This weekend at Dinner at the Manor we donned our spectacles and beige slacks as we channelled our inner Nigel Slaters to bring our favourites from his beautiful Kitchen Diaries to the Manor. Not only that but this was our experimental ale and food pairing weekend, with beers courtesy of the great Leeds Brewery.
Our prep was well underway on Thursday when we headed down the road to the brewery headquarters to pick up our hoppy treats. We’d opted to serve the ale fresh from the casks, complete with pub-style hand pumps. I naively thought it would be a case of shoving a pump in a barrel, but it actually took us most of the evening to set them up! However it was worth it as I then spent the rest of the evening sat in awe of the pub that had been newly installed in the kitchen! We got a shock when we went shopping for our Nigel Slater ingredients. His ethos is simplicity and quality, and so most recipes only have a few ingredients. A big contrast to last month’s Thomasina Miers inspired supperclub which had about 30 ingredients per recipe! This time round it felt slightly scary as there were no overpowering flavours to hide behind, the food would have to sing for itself.
On arrival our guests were greeted with a freshly hand-pulled pint of Leeds Best, fresh and hoppy with added sweetness that counter balanced the bitterness. It’s a well-balanced traditional Yorkshire bitter, made using exclusively English hops: First Gold for bittering and Goldings for aroma. It gets its sweet toffee notes from the Crystal malt. It was a perfect all rounder for our tasty canapes that included pork and lemon polpettine, which were scented with thyme and anchovy and served with a parsley, lemon and garlic gremolata. We also served risotto cakes stuffed with Yorkshire Blue cheese (my personal favourite) and homemade flatbreads served with babaganush and tarasamalata.
After a palate cleanser of clementine sorbet (which the ice cream maker had tried to thwart but failed, haha), we moved on to the dessert of hot chocolate puddings. This was a cross between a chocolate fondant and a souffle. I guess that by giving it neither of those dreaded names, there is less pressure on it working as no one knows what to expect! I’d tested it earlier in the week and whilst it was deliciously rich and chocolatey it was a bit much. To overcome this I popped a couple of raspberries in the bottom of each ramekin to help cut through the heavy cocoa flavour. The puds were served with scoops of home-made real vanilla ice cream. A couple of guests thought this was an amazing pudding, I’ll be guest posting the recipe on Sticky Pinny soon!
Our final pairing was a cocktail inspired by Leeds Brewery. We called it ‘Midnight Manor’ but really it’s inspired by a cocktail once sold in Pin bar, and contains Midnight Bell ale, Kahlua and Creme de Cocao. It’s surprisingly moreish! Stomachs nearly at full capacity we ended on teas and coffees and Susie’s trademark cupcakes, which were mini chocolate orange this time round (inspired by the chocolate pudding and the clementine sorbet).
Our guests this month were an especially good bunch. We had lots of repeat bookings so it was lovely to see people who now feel like old friends! It’s fantastic that people want to come back. We were also lucky on the first night to host Alex, who is one of the brewers at Leeds Brewery. He was a lovely chap and was more than happy to fill us in about all of the beers.
We’re glad that we took the plunge with an ale and food event. All the ales got guzzled up and there were lots of positive noises, even from those who don’t normally partake in ale. Many guests left saying that their eyes had been opened up to the wonders of ale and food and had enjoyed trying out new flavours. We’re now very much looking forward to our next ale and food event in April, which will pair a vegetarian menu with exclusive beer from Innis and Gunn. We’re fully booked but we often get last minute cancellations so do email us on firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to be put on the waiting list.