Tuesday, 30 November 2010

BBC Good Food Show, Birmingham

Last Saturday I hopped on a train to Birmingham to every food and drink lovers heaven, The BBC Good Food Show at the NEC
For those of you that don't know the GFS is England's largest food festival, taking over several massive halls in the NEC twice a year for four days. Consisting of stalls featuring national food producers, little independent food producers, kitchenware sellers, distillers, breweries, wine merchants alongside several demonstrating areas featuring celebrity chefs and up and coming cookery talent.

Here are my personal highlights:

Cornish Cheese Company
The new owners of the best cheese in the world, Cornish blue. This award was won at the GFS where the World Cheese Awards were held this year. not being a fan of blue cheese I went and had a taste anyway and was pleasantly surprised with what I tasted. not overly strong and no bad aftertaste, very moreish.

Small section of World Cheese Awards

A Particularly Pungent Stilton

Rossmore Oysters
Serving Oysters for £1.50 a go, very fresh and a lovely break from the cheese and meat stalls.

Blackface Meat company
Selling a variety of meat and wild game. Picked up some wood pigeon here to try for the first time, just need a good recipe now to show off their flavour.

Chase Distillery
Showing off their Potato Vodka which was very drinkable even for a non vodka drinker like myself, took a lot of restraint not to buy a bottle.

Compass Box Whisky
A pleasant 20 minutes was spent here with a mini tasting session from the exceptionally helpful staff. My particular highlight was the Spice Tree whisky which was stunning.

Andrew Peace wines
Lovely wine merchant with beautiful red wines, selling for a bargain 3 for £12. Mighty Murray Red is one to look out for.

I was also was lucky to meet John Torode from Masterchef who signed my show programme.

This was a last minute decision to go therefore I didn't catch any of the shows in the Super theatre where Gordon Ramsay and Masterchef were doing shows also all the masterclasses were sold out including CAMRA's tasting session. Maybe next year...

*I didn't get many photos because the place was rammed with it being a Saturday, I was also distracted by all the alcohol.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Aagrahs, Leeds

Last week I was invited to birthday meal at Aagrahs in Leeds so I battled my way from Sheffield through the horrendous weather to join the celebrations and hopefully enjoy a decent curry.

Aagrahs is an Indian restaurant located near the West Yorkshire playhouse in Leeds. It is a small chain of restaurants with a vast collection of awards including a lifetime achievement award for the owner and executive chef.
On arrival we were invited to wait in a small seating area while our table was being prepared. Our drinks orders were taken and menus were handed out. The menu is quite extensive with all the usual suspects and a page of chef specialties. After a short wait we were shown to our table. We opted for the usual poppadoms and pickle tray, I was disappointed that lime pickle was not present on the tray but a spicy chili sauce soon made up for it. We decided to skip a starter which was a shame because I was looking forward to trying a spiced sea bass dish but then in hindsight it was probably a good idea that this course was skipped.
Lamb Pasanda

For my main I went for Lamb Pasanda - lamb cooked with garlic, ginger, yogurt, onions, chilli's, poppy seeds and select spices. I ordered pilau rice alongside. It was really delicious, a lovely blend of flavours with a slight chili burn that seemed to increase throughout the meal, cue the Mango Lassi. The rice was light, fluffy and perfectly cooked. The portions were quite large and I was very stuffed at the end.

Service was good, efficient but not intrusive.

I had to leave early so didn't catch the final bill but expect around £20 a head if you get starters etc.

