Abergavenny Food Festival 2014 (Sunday)

abergavenny clock tower

abergavenny clock tower

21st September, 2014

The previous day Tim had promise his dad and Zoe he’d cook Sunday lunch, so in spite of going to bed at 6am he was awake and cooking a couple of hours later. Fortunately Tim’s not a team chef so I wasn’t required – phew! I got to lie in until midday. After a spectacular roast chicken (infused with rosemary, sage and thyme) and home made onion gravy, we headed back to Abergavenny for day two of the food festival.

abergavenny market hall

abergavenny market hall

Today we went to the Market Hall (next to the clock tower, top photo) which was a lot less crowded than yesterday. The hall dates back to 1870 and houses the regular retail and flea markets, craft fairs and farmers markets. Note the fantastic pigs hanging from the ceiling.

demijohn

demijohn

We were instantly drawn to the Demijohn stall selling infused vodkas and gins from 5 gallon carboys.

seville orange gin

seville orange gin

I was particularly interested in the Seville Orange Gin, which tasted like marmalade (which is not surprising on reflection) and the tart Black Cherry Liqueur. These drinks are not cheap, but the presentation was stylish and professional. They had an endless queue of people buying a couple of bottles each. I would imagine a lot of them will be great Christmas presents.

chestnut meats

chestnut meats

Chestnut Meats specialise in goat.

goat meat

goat meat

Having cooked curry goat recently, I chatted to them about other goat recipes, which they just happened to be handing out in a useful flyer.

trealy farm british charcuterie

trealy farm british charcuterie

Trealy Farm had what was probably the largest charcuterie stall at the festival. It’s amazing just how much excellent British charcuterie there is being made these days. 20 years ago it would have been hard to find artisans here producing high quality cured meats.

blood, wine and chocolate chorizo

blood, wine and chocolate chorizo

As a lover of Spanish Chorizo I was drawn to trying the Blood, Wine and Chocolate Chorizo. It tasted deep and rich with spicy pimentón coming through afterwards. There was no hint of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, because (of course) they use raw chocolate and not sweetened confectionary.

hog's pudding

hog’s pudding

I was delighted to see them selling Hog’s Pudding (my grandfather’s favourite, sometimes called “Devonshire Haggis”) and Bath Chaps (cured pig cheeks).

real veal

real veal

 Bacaddon Farm Veal had brought their rose veal to the festival from Cornwall. Veal has a bad reputation from the 1970s, when calves were routinely shipped to Holland in small crates.

cornish rose veal

cornish rose veal

Veal is a by product of the dairy industry – cows produce milk after giving birth. Female calves become milk producers themselves, whereas male calves become veal. Without a veal industry most male calves would be shot shortly after birth. At Bocaddon Farm, the male calves are raised in the open air on diets of milk, cereals and straw. They are slaughtered at 6 – 7 months, which is older than most chicken, lamb and pork.

gwynt y ddraig cider

gwynt y ddraig cider

We sampled the cider at Gwynt Y Ddraig (The Welsh Cider and Perry Company)

cider and perry

cider and perry

and bought pints of Ancient Warrior, a dry cider with 6.5% alcohol by volume.

hobbs house organic sourdough

hobbs house organic sourdough

Hobbs House Bakery had some excellent organic sourdough bread,

hobbs house rye sourdough

hobbs house rye sourdough

along with a darker organic rye. Hobbs House Bakery is the family business of The Fabulous Baker Brothers and the “mother” of the sourdough is 58 years old.

the garlic farm

the garlic farm

I know The Garlic Farm from London farmers’ markets – apparently they are the largest specialist garlic producers in the UK.

beacons farm shop

beacons farm shop

Beacons Farm Shop at the Welsh Venison Centre

venison scotch eggs

venison scotch eggs

had some Welsh Venison Scotch Eggs. I’m slightly amused by Welsh Scotch eggs, since the Scotch Egg isn’t Scottish and was, apparently, invented by Fortnum and Mason in London… Regardless, these eggs are delicious.

the welsh venison centre

the welsh venison centre

Above is a selection of venison meat without my verbal ambiguity.

pembrokeshire beach food company

pembrokeshire beach food company

I came across a mermaid at the Pembrokeshire Beach Food Company. No kidding, her name is Fran Barnikel!

toasted laver

toasted laver

Fran very kindly let me sample her toasted laver (seaweed). The taste is very much like the nori seaweed sheets used for Japanese sushi. I was surprised not to see any laverbread at the festival, but Abergavenny is inland and not a coastal town. Fran must have swum up the river Usk

isle of wight tomatoes

isle of wight tomatoes

I came across another regular from London farmers’ markets – Isle Of Wight Tomatoes. It was nice to bump into Jeff Macdonald, who I’ve know since I first visited Islington Farmers’ Market back in 2000.

tipsy fruit gins

tipsy fruit gins

Tipsy Fruit Gins had a fabulous selection of 8 fruit infused vodkas and gins.  Colin Hingston, dispensing and selling the the liquors reminded me somewhat of a young Ginger Baker.

