , Onion broth , Thyme and 3 year old Comte –  Simple use of  basic ingredients and proof that they can be made into something very special.  It reminded me of Mikael Ericsson at Hedone and his signature dish of Cervennes Onion with Pears. ( see here )

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Ross-shire Scallop Mornay with Beach plants. ….Ohhhh my goodness….WOW.  This was a taste sensation and a `close your eyes` moment. A little enhancement of a classic combo, Griddled Scallop glazed with Sauce Mornay. Finished off with various fresh and pickled Sea herbs and grasses.

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The last Cep of the season , roasted and served with Pumpkin puree , Pork reduction , Poached Egg and Black Truffles. –  I was a lucky guy tonight. For  starters the Truffle man had been at lunchtime with 3 fresh Truffles….Great timing. Secondly Chef had been out foraging that morning and had captured the last Cep of the season , which had my name all over it. So in a nutshell just feast your eyes on this lot below.

lake road kitchen

The Cep had been cut in half , scored and then cooked and bathed in Butter until done,…cooked gently,  lovingly and slowly until caramelised , the texture was amazing. This was then plated up with a croute topped with a soft poached Duck Egg then crowned with Black truffle. Then just to elevate  the single mind blowing orgasm to a multiple one it was then napped with a sticky Pork reduction and a creamy Pumpkin puree. I would go back today for another shot at this one….BUT , it was a `one off`. I turned up at the right place and at the right time and found my treasure….what a blessed boy i am.

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Aged Saddleback Pork , Fennel , Herb dumplings , Truffle.  – The Pork was presented at the table then taken away to relax  under the lights. The Pork was Lake district Saddleback roasted and cooked perfectly tender. Not a great deal of flavour from the Pork itself but it went well with the other ingredients as a whole. The Truffle , im guessing was Tuber Aestivum ( summer truffle ) and had little flavour but a very delicate scent which didn`t overpower the Pork.

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Bitter Caramel  flan , Brown Butter Granola , Sorrel and Blackberries in Liqueur. – I love my desserts with heartfelt passion and so this one pleased me no end. A deeply dark almost burned Caramel , creamy Custard , boozy Blackites ( Blackberries ) in creme de Mure and the acidic tang of wild baby  Sheep  Sorrel leaves.

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Apple Tart , Creme fraiche , Calvados sauce. –  I was rather surprised when this one landed on the table. Surprised because it was totally normal. A classical dessert  “Fine Apple tart” with Caramel on crisp puff pastry….beautiful. Chef James had learned to make this one years ago when he first set out on his culinary journey . As a dish carrying  happy memories  it has now made it on to the menu of Lake road kitchen. I have a sweet tooth and it hit the right notes perfectly.

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Rye cracker with Cheese. –  By now i was totally overfilled and when this landed on the table i really didnt want to upset anyone and so i had no choice but to oblige. Simple Scandanavian crackers with 3 perfectly matured Cheeses.

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Ok…. to sum Lake road kitchen up. Its new and just getting off the ground so please please go and support this new venture and give this young team the start they so deserve. The skills and attention to detail here are World class and for two chefs in the kitchen cooking to this standard for a full restaurant its astounding. I can`t imagine what it would be like with a full team behind the stoves , i`ll dream about that one. Fingers crossed they`ll be doing lunches once they find their feet and also providing a permanent Tasting menu. Tiny tweaks are needed here and there and no doubt they`ll fall into place as this young restaurant progresses. At this current moment in time its a Gnats whisker off perfection on a plate with only Simon Rogans Lenclume offering any kind of similar quality cuisine in Cumbria

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Note – Beef.  Chef took me through the ageing process of his Beef striploins and the meticulous brining , drying and hanging required to produce top quality meat. I`ve never experienced good Beef and apparently “125” day old properly matured Beef is the best in the business. James even hinted to me that his Beef might be amongst the best in the UK. but the only way to prove that is in the tasting. I`ll be back for the Beef experience in the next few weeks so watch out for the update on Cumbriafoodie.