St. Peters Sq
West Yorkshire
0113 245 5667

Aagrah on Urbanspoon

Salsa Mexicana, Leeds

It's a rare thing a good Mexican restaurant. Most that do exist, and there isn't that many compared to other cuisines, are not very good. so it was a pleasure to finally get round to visiting Salsa Mexicana in Chapel Allerton, Leeds.
The restaurant was fairly quiet when we arrived and we were pleasantly greeted and shown to a table. The restaurant itself was nicely decorated, stone floors and wooden tables with Mexican memorabilia around the small room.
We decided to opt for a sharing starter, a large plate of nachos with beef and chorizo. The tortilla chips were made in-house and came with jalapenos, salsa, guacamole, nacho cheese sauce and sour cream. The beef was quite juicy and tender. The menu states that a large portion serves 2 - 4 people......word of warning, if there are two of you and you haven't eaten for a week then by all means get the large otherwise I would advise against it. The portion was huge and took a lot of effort to eat it, the fact it was delicious did help things but it's not good if there is a main course on its way.
Burrito bowl, Mole Poblano

I like to try new things every now and again and I was looking for a Mexican dish different from the usual fajitas, enchiladas etc so I opted for the Mole Poblano dish - chicken breast with a sauce of chili's, herbs and spices with a hint of Mexican chocolate, served with rice and grilled plantain.
It was really tasty, soft juicy chicken and the sauce was delicately balanced with a lovely bitter chocolate undertone.
The Other Half ordered a burrito bowl filled with vegetables and chicken and also a side of two spicy corn on the cobs.
Due to the monumental starter we couldn't finish the main course but the staff willingly boxed it up to take away and it made a tasty breakfast the next day.
Service was very good, we found out that they were understaffed so its credit to the two table staff that they managed to keep things running smoothly.

Total for two people: £30, really good value for the quality and quantity of food.

Go visit for authentic tasty Mexican food

Salsa Mexicana
116A Harrogate Road
West Yorkshire
Salsa Mexicana on Urbanspoon

Friday, 12 November 2010

The Mustard Pot, Leeds

After the complete farce of a Sunday Lunch at the Roundhay Fox, we kept an eye out for somewhere else to satisfy the Sunday roast craving.
We had been to the Mustard Pot previously for a drink and were looking forward to visiting for food. The place was really busy when we arrived and were told there would be a 20 minute wait for food and would we like to wait in the bar. The addition of Jennings Cocker Hoop on the bar eased the wait time considerably.

While at the bar I had a look around to see if any of the problems that plagued the Roundhay Fox were apparent but everything seemed to be well organised, there was one menu on the wall with a few tasty sounding dishes and the normal day to day menus were stashed well away. Good start.

After 15 minutes we were shown to our seats and informed that the menu for the day was on the board. The board was difficult to see from our seats but this is a minor irritant. I decided to skip a starter and order the roast lamb for my main. The Other Half ordered a ham hock terrine with homemade piccalilli for starter and the lamb for her main.
Ham Hock Terrine
Lamb and Veg

Service was speedy and friendly with food brought out quickly with minimal wait. The starter, which I had a cheeky sample, was very good, salty ham contrasting the tang of the piccalilli. Shortly afterwards the mains arrived. A huge hunk of roast lamb, pink and oozing with juices, it was perfectly cooked and I could have quite happily eaten a plateful of that alone. It came served with homemade Yorkshire puddings, mixed veg and delicious creamed leeks.
Due to skipping a starter I decided to order a pudding, an interesting sounding strawberry, vanilla and pumpkin trifle with pumpkin seed praline. It was very tasty, slightly boozy but not overpowering and the added crunch of the praline was a nice touch. The Other Half ordered the cheese board which had enough cheese to feed 3 people so be warned if you order this for yourself.

Total cost of meal for two: £40

A lovely pub in Chapel Allerton with beautiful Sunday lunches, well worth a visit.

The Mustard Pot on Urbanspoon

Ale #4 Black Chocolate Stout - Brooklyn Brewery

Appearance: Very very dark

Aroma: Rich chocolate

Flavour: Chocolate, Bittersweet, Malty.

Style: Imperial Stout

Why it's on here: After ending up at North bar in Leeds after an evenings drinking and on the hunt for a nightcap, a pleasant discussion with one of the bar staff lead me to this beer. The stout is incredibly rich with a deep chocolate flavour. It is brewed during the winter season - October to March and uses 6 varieties of chocolate and roasted malts. At 10% abv its definitely not a session beer and best saved for a nightcap to put the final nail in the hangover the next morning.