naga chilli vodka

naga chilli vodka

I’m sure I could see a devilish glint in Colin’s eye as he dispensed the Naga Chilli Vodka to unsuspected punters. There was a certain amount of merriment in the crowd too as people lost the ability to speak! Nevertheless, both the Sloe Gin and the Naga Chilli Vodka were excellent.

welsh faggots

welsh faggots

Very late in the day I came across the stall of N.S. James – Master Butchers. They were proudly selling their homemade faggots, “Recently served to over 300 Commissioners of the European Parliament at a major banquet hosted by the Welsh Assembly’s First Minister.” Sadly I was too late and they’d run out! Anyone unsure about what a  faggot is, should read my post here.

closing time

closing time

Suddenly it was all over and stall holders were packing up to go home.

bath soft cheese

bath soft cheese

We left the market and had a few more beers, before heading back to Tim’s for a supper of cold chicken and chorizo from Trealy Farm.

Big thanks to Tim for inviting me to Abergavenny for the Food Festival and to his dad Ieuan, for putting me up in the spare bedroom.

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Abergavenny Food Festival 2014 (Saturday)

cross street, abergavenny

cross street, abergavenny

September 20, 2014

Abergavenny (Y Fenni) is a beautiful Welsh market town about 7 miles from the English border (as the crow flies). There are remains of a Roman fort west of Abergavenny Castle and it’s thought that the town predates the Roman occupation of Britain.

The Abergavenny Food Festival takes place annually in September and was founded in 1999 by two farmers, Chris Wardle and Martin Orbach to promote local food after the BSE crisis. The event has grown to become a highlight on the British food calendar and this year had over 200 food and drink exhibitors. As usual celebrity guests, such as  Hugh Fearnley-WhittingstallThomasina Miers, Jay Rayner, Tony Singh and Cyrus Todiwala took part in culinary demonstrations, debates and radio broadcasts.

angel hotel

angel hotel

Tim and I entered the festival in Cross Street, by the Angel Hotel, where we’d had drinks the day before. The town had been transformed in 24 hours, from quiet to buzzing – it reminded me of St. Ives on a sunny August Bank Holiday.

welsh cakes

welsh cakes

The hotel had it’s own food stall on the street selling traditional Welsh Cakes, which, fittingly, was the first stall we saw.

market crowd

market crowd

We met up with Tim’s best friend (also named Tim Davies, confusingly) at the King’s Arms to discuss where to go first. Tim (the best friend) works for Vin Sullivan (a local food wholesaler) and he suggested we avoid the indoor Market House today (as it would be very busy) and concentrate on the food stalls outside. You can see from the above picture that even the outdoor sections were lively.

trethowan's dairy

trethowan’s dairy

We started with cheese, at Trethowan’s Dairy, who produce

gorwydd caephilly

gorwydd caephilly

a sharp and lemony raw milk Caerphilly called Gorwydd, described by Nigel Slater as: One of the great cheeses of the world.”

hafod cheese

hafod cheese

Holden Farm Dairy make Haford Cheddar, an unpasteurised organic cheese from the milk of Ayrshire cows.

haford cheddar

haford cheddar

This has a rich, buttery, nutty flavour which gives my favourite cheddar (Montgomery) a very good run for it’s money.

neal's yard creamery

neal’s yard creamery

Neal’s Yard Creamery (not to be confused with London’s Neal’s Yard Dairy) make a number of goat and cow’s milk cheeses.

finn

finn

Their Finn is a creamy, young, raw, cow’s milk cheese with a hint of walnut and mushroom flavours. I’d definitely buy this in preference to a Brie or Camembert.

dorstone

dorstone

The Dorstone is a raw ashed goat’s cheese with a sharp, creamy, taste. I know this well and have bought it a few times from Neal’s Yard Dairy.

godminster cheese

godminster cheese

Godminster cheese is made in Somerset from organic raw milk.

godminster organic vintage cheddar

godminster organic vintage cheddar

The vintage cheddar has a creamy, rich, full flavour and is wrapped in wax. Note the patriotic packaging.

white lake cheese

white lake cheese

White Lake Cheeses produce a range of cheese, the majority using goat’s milk.

white lake cheeses

white lake cheeses

Rachel (above left) is a washed rind goat’s milk cheese which is sweet and slightly nutty. This cheese won a Gold Award in the British Cheese Awards (2007). Two of the above cheeses, Farleigh Wallop and Goddess are made for Alex James.

caws teifi

caws teifi

Caws Teifi Cheese produce a range of cheeses from raw milk. The company was established by Dutch Cheese makers John and Patricia Savage-Onstwedder and Paula van Werkhoven in 1982, when they relocated from the Netherlands to Glynhynod Farm near Llandysul. 

teifi

teifi

Their Teifi range are Gouda style, multi award winning cheeses, some flavoured with laver (seaweed), nettle, cumin, garlic and onion, etc.

teifi blue

teifi blue

The Teifi Blue is described  as a continental creamy blue cheese, but I’d liken it very favourably to Stilton.

