Pintura Review

It’s been a while since we’ve done a review of a Leeds restaurant, we’re too busy eating elsewhere! Anyway we had an impromptu trip to Pintura last night, to welcome in the weekend, and the food was so good we thought we’d tell you all about it. Pintura is one of the newer additions to Trinity and is a Basque style tapas bar. We’ve been before when it was soft launching and whilst it had a few teething problems the food was undoubtedly top notch so we didn’t think twice about returning.

Upon arrival you are invited to have a drink in their stylish gin bar. The gins are certainly plentiful but it was sherry for us. Susie enjoyed a clean crisp fino full of salty nutty aromas whereas I went for a mazanilla which is slightly nuttier and sweeter. It was a perfect tipple for a sunny evening, although for some reason the sherry isn’t kept behind the bar so you have to wait quite a while whilst the bar staff go and hunt some down.

When we were ready to sit down for dinner we were taken to a lovely leather booth, full of retro charm. The table was amply sized for the two of us, which is always a bonus when many tapas dishes are being ordered! Whilst we sat and perused the menu we nibbled on little spicy sausages with a homemade ketchup dipping sauce. These were a bit chewy but full of flavour. For our starter we had a platter of meats and cheeses. We had this as part of the soft launch but what was presented was far bigger than what we had enjoyed last time! The meats included a wonderful smoked duck, air dried Basque ham and Iberico. The cheeses included manchego, a blue and a very stinky one that went excellently with the quince jam. I loved all the little garnishes like pickled chillis, toasted walnuts, gherkins and mini pickled onions. We were quite full after this platter!

Pintura Platter

The theme for our tapas element was PORK! This came three ways – black pudding; pork belly and pig cheek. The pig cheek was probably our favourite. This came soft and salty with a beautifully spiced, sweet cauliflower puree and crispy pig ears. The black pudding is always a winner especially with a crispy fried runny egg. The pork belly was our least favourite – a large slab of belly that was overly salty and a bit flat in flavour.

Pintura potatoes and pig cheek

Pintura black pudding and pork bellyAlso in our spread were little roast potatoes, roasted in smoked duck fat. The fat did indeed give a beautiful smoky flavour, however the potatoes were flabby instead of crispy, which was disappointing. Our fish dish was a special of hake which came perfectly cooked with a piquant ratatouille style sauce. Our veggie dish was a Basque style runny omelette which comes in its own cute little frying pan. This burst open to reveal runny egg and caramelised onions.Pintura ommelette (640x268)

Pintura hake

In terms of drinks we of course enjoyed a Spanish red – Luis Alegre Rioja. This was very easy drinking, fruity with a bit of a liquorice kick. We didn’t have room for dessert after our tapas feast so instead we had… more wine! This time we had glasses of Carpess Crianza Tempranillo. This was deep, spicy and full of dark fruits like dark cherry. I thought the wine list was very good. Lots of Spanish options as well as world wines, and our wine ranged from £20-£30 a bottle. The list looks like it has been put together well without any duds. Our only criticism was the time it took for wine to be brought to us. Our final glasses took at least 20 mins to arrive after ordering them. It was served at a beautiful temperature so maybe they were warming it up!

All in all our huge feast, wine and sherries came in at a not insignificant £50 per person (including tip). However I left feeling nicely full of food and wine so I feel this was good value. The meat and cheese platter was £15 alone and if I’m honest, given its unexpected size, we didn’t really need it. So, if like us you’ve run out of inspiration about where to go for tea in Leeds then do give Pintura a go. It’s a very relaxed and informal environment and food and wine is of good quality. Just make sure you ring your wine orders ahead if you want to have them with your meal!

Persiana Perfection!

Probably my favourite cook book of this year so far is Persiana. Written by fellow supperclub host and lovely lady Sabrina Ghayour, it’s a colourful and accessible look at the Persian food she grew up with and taught herself to cook. Sabrina has achieved the ultimate dream for us supperclub hosts – a published cook book and regular stints on Saturday Kitchen! On the face of it the book is fairly simple. Most recipes only have a handful of supermarket ingredients and don’t have many cooking techniques – and yet the flavours Ghayour manages to create stupefy me. I was amazed when I first gave it a go and still am to this day! So it felt a very easy decision to make this our next supperclub.

