Monday, 26 September 2011

September '11 Tapas weekend

Appetisers on arrival

Ajo Blanco

Figs & Serrano ham

Grilled goats cheese with celeriac remoulade

Salt fish croquettes

Devilled Cornish Sardines with tomato salsa

Mussels Romesco

Halloumi stuffed peppers


Pork belly with a chorizo, spinach
and chick pea stew

Manchego & Membrillo

This was the menu that was served on our 2 sold out tapas nights in September. Although the tapas style of eating is meant to be a light accompaniment to food, Spanish bar snacks, we changed it here to allow a meal with a wide range of flavours. We also didn't stick strictly to Spanish food, there was also some French, Italian and Greek influences as well.

We started with Ajo Blanco (White Gazpacho) which is a chilled soup made with garlic, almonds and bread. There is an added spikiness to this soup with sherry vinegar, this lends the dish to a sharp palate livener at the beginning of the meal. We served this alongside the figs wrapped in Serrano ham. The rich flavour of the figs was intensified by roasting them and serving them with a dressing made from the cooking liquor and olive oil.

Next there was a French goats cheese, grilled and served on a celeriac remoulade salad and lemon & basil pesto. A nice blend of lactic sourness of the cheese with the earthiness of the celeriac and acidity of the pesto. The salt fish croquettes were served very simply with an aioli (homemade garlic mayonnaise.) The quality of the salt cod was highlighted in this simple serving.

The same simple style was used with the sardines. Cornish sardines are fantastic quality, a simple dusting of spices with a little chilli and parsley left them to be the main focus of the dish. The Romesco sauce served with the mussels had much more oompth to it. The fabulous sweet Welsh mussels were able to withstand the sauce of tomato, red pepper, chilli and almond.

Cypriot Halloumi is a very distinct flavour and the salty sharpness of the cheese worked well with the sweet, smoky taste from the roasted pepper. This was filled with a simple roasted vegetable cous cous which added some body to the dish. Then came Albondigas, Spanish meat balls. Rich and meaty, and served with a piquant sauce, a simple classic.

The pork belly (sourced from a farm in Much Hoole) was served with crisped crackling and sat in a stew of chickpeas, spinach and chorizo. The sweetness of the pork set perfectly alongside the spiciness of Spanish sausage, richness of the spinach and earthiness of the pulses. As this was the 9th course, we kept the portions small, but the flavours built this up.

We finished the evening with the classic pairing of a 2 year aged Manchego cheese with Membrillo (Quince paste.) This combination raised some eye brows, but the full flavoured cheese is perfectly matched with the sweet, spicy fruit paste.

This was an enjoyable weekend and the chance to try out new dishes. It also allowed people the opportunity to try flavour combinations they may not normally have tried.

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