tracklements

tracklements

I tried unsuccessfully to get a closeup of Tracklements accompaniments stall, but at that point it time it was mobbed, so they must be good! Since I’m not a big fan of chutneys I moved on…

frome valley vineyard

frome valley vineyard

After years spent building up vineyards, British wine is now winning big awards and gaining international respect. Frome Valley Vineyard showcased their wines here

british cassis

british cassis

along with English Brandy and British Cassis. I can’t say I’m hopeful, but it would be nice if the government considered lovering the duty on these home produced gems, to give them a better chance of competing with international brands in UK shops.

butford organics

butford organics

Butford Organics moved to Hereforshire in 1999 to produce

organic cider and perry

organic cider and perry

natural and sustainable cider, perry and preserves. I tasted all their bottled cider and had to have a pint of draft to keep myself hydrated.

the real boar company

the real boar company

The Real Boar Company farms their boar on 20 acres of mixed woodland in the Cotswolds.

wild boar salami

wild boar salami

The wild boar salami and boar cigars are excellent and every bit as good as the best continental charcuterie.

wild plum tasting

wild plum tasting

The Wessex Wild Plum Company make a range of plum infusions.

the wessex wild plum company

the wessex wild plum company

I particularly like to try other peoples’ sloe gin, since I often make it myself. I was surprised by how strong this one tasted, since it’s only 23% vol. It was sharp, but not too sweet, so I’d quite happily drink it, sitting by an open fire on a cold winter evening. Tasters noted that some of the infusions seemed stronger than others and I concur. I’d have to suppose that it relates to the sharpness of the plum variety, since they all have the same ABV.

welsh mountain cider

welsh mountain cider

As I’d climbed a mountain this morning, Welsh Mountain Cider sounded like just the job for me.

welsh mountain vintage cider

welsh mountain vintage cider

I was intrigued to hear one of the ciders described as a breakfast cider. I wonder if that’s because it’s a good hangover cure, or if it’s because it has a light clean taste?

the parsnipship

the parsnipship

I didn’t spend much time at the Parsnipship vegetarian stall, but it’s worth noting that it was busy and they’d sold out of several products.

joe & seph's popcorn

joe & seph’s popcorn

I thought Joe & Seph’s Gourmet Popcorn would be too sweet for my taste buds,

popcorn

popcorn

but the Gin and Tonic flavour tasted just right and I see they do some other unusual varieties, such as Blue Cheese with Walnut & Celery, Cheddar & Smoked Paprika, Goats Cheese & Black Pepper and Madras Curry with Black Onion Seed & Lime, alongside the traditional Caramel!

bellota

bellota

Bellota are an Essex based company specialising in the finest gourmet foods from Spain.

spanish cheese

spanish cheese

In their cheese selection I noticed the Tetilla (teat) cheese (right) from Galicia, which is fairly unusual to find in this country.

spanish charcuterie

spanish charcuterie

The charcuterie selection was all delicious – I particularly liked the cured Morcilla.

upton cheyney chilli company

upton cheyney chilli company

The Upton Cheyney Chilli Company grow all their chillis on their chilli farm in the Cotswolds, fertilised by Gloucester Old Spot Pigs.

chilli sauce

chilli sauce

They produce a range of chilli chocolates, jams, oils and sauces. I tasted the above, moving from the centre to the right – medium to hot. Even the hottest was only a moderate hot, but it did allow me to appreciate the flavour of the chilli as opposed to a numb throat and endorphin rush.

pierogi not pasties

pierogi not pasties

Pierogi not Pasties surprised me somewhat. I’ve often thought that Cornish Pasties and Spanish Empanadas might have some connection, since the tip of Cornwall faces Galicia across the Bay of Biscay, but I hadn’t previously thought of a Polish connection.

pierogis

pierogis

I’ve eaten quite a few pierogis in my time, but only small ones cooked more like dumplings – filled, folded, boiled and then fried, not large filled and baked ones. I suspect there may be some poetic licence involved here, since my ex wife is half Cornish half Polish and she’s never mentioned it. Regardless, they have a unique selling point and I find it interesting that pierogi ends with ogi – ogi or oggy (from hoggan) is Cornish for pasty! There’s also a possible Welsh pasty connection here.

sam's rare breeds

sam’s rare breeds

Leaving the ticketed market area, in need of a sit down and liquid refreshment in the Kings Arms, we walked through the town, where more stall holders were selling food.

rare breed burgers

rare breed burgers

Sam’s Rare Breeds were cooking a mountain of venison and wild boar burgers.

oignons rosés de roscoff

oignons rosés de roscoff

Onion sellers from Roscoff had come from France to sell onions, shallots and garlic.

french onions

french onions

By the look of things they might have cycled…

abergavenny castle

abergavenny castle

After a few beers, we went back to Tim’s house (Tim of Vin Sullivan), for a few hours before the party later at Abergavenny Castle, promising an evening of music and food.

fireworks

fireworks

Fireworks provided a high point to the party and festival,

baila la cumbia

baila la cumbia

along with excellent music, firstly from The Brass Funkeys, a New Orleans style marching band, complete with sousaphone and based in London. Secondly we saw Baila la Cumbia (picture above), a Cumbia and Latin band from Bristol. Baila la Cumbia really endeared themselves to the audience during a 10 minute power cut – they continued playing throughout, getting down off the stage and dancing through the crowd.

chicken and peppers

chicken and peppers

The castle party ended at about 11pm and around midnight we were back at best friend Tim’s house for some more drinks and wholesome food, along with about 8 other guests. I was in my element when asked to help with the cooking (above).