On the night guests were welcomed with a refreshing cocktail of vodka, pomegranate, ginger and lime – this was a deep ruby red and full of sweetness and spice. For canapés we picked dishes that would tantalise the tastebuds and excite the eyes. I made the herb frittata and served it on a bed of aubergine and tomato dip. The frittata does have a lot of fresh herbs in it, and I even halved it from the recipe! The lurid green was awakened by little bursts of red pomegranate seed. I also made the scallop with fennel, saffron and orange.

Little queenie scallops were fried quickly in butter and then served up in the scallop shell with shaved fennel and a sweet, heady dressing of orange, saffron and honey. Susie made the little lamb koftes – essentially succulent lamb mince bound together with the likes of sweet dates and nutty pinenuts. These came with cacis, a little yoghurt,cucumber and dill sauce to dip them in. 

Next up was a pre starter of spiced squash soup. This soup got guests talking and reaching for the book to find out any secret ingredients that made it so tasty! The soup base itself is a fairly standard spiced vegetable soup, however it came with a range of garnishes such as herb oil (which was more like a pesto when we followed the recipe), spiced chickpeas and crumbled feta cheese. A very decadent soup course that could even be a meal by itself.

Susie’s starter was a showpiece of seared beef skirt with pomegranate dressing. Beef was cooked to medium rare, left to rest and then sliced thinly. It was served luke warm arranged prettily on platters with an addictive sweet and sour sauce made from pomegranate molasses and balsamic vinegar. To accompany the beef was a fluffy, spicy Persiana take on a focaccia. This bread was lovely to nibble on and came spiked with lovely flavours of the Middle East – thyme, sumac, cumin and chilli. I liked to dip it in the soup for the ultimate treat!

We gave guests a little break as the main event was yet to come! This came in the form of a smorgasbord of tagines and rices. From having cooked many of Ghayour’s dishes I think her tagines and slow cooked meats are her most triumphant dishes – full of clever layers of flavour, sometimes unexpected. First up was a sweet and rich lamb tagine with tomato and black garlic. This was cooked for 3-4 hours making the lamb soft and melting. Ghayour uses shanks for hers but we used shoulder to make it a bit easier to serve at the supperclub. We happened to have black garlic in but you could substitute it for more balsamic vinegar (which is in the recipe anyway). The black garlic does give it a sweet smokiness that is hard to recreate! The next tagine (my favourite) was a very traditional tagine of chicken with preserved lemon and olive.

Chicken thighs were cooked for about an hour in ginger, coriander and their own juices. Right at the last minute chopped preserved lemon and green olives are added. These almost cook down to a paste and give the most wonderful sour, bitter, piquant flavours I have ever tasted. This really pushed the saltiness limits, but in a very exciting way.

I’ve been cooking this nearly every week since! For sides I made the shirazi salad which is like a salsa really – lots of finely chopped cucumber, tomato and red onion bound together with sumac. I hate cucumber but I thought this would freshen up the richness of the tagines. I also prepared little roast potatoes with cumin and turmeric. Finally the rice dish I picked was a rice, lentil and onion dish. Onions are crisply fried with tons of spices and then rice and green lentils are left to steam with them. This was a very comforting side, full of charred and caramelised flavours.

We do like to serve a sorbet at the Manor – it has healing qualities that make the fullest of stomachs able to eat yet more food! There were no sorbet recipes in Persiana but she does have a pineapple dish with herb sugar and so I adapted this and froze it! Pineapple was blended with mint, basil, rose water and (lots of) sugar syrup and then churned up. This made another luridly green dish but with unexpected flavours from the sour pineapple, fragrant herbs and sweet rose. If Sabrina wants the recipe for her next book I’ll sell it to her!

Susie’s dessert was a very pretty little dish of Eastern mess. Taking the British Eton mess as its inspiration this has had a Persiana makeover. Sharp raspberries and raspberry sauce were mixed with rose water and then layered with crisp and chewy homemade meringues, cream sweetened with sugar and rose water and beautiful nibbed pistachios. For added crunch a lemon and pistachio shortbread biscuit was served on the side. I loved the fragrant elements of the biscuit. Interestingly olive oil is added to the dough before baking, which I thought made for a very moist biscuit.

