Friday 31 May 2013

Guerrilla Eats, Manchester

We attended the Guerrilla Eats street food event on King Street Manchester. I did a little research beforehand to see what stalls would be there.  I remember seeing venison steak which I was looking forward to trying. We arrived about 4pm and noticed it only took up a small section of King Street but then again there were only a few exhibitors. The first stall we come across was Fire & Salt which sold slow cooked pork in a roll and next to it Dirty Dogs were selling a choice of a giant polish sausage with sauerkraut and cheese or a beef frankfurter with blue cheese slaw.

Next door was a smoothie store and in the centre was a tea and crumpets cart. Other stalls included pancake house, a cupcakes stall, an Indian street food stall, The Moocher grill, a stall selling Nando’s like chicken and a pizza van. I really wanted a venison steak burger from The Moochers but was disappointed to find out that it had already sold out. The other choice was pork belly but didn’t look too appetising as the few samples that we saw seemed severely burnt.
We opted for the Indian street food and selected the Massala Dosa at £6 which was a pancake filled with spiced potatoes, topped with a coconut sauce and some couscous like red sauce.  The pancake was really thin, thinner than a crepe and the potato filling was slightly spicy. I think the coconut sauce went well with the filling because it had a creamy coconut taste but I don’t really think the other sauce added anything to the dish.

We then decided to have a hot dog as nothing else took our fancy and joined the queue for Dirty Dogs. There was a rather long wait for the giant Polish hotdogs and it seemed like that was the favourite choice judging by the orders as it was double the size of the beef frankfurter but at the same price of £5. Despite the stall owner proclaiming “size doesn’t matter!” the bigger sausage won out.  Maybe we should have heeded his words as the polish sausage was nothing special.

Wednesday 29 May 2013

Liberty Private Works, Hong Kong

We visited Hong Kong last October and this will be the first post from our trip and was also our favourite ‘Western’ meal in Hong Kong.  Liberty Private Work is situated in Central, the main business district of Hong Kong.   Its main appeal is the open kitchen type arrangement with patrons being sat around the open kitchen and being able to observe the cooking and preparation of each dish.  The executive chef, Vicky Cheng, devises and serves an 8 course menu each night.
On arrival we were part of the last group of 6 diners for the night, the restaurant does 18 covers with staggered start times from 7.30-8.30pm.  We were sat towards the end of one side of the open kitchen towards the stove.  Mrs Nom was concerned that it may get a bit hot and cause discomfort due to her contact lenses but it didn’t prove too bad in the end.
The amuse bouche was a chicken liver parfait arranged in squares with various accompaniments including fried brioche, fig, almond jelly napoleon and chicken skin. This was a nice start to the meal with various taste variations with a delightfully intense parfait.

The first course was one of the signature dishes, tuna, sea urchin, espelette and rice.  Whilst serving each course either Chef Vicky or one of his brigade would explain the dish.  The dish come with a frozen grape on the left and a frozen longan on the right.  Chef explained that the frozen grape was to refresh the palate for the tuna tartare and the longan was to cleanse the palette at the end from the kick of the espelette.   The flavours worked well with the espelette elevating the tuna and sea urchin and the crispy rice gave the dish a different texture.

The presentation of the next dish was exquisite, described as shellfish, chorizo, tomato and yuzu on the menu.  This turned out to be tiger prawns, clams on a bed of yuzu jelly.  The sweet jelly complemented the fresh seafood.

We noticed the introduction of sardine tins in the work area and quickly worked out why with the next dish of mackerel with ratatouille and fennel.  Served on smoking branches for effect.  Of the courses so far which were well balanced this was probably the weakest with the ratatouille overpowering the other ingredients.

The next dish was another signature dish of egg, truffle, parmesan and caviar.  Inside the ravioli contained spinach and ricotta and the egg yolk which oozed out into the sauce. The creamy parmesan and truffle sauce was a delight although a little rich, but this didn’t stop me from mopping it up with a freshly baked bread roll supplied halfway through the course.

By this point Mrs Nom was getting rather full and the next dish was her least favourite of the night.  Maybe something to do with the fact that it was rabbit (in her eyes a fluffy cute pet), pancetta, chestnut and brussel sprouts (food hell for Mrs Nom).  To me, this was welcome with it being the first meat of the night.  The rabbit was well cooked although the dish seemed plain and missing the wow factors of the previous courses.

With Mrs Nom well and truly stuffed I ended up eating my own and two thirds of the final savoury dish of the night, sirloin beef and ox tongue with porcini mushrooms, foie gras and onions.  The sirloin seemed a bit tough and chewy but the ox tongue was delectable, full of deep beefy flavours.

Next up were the desserts and it’s a wonder how theres always room for dessert with women.  All the components of the dish reminded me of a pina colada due to the flavours.  I noticed that all the plates prepared by Chef were unique unlike the previous courses but each remained stylish.  The pineapple and coconut powder created was joyful alongside the olive oil sorbet.

The last dessert was Chefs take on peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Whilst looking nothing like it that I can remember from my childhood the taste sensations were very much there.  For a while I felt I was twenty years younger.

After the gastronomic feast we were presented with small treats in the form of freshly baked madeleines.

A truly memorable meal and reasonably priced for the quality at approximately £230 for two including the wine pairing.  We were the last ones remaining due to us being the last sitting and all in all the experience lasted about 3 hours.  We even got the opportunity to talk to Chef Vicky at the end of the night who seemed very nice and was keen for our feedback.  He told us he has worked in Toronto and New York before Hong Kong.  A quick look on the website later showed that Chef has worked at the renowned Daniel in New York which he didn’t mention which shows how humble he was.  A definite return the next time we are in Hong Kong. 

26th Floor
11 Stanley Street
Hong Kong

Monday 27 May 2013

Foodies Festival, Tatton Park

I was staring out of the window on the way to Tatton Park thinking it is a bad idea going to the Foodies Festival today. It looked dull and cold and obviously the grass would be muddy from the rain. We parked up at Tatton Park and walked to the entrance. We had a browse at the stalls before deciding what to purchase. Once we saw the oysters at Loch Ryan we went straight for 4 at £1.50 each and then the man suggested we go for 6 oysters at £8 which we went for in the end because we couldn’t resist. The oysters were just so big, juicy and fresh, it just needed a squeeze of lemon and they were ready to slide down our throats. We had people behind us watching us eat the oysters and contemplating whether to try them or not. They were just so yummy, we were considering to come back to get some more later on.  We had passed Loch Fyne on the way in and passed on the oysters there as there were shucked at the back and it was an inspired decision in the end.

Most of the stalls were generally selling burgers which were a bit of a let-down because I didn’t really want burgers. I wanted something special from a big festival like this. It was a shame that there were not more exhibitors from local restaurants offering sample dishes rather than meat and bun combos, the Liverpool Food and Drink festival last year was better in this regard with the likes of Italian Club Fish and Puschka. Since I had no choice I went for a rib eye steak sandwich since the queue had died down at Gaucho BBQ. We realised why the queue has died down because there was about a 20 minutes wait for the beef. The steak was really good, not chewy or tough and it had a sauce to compliment the steak.  At £6 for a few slices of meat it was a bit on the expensive side.

After the steak sandwich we went around all the stalls hunting for something special, maybe some sauces for our steak tonight or something we have never tried before. We came across this The Sauce Queen and tried a few sauces, the peppercorn and brandy and the porcini mushroom. In the end we purchased peppercorn and brandy sauce as it was really tasty and flavoursome from the brandy, perfect with our ribeye steaks at home. Although I was looking forward to our steaks that night I was still feeling rather hungry as we did come to the festival on an empty stomach and it remained so.
We spotted people eating something on a skewer and we soon we saw this van which we didn't catch the name of selling mozzarella and chorizo lollipops, they were also selling it in a bun but we thought the lollipop we something different and to be honest we didn’t really want any bread as you might have gathered. As it started to rain I went to stand near a stall to stay dry whilst Mr Nom queued up for the mozzarella and chorizo skewer. I am not really much of a chorizo lover so I kept demolishing the mozzarella bites whilst Mr Nom was wolfing down the chorizo. It was nothing special really in taste, just your average mozzarella and chorizo so it won’t be something I would purchase again.

An ever present at food markets and festivals, the churros stand was busy as always with around ten people ahead of us. Partially, I wanted the some salted caramel ice cream from one of the ice cream vendors but I did feel rather cold from the rain and the cold weather and I rather order something that would fill me up but Mr Nom wanted the churros so we queued up for that. We had the churros with sugar and cinnamon and a side pot of chocolate. I only ate about 2 pieces and felt rather sick after it whilst Mr Nom polished the rest off, I kind of felt I should of went for the ice cream after all.

After walking around the festival several times disappointed we couldn't find anything else to take our fancy we thought we should try some beverage there, just at that point this girl from the Aperol stand approaches us. I looked at the drink, it was orange, I suppose the colour kinda appealed to me and she said it was an Italian liqueur, orange and rhubarb flavour sounds rather pleasant. After waiting a few minutes for the guys to make the cocktail I couldn’t wait to try it. I took the first sip and it was just horrible, I think it consisted of Prosecco which I guess I’m not very fond off. I felt like leaving it after that first sip but Mr Nom and I tried our hardest to finish the cocktail and go.
The cocktail was the last thing we purchased before leaving, I was frankly too cold to hang around and honestly, it was not a great food festival. In actual fact I prefer the Liverpool Food and Drink festival as it is bigger and the variety of stalls is a lot better. I doubt I will attend the Foodie Festival next year unless there are more interesting exhibitors. Additionally, I am wondering where the pop-up restaurants were as I didn’t spot any beyond Loch Fyne and a Morrocan type affair at the entrance.  For the vast area the festival seemed really cramped especially the producers market sections.  If it was spaced out a bit more then it may have helped the mudbath situation from developing in the pathways between the stalls. Lastly the entry fee was disproportionate to the quality on offer.  Even with a half price Groupon deal at £15 for 2 it felt expensive for what it was, especially when factoring in the £5 for parking.