Somehow the talking eating and drinking went on until 5am. We did make several attempts to call cabs, but ended up walking a mile or two back to the Mardy (Y Maerdy) before dawn. It was quite an adventure in itself, going up tiny overgrown footpaths where I could barely see my hand in front of my face and across fields fresh with dew. The very large glass of Zubrowka, in my hand, helped – I can’t imagine where that came from…

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Laverbread

laverbread

laverbread

September 20th, 2014

A couple of months ago my friend Tim invited me to Wales for the Abergavenny Food Festival. He said he’d sort out the tickets and accommodation, so frankly it was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

welsh breakfast

welsh breakfast

I arrived on Friday and was promised a full Welsh breakfast and mountain climb, the following morning, before proceeding to the first day of the festival in the afternoon. I did think the mountain might finish me off, but the breakfast and perhaps more precisely, the laverbread (bara lawr) carried me through the day and late on into the night…

Incidentally, we listened to the live Radio 4 broadcast from the Abergavenny Food Festival while we ate.

laver label

laver label

 Laverbread is an ancient Welsh delicacy made from seaweed (laver). The main type of seaweed used is purple laver (Porphyra umbilicalis), actually a brownish colour, which becomes a dark green paste after washing (to remove sand) and boiling for several hours. A common method of serving laverbread is to mix it with oatmeal before frying it in cakes (see top photo). The above laver came from Penclawdd in Swansea, famous for its cockles since Roman times.

Laverbread is full of iron, iodine and vitamin B12. Supposedly it helps to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, while removing free radicals and aiding digestion. I really enjoyed the flavour, salty and savoury, reminding me of the Japanese nori seaweed used for making sushi (it is the same variety of seaweed, but prepared differently). The oats taste fairly neutral, but give the laverbread a good crunchy texture when fried (ideally with bacon or in bacon fat). It goes down very well with Welsh bacon, fried egg and Irish Clonakilty black pudding (how did that get in there?). No doubt laverbread is also good with fish. Richard Burton once described it as, “Welshman’s caviar.”

tim on the skirrid

tim on the summit

By 11 O’Clock we’d circumnavigated and climbed the Skirrid (Ysgyryd Fawr) on the eastern edge of the Black Mountains. I was hoping for a good shot of Abergavenny from the mountain, but everything was shrouded in mist and I couldn’t even get a decent shot of the Skirid itself.

misty morning

misty morning

Things were brightening up as we descended and walked back to Tim’s house through fields of grass, corn and sheep. I did think several times about Cecilia’s farm in America  (thekitchensgarden), as the lambs bleated and ran away from us.

By 12.30, when we got back to the house, the mist had lifted, just in time to visit the food festival…

Here’s Keith Floyd in Wales, featuring cockles, laverbread and cawl.

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Cajun Roast Pork

roast pork

roast pork

17th September, 2014

I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for over a year, as I cook it on a fairly regular basis. It’s not an authentic Cajun recipe, I made it up, having been inspired by the method my friend Amaia used to roast Chinese flavoured pork a couple of years ago.

pork joint

pork joint

I used a boned leg joint, but other pork joints would be equally good. 

Cajun Roast Pork recipe:

4 – 5 lb pork roasting joint (leg or loin is good)
1 cup of extra virgin olive oil
6 pieces of garlic (finely chopped)
1 heaped teaspoonful of hot smoked pimentón de la vera
1 heaped teaspoonful of Cajun seasoning
a pinch of crushed chillis
1 teaspoon of finely ground sea salt (to rub into the skin)

Cajun seasoning can be made up at home or bought from a supermarket – I use:

1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon of onion powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon mustard powder
2 teaspoons hot smoked pimentón
a pinch of crushed aniseed

Mix the garlic, olive oil, pimentón, Cajun seasoning and crushed chillis in a glass or ceramic dish – something big enough for your joint and that will fit into the fridge. Score the pork (a Stanley knife is very good for this), rub the marinade all over the meat, but not on the skin and put the dish with pork into the fridge for 24 hours.