To view all of the photos from dinner then please CLICK HERE.

To visit Lake road kitchen website please CLICK HERE

To follow Lake road kitchen on Twitter then please CLICK HERE

Apple & Pine shoot juice , nice and refreshing.

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La Verticale , Hanoi – Vietnam meets France.

This trip to Vietnam was only a flying visit for 4 days , basically to have a little look around Hanoi , relax , eat and weigh myself down with a travel bag crammed to the max with Coffee beans. Hanoi is the city to head to for lovers of Coffee and Cafe culture and also some of the healthiest food in Asia …far too healthy for my liking. I stayed in Hoan Kiem which is the historical part of the city , the old quarter so there`s quite a bit of character there.
I normally try my hardest to steer well clear of backpackers during my travels but this area was teeming with them , all looking for the cheapest beds , cheapest beer and the cheapest way to feed themselves.I prefer to avoid them like the plague and stick with the locals.
My hotel was called “Essence” and it came up as the number one visitors choice on tripadvisor , housed a very good restaurant and was available at a really good price. I booked in for 4 nights and i went for a “suite”  that cost me £49 per night….amazing price , prime location in the heart of the city. The staff at the hotel were the friendliest in all of my years travelling.

20140828_130215I  searched around for the best place to eat  in Hanoi city and a lot of the reports pointed to “La Verticale” , a French restaurant with Vietnamese influences. The chef here was a Frenchman called Didier Corlou and with umpteen years of cooking under his belt and a bit of a well known celeb chef in the city it made sense to book in for his tasting menu. Chef Corlou has cooked for Presidents , Celebrities and Kings over the years and is currently based in Hanoi with his Asian wife.

P1130001P1130004Examples of Corlou`s Classic East meets West styling shine through in dishes on tonights menu such as the Duck Foie gras  with Lemongrass , Vietnamese spring roll with Black Truffle and Pork nougat with Caramelised cream and young Vietnamese Rice. Corlou practised his traditional French cuisine but also played with strong Asian influences. New spices that i`d never heard of were incorporated into sauces and rubs . Wild Pepper , Salt flower seed , Caviar from the garden (salted coriander seeds ) and  Ambrette seed were all used to contribute their unique flavours to the new cuisine of Hanoi. There are two ranges of spices at  La Verticale. The first are spices usually used in daily Vietnamese cuisine (cinnamon, Nuoc mam, Star anise, Turmeric, Ginger ). The second range are rare spices that come from remote regions, mountains or from the minorities.( Wild Pepper , Pollen from the Forests , Salt flower seed )

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LA VERTICALE – DIDIER CORLOU`S  SIX SERVICES MENU –  £40

A little starter to amuse – 5 flavours of Asia.

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Artichoke , Clams, scallop in seaweed nectar, flying fish compote, Breton sprit .

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P1120938Check this one out….From the side it looks pretty normal. However from above it looks entirely different….Could it be my mind or was the oriental Banana playing tricks ?

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Foie gras of Mulard Duck with green tea, Pho stock, egg, bitter cacao powder

 

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P1120949  A classic of Vietnam is the “Pho” soup. This version contained poached Foie gras.

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Lobster from Nha Trang rhubarb candied in orange juice, Indochina vanilla and bisque .

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Tamarind Sorbet as a palate refresher course.

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Muscovy duck with 5 flavours – Lemongrass , Ginger, Honey with seasonal fresh fruits, candied wing, Cinnamon and Basil

P1120976Seasonal red fruits In lime freshness, soft cake, black sesame, peppery red fruits jelly

P1120988Chocolate “Grand Cru Valhrona” Half cooked, recipe of my mother, Cassia cinnamon ice cream

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The Turtle Pagoda on Hoan Kiem lake.

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Hoan Kiem district at 6am , virtually deserted and then again at 6pm ….A backpackers heaven.

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Hoan kiem district.

HOAN KIEM DISTRICT – HANOI OLD QUARTER.

