Tag Archives: Masterchef

A Masterful Meal at the New Ellington

We had the pleasure of trying Leeds’ latest pop up restaurant this week and it was a very exciting meal indeed! The city’s very own Liz Cottam, who came fifth in this year’s Masterchef, has been looking for the ideal location to host her own restaurant. After much deliberation Liz confirmed her residency at the New Ellington hotel just a few weeks ago.

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A beautiful venue, but a little off the beaten track, we were keen to see what plans Liz had for the place. We’ve dined with Liz before – she runs her own adhoc supperclub from her gorgeous house in Gildersome. Her atmospheric, panelled dining room is more Manor than the Manor – so maybe she’ll let us do a residency at hers whilst she’s busy at the New Ellington?!

The few times we’ve eaten Liz’s food I’ve always been amazed by her attention to detail with the intricate plating up – given she’s an amateur after all – and the lovely flavours she carefully and thoughtfully brings together. This translated well into her first proper restaurant service, with dishes that felt high end, luxurious and tasty.

First up at her launch meal we enjoyed a mushroom consume with mushroom puree, gnocchi and shavings of truffle. This was an umami smack in the face, if ever there was one, and the strong truffle certainly elevated the dish to a luxurious standard.

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Next up was Liz’s take on a very refined fish pie. Soft, buttered halibut was swimming in lobster bisque and topped with a crunchy potato crisp, delicate mash and pickled samphire. This was a decorative dish for the eyes and delicious on the palette, with comforting and warming flavours of the sea. I’d seen Liz show this dish off on Twitter so was thrilled to be able to try it.

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Liz’s main was a superb offering of lamb. First up was a piece of rolled lamb belly that had been slow cooked for 32 hours and topped with harissa spices and pistachio crumb. Her soft and tasty lamb loin was my favourite of the night – lovely, pink and juicy! This came with fennel, a celeriac puree and spicy rice cracker.

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Dessert was Liz’s take on a black forest gateau. A sharp cherry ice cream was paired with chocolate soil, nuts, cherry curd and cherries soaked in kirsch. At first it was deceptively underwhelming, but a taste sensation was created when everything was eaten together – very clever indeed.

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So Liz will be at the New Ellington throughout October, November, December. She’ll be doing private dining Monday to Thursday evenings, if you want to book out the whole of the (small) restaurant. In addition she’ll be doing Friday lunches priced at £25 for 3 courses and a 4-course tasting menu on Friday and Saturday evenings priced at £45.

I’ve often felt that Leeds does chains and cheap eats fairy well, but if you want a decent, independent, posh meal then I always struggle to know where to go. Perhaps Liz’s new venture could fill this gap? If you like modern, British cuisine cooked with passion and innovation then do give it go. What’s more, Liz intends to serve the dishes herself, so you’ll be able to get some Masterchef gossip along with your feed!

The New Ellington – York Place Leeds – BOOK NOW

Disclaimer
Our first meal with Liz at her home was fully paid for. For our visit to the New Ellington, we were invited as Liz’s guests and the meal was complimentary however all views are our own.

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A Persian Adventure In Moortown

It’s been a while since we’ve visited another supperclub, partly because we always seem to be running events when they’re on and partly because there haven’t been any new ones to try. Luckily there’s been a recent influx in Moortown in Leeds and word of mouth has finally got to us. Moortown’s a bit of a trek out from the Manor and even on our return our North Leeds taxi driver had never heard of the West Leeds suburb where we asked to be taken!

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Anyway the first of our Moortown supperclub jaunts was to Afsaneh’s Persian Kitchen. Afsaneh is of Masterchef fame and her talents blew the minds of judges John and Greg but probably her nerves let her down on the day, this was the year that Shelina won. Thinking back to the programme, I was always impressed by Afsaneh’s dedication to her Persian roots. And going by the judges reactions, the flavours were as authentic as the dishes looked, and these were flavours I was keen to try.