Take the pork out of the fridge several hours before you are going to cook it, so that it can come to room temperature. One hour or so before cooking, make sure the skin is dry and uncontaminated by the marinade. Rub the salt into the skin, especially where you have scored it. Try not to get the salt into the marinade.

garlic and cajun paste

garlic and cajun paste

Turn the oven on full and wait until it is very hot (250º C). Transfer the pork to a baking dish, but reserve the garlic and thicker powder in the marinade for the gravy (it will burn if cooked with the pork). The runnier oil, however, can go in with the pork.

crackle

crackle

Cover the ends where the meat shows with a little aluminium foil – a cocktail stick or two will help to keep it in place. Cook the joint in the hot oven for about 20 – 30 minutes. This stage is where the crackling happens – it is critical and you do need to keep a close eye on it or it will burn! Once the skin has blistered and sounds hard and crunchy (tap it with a fork) you can turn the oven down to 180º C and remove the foil. I recommend waiting for 5 minutes before returning the meat to the oven, so as not to burn the crackling. Once the temperature has dropped a little the crackling will be safe for extended cooking and become increasingly crunchy as it cooks. It is possible to crackle the skin at the end of cooking, under the grill, but at that point the meat will dry out.

N.B. If your joint of meat is sitting higher at one end, crunch up a piece of foil and place it under the low end so it’s level and that the skin is being heated evenly.

Cook the pork for between 25 – 30 minutes per pound. It’s important to cook pork thoroughly, but you can eat it slightly rare. The USDA (United Stated Department of Agriculture) has certified that pork is safe to eat when the internal temperature reaches 145º F (63º C) + a rest time of 3 minutes. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, prick the meat with a fork or skewer and look to see that the juices run clear. My meat was ready after 2 hours (total cooking time).

Do pour off some of the fat and oil while cooking, to make roast potatoes – they will have a slightly hot and spicy taste.

garlic and gravy

garlic and gravy

While the meat is resting make gravy with some flour, the meat juices, a splash of red wine vinegar and stock. Mix in the garlic paste from the marinade for extra flavour.

cajun gravy

cajun gravy

Do allow the gravy to cook for a few minutes before tasting or serving, since the garlic paste was previously in contact with raw pork.

Serve with seasonal vegetables and a glass of wine. I had some Castillo de Menara (Tempranillo) from Spain.

 

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Curry Goat

curry goat

curry goat

August 23rd, 2014

Curry Goat is synonymous with Jamaican Cuisine and that of the other English speaking Caribbean Islands. Surprisingly the origin of the dish lies in colonial India and not Africa as one might imagine. Apparently, when slavery was abolished in 1834, the British government sought indentured labour from India to work on the plantations – labourers contracted to work for seven years and many settled in the Caribbean instead of returning home. These indentured workers brought their culture and cuisine with them – curry was a particularly popular method of seasoning and cooking in India. Lamb or mutton curry would have been a favourite at home and therefore, with an absence of sheep, curried goat (referred to as curry goat and never goat curry) became the replacement.

I’ve been thinking of cooking curry goat for a while and as the Notting Hill Carnival is taking place this weekend, it seems fitting to do so now. I’ve looked at and absorbed more than a dozen recipes for curry goat and used the ingredients that appealed to me most. I lived just off Portobello Road for the duration of the 1980s, right in the heart of West Indian Notting Hill and I’ve tried to recreate the type of curried goat I was used to eating at the carnival and Caribbean restaurants in the area. There are quite a lot of recipe variations, but I would imagine, that like those of Italy or Spain, the West Indian recipes vary from family to family, town to town and island to island.

scotch bonnets

scotch bonnets

A word of warning – I like hot spices and used a whole Scotch Bonnet chilli pepper including the seeds. If you like something milder, remove the seeds or just use half or quarter of a chilli. Be careful how you handle Scotch Bonnets – don’t rub your eyes or other sensitive areas. I found that three fingers on my left hand (holding the chilli while chopping) became warm and tingled for about three or four hours after preparation. I found the sensation quite pleasant, but if I’d got the chilli in my eye it would have been excruciatingly painful!

A&F butchers

A&F butchers

Goat isn’t especially easy to find in Britain, but luckily A&F Butchers, near me, in the covered market on Seven Sisters Road (Holloway Road end) sells it for £4.99 a kilo.

meat

meat

If you can’t find goat, lamb or mutton is an acceptable substitute.

goat

goat

Curry Goat recipe (serves 3, preparation time 5 – 6 hours):

2 lb chopped goat (including bones)
1 large onion (chopped)
1 green pepper (chopped)
2 carrots (chopped)
4 – 5 fresh tomatoes (peeled and chopped) – or 1 tin
10 pieces of garlic (chopped)
1 Scotch Bonnet (chopped)
the green tops of 2 spring onions (chopped)
3 medium potatoes cut into 3 pieces each
1 lime (juiced)
1 inch of ginger (grated)
1 pint chicken stock
a small bunch of coriander (cilantro) (chopped)
8 or 9 allspice berries (whole)
4 dessertspoonfuls mild curry powder
4 dessertspoonfuls All Purpose seasoning
1 sprig of thyme
a large splash of olive oil for frying the goat

curry rub

curry rub

Almost all the recipes I saw called for Caribbean curry powder, so I bought Dunns River Curry Powder and All Purpose Seasoning (which are available in many London grocery stores and even the large supermarkets). Some recipes suggest blending the vegetables with curry powder to create a wet marinade, others suggest rubbing the meat with the seasoning. I squeezed the juice of half a lime over the goat and rubbed in the curry powder and all purpose seasoning. After rubbing, the goat should be rested for a few hours in the fridge, or ideally overnight. I just came across an interesting recipe which suggests adding a rusty nail – I’m not sure the rust makes any difference, but I might try it next time…

frying goat pieces

frying goat pieces

The consensus of opinion proposes that the goat should be fried in oil, until coated and then left cooking on a very low heat for 30 or 40 minutes. If you are worried about it burning, use a cast iron casserole with lid and put it into a preheated oven at 150º C.

