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Game and Wine Matching

Game and Wine Matching

Autumn nights have just got a whole lot more attractive with game and wine matching at your local pub.  Bring on the dark nights and falling leaves.

Pheasant shooting season is well and truly underway,  but what other food is in the hunters’ sights?  Expect a wide variety of game and wild birds destined for the tables of Young’s Pubs and Geronimo Inns over the coming weeks.

Game and Wine Matching

Each listed pub hosts an event where diners will learn more about game meat and birds and how it’s prepared for the pot.  Then there’s a chance to taste food and wine from a specially curated seasonal menu.

The Elgin: Notting Hill Gate

My evening at The Elgin began with a glass of Deakin Estate, Chardonnay Pinot Noir, a sparkling wine with a great citrus nose.  No doubt the obligatory Dutch courage needed for the squeamish in the room as next up was the skinning and jointing of a deer.

Game and Wine Matching

No mean feat for the butcher and game dealer in question, Chris Sole, from Blackmore Game, who was operating with a very sharp knife in a darkened room.  He prepared a few cuts and explained how to cook them.

Game and Wine Matching

Working up quite a hunger, the second part of the evening brought a three-course meal with a Sommelier-paired wine selection.  Molly Stevenson from Berkmann Wine Cellars was our wine host for the night.

Pigeon and Partridge

Wood pigeon with blueberry jus, beetroot puree and crispy salsify came with a light Pinot Noir called Jealousy.

Game and Wine Matching

Pot-roast Partridge breast with bacon, savoy cabbage, ironbark pumpkin and redcurrant jelly sauce, with a Bordeaux and a beautiful dessert of Toffee Apple pudding a Curas Muscat.

All of the wines are available in the pubs by the bottle.

Game and Wine Matching

Want to know more about game meats, without the need to cook?

Game and Wine Matching

Game and Wine Matching

These are the venues taking part:

Oct 5, The Alma, Wandsworth
Oct 11, The Blue Boar, Chipping Norton
Oct 12, The Hand & Spear, Weybridge
Oct 18, The Dukes Head, Putney
Oct 25, The Bulls Head, Barnes

Tickets start from £35 per person and are available directly from the pub or their website.

Here’s my post on pairing game with whisky.

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Review: Cafe Murano, St James's

Review: Cafe Murano, St James’s

Cocktails kicked off the evening at Dukes Hotel; crystal glasses were filled with frozen Number 3 Gin, Vermouth and a large slice of Amalfi lemon peel.  I wholly recommend a visit.  If you can, get Alessandro Palazzi to wheel his trolley to your table and make it before your eyes, the theatre is a must for anyone, just priceless for visitors to the capital.

Review: Cafe Murano, St James's

We threw the credit card at the evening.  It happened to be my birthday, and surprisingly it wasn’t as costly as I’d first imagined it might be.

I’d booked into Cafe Murano, at the other end of St James’s and a five-minute stroll from Dukes Hotel.

Review: Cafe Murano, St James's

Cafe Murano is pretty unassuming on the outside.   On the inside, a marble bar dominates the length of the dining room, handy for that quick bowl of lunchtime pasta.   I loved that the tables had a decent amount of space between them and for a school night there was a nice buzz about the place.

Review: Cafe Murano, St James's

It didn’t take long before we’d sat down and had ordered a Menabrea beer and the Aperitivo Of The Day ‘Tramonto di Luglio’ (Myers Rum, Maraschino, Apricot, Sweet & Sour, Lavender bitters).

Review: Cafe Murano, St James's

The menu was about to change, but I’m thankful for the selection on offer.

The waiting staff were attentive and offered up help when needed, but weren’t overbearing in the slightest.

Chichetti

We had to have the Angela Hartnett signature arancini (£4.50) (did I mention it’s her restaurant?).  Tightly-packed risotto rice, infused with truffle oil, rolled into balls and breadcrumbs then deep-fried to the perfect crispness.

Review: Cafe Murano, St James's

Salumi with the crispiest Carta di Musica was a good place to start (£12).  Lots of flavourful meat but the clear winner was the Finocchio or fennel-studded salami.

Review: Cafe Murano, St James's

Review: Cafe Murano, St James's

A well-risen, pillow-soft Rosemary focaccia came with a small saucer (more’s the pity) of Planeta olive oil.

Review: Cafe Murano, St James's

Antipasti

We made relatively light work of the plates and moved to the Antipasti.  A good-sized portion of octopus, potato and caper leaves lasted no longer than the click of the iPhone (£10.50).  Salted and chopped tentacles worked well with the creamy salad potatoes and pickled caper leaves.

Review: Cafe Murano, St James's

The Tagliatelle Amatriciana with grated pecorino was a well-chosen classic (£10.50/£17.00).  Lovely ribbons of fresh-egg pasta were tossed in a fresh tomato sauce with a generous grated topping of sharp and salty Pecorino.

Review: Cafe Murano, St James's

Mr opted for the Spaghettini, anchovies and pangrattato (£10.00/£16.50).  Again no surprise that the supplier of fresh pasta to Fortnum’s around the corner is pretty good at making a good pasta. Being a huge fan of anchovies, he lapped up the dish of flavours, which was crowned with a breadcrumb and chilli crumb.

Review: Cafe Murano, St James's

Contorni

I thought I was full by this time and then spotted the courgette fritti (£3.75) I managed to work my way through a bowl of deep-fried, batter-coated chips of courgette.  Amazing.

Secondi

Mr ploughed onto the next course.  Beef rump, stracchino, San Marzano and basil (£21.00).  What a joy to taste this plump Italian tomato, grown at the foot of Mount Vesuvius, sweet, dark red with the richness of the beef, which cut like butter, draped with creamy stracchino cheese.  A perfect plate of food.

Review: Cafe Murano, St James's

Dolce

In fairness I was full but the salted caramel baked chocolate pannacotta was winking, heavily.   This was the only dish which left me slightly disappointed.  Sure it was creamy, and a beautiful set but the depth of flavour just wasn’t there, even drizzled with a salted caramel sauce.  That said, I ate the whole thing, so it wasn’t that bad.

Review: Cafe Murano, St James's

Lastly, the team at Cafe Murano saw it was my Birthday on my booking. I love a Happy Birthday plate, and they didn’t disappoint.

Review: Cafe Murano, St James's

What a lovely evening.  Shame it was a school night.

Love Italian food?  Another top Italian is Sartoria on Savile Row.

Cafe Murano, 33 St James’s Street, London, SW1A 1HD, United Kingdom

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Nanaimo Bars Recipe

Nanaimo Bar

The Nanaimo Bar is named after the city of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island.  This moreish, no-bake bar has a biscuit base, topped with a custard layer then a crisp chocolate top. They’re delicious but don’t take my word for it, the Canadians voted the bar their favourite confectionery.

Nanaimo Bar History

The first printed copy of the recipe using the name Nanaimo is found in Edith Adams’ cookbook in 1953.  Edith was a fictitious newspaper food writer for the Vancouver Sun who doled out homemaker advice to its readers.  If a reader got their recipe printed, they’d be sent a dollar and it would appear that Lenore Newman wrote the recipe published in the paper but under the title London Fog Bar.  It seems since then there have been quite a few reincarnations but all closely match the original recipe.

They’re called various things across Canada from Victoria Specials in Drumheller, Mabel’s Squares in Nova Scotia to New York Slices in Winnipeg and Kenora.

Canada is celebrating its 150th year and so it seems the perfect time to whip up a tray of Nanaimo Bars and scoff for Canada.

Here’s a recipe I got given from a Whistler resident.

Recipe

Ingredients

For the biscuit layer

1 egg
60g sugar
15ml vanilla extract
120g butter
75g cocoa
240g of Graham Crackers crumbs (If you can’t get hold of Graham Crackers, I use 120g Digestive and 120g Rich Tea biscuits to good effect). Oreo’s might just be the perfect substitution.
120g chopped walnuts
240g coconut (A combination of desiccated and chopped, toasted)

For the custard layer

45g butter
45ml milk
30g Bird’s Custard Powder
480g Icing Sugar
9″ x 9″ baking pan

Begin by making the biscuit base

In a bowl, over a pan of simmering water, melt the butter with the sugar and cocoa powder, stirring occasionally until smooth. I always microwave mine, 600W for about a minute and a half, keeping a very close eye on it. Whisk in the egg until the mixture has thickened. Remove from the heat and mix in the biscuit crumbs, coconut and chopped walnuts if using, then press into the base of a lined 20cm square tin. Chill for 10 mins.

Then the custard layer

Whisk together the butter, milk and custard powder until light and fluffy, then gradually add the icing sugar until fully mixed. Spread over the biscuit layer and chill in the fridge for at least 10 mins until the custard is no longer soft.

Melt the chocolate and butter together in the microwave (or over a pan of simmering water), then spread over the chilled bars and put back in the fridge. Leave until the chocolate has fully set. Take the mixture out of the tin and slice into bite-sized squares.

Nanaimo Bars Recipe

They will keep in an airtight tin for up to a week but don’t expect them to hang around that long.

Nanaimo Bars Recipe

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A Night Out At The Savoy Hotel

A Night Out At The Savoy Hotel

A night out at The Savoy Hotel mostly spent at Kaspar’s Seafood Restaurant.  We could have started the evening with a cocktail at the world-famous American Bar or ended our meal with a night cap in the art-deco Beaufort Bar … keep reading to find out more about this wonderful central London gem.

It’s the only road here in the UK you can drive on the left.  Yes, people. The Savoy Hotel on The Strand in the heart of London.   You know you’re in for a treat in both luxury and service, at least, when you see the Lalique crystal fountain and top-hat doffing doormen at the grand entrance.

A Night Out At The Savoy Hotel

As you walk through the hotel foyer, the first thing you notice is the beautiful flower displays, and this is the start of many.

A Night Out At The Savoy Hotel

Kaspar’s is a wonderful seafood bar at the rear of The Savoy Hotel in London. For those not in the know, this London institution has hosted royalty and world leaders to legends of the stage and screen. If only the walls could talk, I’d be there for hours.

The legend of Kaspar

For almost 90 years the Hotel has offered dining parties of thirteen the company of Kaspar the Cat. Thankfully, not a real puss but a statue created by the architect Basil Ionides in 1926. Kaspar sits on ‘unlucky’ tables with a napkin around his neck, a full place-setting before him, ready to enjoy every course served. Kaspar’s Seafood Bar and Grill is the former River Restaurant and named after the ‘cat’.

Celebrations

August is an expensive month for me; it’s my birthday and my Mum’s. She loves seafood, we’ve eaten at Kaspar’s in the past and sat at their art deco bar which takes up the middle of the huge room. This time, we’re treated to a table close to the River, at the back of the Restaurant, and get to glimpse the Thames through the huge trees which also provide a screen for the bedrooms above us.

Kaspar’s Seafood Restaurant

Champagne for Mum and me, the house is Louis Roederer (£18.50), so we were in great company. Mr settled for a glass of house white wine, La Loupe (£9.50), a white Grenache with white fruits and fruity notes which worked well with his starter.

A Night Out At The Savoy Hotel

Service here is attentive, not at all imposing.  Our waiter Ryan always had the right answer to our questions and a lovely smile.

Gorgeous sourdough arrived with soft cheese and butter, brown and white.

A Night Out At The Savoy Hotel

The starters were superb, but after I scanned the menu, I knew that it would be a large main course. Mr was the only one who opted for a starter but boy what a starter

The lobster and crab bisque was everything and more (£18.00).

Seafood

Mum chose the Fruits de Mer Platter (£39.00) for her main course.  Sadly, my picture was blurry.  A crushed ice platter arrived with four oysters, four huge prawns, white crab meat and two fat scallops.  Mum ordered a side of skinny fries (£5.00). Excellent value.

I had the Atlantic cod fish and chips (£20.00) which is one of the tastiest plates of food I’ve had in a while. A huge piece of cod in the lightest batter had been fried and crisped to perfection. When cut large flakes of cod fell onto the plate, only to be stopped by a pea crush and thin whippet fries.

A Night Out At The Savoy Hotel

Mr chose Halibut, prawns and chorizo (£39.00) with a side of new potatoes (£5.00).  There’s not much needed when you get the best quality products into your kitchen. As a chef, all you need to do is know how to cook them.  And the chefs at Kaspar’s certainly have the skills.  He fancied a glass of white wine to work well with the fish.   A super crisp Domaine de l’Eglantiere arrived, a little steep at (£18.50) but Mr said it was well worth it and was the perfect compliment to his Halibut.

A Night Out At The Savoy Hotel

We looked at each other, beaten by the portions. No room for dessert.

There was, however, a Happy Birthday lollipop and a few iced bonbons which we managed to force down. I have no idea if Mum got it home in one piece, but she insisted on taking home her lollipop as a reminder of her beautiful evening.

A Night Out At The Savoy Hotel

The total for our meal, including 12.5% service (£23.38), was £210.38 (£61.00 was alcohol), which included free still and sparkling mineral water.

As we leave, we poke our nose into the shop and see the Chocolatier hard at work, beautiful works of art too by The Biscuiteers who have recreated the uniform of the mixologists at the world-famous American Bar and the Savoy Cocktail Book.

A Night Out At The Savoy Hotel

We say goodbye to the Hotel and Kaspar, the huge topiary cat, keeping an eye on proceedings outside his home.

A Night Out At The Savoy Hotel

Kaspar’s Seafood Bar & Grill‎, The Savoy, Strand, London, WC2R 0EU+44 (0) 20 7420 2111.

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Cherry & Walnut Brownie Recipe - with Colombian Panela

Cherry and Walnut Brownie Recipe

Panela is organic dried sugar cane juice, collected by crushing peeled sugar cane in a mill.  Used in the place of regular sugar, it worked a treat in this squidgy, cherry and walnut brownie recipe.

cherry and walnut brownie recipe

Process

Freshly harvested sugar cane is pressed in small Colombian family run farms known as ‘trapiches’, and the juice is cold-filtered, evaporated in a cauldron over a fire using the sugar cane husks as fuel. The liquid is boiled until it produces a thick caramel-like consistency where it’s poured into square block moulds to set.  When it’s compact and solid, it becomes an essential kitchen ingredient. Ground into a fine powder it’s convenient for use on porridge, sprinkled on yoghurt and adds a rich, moist texture to baked products.

Comparison

I compared the Panela with other sugars in the store cupboard, and it did come out on top, having slightly fewer calories and carbs than both granulated white sugar and unrefined dark brown soft cane sugar.

cherry and walnut brownie recipe

The results were excellent, and while chocolate brownies aren’t a great example of a low-calorie treat, the Panela did a good job where caster sugar was required.

This has walnuts; I know that Nigel Slater says nuts get in the way, but I like the texture.  This recipe gives brownies with a thin crust, a centre somewhere between melted chocolate and bog mud, with walnut and cherry pieces for contrast.  Making full use of the glut of cherries in season now.

Cherry & Walnut Brownie Recipe

Ingredients

130g butter
150g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
55g cherries
55g walnuts
225g Colombian Panela – I used Hasslacher’s
55g cocoa powder
75g plain flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
3 large eggs

Method

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas 4. Line a 20cm square baking tin with greaseproof paper.  Melt the butter and dark chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water or the microwave on a low setting to melt.  De-stone the cherries and roughly chop them along with the walnuts. Stir into the melted chocolate.  In another bowl, add the sugar, then sift in the cocoa powder, flour and baking powder. Add to the melted chocolate mixture and stir well.  Beat the eggs and mix in.  Transfer the mixture to the tin, then bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool before cutting into squares.

cherry and walnut brownie recipe

cherry and walnut brownie recipe

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