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Mexican Fiesta at the Manor

The past weekend saw the return of Mexican flavours at the Manor – it may have been chilly outside, but we brought some much needed warmth, spice and sunshine! We didn’t quite get through a hundred limes, maybe around fifteen, but we did use thirty six eggs, thirty eight passionfruits and made over fifty tortillas! Hard work, but worth it! As soon as we held our last Mexican event in 2012, we were keen to make a return. This time we used Thomasina Miers’ second Mexican book, Wahaca – Mexican Food at Home, another book that has been a favourite of ours in 2012, which we both cook from regularly as unfortunately there are no Wahaca restaurants north of the M25 – Boo! Fresh, punchy flavours were the order of the day and our lively guests, some returning diners, some new to supperclubs as a whole, seemed to love them too!

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A splurge meal at Launceston Place

I found myself in London the other week with a very rare thing indeed – a whole weekend in the capital with no obligation to be absolutely anywhere, what a luxury! What’s more it was the hottest weekend of the year so far – so cue shorts, sandals and shades…

After a very relaxing day messing about on the river, complete with some prosecco and obligatory Wahaca snackage, we decided to head for a slap up meal at Launceston Place in Kensington. I’d heard of this through Tristan Welch’s appearances on the Great British Menu, Masterchef and suchlike. Tristan is no longer head chef at this British establishment, he’s moved on to spend more time with his family but is still in post as a consultant. It was obvious from the menu though that new head chef Tim Allen wants to put his mark on the place.

Launceston Place – tucked away on a quiet residential street in Kensington

Now I love a good tasting menu, especially when it comes with wine! It’s a great excuse to pig out, have a splurge and try loads of things you wouldn’t normally. So this is what we went for. We had a chance to cool down over a gin and tonic and canapes of choux buns filled with a warm and cheesy bechamel sauce. They don’t sound very glam but they filled my mouth with an amazing, comforting burst of oozy cheesiness. I was in a foul mood at this point as our journey to the restaurant had taken about 70 minutes, more than double of what TFL had helpfully predicted. However, with a cheesy ball in my gob I was returned to zen like peace immediately.

Our amouse bouche was a rather brown and drab mushroom voulette. However appearances, as we know, can be deceptive as the foamy soup had a vibrant and silky earthiness that made me gobble it up in seconds. It came studded with shards of fresh chestnuts, which gave it great texture.

As we moved on to our starter we were introduced to our sommelier – a rather jolly Frenchman who was most amused in pinching the bottoms of the waiting staff! His first offering was a grassy pinot blanc from Alsace which he paired to the rich oiliness of the slow cooked pheasant egg present in our starter. The egg was served atop young asparagus and ham. It was a delicate dish but a bit sloppy for me. Undercooked egg is a huge fear of mine and the slow cooked nature of the egg meant that it had an ultra soft texture. I think I forgot to drink the wine at the same time as the food but I’m sure the pairing was perfect!

Slow cooked pheasant egg with asparagus

Our next wine was an intriguing white Rioja. It was a very bold wine with smoky vanilla flavours that you would expect in a red. It’s not a wine you could glug down in vast quantities but as a different taste sensation it was great. This was paired with our fish course of seared scallop, glazed pork belly, apple match sticks and celeriac puree. The scallop was perfectly cooked – it was nicely caramelised and not jellified at all, as they often can be. The glazed pork belly was a welcome surprise element to the dish and was suitably meaty and moist. I could have lived without the apple which came in julienne and jelly forms. The julienne had little flavour and the jelly is a big no no for me. I love jelly, just not in savoury food where it leaves me feeling a little bilious.

Scallop and pork belly with apple and celeriac puree

Our poor sommelier had a bit of a struggle finding a wine to go with our main course of lots of different cuts of lamb. In the end he opted for a luxurious 2004 chateauneuf de pape, simply because it’s such a good wine, it could stand up to our complex meat course. This wine was thick and smoky and very warming indeed – it was probably my favourite of the night. Our ‘celebration’ of lamb came as seared rump, pressed neck, sweetbread and tongue. The rump was particularly enjoyable and the offal surprisingly good. The cuts came with a puree of curried cauliflower and peas and broad beans. The puree was stunning and complemented the rich lamb very well indeed. I don’t think it was a great pairing for the wine though, which is often the case with spicy foods.