goat and stock

goat and stock

Next add about a third of the stock and continue to cook with the lid on for another hour. Stir and repeat this at the end of the hour.

goat and vegetables

goat and vegetables

After the goat has had about 2 and 1/2 hours cooking, stir in all the other ingredients, (except the potatoes and the juice of half a lime). Cook for a further 2 hours in the oven at 100º C.

goat and potatoes

goat and potatoes

Cook the potatoes in the goat curry for a final hour and squeeze on the juice of half a lime just before serving with rice and peas.

 

rice and peas

rice and peas

Many years ago I had a Pakistani girlfriend who cooked me coconut kidney beans, as taught to her by her mum. The first time I had curry goat at the Notting Hill Carnival it came with rice and peas, which to my surprise were more or less identical to coconut kidney beans! Therefore, I suspect that the provence of the dish is in Asia, as per that of curry goat. Gungo or pigeon peas can also be used, but I believe red kidney beans are the most common “peas”.

If using dried kidney beans, these should be soaked and cooked beforehand. I’d intended to use fresh coconut milk, but the shop across the street that sells coconuts, only had small ones that sounded very dry, so I bought a tin of coconut milk – creamed coconut can also be used.

allspice

allspice

I was able to find some allspice berries at Bumblebee, which I crushed with a mortar and pestle – if necessary ground allspice can be bought in a packet from most supermarkets.

Rice and Peas recipe (serves 4):

1/2 lb basmati rice
1 lb red kidney beans (cooked) or 1 tin
1 medium onion (chopped)
6 pieces of garlic (chopped)
2 spring onions (bruised)
1 Scotch Bonnet (whole)
1 sprig of thyme
16 allspice berries (ground)
1 tin of coconut milk
200 ml water
a large splash of olive oil for frying the onion
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse the basmati rice in a seive to remove some of the starch.

Fry the onions in olive oil until they become soft. Stir in the garlic and rice, then pour on the milk and water. Add all the other ingredients (except the kidney beans) and bring the the liquid up to simmering. Make sure that you use a whole Scotch Bonnet pepper with no holes in it. Any holes will make the rice blisteringly hot, whereas the whole un-pierced pepper adds a subtle flavour, not heat. Ideally the mild rice should be a counterpoint to the spicy hot curry.

When simmering, stir the liquid gently, put the lid on and cook for 10 minutes. Next gently stir in the beans and cook for a further 5 minutes. Allow the dish to sit without heating for a final 5 minutes. Before serving remove the pepper, thyme and spring onions.

Serve the curry goat with Red Stripe larger or Dragon Stout.

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Patates amb Allioli

patates amb allioli

patates amb allioli

August 14th, 2014

A small hake fillet and a couple of haddock fillets landed in my lap (very cheaply) today. Hake always makes me think of allioli – both are very popular in Barcelona and seem to go hand in hand. Allioli is an emulsion made of garlic and olive oil (all i oli in the Catalan language) which seems to go very well with most fish, chicken, lamb and potatoes.

I  thought I’d dust the fish with seasoned flour, pan fry it in olive oil and serve it with fried potatoes and allioli on the side. While I was peeling the garlic I remembered seeing a recipe in Colman Andrews book, Catalan Cuisine, for Patates amb Allioli (scalloped potatoes with allioli) and went to look it up…

I liked the idea but preferred my own allioli recipe here. Strictly speaking, a traditional allioli is made with garlic, olive oil and a pinch of salt only. The addition of eggs turns it into garlic mayonnaise and many Catalans will tell you it’s just not right! However, it is increasingly common for allioli to be made with eggs, since they aid in the emulsification and make it possible to prepare in a food processor. In this case, I like the addition of eggs because they help to bind the potatoes when baking and give the dish a nice golden colour.

Patates amb Allioli (serves 2):

3 pieces of garlic (peeled and squashed a little with the back of a knife)
2 egg yolks
the juice of a lemon
one third of a bottle of extra virgin olive oil
salt
4 medium potatoes (peeled and sliced)

Peel and slice the potatoes (I used Désirée which are waxy and floury – this means they hold their shape well and absorb the allioli) and boil them in salted water for about 10 minutes. Rinse them with cold water and allow them to cool.

While the potatoes boil, put the garlic and a pinch of salt into a food processor. When the garlic is chopped add the two egg yolks and blitz until the eggs and garlic have emulsified. Then slowly drizzle in the olive oil – you will hear the food processor change tone as the allioli thickens. Finally squeeze in the juice of a lemon and give the allioli one last whizz.

scalloped potatoes in allioli

scalloped potatoes in allioli

Oil a baking dish to prevent sticking and make alternate layers of potato (dry with some kitchen towel if necessary) and allioli. Sprinkle on a little black pepper and bake in a preheated oven at 275º C for about 30 minutes, or until the mixture has gone puffy and golden.

