Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Rye Bay Scallop Week

Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Webbe's at the Fish Cafe - Loch Duart Salmon & Scallop Carpaccio

A year or so ago, as the daffodils were fading and the first leaves appearing on the trees, I felt the only thing that could make me more content was a portion of sweet and juicy scallops.
It was with great joy then, that I discovered during a little internet based research, The Rye Bay Scallop Week.

Every year, the pretty town of Rye in East Sussex hosts a celebration of it's coastal crop. Platefuls of delicious, plump scallops are dished up in restaurants all around the citadel. Ceviché, seared, marinated, tartare, deep-fried... you name it, They're serving it.

Obviously this was an event which required further investigation, so we booked a windmill, looked at some menus, waited for the ten intervening months to pass by and set off for Sussex.

The principle of Scallop week is that all the local eateries, from fish and chip shops and bars to steak joints and bistros serve a couple of scallop dishes all week. Or several scallop dishes. Or a whole menu.

Webbe's at the Fish Café was offering a 6 course Scallop Tasting Menu, which seemed the perfect way to expose ourselves to the scallop bonanza.
On the menu were a mixture of classic combinations and in places, some more modern methods. Or at least more modern to Britain. Pork belly and scallops in a ramen style broth being a perfect example.
Webbe's at the Fish Cafe - Scallop Cerviche with GuacamoleWebbe's at the Fish Cafe - Restaurant Interior
Webbe's at the Fish Cafe - Pork Belly & Scallop Broth
Webbe's at the Fish Cafe - Loch Duart Salmon & Scallop Carpaccio
Webbe's at the Fish Cafe - Seared Scallops with Jerusalem Artichoke Purée
Webbe's at the Fish Cafe - Steamed Lemon Sole with Scallop Mousseline
Webbe's at the Fish Cafe - Lemon Mousse with Rhubarb, Basil Meringue & Blood Orange

The second night, we dined at The Landgate Bistro where, instead of basing a menu on scallops, an inventive 'tapas' style menu, of little scallopy mouthfuls was available in conjunction with the à la carte offering. We tried quite a lot. Obviously.
Smoked scallop with herb jelly, scallop tartare with gooseberry and sorrel, Moroccan spiced scallop... About eight were available in total.
The chef clearly places a lot importance on sourcing his ingredients from as close to home as possible, something which as a country boy has always been something I like to see (and on a non-scallop related note, this admirable ethos gave us the chance to get our chops round another local delicacy - deliciously tender salt marsh lamb).
The Landgate Bistro - Scallop Tapas
The Landgate Bistro - Restaurant Interior
The Landgate Bistro - Scallop Tapas
The Landgate Bistro - Salt Marsh Lamb
The Landgate Bistro - Apple Tart

Our final meal was lunch, before departure. In Marino's, the fish and chip shop in town, where they served battered scallops (IT WAS SCALLOP WEEK) and chips, which I promise you were the best chips I have ever had. Crisp and crunchy on the exterior, fluffy and light inside with an over-all melt-in-the-mouth texture. Delicious!

I think we were lucky in our choices of eatery. All the residents we spoke to agreed that they were some of the best options in town, and both restaurants allowed us to sample scallops in several different dishes, which is, I suppose, the whole point of the entire event, as far as the consumer is concerned.

If you like eating scallops, you'll find Scallop Week at Rye an excellent event. Get in there early with your restaurant reservations, too. Webbe's and The Landgate get booked up quickly!

Oh, and did I mention that there's a Wild Boar week in the autumn?

Marino's Fish Bar Rye - Best fish & chips ever scallop week

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

The Solid Egg: No More Hollow Promises *VIDEO*

Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Hot knife cutting Peanut Butter in Milk Chocolate Shell Solid Egg

So, the Easter Bunny (also known as Catherine's friend Kerry) dropped by with a delivery at the weekend. A 540 gram delivery of solid milk chocolate and peanut butter goodness.