A celebration of lamb

The tasting menus are good because you get lots of small courses to eat and you always have room for everything. I love to have cheese with a meal but never manage it so I was pleased that cheese featured on this menu. Our cheeses included a comte and a tongue tingling blue. Even blue cheese hating Richard ate and enjoyed the blue! The wine pairing for this was a Post Scriptum Douro. The sommelier described it as a cross between a port and a red wine as he’s a bit snobby about serving port. It was deep and fruity but without the sickly sweetness of port.

Before dessert we were treated to what was possible my favourite course – a pre dessert of lemon pannacotta and rosemary granita. The granita was so clever – the aromatic freshness is one that I will try and emulate at home. The panacotta was so clean and cool it really refreshed the palate and calmed my mouth down after all of the wine and cheese!

Pre-dessert of lemon pannacotta with rosemary granita

Dessert was a show stopping raspberry souffle, that I had already seen being handed out in the dining room and was excited about! It came baked with a white chocolate cream inside. This was potentially an exciting addition, however mine seemed to have split slightly inside the souffle and wasn’t that pleasant, which was a great shame. However, what was a stroke of genius was that the inside of the ramekin had been coated with luxurious dark and bitter chocolate. As the souffle baked this melted and then acted as an amazing bitter partner to the fruity pud. I was impressed with the decent and even rise the chef had achieved. It came served with fresh raspberries, crunchy freezedried raspberries and a vibrant raspberry sorbet. The final wine pair was a Castrano Dulce – a syrupy red dessert wine. Richard described it as tasting like Ribena – we’ll make a food blogger out of him yet! But yes indeed it did taste of alcoholic ribena.

Raspberry and chocolate souffle with raspberry sorbet and freezedried sorbet

Overall a good (but expensive) meal indeed! I didn’t feel leaving so full that I might explode but I felt very content with the food and wine I had been treated to. The place itself had a relaxed atmosphere, despite being fairly formal. I think what impressed me the most was how everything worked like clockwork. The minute we ordered something another staff member whooshed in with new cutlery or wine glasses and we were never left waiting for anything – that will always win me round! If you find yourself in a posh residential street in Kensington then why not try it out? But do take your credit card!

Game for a laugh – day one

I do love a bit of rich, meaty game, and when we served venison at our Delia’s Christmas supperclub last year it was probably one of the tastiest things I’d eaten in an age. Plus when we did a beef version, it just wasn’t quite the same.
Anyway, game is an ingredient that I guess I don’t use often enough. Living in the city it’s not always the thing that’s widely available in the market, so it’s not an ingredient I feel amazingly confident about. I’d done a brilliant course at Ashburton Cookery School last year that taught me some great knife skills that I still use now, and I wanted to take it to the next level.
Being in Devon the cookery school is hardly local to Leeds. But I have friends in Devon and they’d bought me some vouchers for the school for my 30th birthday so it seemed a good idea to pop down and learn about game!

Red legged partridges ready for plucking!

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Mexican food made… for Dinner at the Manor!

My dining adventures continue. You can rely on the Christmas period to bring lots of greedy opportunities into life and I’m never one to turn one down! This weekend saw me within a one mile radius of Thomasina Miers’ chain Wahaca, and seeing as they have foolishly failed to bring this Mexican eatery to the North, tsk, I had to grace them with my presence and fill myself with their nosh. Plus we’re featuring Thomasina’s Mexican Food Made Simple at our January supperclub so I thought I’d go and get some presentation tips. Continue reading

A Meal with a Masterchef

This weekend saw the Dinner at the Manor staff descend upon beautiful York for their Christmas party. The chef was to be Sara Danesin of Masterchef fame and proprietor of Sara at St John’s, York’s now famous supperclub. We had to book months ago for this and even then places were hard to come to by, so we were very excited. Sara was the passionate Italian chef on Masterchef who made it to final three but was pipped to the post by quirky and innovative chef Tim Anderson. She is probably most remembered for the consistent quality of her food, and whilst most of her peers crumbled around her she always kept her cool. I was very excited to try a meal prepared for her as she had been my favourite on the show. I also secretly hoped she’d rustle up the chocolate ravioli for us!

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