I served my fish and potatoes with some seasonal broad beans and peas. I also had some extra allioli on the side and a glass of Torres De Casta rosado – labeled Viña Sol rosé in the UK.

It did occur to me later that one could cook the fish and potatoes in the oven together with a little more allioli…

N.B. In case of disaster where the mixture splits, I learnt a great tip from an Elizabeth David book (regarding making mayonnaise and it works for allioli too) – if the egg yolks and olive oil fail to bind, set your mixture aside and clean your mortar and pestle (or food processor). Beat another two eggs and slowly add your original mixture, it should all bind together. You have the expense of another two eggs, but at least you don’t have to throw all your previous ingredients away. I notice that the tip is included in this article on perfect mayonnaise.

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The Soho Food Feast 2014

st. anne's church

st. anne’s church

June 7th, 2014

The Soho Food Feast was set up in 2011 by Margot Henderson, to support Soho Parish Primary School. The school is in the heart of Soho and often has a funding gap of about £40, 000. The Food Feast is a weekend event, held in St. Anne’s Churchyard and supported by local restaurants. This year it cost just under £20 per ticket and rations of food from some of the best chefs in London could be had for a £2 food ticket (bought in advance, inside the event). I was quite taken aback, while purchasing £10 worth of tickets, when one of the school teachers thanked me personally for helping to provide the school with a new playground!

the wright brothers

the wright brothers

Everyone was a little anxious this week, as the weathermen had forecast rain for Saturday. Extra preparations were made, including a second marquee,  but as luck would have it, the rain stopped at 11.30 and we had a lovely sunny day. As you can see above, The Wright Brothers had to protect their Jersey Oysters from the sun rather than the rain.

brasserie zedel

brasserie zédel

The first thing to grab my attention was Brasserie Zédel, who occupy the space vacated by  the Atlantic on Sherwood Street. They are known for being a proper brasserie in London with a prix fix menu.

brandade

brandade

I spotted their home baked bread and light fluffy brandade de morue – salt cod mixed with mashed potato, garlic, cream and olive oil – definitely one of my foodie high points of the day.

croque monsieur

croque monsieur

The French theme continued with Blanchette’s novel croque monsiere.

maltby & greek

maltby & greek

Maltby and Greek, import Greek food wine and oil, specialising in bottarga (cured fish roe).

greek "tapas"

greek “tapas”

They were offering little Greek “tapas” to suit whatever you were drinking.

quo vadis

quo vadis

Quo Vadis had a table full of little beef and chutney buns (all made in house) and some French bean and rockets salads.

scotch eggs

scotch eggs

Blacks came with tray loads of Scotch eggs,

black pudding scotch eggs

black pudding scotch eggs

made with black pudding, of course!

natoora

natoora

Natoora is a shop specialising in good quality natural ingredients.

slicing ham

slicing ham

Their sliced ham was excellent

tomatoes

tomatoes

and their beautiful red tomatoes grabbed my attention inside the marquee, where most colours were slightly muted.

i camisa

i camisa

I Camisa and Son is one of the few remaining Italian delicatessen left in Soho. Their table was loaded with focaccia sandiches

mozzarella and olives

mozzarella and olives

and tiny little mozzarella balls with olives.

chipotle

chipotle

Chipotle, who are a chain, still manage to step up and support the local community – look at that enthusiasm.

black beans

black beans

The tacos are pretty good and their killer Margaritas were quite a liquid high spot at the feast, this year and last!

bocca di lupo

bocca di lupo

Jacob Kenedy’s award winning Bocca di Lupo, kindly gave us

arrabiata

arrabbiata

a delicious spicy arrabbiata pasta with chillis, tomatoes and tart parmesan cheese.

dean street townhouse

dean street townhouse

The Dean Street Townhouse provided one of the most talked about dishes

soufflé

soufflé

- the twice-baked smoked haddock soufflé. Oli said he’d been to the restaurant especially for one of these during the previous week and it cost quite a bit more than the £2 ticket. The soufflé was absolutely delicious.

andina and ceviche

andina and ceviche

Andina and Ceviche had adjoining stalls, which is not surprising since they are both Peruvian restaurants founded by Martin Morales.

quinoa burger

quinoa burger

Andina had a quinoa burger

ceviche

ceviche

and Ceviche had their special Don Ceviche – seabass ceviche in amarillo chilli tiger’s milk, limo chilli, sweet potato and red onions. They also had a Ceviche drinks stall with a fantastic Pisco Sour.

brindisa

brindisa

Brindisa were serving a traditional Catalan dish of butifarra with a white bean stew and allioli.

charcuterie and chillis

charcuterie and chillis

They also had a separate stall opposite, with chacuterie

raw milk manchego

raw milk manchego

and manchego cheese made from raw milk.

