Friday 19 August 2016

Gin Festival, Liverpool

It is only really this year that we have started to drink more of and begun to appreciate gin. Stemming from visits Barcelona, Madrid and closer to home, Ginever gin Bar on Hope Street and a fantastic gin tasting night at Lunya. With our gin appetite well and truly whetted, we were eager to sample more gins and jumped at the chance to visit Gin Festival on its Liverpool stop at the Crypt in the Metropolitan Cathedral.

Gin Festival is a great touring event created by Jym and Marie Harris to share their love of gin. Since its inception they can boast that it is the biggest gin festival with gin from around the world.

The event works on a pre-ticketed basis, included in the ticket price is a gin goblet for you to sample as many gins as you can handle for £5 each via a token system. Also included is a a gin guide highlighting the different types of gins and garnishes.

Their are also a multitude of gin exhibitors, each showing off their own distilleries. Small samples can be tried and we lost count of the number of gins we tried before even moving to the gin bar!
The Masons dry Yorkshire tea gin was the best newcomer winner in 2015 and it was special with its unique tea notes which worked very well.
Onto the bar we scoured the gin book and decided on a couple of gins, first of which was the G'vine Floraison, hand crafted in France. This was served with raspberry and grapes.
Next was the Sikkim Fraise from Spain served with mint, this was full of juniper and summer berries.
The gin below is Thevethan Cornish gin from Cornwall. Served with orange and clove, it was quite a bold gin with a rounded orange spice.
The bars were separated into four sections by letters, this corresponded to the gins in the book to make ordering easier.

Gin Festival is highly recommended for both the casual gin drinker and for connoisseur alike with something for everyone. Check out their website for dates and cities, but be fast as tickets sell out quick!

Friday 22 April 2016

El Celler De Can Roca, Girona

First off, we just want to apologise for the lack of blog posts this year! It’s been a crazy few months coupled with a hint of laziness as its easier to upload food pictures to Instagram. To make up for the lack of activity the post to kick start the blog is non other than the San Pellogrino number 1 restaurant in the world..... El Celler de Can Roca, from the picturesque town Girona and holder of 3 Michelin stars.

Having come all this way we chose the longer feast menu over the short classics menu along with a wine pairing to share. We had done our research before hand and noted the build up of glasses on other reviews where people couldn't keep up with the wine pairings!
The world
Thailand - chicken, coriander, coconut, curry and lime
Japan - miso cream and nyinyonyaki
China - pickled vegetables with plum cream
Peru - Causa limena
Korea - panco fried bread, bacon with soya sauce, kimchi and sesame oil
Memories of a bar in the suburbs of Girona - breaded squid, kidneys with sherry, escabeche mussels, salt cod with spinach and pinenuts, Campari bonbon
Green olive ice cream and calcot lyo
Coral - ying yang oyster and sea bream ceviche
 Truffled bon bon and St George mushroom brioche
Pumpkin consommé with green tea - hazelnut tofu, parsnip, liquefied pumpkin, liquefied spinach, passion fruit, pumpkin seed, turnip and charcoal grilled chestnut
Red mullet with kimbu - prickly pear foam, sea anemone, salicomia and Katsuobushi vinegar, charcoal grilled red pine mushroom
Langoustine with cocoa bean sauce - black mole with mantis shrimp cream with cocoa and boletus edulis
Partridge and fermented cabbage salad - smoked broth and tarragon foam
Pigeon with fermented rice - rice skin sauce, koji sauce, rice bread and pigeon parfait
Prawn marinated with rice vinegar - prawn's head sauce, crispy prawn legs, seaweed veloute and phytoplankton
Sole with olive oil, fennel, bergamot, orange, pine nuts and green olives. The restaurant changed this course to the signature sole dish for Mrs Nom as she is not a fan of skate which is what was listed on the taster menu. I'm glad she did and its no wonder this is on the classics menu and I would go as far as to class the sole as the dish of the meal. Each flavour complimented the fish perfectly and took it to new heights when eaten in sequence as advised by the staff. I did note that the pieces Mrs Nom gave me were very small as she wanted it all to herself!
Confit skate with mustard oil, beurre noisette, honey, chardonnay vinegar, bergamot, aromatic mustard and smoked hazelnuts
Blackspot sea bream with samfaina
Iberian suckling pig with salad of green papaya, thai grapefruit, apple, coriander, chili pepper, lime and cashew
Lamb with eggplant and chickpea puree, lamb's trotters and spicy tomato
Veal oyster blade and marrow, tendons and avocado
Suspiro limeno - milk, lime, coriander, milk caramel, pisco
Turkish perfume - rose, peach, saffron, cumin, cinnamon and pistachio
 Orange colourology
Stuffed to the brim we ordered peppermint tea to end the marathon four hour meal and to call it a night. A trolley full of delectable petit fours accompanied the tea and we ordered a selection of the servers favourites to share.