Conceived back in 2012 by Leigh Adams and illustrator Sarah Coleman, the Solid Egg bids farewell to the "hollow promises" of all those big brand, palm oil-pumped eggs that line the Supermarket shelves every Spring.
The Solid Egg hand-illustrated packaging
The Solid Egg wrapping and screen printed tea towel
The Solid Egg with hammer and chisel

The eggs are handmade in the Midlands from CasaLuker's 'Cacao Fino de Aroma'; high-quality, socially responsible cacao sourced from Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. As well as being actually solid (we used a hammer and chisel to break in to ours!), the milk chocolate egg contains 40% minimum cocoa solids, with the dark clocking up a seductive 70%. (For comparison, one of the UK's most popular chocolate brand's eggs only contain 20% cocoa solids in their milk chocolate, and 36% in their "dark".) For a moment, before we broke in to our Peanut Butter in Milk Chocolate Shell egg, we thought we'd possibly be faced with too much peanut butter - if there is such a thing - but the ratios in the egg were perfect. It's mostly chocolate, with thick, generous portions of peanut butter running through both sides.

See our amateur movie-making endeavours below, where we break in to the egg for the first time using a hammer and chisel (!) and the recommended 'hot knife' technique:

The price may seem steep at £22, when you compare it to other Easter eggs on the market, but this thing is 540 grams of solid, serious quality chocolate. Not only are these eggs damn delicious, they're beautifully designed. The packaging is hand-printed and numbered (see, limited edition), and with every egg comes a stunning screen-printed tea towel covered in funny, chocolate-themed illustrations by Sarah herself. Plus, who the hell needs another KitKat mug?

The Solid Egg screen printed tea towel
The Solid Egg Screen Printed Tea Towel

The other available flavours by Solid Egg this year were:
Solid Dark Chocolate
Solid Milk Chocolate
Solid White Chocolate
Peanut Butter with Dark Shell
Praline with Dark Shell
Praline with Milk Shell
Salted Chocolate
Allergen-Free (Suitable for the dairy intolerant, vegans, coeliacs, and those avoiding soya, this egg is also classed as 'nut safe')

We can't believe it's taken us so long to discover this brand. It's ethical, homegrown, creative, extremely local to us, and totally gratuitous: all the things we love. Can't wait for next Easter!

If the Solid Egg sounds like your bag, follow the movement over on Instagram and Facebook, where they've been sharing illustrations, behind-the-scenes, and customer photos this Easter.

The Solid Egg broken open

Monday, 3 April 2017

Petit Fours #9

Monday, April 03, 2017
Seared Duck Breast with Smoked Confit Bon Bons

At the end of the month, we share our 'Petit Fours': notable, bite-sized pieces of life in our kitchen and beyond. We have been a bit lax around here of late, so this one covers February and March. One thing we haven't been lax on is indulging, as you'll see below. What have you foodies been up to?

From the kitchen

Homemade Rice Pudding
Carrilleras Estofadas (Braised Pork Cheek - but with Belly)
Scotch Eggs*
Turkish Delight Curd Doughnuts*
Szechuan Orange Beef
Lamb Kebabs with Pomegranate Chutney
Duck fillet with "variations" of Rhubarb
Toridashi Ramen
Roasted Beef with Celeriac & Truffle
Seared Duck Breast with Smoked Confit Bon Bons* and Truffle Mash

(If you're interested in anything we've been eating, drop us a comment and we'll gladly fill you in on how we made it/where we sourced the recipe!)

Out to eat

Leave it to Esmie
The Windsor Tiffin
Webbe's at the Fish Café
Landgate Bistro
Dinner by Heston

The Hit List

Adams, Birmingham
Rofuto, Birmingham
Peels, Hampton in Arden

The rest

Tapas Night with the guys - everyone brought a dish, and as always there was too much delicious, delicious food.
Maybe it was all the eating out, but we've been more creative in the kitchen this past month, aiming to up our fine dining game. M served up some corkers, which you'll have seen if you follow us on Instagram.
We had a weekend away in Rye for their local annual event, Scallop Week. More on that in imminent posts.
We visited the INCREDIBLE Moomin Exhibition at the Southbank Centre in London. Highly recommend!
After saving up bones, sourcing ingredients on our trip to Hong Kong, and storing a mass of homemade toridashi stock in the freezer for months, we finally made a beautiful ramen.

* We bought ourselves a mini deep fat fryer and now we can cook pure, unadulterated filth and we love it.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Product Review: Krups Automatic Milk Frother

Friday, March 31, 2017
Close-up of the Krups Milk Frother with coffee machine in background
It was always our intention to include product reviews on the blog, but so far, it's either slipped our mind, we haven't used something enough to confidently review it, or we haven't had an alternative point of reference with which to compare said product to.

That was until the KRUPS Automatic Milk Frother came into our lives.

When we bought our KitchenAid back in the summer, we were hoping to do a write up about it, but I don't think we've truly utilised it (and all the accessories) to it's full potential yet. There's a lot we can do with it, and I want to do everything we can with what we've got before we commit to writing a review.

The Milk Frother however, is so simple in its design and function, that it was easy to form an opinion. Put simply; it's great. Go away and blow a load of cash on one now, you need not read on.
Inside view of the Krups Milk Frother

Okay, so if you're a skilled barista and coffee lover, with a 'proper' coffee machine complete with steam arm and the skills to use it, maybe you don't need this. We have a Krups bean-to-cup machine, which is great for lazy folk. It has a steam arm, which we do still often use, but the separate Milk Frother complements our lazy machine perfectly, especially on busy mornings.

The KRUPS Milk Frother is basically a milk 'kettle'. There are 3 settings - cappuccino, latte, and hot milk. You simply pour in milk up to the correct measure for your desired drink, pop the lid on, and press the corresponding button. It comes out at the perfect temperature with a lovely foam, and you can clean it in less than 30 seconds. Plus, It's small, light and easy to store.
Preparing to make hot chocolate in the Krups Milk Frother

Close-up of buttons on the Krups Milk Frother

For us, it truly came in to its own for hot chocolate. We have a vintage (former) Yugoslavian milk pan that we heat milk in on the hob, but using this method means constant vigilance. You can drop a spoon of your favourite drinking chocolate directly in to the KRUPS Milk Frother with your milk, turn it on, and it creates the perfect cup of smooth, frothy hot chocolate in minutes.

We use it most days and the only gripe we have with it is that the capacity only really allows for 1 medium-sized drink at a time, and for a second batch, you need to allow the container to cool first. This is achieved quick enough though, by swilling it out and filling with cold water for a minute or two. Also, we often drink our coffee out of small cups, so one batch will do those.

It's a gratuitous item, for sure. The price might give you doubts (in fact, it was a Christmas gift to us, so maybe we wouldn't have considered one otherwise), but now we have one, we would definitely replace it if it ever broke.

N.B. We received the KRUPS Milk Frother as a gift from family, not KRUPS, and this is not a sponsored post.
Hot chocolate on marble surface made with Krups Milk Frother

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Petit Fours #8

Thursday, February 02, 2017
Braised Lamb Neck with Apricots in Le Creuset

At the end of the month, we share our 'Petit Fours': notable, bite-sized pieces of life in our kitchen and beyond. We'd love to know what your January 'petit fours' are in the comments below.

From the kitchen

Roast leg of lamb & smoked mash
Leftover lamb biriyani
Homemade Marmalade (Delia recipe)
Roasted Gammon
Warm winter salad with creamy burrata

Out to eat

The Queen & Castle, Kenilworth
Olive Tree, Bath

The Hit List

Adams, Birmingham
Rofuto, Birmingham
Peels, Hampton in Arden

The rest

Being thrifty in January, and making roasted meats go further
Seville oranges appeared in the supermarket, and so C made her first ever batch of marmalade
Enjoying lots more frothy coffee, with our super new gadget (review imminent)
It was our turn to be wined and dined: Andy and Emma served us an amazing meal in the last week of Jan - check out our Instagram!
C bagged a new job *hooray*