the st. john

the st. john

The St. John were cooking their

ox heart

ox heart

famous ox heart on the barbecue, served in little buns from the St. John Bakery.

school of wok

school of wok

The School of Wok, providers of “Asian Cookery lessons for people who want to know their pak choi from their choi sum”

ribs

ribs

had me convinced of their skills with these succulent sticky ribs.

the fresh olive company

the fresh olive company

The Fresh Olive Company and Belazu (run by the same people) had a big queue,

olives

olives

which is not surprising when you taste their beautiful olives.

bateman 21

bateman 21

Bateman 21 specialise in

souvlaki

souvlaki

souvlaki – literally skewers of fresh meats, vegetables and cheese, wrapped up in Greek flat bread, warmed on the grill.

pulpo gallego

pulpo gallego

Copita, who specialise in tapas, were cooking pulpo gallego – a Galician dish of boiled octopus with potato and sprinkled with pimentón – here they’d mixed the pimentón with mayonnaise.

crayfish on the griddle

crayfish on the griddle

They also had some beautiful fresh crayfish cooked on the griddle.

cooked crayfish

cooked crayfish

In the UK Signal Crayfish (from America) threaten our indigenous White-claw Crayfish and therefore can be trapped and eaten (with permission) as a conservation measure!

24 hour cooked beef

48 hour cooked beef

Steak specialists Flat Iron slow cooked Irish beef sous vide (under a vacuum) for 48 hours and finished it off on the barbecue.

horseradish

horseradish

Served here with hand pounded horseradish.

beef and horseradish

beef and horseradish

I half expected the beef to fall apart, but in spite of the long cooking, it was very tender and retained some chew, which is what I like. I was exceptionally jealous of Flat Iron’s beautiful 3 foot chopping board, but I just couldn’t convince them to let me have it for two food tokens.

pork belly

pork belly

Foxlow (an offshoot of Hawksmoor) cooked pork belly in thick bacon slices

slow cooked beef

slow cooked beef

and slow smoked beef,

pork and beef

pork and beef

then built a large sandwich with the two, along with some salad.

pork and beef

pork and beef

As you can see, they had to roll it tight in paper to keep it all together.

pork and beef sandwich

pork and beef sandwich

It was quite something with all that smokey barbecue flavour.

hix

hix

Hix had the usual salmon and seasonal vegetables, not to mention a very deep foodie debate.

pasta

pasta

Lina Stores (a traditional Italian delicatessen in Soho since 1944), had

pasta selection

pasta selection

the most exquisite pasta at the feast.

pasta with sage

pasta with sage

They warmed each portion separately in olive oil before sprinkling a little parmesan on top. It was absolutely delicious!

koya

koya

Koya were cooking up a storm.

japanese omlette

japanese omelette

The precision involved in making the omelette with chopsticks in a square frying pan is amazing. Thin layers are poured into the pan and the chef skilfully flicks it upwards to roll a rectangular cake.

dashimaki

dashimaki tamago

The dashimaki tamago (omelette left) was sliced and served with kayaku onigiri (rice cooked with chicken and vegetables in a seaweed wrapper).

stuffed peppers

stuffed peppers

Terroirs had a huge dish of cooked green peppers, stuffed with soft white cheese.

stuffed pepper with anchovy

stuffed pepper with anchovy

These were served simply with an anchovy.

mestizo

mestizo

Mestizo is an authentic Mexican restaurant, not to be confused with Tex Mex cuisine, which is what most people think of as Mexican (Tex Mex could be described as an amalgamation of North Mexican cuisine with Texan farmhouse and cowboy fare).

rajas con crema

rajas con crema

I particularly noticed the rajas con crema (strips of poblano pepper in a sweet corn and onion cream sauce)

pollo con mole

pollo con mole

and pollo con mole (shredded chicken in tomato, onion and chipotle chile sauce).

salt cod fritter

salt cod fritter

The Union produced another of my absolute favoutites,

salt cod fritter with allioli

salt cod fritter with allioli

a salt cod fritter with allioli. It was like fried brandada – what a great idea! I asked them where they source their bacalao and they said they make it themselves – I was very impressed.

vegetable fritters

vegetable fritters

Duck Soup made a wonderful stand out vegetable fritter, which looked like a green pea peanut brittle.

vegetable fritter with tahini yoghurt and sumac

vegetable fritter with tahini yoghurt and sumac

It came with tahini yoghurt and sumac.

phil dirtbox

phil dirtbox

Our compere for the day was Phil Dirtbox, who probably is the voice of Soho.

I failed miserably to take pictures of any of the people who provided the drink. I previously mentioned Chipotle and Ceviche, but we also had marvellous service from The French House, The Travelling Gin Company and Kamm and Sons with their hilarious Punch and Judy.

We went for a wine tasting with Trevor at the St. John wine stall, but he insisted on sharing a bottle of white wine with us instead…

Previous events:

The Soho Food Feast 2013

The Soho Food Feast 2011

 

Posted in Drink, Eating Out, Fish, Food, Meat, Restaurants, Spanish | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments