Tuesday, 24 May 2011

French Bistro Evening

Friday 20th May was our French Bistro evening. A 5 course meal with some classic French dishes. Here is the menu:
  • Asparagus with poached egg and hollandaise sauce
  • Rabbit and pork terrine with celeriac remoulade

  •  Petit salad nicoise
  • Pot au feu
  • Crème brulee
The asparagus was a rich taste of spring. I matched this with De Perriere sparkling chardonnay and Gwynt y Ddraig Perry Vale. The perry has a light, dry style that is reminiscent of a sparkling English wine, this helps balance the richness of the hollandaise.
The terrine, was paired with a Cabernet Rose from the Ardeche. Dry and mouth filling with rich fruits. Also, Southport Brewery's Golden Sands. A SIBA award winning pale ale. This has a light, zingy style with a faint ginger aftertaste. Very refreshing, which will pair with the remoulade, but with enough body to stand up to the terrine. 
The nicoise was a deconstructed version. The tuna and capers in a boiled egg, with a little gem leaf, Jersey Royal, fine bean and marinated anchovy salad. All dressed with a tarragon vinaigrette. I matched this with a superb Macon Villages Blanc. I also recommended Pelforth Blonde. This is the lightest of the Pelforth range, but still has a depth of flavour that will match the various foods on the plate. 
The Pot Au Feu is a rich monster of a peasant stew. Ham hock, oxtail, shin of beef and Toulouse sausages with whole root vegetables. However, the stock is purely that, so this needed a big flavoured, but subtle companion. My 2 choices were Chateau De Dracy Bourgogne Pinot Noir and Stringer's Dry Stout.
Finally there was the Creme Brulee. A decent Haut-Rocquefort dessert wine was perfect. To throw the cat among the pigeons, I also added a Dutch Trappiste Quadrupel. A classic blend of rich sweet beer, with a good hit of alcohol to finish. Would work nicely with the creamy Brulee.
The next tasting is Italian. Hopefully there'll be more interest in the beer this time round, it's something I'll persevere with.

Liverpool Organic Bewery beer tasting

In the ever growing world of beer blogging, the Baron Orm is a well known name. Based in Aughton, he is a regular at the deli where we'll often discuss the various new beers we've been trying. We've organised a couple of beer tastings together and decided to try a Meet The Brewer night with The Liverpool Organic brewery (http://www.liverpoolorganicbrewery.com/.) Following on from the success of the Marble brewery night.
Karl Critchey (Head Brewer) and Mark Hensby (Managing Director) run the brewery with quality in mind. As well as producing a number of good quality traditional ales, they're not scared of experimenting with some interesting flavourings; including the award winning Kitty Wilkinson, a stout with added vanilla and chocolate.
Karl from the brewery sent some beers for a rating and I brought these to "Baron Towers". The Baron (I'm not allowed to reveal his name) and Chris Routledge give audio ratings for all the beers they try. As a special guest for the May 3rd tasting, we tried four of the beers we plan on having for the Meet The Brewer night, as well as a couple of the others he'd saved (knowing my particular love of dark beers.)

First beer of the evening was 24 carat gold - http://www.theormskirkbaron.com/2011/05/liverpool-organic-24-carat-gold.html. Slight cloudyness to this pale coloured beer (may have been due to transport issues, ie in my back pack) with a rich, inviting, citrus fruit smell. There was quite a dry taste, that is common with the brewery, with a slightly less powerful body; but had a long refreshing finish. Baron rating 4/5.

Next up was the Honey Blond - http://www.theormskirkbaron.com/2011/05/liverpool-organic-honey-blond.html. This has a nice copper colour and a sweet, nectarine nose. The rich, syrupy beer is balanced with a slight dryness to finish. There are floral, fruit flavours infused through the use of honey. Baron rating 4/5.

The Best Bitter is Karl's favourite from his range - http://www.theormskirkbaron.com/2011/05/liverpool-organic-best-bitter.html. This is quite light in colour for a best bitter. The bouquet is intense and multi layered, with blue berries and a slight smokiness. Big full bodied flavour with more of their bitter finishes. Baron rating 4/5.

The last Liverpool Organic beer of the night was the Shipwreck IPA - http://www.theormskirkbaron.com/2011/05/liverpool-organic-shipwreck-ipa.html. Caramel, floral and fruity smell. This carries on in the body of the beer, with a syrupy, spicy, marmalade style that ends in a sweet, resinous, long lasting after taste. Baron rating 5/5.

We tried some other beers that evening, including Mallinsons, St. Austell and the rare sighting of a Kernel (outside London.) An enjoyable night with lots of great beer, perfect.

On a previous tasting, Chris and the Baron tried Liverpool Organics Imperial Russian Stout (one of my favourites) - http://www.theormskirkbaron.com/2011/04/liverpool-organic-imperial-russian.html. This received 5/5.
See the website for all the information on the tasting nights and food themed evenings.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Asparagus, the ultimate seasonal treat

Starting at the beginning of Spring, the English Asparagus season is very short lived. The deli started getting some from our green grocer in April and expect to finish early June. Therefore we try and use Asparagus as many ways as possible during this time. There is a difference in quality between the English and the imported versions, so it is important to utilise this now.

The classic way with Asparagus is simply to griddle or barbecue to gain a slight char mark. This leaves a reasonable amount of firmness to the spear, as well as enhancing the flavour. In the upcoming French evening we will simply be dressing this with a Hollandaise sauce and poached egg. As a starer, we are currently serving this with a lime and chilli potato salad. The piquant salad balancing the earthy, green flavours of the asparagus.

However, there are a number of other ways to serve this. We've used it to add colour and vibrancy to a chicken, leek and bacon pie; it balances the rich anchovy dressing of our crayfish Caesar salad and mixed with goats cheese, adds a filling to a spinach omelette.

Like strawberries in Summer, game in Autumn and beetroot and apples in Winter, Spring is the time to enjoy this seasonal treat. It is immensely versatile and should be used at every opportunity while it lasts. Living as close to Formby as we do, there really is no excuse.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Good Friday 5 course seafood meal

As I'm sure you are all aware, Good Friday should be a non-meat day. Therefore Source decided to host a seafood night. As with all our tasting evenings, it sold out very early, one table even needed to bring an extra chair as their numbers out grew the amount we own. Here's the menu:

·         Soup de poisson with rouille
*Suggested pairing – Loxarel Petit Arnau Rosado*

·         Smoked mackerel & horseradish fish cakes
with chilli jam
*Suggested pairing - De Perriere Sparkling Rose*

·         Coquille St. Jacques
*Suggested pairing – Vallemayor White Rioja*

·         Goan fish curry with chapatti
*Suggested pairing – Chateau de Valmer Vouvray*

·         Grilled red snapper with new potato salad &
mango salsa
*Suggested pairing – Santi Apostoli Pinot Grigio*

We matched each dish with a wine, as it was a fish evening we stuck to whites and roses. Some particularly interesting pairings were the fish curry with Vouvray and the fishcakes with a sparkling rose. The spiciness of the curry and coconut in the sauce matched well with the medium style of the chenin based wine. The slight acidity of the wine helped in cleansing the palate. The sparkling rose was matched with the fishcakes to keep the palate refreshed. It has a very light style, which meant there was no conflict with the strong flavours of the fishcake. The light sparkling nature helped cut through the rich, smoky fish and chilli.

In future events I will be offering beer recommendations to the menu as well as wine.This is due to the growth in beer being seen as important to a meal and our expansion of styles that we now offer.