Finally, as if all that food wasn’t enough our petit four were (not so) little Persian Florentines. These are not actually from Persiana but from a Jewish baking book – Sesame and Spice. This is another gem of a book so we plan to an an afternoon tea with it at some point this year. Anyway the Florentines were spiked with pistachio, Turkish delight and rose petals to give them an Eastern twist. These were crisp and chewy and not too over fazing for very full guests 

So it was another fun night at the Manor. Our next round of events are now sold out (sorry!) and we’ll be bringing guests the flavours of our upcoming holidays (Spain and France). We can’t wait! Ciao…

August Event – A Homage to Rick Stein’s French Odyssey

SOLD OUT

15th August 2015 – 7pm

We’re going tres chic in August to celebrate out little sojurn to France later this year. Regular readers and diners will know we are massive Rick Stein fans, having held Spanish and Indian events based on his books.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Rick Stein’s French Odyssey so it seemed apt to use this as our inspiration. We’ll be taking you on a culinary journey across the different regions in France!

If you want to snap up one of the 12 spaces, then book on using the link below. it’s £35pp.

SORRY SOLD OUT

June Event – A Spanish Lunch

SOLD OUT

20th June 2015, 1pm-4pm
We’re off to Spain in July so we want to bring a little bit of Spanish flair to the Manor. Instead of our usual afternoon tea events, we’re putting on a lunchtime Spanish feast!

Think Pintxos, tapas and other wonderful delights washed down with a crisp cold Fino sherry. Perfect!

There are 12 spaces round the table, so book on now using the link below, cost is £30pp.

Sorry this event is now fully booked

Summer Dates – Coming Soon!

Calling all diners – this is your four day warning! Now that the sun is out and shining we are ready to confirm our summer supperclub events. They won’t go on sale until Wednesday 22nd April (at 7pm) but we thought we’d give you the heads up so you have time to check your diaries and gather friends. We’re theming the events around our upcoming summer holidays – to get us in the mood for some Mediterranean sun!

A Spanish Lunch – 20th June 2015 – 1pm to 4pm

First up we’re going to Spain and bringing you a lunch showcasing all that is good about pintxos, tapas and other Spanish foodie delights. This summery lunch will be served as multiple courses of small and tasty plates, plus we’ll chuck in a welcome drink of sherry. Tickets will be £30pp.

Rick Stein’s French Odyssey – 15th August 2015 – 7pm

Next up we’ll be off to France with Rick’s famous French Odyssey book as our guide. It’s the book’s 10 year anniversary this year and so we’ll be using it to cook up some authentic versions of French classics as well as trying out Rick’s take on some newer dishes. Tickets cost £35pp and will get you the standard Manor feast as well as a welcome cocktail.

Tickets will go on sale on this site at 7pm on Wednesday 22nd April 2015. If you don’t already follow us then do as the site will email you as soon as we publish the tickets. See you soon!

April menu, inspired by Persiana

Hello Spring! After a bit of a break in March we’ll be back with our Persian event in a couple of weeks where we’ve been inspired by the brilliant Sabrina Ghayour and her lovely book Persiana.

We’ll be serving up a veritable mezze of delicious dishes, perfect now that the weather is warming up. What do you think?

April 2015

Timberyard Review

It’s been a while since we’ve done a restaurant review, and that’s not because we haven’t been eating out, more that general business and laziness has compromised our ability to keep our writing up with our eating! I’m going to put a stop to that and make a concerted effort to review my upcoming mouthfuls as there are some exciting ones on the cards. What’s more, it’s a fantastic way to keep a food diary. I love reading back on all the lovely meals I’ve enjoyed, even if no one else does!

So the object of my affections today is the lovely Timberyard in Edinburgh. Now I’ve been to Timberyard about four times, with a decent meal experienced every time, so heavens knows why I haven’t written a review yet. It’s a family run place on the cusp of the old and new town (although mainly in the old town near the Grassmarket). It takes up a rather unassuming slot on Lady Lawson Street but upon entering it opens up into the most unexpected, huge warehouse area. It has sympathetically maintained the character of the building’s industrial background but has brought in elements of the Scottish countryside with animal skins and skulls. The food has echoes of Scandinavia and the staff are achingly trendy. So trendy in fact that they have already got rid of their Hoxton beards – you can tell from the pale chins that have been left behind!