_DSC0675  _DSC0720 20140826_161659    20140827_203341  20140828_143755 Huong Mai Coffee shop on Hang Manh street in the Hoan Kiem area. This is one of the premier Coffee shops in Hanoi. As you can see , they stock everything here and I ended up spending a small fortune on Blue mountain beans and the traditional Indonesian Organic Kopi Luwak .( better known as Cat Shit Coffee )

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18 Courses at Restaurant “BoLan” – Bangkoks best Thai food experience.

I`ve written about BoLan before and it also appears on my blog so I wont go into too much detail again .All I`ll say is that if you`re wanting to eat the very best Thai food in Bangkok  then head here , simple as that.
I recently had the pleasure to experience a BoLan 18 course Thai menu and this was combined with 6 very unique cocktails from  guest mixologist Franco `tucci` Ponti from Atomic bar in Milan who was over visiting Thailand.Fair enough it was a speciality night at BoLan and the menu was a `one off` but i`ve also been on a normal evening and had the `Bolan experience` tasting menu which was also a delight and very similar.
All in all , its a wonderful experience so I urge you to go there and see for yourselves. If you`re visiting Bangkok and want to eat a combination of traditional Thai Street food mixed with refined home cooking and Royal Thai cuisine then head over to see Bo and Dylan…as in Duangporn ‘Bo’ Songvisava and Dylan ‘Lan’ Jones….”Bo” “Lan”.

Ok , so over to the new premises. Just off Sukhumvit road. Best way to get there is by Skytrain ( BTS ) and get off at Thong Lor station and BoLan is literally 100m walk down Soi 53. I went via Tuk Tuk and that cost me 150 baht (£3) with the price agreed before we left the hotel…..ALWAYS.

Look out for the Green BoLan sign halfway down the Soi ( street )

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Menu choices at BoLan , you have 3 to choose from –

BoLan Balance Thai Tasting menu for 2280 Baht (£43 )

BoLan Brief , A smaller Tasting menu for 1880 (£35)

BoLan Botanicals which is a Plant based  Tasting experience for 2280 Baht (£43)

or for those wanting a lighter lunch 880 Baht (£16) for a nice set Thai lunch.

Cocktail No 1 – Noir. ( Prosecco , Aperitif , Bitters , Lime , Salt. ) Set the evening off. The theme of the meal was a bit of Thai `with a twist` and with our guest `Mixologist` we had a very interesting take on Thai food with Italian influences.

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1 – Antipasto Thai style – A BoLan Bar snack as a little appetiser.

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Cocktail No 2 – Rosemary & Sage. ( Golden Rum , Rosemary , Sage , Lime )

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3 – Quail.

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4 – Arancini – Northern Thailand spicy Sausage.

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5 – Carpaccio with Thai influences.

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Cocktail No 3 – The Oriental. ( Gin , Chai Thai Tea , Peppercorns )

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6 – Carbonara alla Bangkok – Fresh Coconut as the Pasta with Roasted Chilli.

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7 – Gizzards salada Piquante.

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8 – Fettucini alla Chiang Mai.

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9 – Olive Tapenade. – Sticky sweet Pork salad.

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Cocktail No 4 –  Mitti ( Rice Liquor , Lemongrass , Green curry paste , Coconut , Cucumber )

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10 – Garum Thailandia – This course was really exciting and it really couldn`t be any simpler. We went into the kitchen to meet the chefs hard at work. Dylan had made us a really basic little treat with the traditional Thai greeting ” Have you eaten Rice today” ? So here is where we sampled good Thai Jasmine Rice seasoned with a very top quality Thai Fish sauce.To accompany this was the `Head` of a Shrimp. For those of you that are saying “Yuk” here , you really have to try it. Sucking the creamy goodness out of shrimps head is an absolute foodie `must try` treat…..it really is an amazing taste experience. When you`re eating shrimp with a Thai then you ( as a westerner) will always be given the meat out of the tail whilst the Thai will suck on the claws and the head juices.You will automatically think that you`ve got the best part…But you`re sooooooo wrong. Trust me on this one…..Try it.

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11 – Truffles of the South

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12 – No 12.

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Cocktail No 5 – Mizwari. (  Single Malt Scotch , Chocolate infused Water , Grilled Shishito Pepper )

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13 – Gambero Salada

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14 – Minestrone Siam

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15 – Osso Bucco BoLanese.

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16 – Granita de Coco

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17 – Thai Gnocchi

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18 – Fruit Gelee

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Cocktail No 6 – Digestive. ( Rice Liquor , Mandarin juice , Thai Basil )

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Awesome meal in a stunning and very romantic traditional Thai restaurant. Be back for more soon without a doubt.

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The Rib Room at the Landmark hotel , Bangkok.

20140905_181619Whenever i visit Asia , i always like to start and finish my holiday  with a few days in Bangkok city. I`ve been fortunate enough  to squeeze in more than 35 visits now over the last 10 years and i`m beginning to feel totally at home there. Being a creature of habit i always stay in the same area of the city , a rather “colourful” ( for want of a better term) area  where there`s 24 hour streetfood and where life never ever stands still. During the day its all hustle and bustle , hot and sticky and teeming with smells of BBQ shellfish and welcoming bars serving ice cold beer. At night it just comes alive with Neons , music and faces from all over the world…. It`s a  people watchers paradise.
There`s two lovely  hotels side by side that i like to use on a daily basis for my Elevenses . One is the Bangkok Marriott which houses ” The Bangkok Bakery” and offers  the very best cake selection in the city. The second is the Bangkok Landmark hotel which also has a bakery and several restaurants and at  £70 for a room this is also a wonderful place to stopover for a stay in the city. The Bangkok city centre  Hotels start from £5 a night in this area so the Landmark prices are very high end. Very close by  you`ll get an amazing room in a lovely boutique hotel for £30 a night with breakfast. The Dawin hotel is my current fave and definitely worth a visit.

I`ve always wanted to try Wagyu  Steak but never quite got around to experiencing it. I noticed during an internet  search that the Landmark fine dining restaurant The “Rib Room bar and grill ” was actually voted  the Number one place in the city for Steaks. They specialise in Japanese , Australian and American Beef….Perfect , I booked in.

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The restaurant is situated on the 31st floor of the hotel and the city panoramic views are simply amazing. I contacted the food and beverage manager Winit Kitchaiya  to request a nice table with a city view. It was my last night in Bangkok so i wanted something romantic and special to finish my holiday perfectly. The view below is the “Nana” area of Bangkok city and taken from my table.

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Now bear in mind that the Landmark is a premier 5 star hotel , one of the best in the city and when it comes to pricing , its bloody cheap considering the location and the food you`re going to get served here. The handmade cakes in the bakery are superb specimens and they retaill at 110 Baht  ( £2)…I normally have 2 for Breakfast with iced coffee.

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 Naturally when i booked the Rib room meal i expected the prices for a good Steak to be pretty decent  Bangkok prices, not cheap, but at the same time  not  too expensive. Upon my arrival i was greeted by the staff, all smiles and really  happy people oozing traditional  Thai friendliness and welcomes. I explained to Winit about my Japanese Steak requirements and within a flash he disappeared to source me a good piece of Beef – My first proper Wagyu steak. Within a few minutes Winit reappeared with the two best steaks of the day on a plate – ” Awesome , I`ll have that one “. The Grade A5  Beef it was explained came from a highly prized breed of Japanese Wagyu Cows from the Shiga prefecture. Massaged twice daily and pampered totally on Premier grains , Beer and Classical music….Extremely happy animals it would seem. Oh and the price Mr Alan… A 300g Sirloin 6,900 Baht  ( £131  – plus another 20% for service and VAT ) “Whaaaaaaat……….Ermmmmm…..maybe not this time thanks “

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So a decent Wagyu Sirloin is still on my radar for the future but in the meantime  i`ll keep buying my lottery ticket . Not to be totally disheartened i opted for the next best thing on the menu which was a  `Duo of  ” Wagyu”  Beef Cheek and Tenderloin for 1650 Baht  ( £31 )  – Pan seared Fillet accompanied by a Cheek stewed Provencal style  for 8 hours served with Black Truffle Mashed Potatoes. Now this certainly wasn`t the way to sample the worlds best Beef but boy did it taste good and it was as rich as food ever gets , just my style of eating. Soft and melting Fillet paired up with the deep flavoured cheek and buttery Black truffle mash.

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Anyways , I`m getting ahead of myself here. While we were perusing the menu we were served a little house appetiser of a coarse meat pate layered with Foie gras to whet our appetites.

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Starters…Well hey , If Foie  gras is on the menu then I`ll order it , simple as that .It still remains my all time favourite delight so I just can`t resist. It arrived in a duo of true classic styling , Rougie Foie Gras Terrine and Seared with Mostarda di frutta and Bigarade sauce …Amazing.

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Risotto of Seafood, Scallop , Tiger prawn and Chorizo with Lobster claw and Saffron.

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Freshly made warm Bread form the Landmark Bakery.P1130392                     A little tasting salad of Shrimp with Squid ink croutons.

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A refreshing Sorbet before the mains arrive.

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On to the main courses and Clea chose the Scottish Salmon with Pea puree , Iberico Bellota chorizo , Cuttlefish fricassee ,  vegetables and Caperberries whilst I opted for the Wagyu fillet.

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We were pretty full by this point as we had been eating all day ( as you do in Bangkok ) but my sweet craving always gets the better of me and so I went for the Giant Macaron with Summer berries.. A simple no frills dessert but it managed to totally give me the fix I was looking for.

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All in all the rib room provided a lovely way to finish off a fantastic holiday. The food here is classic western food and everything cooked accurately and well. It`s romantic , it carries a nice atmosphere both for couples and groups and the service is perfection , educated staff that smile naturally and are extremely attentive without being intrusive. Definitely on my list for a return visit. If anyone`s going to book then it`s worth taking a ride up in the lift during daylight and actually requesting your seat. At least you know that you`re going to have the best seat in the house once the night comes alive.

Classic Caesar salad being made for the next table.

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Here`s a few of my breakfast delights from the Bakery on the ground floor.

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Rogan & Company – Late Summer Tasting menu.

A last minute request to work the weekend ended up spoiling my well made plans so a quick message down to Cartmel and i was smiling again. I managed to get booked in for a last minute Friday lunch slot and a marvellous late summer tasting menu cooked by head chef Kev Tickle. I`ve already blogged R&Co so i`ll go straight to the food.

Westcombe Cheese cracker with pickle.

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Cured Bessy beck Rainbow Trout with Oyster and Dittander emulsion , Nasturtiums and Sourdough crisp.

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Crispy Pigs trotter with heritage Potatoes , runner Beans and a Mugwort cream.

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Cartmel valley Pigeon with creamed Kale , Camomile and Blackcurrant.

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” A foragers play on Marks signature ” – Beefsteak fungus tartare with Garlic aioli , Shallot jam , Ramson ( wild garlic ) capers , Coal oil and Local fungi. ( The wild fungi are Chanterelle and Amethyst deceiver ).There was also Reindeer moss / lichen added to finish the dsh off perfectly….a work of art.

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I like to think i`m a bit of an amateur fungi hunter myself but this was the first time i`d ever set eyes on one of these mushrooms…. It`s a Beefsteak fungi , named for very obvious reasons…wow.

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This was a brilliant and alternative , very well thought out twist on a Rogan / Birchall classic signature dish. At Lenclume , the meat in this dish is normally Cartmel valley Venison ( see pic below )  whilst at “The French” in Manchester they use raw Ox. Kev Tickle replaced the meat with Beefsteak fungus and i sat looking at the plate open mouthed , what a guy and what a stunning plate of food.

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Grilled Cod with heritage Radishes , Turnip and coastal greens.

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Goosnargh Guinea hen with Bacon , Celeriac and oyster mushrooms.

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Caramelised Apple with Plum crumble ice cream and Apple marigold.

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Meadowsweet ice cream with sour Yoghurt meringue, Granola , Honeycomb and flowers.

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Blackberry parfait with Cobnut frangipane , poached Blackberries , Douglas fir and Oxalis.

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Once again an amazing lunch with the Cartmel team , service excellent , faultless flow and i`m buzzing over it. Back to Lenclume next for an Autumn feast with chef Mark Birchall.

Restaurant “Urban” – Hotel Istana , Kuala Lumpur.

 

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I stopped over for a few days in Kuala Lumpur on my way to Singapore recently and i`m so glad that i did. The hotel that  i booked  was called  `The Istana ` and was pretty well situated in the city centre. The  shopping malls , Petronas twin towers and night life were all nearby so it was a very well located hotel all around.

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The Istana is officially a 5 star hotel and i managed to secure a huge room in there for an amazing  £49 (  $ 81 ) per night . The hotels fine dining restaurant  is called ” Urban ” and so i went downstairs to have a little peep at the menu. The first thing that hit me was Foie gras  followed by Lobster , Porcini and  Kobe beef and then  the prices hit me…WOW,  3  courses for  £ 27  ( $46 )  and the  gourmet  tasting menu for  £ 35 ( $58 ) I was very impressed and booked a table for myself as soon as they opened that night.

P1100609The style of the food is very much East meets West and incorporates traditional Asian flavours with modern international ingredients and cooking techniques.Top quality producs from around the world are cooked perfectly by the `Istana` chefs. Chef Sharusmizal came to speak with me during my two meals at “Urban”  a lovely guy with a passion and a true dedication to his craft.
During this  Thailand , Malaysia and  Singapore trip i dined at 3 of the restaurants in the San Pellegrino “Best restaurants in Asia”  top 10. For me the food at  Restaurant “Urban”  in the Hotel Istana was far more enjoyable. I`ll definitely be looking forward to another trip to eat there in the near future.

This first meal was the gourmet tasting menu starting off with Scallops and sauce Remoulade

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Barely Touched – Ultra rare seared Tuna , Marinated Fennel , Basil , Capers , Tosazu sauce.

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Pan – Fried French Foie gras escalope with Sushi Mango chutney , Truffle red wine sauce.

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Bavettini Pasta, Prawn , Spring Nanohana greens , Togarashi chilli Bonito.

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Green Tea sorbet

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Abalone Cod loin Vol au vent , Spinach , Artichoke , Dubarry cream , Roasted Chicken jus.

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Soft 53% Dark Chocolate , Basil ice cream.

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Moist Madeira cake.

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This next meal was the following evenings  “3 course” a la carte. I started with a little bite of a  Foie gras brioche sandwich.

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Salmon , wasabi and wild mushrooms was another little pre starter course.

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Scallop resting on cold Udon noodles , Crab meat with transparent Ravioli ,  Wombok Kimchi , “Kemangi” sorbet and Saki Saiko Miso emulsion.

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Plum Vodka sorbet.

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Angus Filet Mignon , Rougie Foie Gras , Caramelised Red Onion jam , Baby glazed vegetables , Red Beet confit , Roasted Bone Marrow with Black Truffle , Slow roasted smoked Garlic and Madeira sauce…..Ohhh man , what an amazing combination when every ingredient is cooked to perfection. My main course of the year….it`s got to be.

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P1100759This was an absolute delight to eat with the steak and foie gras…Smokey bone marrow , Black truffle and sweetcorn….I`m craving it so badly as I write this.P1100771Valronha Manjari Chocolate sandwich , Rum Josephine Pineapple sorbet and Pineapple Tuile.

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Who`s going to tell me that`s not the best value 3 course meal for £27 ($46) they`ve ever seen ? Oh and there was also bread , canapé , coffee and Madeira cake included.

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Here`s the view of the city from the 421metre  Menara tower.
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