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Gourmet on the Go!

Gourmet on the Go!
When not slaving away with only Twitter and mad dog for company, I occasionally have a 'life.' This usually entails cooking for friends, trying far too many wines, and the occasional entire day out. I will post my ramblings, recipes and recommendations here on the 'Gourmet on the Go' blog. Hope you find something of interest!


March 4, 2013

An Adventure in Burgerdom & Burger Recipe…

Filed under: Food & Drink Recipes — Tags: , , , — gourmet-on-the-go @ 2:53 pm

All the recent talk of horsemeat ‘contaminated’ burgers etc., has made me long for one thing – a thick, juicy, dark crusted burger, its juices soaked up by a lightly toasted bun, melted cheese oozing out as you take a bite into the unctuous beast.  Well, that was the picture in my head, and cause of much lustful salivation.

If you are looking for a burger recipe for a special occasion, you‘re in the wrong place, check out Heston’s rather complexly written recipe for Burgers here, a little too solid for my liking, due to the added salt and tight packing, though he does use sirloin steak, which of course has a great flavour, though is a little too high a price for what I seek in a burger, frankly I’d rather just have the steak thanks…

I’ll be using skirt steak, also known as flank.  Taken from the forequarter, skirt steak is a lean cut and offers great value for money, although doesn’t lose out on the flavour stakes.   However, this cut is a little on the tough and chewy side, so suits slow cooking, quick pan frying or mincing.  Being a lean cut, you’ll need some fat – for flavour and to keep the burger juicy – ask your butcher and he/she will no doubt throw in a slice for free.

On with the recipe…

Home ground burger with gruyere and chestnut mushrooms.

Home Ground Burgers
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Total time: 30 mins
Serves: 4
  • 450 grams skirt steak – roughly cut into chunks
  • 100g beef fat (fat from the rib is good) – separated into 2 x 50g and roughly cut into chunks
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • Sea salt & freshly ground pepper
  1. First of all render 50g of the fat in a frying over a low to medium heat for around 10 minutes, or until the majority of the fat has liquefied. Set this aside to use later for cooking the burger in, for an added boost of beefy flavour.
  2. Next mix the other 50g of chopped fat with the chunks of skirt steak and the oyster sauce, and put through your mincer on a course grind. You could alternately use a processor or chop the mixture with a sharp knife.
  3. If using a mincer/grinder, put the mixture through on a course grind again, this will tenderise the meat further.
  4. Quarter the mince, lightly roll each quarter into a ball and then flatten with your hand and mould into a patty (about 2cm thick). You don’t want to overwork your burger, as you want to keep it nice and loose, so that the fat and juices have room to move when cooked, leading to a succulent burger.
  5. Heat up your rendered fat on a high heat in a non-stick pan until smoking. Season both sides of your burger and flip them into the pan.
  6. Cook them for: Rare: 1½ minutes each side; Medium rare: 2 minutes each side; Medium: 2¼ minutes each side; Medium-well done: 2½ – 3 minutes each side – Flipping half way through and pushing down with your spatula to ensure they get a nice even crust.
  7. Leave them to rest for 2 to 3 minutes before popping them in your toasted bun with preferred accompaniments.

The oyster sauce adds a saltiness to the burger and enhances the flavour without drawing the natural moisture out of the meat, so you know you’re going to get juicy results.

If you can get hold of aged skirt steak & fat, the flavour and texture of your burger will be all the better.


February 28, 2013

An Evening of Fine Food, Wine, Whisky & Sabrage @ The County Hotel in Chelmsford

Filed under: Celebrations & Events — Tags: , , , , , , , , — gourmet-on-the-go @ 3:15 pm

An Evening of Food, Wine, Whisky & Sabrage @ The County Hotel in Chelmsford

Saturday 11th May ~ For the connoisseur and for those who simply enjoy good food and hospitality

The County Hotel in Chelmsford are hosting an evening of fine wines, whisky tasting , generous hospitality, a delicious 3 course meal and the opportunity to enjoy and take part in Sabrage; the art of opening a bottle of champagne with a sabre.

Sabrage @ The County Hotel in ChelmsfordThe enthusiastic and knowledgeable hosts for the evening include the whisky ambassador of Diageo, the founder of the Toastmasters Association and the fine wine manager of Coe Vintners.

You will be wined dined, entertained & informed.  A draw will be held on the evening for those wishing to take part in the sabrage.

The menu for the evening is as follows:


Spicy tomato fondue in a filo cup
Lightly curried chickpea fritter
Crostini, anchovy butter, smoked halibut

Dampierre Cuvee Des Ambassadeurs ler Cru NV

To Start:
Crab quinelle, scallops, pancetta, pea puree and pea shoots

‘V’ Goat’s cheese panna cotta, tapenade, rocket, confit cherry tomatoes

Chateau Tour de Calens Blanc, Graves 2009

Rack of lamb, crispy sweetbreads, buttered fennel,
potato galette

‘V’ Blue cheese, roasted pear and walnut filo tart,
wilted chard and broad bean puree

Chateau Viex Lartigue, Grand Cru St Emilion 2007

Minted raspberry brulee, strawberry granite, shortbread

Gewurztraminer VV Vendange Tardive, Zind Humbrecht 2010

A choice of Grand Cru Coffees or Leaf Teas

Glenkinchie 12 year old (delicate)
Talisker 10 year old (smoky)
The Singleton of Dufftown 12 year old (rich) Dalwhinnie 15 year old (fruity)

£59.95 Per Person

For booking and full details, visit The County Hotel website.


February 5, 2013

Valentine’s Day – 5 Top Essex Restaurants with Rooms

Filed under: Celebrations & Events — Tags: , , , , , , , — gourmet-on-the-go @ 3:47 pm

You may poo-hoo Valentines Day as a commercially led day of forced romanticism… Well let’s face it, Mothers day, Fathers day, your Birthday, Christmas Day, they’re all commercial, yet a time for celebration, and why not? If you want to make your loved one feel special, to set aside a night of dining and, well, romanticism, here are some suggestions for local restaurants with rooms, after all, if you’re going to do something, you may as well do it well…

The Bell Inn – Horndon on the Hill

The Bell Inn - Horndon on the HillThe first benchmark ‘gastro pub’ in Essex, The Bell has character, history, and it’s a classic. Based in the small Essex village of Horndon, The Bell is a get away from it all destination, it’s like going back in time, a big sigh of stress release. Think open fires, original well worn timber structures, warmth and hospitality, in keeping with its 18th century history.

The dishes here are comforting, yet refined; they sit pretty on the plate. The menu is classically inspired and draws influence from French, and Italian cuisines, with just a hint of Japanese and Indian, as well as, and not least, the best of British. Changes are made to the menu daily, although you can of course see today’s menu (pdf) on their website.

The rooms have individual character, all comfortable and colourful, with some well thought out surprises – whatever you fancy – from 2 floors where you can lounge, before climbing the spiral staircase to sprawl; a room with a pretty four-poster bed and an amazing view of the distant fields; a crackling open fire, or a free-standing roll top bath, just waiting to be filled.

Le Bouchon – Heybridge,Maldon

Le Bouchon – Heybridge,MaldonA grade II listed building, recently modernised and refurbished into a ‘boutique’ hotel and brasserie. The executive head chef, Jonathan Brown, has won many local accolades, including ‘Essex Chef of the Year’ in his former residence as chef/patron of the Ducane Arms in Great Braxted. This is a place to relax and unwind, eat well and chat intimately in the spacious restaurant area without fear of being overheard.

As you would expect from a brasserie, the menu draws upon classic French dishes, adding just a few modern twists of flavour and technique, whilst respecting what is good. Jonathan is an ingredients man, so you can expect full flavoured cuts of local meat, game and poultry, and beautifully fresh fish and seafood. Check out their menu here.

The rooms are modern, comfortable, and femininely attractive, with hints of French regency in the furniture. Flock wallpaper, rustic open timber, rich coloured cushions and satin throws, and even showers big enough for two…

1935 Rooftop Restaurant & Bar & Holiday Inn(!) – Southend Airport

1935 Rooftop Restaurant & Bar & Holiday Inn – Southend AirportThis completely sound proofed hotel and rooftop restaurant opened in October 2012, following a £10 million build. With views over the surrounding airport, you can watch the planes land and depart into the night sky. Still a reasonably quiet airport, the panoramic views at night are quite beautiful. It’s just a quick stroll from the railway station too, so one for the non-drivers, or those that like a champagne breakfast.

The head chef, Kieron Moore was classically trained under Marco Pierre White, and brings with him a wealth of experience. The simple seasonal menu features a number of traditional Brit dishes – taken up a notch, well aged steaks, and some wonderful slow cooked and braised warmers. Fish and seafood lovers may be a little disappointed in the choice available, which is a shame, as there is so much local seafood available in the area. You can check out their menu on this page (pdf).

For a Holiday Inn, the rooms shift away from the typical hamster cage feel, and offer warmth and modern comfort. Of course, they are designed for work, rest and play, although if you want a little more luxury, upgrade to a ‘king superior’ room and leave the work behind. This Holiday Inn is also dog friendly, if you want to treat your pooch to a night away from it all… This excites me; it shouldn’t, though it does!

The Mistley Thorn – Mistley, near Manningtree

The Mistley Thorn – Mistley, near ManningtreeThe coastal village of Mistley is charming, peaceful and very pretty. Perched on the River Stour Estuary, the architecture is rich in Georgian and Victorian style. It’s the kind of place that you would want to stay overnight and book the next day off to walk around the quay, surrounding woodlands, independent cafes and shops, and of course, the swan fountain, which happens to be just opposite the warm and inviting Mistley Thorn.

The Thorn was the first Essex restaurant to receive the bib gourmand Michelin accolade for good cuisine at a reasonable price. As a coastal restaurant, the menu specialises in fantastic local fresh fish, simple dishes with an emphasis on flavour. If you want to get your teeth into something meatier, the steaks are from Red Poll beef – nice. Online sample menu is here (pdf).

The rooms offer classic comfort and scenic views. Large baths and power showers, king size and super king beds; the Thorn provides understated luxury in a beautiful setting. They take breakfast seriously too, which is always a welcome bonus.

The Bull & Willow Room – Great Totham

The Bull & Willow Room – Great TothamThis restored 16th century Inn, surrounded by rural views, offers both relaxed informal dining in the pub area, and finer dining in the restaurant area, where you can don your glad rags and bathe under the soft light of the candelabras. Dean Ager will be making an appearance on Valentine’s evening with his crooning Rat Pack show.

The menu celebrates the best cuts of meat, prime seafood and interesting twists on flavour. The ingredients are sourced from some of the best local farms and suppliers. You can view their valentines menu here (pdf).

The rooms are housed in a renovated cottage on the grounds. They are comfortable, individually styled, finished with simple and contemporary furnishings, and offer great views over the surrounding countryside. A decent breakfast is served in the ‘gastro’ bar, come the morning, I wonder how much you have to tip to get room service?

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