Thursday, 29 March 2012

Mr Holden's Manchester Egg

Mr Holden’s Manchester Egg is a proper little treat but the spicy chipotle mayonnaise on the side isn’t the only unusual thing about this Scotch Egg.  It's made with panko breadcrumbs, premium sausage meat and Bury black pudding.

All of which are pretty standard in the in the gourmet scotch egg world but what’s that smell?  This is where the Manchester Egg stands alone, like the bastard child of a pub snack tray this one is pickled!

It’s odd at first but the earthy richness of the black pudding and the porky sausage meat mix compliment the mild acidic edge of the egg really well.  If you are in Manchester you can find them on Piccadily Market on most Saturdays I think and for £3.50 it’s well worth trying out soon.

Now if they could only pickle a soft boiled egg it would be perfect...

Monday, 26 March 2012

Almost Famous Burgers - Northern Quarter, Manchester

NO PRESS NO PHOTOGRAPHY NO BLOGGERS NO BLAGGERS NO KETCHUP.  That’s a pretty strong statement on a website for any new start up.

I had to think twice about blogging this meal but to be fair they did tweet me this: “believe the fuckin hype - we're absolute professionals hell bent on serving up the best damn burgers we can”

It’s worth bearing in mind I’d only just heard of them from a chance tip off a few minutes before.  So with attitude like this I thought fuck it why the hell not?

I can’t skirt round the obvious so I’ll just make the comparison now; Almost Famous Burgers reminds me a lot of the #MeatEasy and Lucky Chip pop ups back in London Town. The decor, the cocktails in jam jars, the menu are all cut from the same cloth.

The in your face attitude of the menu is a step above anything Yianni would have written but you can definitely see they share the same influences. I'm not trying to do them a disservice here I just want to give you an idea of my expectations after looking on the website and walking in the door.

Thankfully they fucking delivered!

The cocktails are frighteningly strong; the Bitch Juice had the girls giggling in minutes, the Cut and Dry was sweet and lethal.  The drug store bandit which seemed to consist mostly of Jack Daniels with a splash of root beer was my favourite.

The fries are some of the best I've had anywhere and deserve highlighting; the Chilli Cheese fries were amazing, crisp and light with a generous serving of punchy chilli on top. I loved the Trailer Trash fries though; again crisp and delicious but smothered in a heart attack sized portion of some really good squeezy cheese and some sweet barbecue style sauce.

The signature serve is the Double Burger which blew my Northern friends away! Their words say it all: This is so dirty, I love it!

I went for the Triple Nom burger which, shit name aside, was two patties of dirty meat heaven as well. Pink juicy meat with American cheese topped with slow cooked rib meat, red neck sauce, secret sauce, and coleslaw it was a serious mouthful but oh so delicious.

I wish I had space to try the Crack Wings and Chilli Dog as well but I was done in and we had a party to get to. At the moment you'll only find them open at weekends and only for the next few weeks.

Almost Famous are more than just a copycat act, they are proper contenders so get down soon!

Monday, 19 March 2012

Ragu Bolognese

If you asked ten cooks how to make Bolognese sauce you’ll get ten different answers. You’ll find the same basics but everyone has their own individual take!

The apparent bible of authentic Italian cookery the Silver Spoon has the recipe logged and out of the way in a little over a hundred words. It’s just butter, oil, onion, celery, carrot, minced steak, tomato puree, and seasoning.

Simple, understated but it should be quite close to what you’d find in an Italian cuccina. After all it’s been the biggest selling cook book in Italy for over fifty years.

With typical Gallic flare Larousse Gastronomique calls for the addition of sage, rosemary, peeled tomatoes, garlic, and red wine. They both agree that the sauce needs a long slow cook over a low heat...

A rather more stylish, if somewhat complicated, take can be found in the Geometry of Pasta. Minced pork, beef, chicken livers, carrot, celery, onion, garlic, butter, olive oil, pancetta, white wine, milk, chopped tomatoes, and beef or chicken stock all make it into the mix.

It even goes as far as telling us the addition of bay or chilli flakes may be considered heretical but not technically displeasing.  My recipe takes a little bit from all of them but for me it’s exactly what it should be; punchy, rich, and essentially very easy!

Start by getting a decent sized pan on the heat; brown your lardons first in the olive oil then add your finely chopped onion, carrot, chilli flakes, and celery seeds then allow them to soften for a while.  Add the mince bit by bit and brown gently; throw in the tomatoes, puree, red wine, and stock then cook for a couple of hours.

When it’s ready the sauce should be well reduced, dark, and very rich but before you serve with pasta adjust the seasoning and throw in a dash of truffle oil.  The oil adds a wonderful gloss to the finished dish and add a delicious fragrant edge!

Serve with wine and friends round a table and you are done.

Ingredients for lots:
750g Steak Mince
100g of Smoked Pancetta Lardons
Four tablespoons of Olive Oil
Tin of Chopped Toms
A good squidge of Tom Puree
Half a bottle of good Italian Red wine
250ml of good beef stock (a couple of those Knorr beef stockpots will do at a push)
A Small Onion and Carrot
A teaspoon of Celery Seeds (all of the flavour, none of the work)
A good teaspoon of Chilli Flakes
A splash of Truffle Oil
Salt and White Pepper

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Chateauneuf du Papes - Bosquet des Papes 1998

Leathery and warm like an old tobacco pouch; smoke and sawdust on the nose. Cloudy and brick in colour; deep but aged well.

Stewed fruit on the palate, raspberry, not quite blackcurrant almost plummy. Drinking well but I can’t help thinking that a younger, and cheaper, model would go down better.

As I drank I couldn’t help but think back to what I was doing in 1998. I was 18 and a cocky, somewhat pretentious chap who was just starting on my journey into wine.

Every so often we’d buy bottles of red, sit in a park, and watch the sun go down and the moon come up. Smoking American cigarettes till we ran out of wine or vomited; whichever came first...

Classy to the end.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Rib-eye McHarrods Double Cheese Burger

I’m still searching for the perfect burger and when I spotted this one hundred percent rib-eye version in Harrods I knew I had to give it a go. Two hundred grams of minced rib eye for four pounds fifty a pop isn’t too pricey is it?

The simple answer is yes; but in the end I bit the bullet. What would be the best way of putting them to the test though?

Of course I settled on replicating one of the cheapest offerings on the market. It had to be the Double Cheese burger from McDonalds; which happens to be my order of choice at the moment when I step into the golden arches.

To start with the burgers were too big for this plan so I reformed them into 100g patties and in proper McD style seasoned them only with salt and pepper. I could tell the meat had been ground a bit finer than I’d normally like but even raw it tasted pretty good.

I wanted them quite rare still so they only got a minute on each side in a hot griddle pan then rested for another minute as well. In all honesty they looked a bit anaemic and I instantly regretted not keeping them bigger so I could get a bit more colour on them but any longer and they would have been over cooked.

Rib-eye definitely makes an awesome burger but in this case the grind was far too fine leaving quite a smooth texture in the mouth. It brought to mind the kind of steak hache you might give a child to get them used to meat!

Flavour wise they were superb and I think next time I’d maybe treat them with a little more respect. If rib-eye isn’t your thing though you can pick up a fillet burger for £6.95 as well…

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Jose - Bermondsey Street, SE1

Walking into Jose I was greeted with a warm smile and a handshake; did I know this man, did he recognise me from somewhere? As if greeting a long lost friend our smiling host had his hand on my shoulder and gently ushered us towards the bar.

Making space for us he moved a couple out of the way and we perched looking over the small open kitchen. I couldn’t help but think immediately that I like this kind of service!