Timberyard

We were sat down right at the back, which was perfect for us to have a view of the entire dining room, and could just about peek into the wondrous kitchen. Nothing is normal at Timberyard so when inspecting the cocktail menu for an aperitif there were no familiar drinks and even a simple gin and tonic came with a bit of pine tree in it! I excitedly opted for a salty sea dog which I guess is a Timberyard take on a martini. It was my kind of drink – packed with lots of gin, vermouth and then salty elements provided by bladderwrack seaweed! It truly was out of this world – deep, musky and smoky, like a good whisky. Richard’s gin and tonic stumped us a bit. He opted for a beautiful Botanist, a dry gin made on the Isle of Islay (most famous for its peaty whisky). His ‘tonic’ came in a chemistry lesson style flask for him to add himself, which he duly did – all of it. He had a look of confusion when he took his first sip as it turned out the flask was filled with water instead of tonic. So essentially he had a nice big glass of gin, pine tree, and water! We wondered if this was the poncey way of drinking an Islay gin and no one had told us. But when the bill came it did say ‘tonic’ so we are still confused!

Timberyard Menu

Menus took a while to arrive which panicked us somewhat that we were automatically doing the 8 course tasting menu, something our stomachs wouldn’t have been able to comply with as we’d had a late lunch. We perused whilst munching on some of their warm and freshly baked sourdough. Not the best bread I’ve had but the bits you get to spread on are top notch. A choice of whipped crowdie, which is a sour cream cheese, or smoked bone marrow which was served in a bit of bone! The smoked marrow was my favourite, topped with piles of ground black pepper, mmmmm is all I can say!

Richard and I are probably becoming far too similar these days as out of the whole meal, for all three courses, we picked the same things. How it works at Timberyard is that the menu is split into small bites, starters, mains and desserts. Small bites are essentially a large canapé. We opted to have three courses of savoury as the desserts didn’t really float our boat.

Our small bite was an umami packed duck heart, liver and mushroom concoction. The duck heart was served savagely speared by a piece of yet more pine tree! I chewed into it like an offally lollipop. It was soft but meaty. Hidden beneath this was a mousse-like liver pate dusted with a cep powder for the ultimate umami hit. I was glad there was still some sourdough left to mop all of this up with. For a small bite it was certainly a generous portion.

Timberyard duck heart

Winewise we went for the L’indigene from Languedoc, a 2011 Syrah/ Grenache. It was very light and powerfully fruity so we thought it would be sympathetic to our upcoming fish and meat courses. A few glasses in and we suddenly noticed the sulphurous qualities of the wine. Upon reading the bottle our worst fears were confirmed – BIODYNAMIIC!! Those of you who read any of our Copenhagen reviews will recall the fall out we had with biodynamic wine which can often be very challenging and taste a bit ‘off.’ Anyway, prejudices aside this was actually an enjoyable wine but I could only have managed the one bottle! Is this why biodynamic wine exists do you think? To prevent binge drinking?!

Our fish course looked deceptively simple. A soft and creamy fillet of sole with all sorts of goodies including prawns, cockles and artichoke. It was full of different textures, some raw, some cooked. A very comforting dish that also felt strangely decadent.

Timberyard sole

Our final course was the smoked beef, which did not disappoint. The beef came in a thick slab and was so rare it was practically raw and yet a perfect temperature and texture. I didn’t get the smokiness if I’m honest. It was also quite a soft dish – succulent beef, rich gravy, cauliflower puree, mushrooms. It could have done with a crunchy texture, such as a chip, but that would make me a heathen in the food heaven that is Timberyard!

Timberyard beef

So I was full enough not to want a dessert, although I may have got a cheeky little pot of salted caramel ice cream from the shop opposite for the walk home! What I liked about this visit to Timberyard was that the meal was completely different to what I had last time as the menu is constantly changing. I’ve been going for about two years now and am not yet bored, in fact I am constantly surprised by what they produce. I can’t wait for next time!