The Essex Food and Drink Awards are designed to recognise and celebrate the very best of all things food and drink in Essex. The awards especially honour the champions working across the region’s industry – whether producing, selling or cooking our glorious food. Together they make the county the very best place for purchasing and consuming locally-produced food of unsurpassed quality.
The awards were first launched in 2008 to put a spot light on the industry in Essex. We believe they represent a fantastic opportunity for Essex to positively shine. The standard and quality of products and establishments simply gets better each year reflecting the regard with which these awards are held and we are looking forward to a fantastic competition in 2010.
So if you have visited an Essex Restaurant or pub and enjoyed a particularly good meal or you have been impressed with the produce and service at your local farm shop or baker, then let us know. Who knows they could be a winner this year.
Celebrity Chef and British Master Chef Mark Baumann, Baumanns Brasserie heads up the judging panel to find the Essex Chef of the Year. Mark said “I am delighted to once again be involved with the Essex food and drink awards as we are awash with amazing talent. Essex has been maligned for so long somewhat inexplicably to me, but its now our turn to fight back. The Essex Food and Drink Awards at last highlights the potential in our professional foodies, our fine eateries, suppliers and natural raw and developing talent and brings to the forefront secrets that have for so long been kept.”
The awards launched on 25th March. Look out for full coverage in the Essex Chronicle and Brentwood Gazette or visit the awards web site for details of all the categories and how to vote for your favourite places.
An exciting new series for Channel 4…
‘Ramsay’s Best Restaurant’ is an exciting new series dedicated to celebrating the finest restaurants in the UK. Restaurants nominated by the public will be tested to the highest level by Michelin starred chef Gordon Ramsay and the series will culminate in one culinary hero being crowned ‘Ramsay’s Best Restaurant’.
Gordon’s journey will see him travel the length and the breadth of Britain in search of brilliant restaurants that deliver gastronomic perfection and wonderful customer service. He’ll meet restaurant owners who refuse to be daunted by the threat from ubiquitous chains and who are determined to survive the recession on their own terms and with their exceptionally high standards intact. He’ll seek out culinary heroes working in the kitchens and front of house at independent restaurants across the UK whose brilliance deserves to be recognised.
Each of the eight heats will focus on a different type of cuisine including Italian, French, Indian and British categories and this year there’s a new category – Fine Dining. Will one of the big boys of the restaurant world come out on top? Or will a small local restaurant take down the Goliaths of the kitchen? The chef’s culinary abilities will be tested as Gordon sets the kitchen brigades some of the toughest challenges they’ve faced in their careers. The pressure will truly be on as the competitors could face anything in their heat, in the super tough semi-finals and in the head-to-head cook-off that is the series final. Only one brilliant contender can win the title of “Ramsay’s Best Restaurant.” Who will it be?
The series will follow the highs and lows of the passionate chefs, restaurateurs and of Gordon himself as he tries to find his worthy champion.
Restaurants can only take part in the competition if they’ve been nominated. We’re looking for restaurants of the highest calibre so if you know a fantastic restaurant that is worthy of the title then please visit www.bestnominate.com and nominate them now.
So come on people of Essex, make your vote count and nominate your favourite restaurant in the area, it would be great to see an Essex business featured on the programme!
Foodie fashion is a funny thing, in recent years all of the maximum flavour yet minimum cost cuts have become en vogue, with notable restaurants serving them up to eager customers. Think pork belly, pig, beef & ox cheeks, game and offal – from hearts to tongues. Now this is the kind of fodder I was brought up on, for the taste and frugal factor; feeding a family well on a budget takes a lot of ingenuity, and a good dollop of skill and sourcing.
To the point, I have not noticed Brisket coming up in general chatter, which is a shame. Brisket is a beautiful cut with a good ration of fat to give the meat extra flavour and keep it moist and succulent.
Unfortunately, brisket is not so much of a bargain as it used to be, although is still great value when compared with more popular beef joints. The cold cuts are fabulous with creamed horseradish in a sandwich, or cut up and added to stir-fries. So treat this beauty with respect and you can enjoy at least two hearty meals for a family of four, with enough for sandwiches too.
The following recipe is a great one pot dish, resulting in soft juicy brisket, delicious sweet and earthy vegetables, and beautiful gravy – serve with mashed potato and a bottle of Merlot for a tasty treat.
Prep Time – 15minutes
Cook Time – 3 hours + 15mins resting
Serves – 6 – 8
1 ½ kg rolled beef brisket
12 shallots (or a large onion, peeled and chopped)
12 chantenay carrots (or 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped)
6 fat cloves of garlic
250ml of beef or veal stock
Glass of red wine, approx 200ml (I used a deep, fruity Merlot)
2 sprigs of thyme
1 tbsp olive oil & tbsp of unsalted butter
Salt and pepper
- Preheat your oven to gas mark 2, 150C, 300F
- Peel and trim your shallots and carrots.
- In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil with the butter over a medium heat until bubbling. Add your beef and sear on all sides, browning and turning as you go.
- Once the beef has a lovely golden colour, place it in the roasting tin you will be using for cooking.
- Add the shallots and carrots to the frying pan to brown very slightly in the cooking fat, then, once golden transfer to the roasting pan with the beef
- Add the glass of wine to the frying pan to ‘deglaze’ the pan and allow to reduce by half.
- Once the wine is reduced add your stock to just warm through, when it starts to bubble, add the liquid to your roasting tin with all of the other ingredients and season with salt and pepper.
- Place a tight fitting lid on your roasting pan or secure tightly with tin foil. Place on the hob and just warm through until you can hear the liquids bubbling, then transfer to the middle of the oven and roast for 3 hours.
- After 3 hours, remove your beef and vegetables to a warm plate and cover within tin foil, rest for 15-20 minutes in a warm part of the kitchen, to allow all of the juices in the meat to disperse.
- Whilst the meat is resting, place your roasting pan on top of the hob on a medium heat, reducing the pan juices a little before serving. If you prefer thicker gravy, mash a tablespoon of soft butter with a tablespoon of plain flour; add a little to your gravy at a time and whisk in vigorously, cooking for a few minutes until adding more until desired thickness is reached.
- Carve the meat, removing the string as you go (this helps to keep the meat intact when carving), serve with the vegetables and spoon over the gravy. I like to serve this dish with mashed potato to squeeze the garlic onto and mash in – lovely.