The visit has been a long time coming and it certainly lived up to our expectations and then some. All three Roca brothers were in attendance on the night of our visit and the signed menus and quick snap with Joan and Jordi Roca was the icing on the cake.
Signed menu in full with wine pairings
The total cost was 500 Euro for a very long tasting menu and one wine pairing. The wine pairing was the most exceptional we have tried anywhere thus far, well recommended.

Friday 15 January 2016

Den, Tokyo

Fresh from our travels from Japan and Korea one of the most eagerly anticipated meals was at Den in Jimbocho, Tokyo. Chef patron Zaiyu Hasegawa serves up his take on modern kaiseke cuisine. Situated down an alley a couple of minutes walk from Jimbocho station it can be easy to miss the Den "傳" signage, the hostess was surprised that we had found the restaurant without any trouble.

We had an early booking for 6pm and me being overzealous not to be late we were ten minutes early and waited in the seating area whilst the kitchen finished the prep for the night. Immediately we could see the playful aspect of the restaurant which it is famed for as we noted scribblings in black marker along the walls and doors from famous visiting chefs from all over the globe. Notable familiar UK chefs included Isaac McHale who had visited a month earlier.
Savoury play on red bean monaka, this one was filled with foie gras, chestnut and pickles. It was so good Wendy wanted another one.
Blowtorched crabshell hiding a piping hot crab croquette filled to the brim with crab meat and roe.
Beautiful bespoke crockery
Chef presented us with a chicken box next with a title of DFC. Inside was a nice surprise with a thanks for coming message and chicklet bearing the Union Jack. The star of the box however was the perfectly fried stuffed chicken wing, filled with rice, goji berries and pine nuts.
Meguro sashimi with a tomiko brown sauce which we mopped up with gusto.
Japanese mackerel served with a divine monkfish liver sauce and celery sauce with a garnish of fried radish. This was simply amazing, the celery sauce brought a good balance to a otherwise rich dish.
Next up was Chefs signature salad showcasing Japanese produce, fried leaves, raw and cooked vegetables all added to a complex dish, the star for me was a delectable tomato.
We noted a rice pot cooking away during our meal and inside was our next course. Chef presented a sakura ebi ricepot to us which are in season two times a year. The essence of the shrimps permeated through the rice as it cooked and this was a delight. We didn't want the meal to end with this being the final savoury course.
Dessert served with a gardening theme complete with "rusty" chocolate spade, the contents included a charcoal cheese pudding covered in green tea, brown tea and barley tea.
The last course was a rich Italian truffle and chocolate pudding served in a mug similar to the coffee chain, this one however signified Chefs determination to regain his second Michelin star.
 Being avid followers of Chef on Instagram for which he was humbled, his face lit up when we mentioned Pucci Jr. Chef even brought him down from his slumber and he became the centre of attention. Pucci licked my hands when I stroked him, Chef said he could smell the DFC on my hands which is his favourite! Amazingly when chef said arigato, Pucci would put his paws together and bow to thank the customers!

The sake and wine pairings were great and value for money, with the whole meal costing around 34,000 Yen for two. Chef even provided some recommendations to us when we enquired where to sample different types of Japanese cuisine. He even offered to make  his special version of whatever we wanted if we returned, now thats service!