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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!

 

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?


January 5, 2013

Energy Boost Kedgeree Recipe

Filed under: Food & Drink Recipes — Tags: , , — gourmet-on-the-go @ 3:31 pm

Energy Boost Kedgeree

If you have overindulged during the Festive period and require a dietary pick-me-up, this simple, healthy and very tasty Kedgeree inspired dish, may be just what you need.  Smoky fish, eggs and spices, balanced with sweet peas and a fresh squeeze of lemon juice, well, no wonder this dish has lasted the test of time.  Kedgeree is more than a breakfast dish of yesteryear; it makes a great lunch, dinner or supper.

I have changed just a couple of ingredients from my normal Kedgeree recipe (was a favourite dish of mine cooked by my Mum when I were a kid) to boost the health giving properties of the dish, yet maintain the great flavours.

Instead of using smoked haddock, I’ve used smoked mackerel for its high omega 3 fatty acids and reasonable price.   I don’t know about you, although at this time of year I want to improve my energy AND bank balance, following the Christmas splurge.  Mackerel being oilier than haddock helps to flavour the rice.

Instead of basmati rice, I use short grain brown rice (preferably organic) which is not only a good source of fibre and B vitamins essential for releasing energy from your food and improving your nervous system function, but this small whole grain also helps the movement of material through your digestive system; particularly useful if you are feeling sluggish and bloated – nice.  Brown rice also brings with it a slight nutty taste that works well.

OK.  Enough on the whys and wherefores and onto the recipe…

Energy Boost Kedgeree Recipe - Ingredients

Energy Boost Kedgeree Recipe
Print
Recipe type: Brunch, Lunch, Main
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 50 mins incl boiling rice
Total time: 1 hour
Serves: 4
Ingredients:
  • 300g short grain brown rice (organic is good)
  • 2 (approx 200g) smoked mackerel fillets
  • 100g (frozen weight) of peas
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 1 medium onion
  • 4 medium cloves of garlic
  • 1inch thick thumb of ginger
  • 1 green ‘finger’ chilli
  • 1 heaped tsp garam masala
  • Bunch of Fresh Coriander
  • 1 Lemon, halved
  • 2 tbsp ground nut oil
Method:
  1. Boil the rice until tender – you can do this ahead of time and store in the fridge until needed.
  2. Peel skin off mackerel and then flake the fillets into large chunks.
  3. Peel and roughly chop onion, garlic, ginger. Roughly chop chilli. Blitz in a mini-chopper or processor until finely chopped.
  4. Boil eggs for 6 minutes from boiling point, transfer to cold water and leave to cool for a minute or so. Remove and set aside.
  5. In a large non stick pan heat 1tbsp of oil. Turn heat down to lowest setting, add onion/garlic/chilli/ginger mix and sweat gently for 5 minutes until soft and the onion opaque.
  6. Meanwhile, peel the eggs and cut into halves, then quarters. Chop coriander.
  7. Then, add garam masala to pan and gently heat for a minute or two to release the spice oils and aroma.
  8. Add remaining Tbsp of oil to the pan. Turn heat up to medium and add rice, gently stirring to incorporate the spices.
  9. Finally, add flaked mackerel, eggs, and squeeze over juice of half a lemon. Fold in gently and allow to warm through.
  10. Plate up, sprinkle with chopped coriander and serve with lemon wedges.
Notes:

Cooking Short Grain Brown Rice : Add double the volume of water to rice, bring to rapid boil, reduce heat to lowest setting, put a lid on pan and simmer gently for 35 minutes. Take lid off, put tea towel over pan, lid back on and let sit for 10 minutes to soak up excess moisture.

To quickly thaw peas, place them in a sieve & run under cold water.

 


November 22, 2012

Caldo Verde – Potato, Greens & Sausage Soup Recipe

Filed under: Food & Drink Recipes — Tags: , , , , , — gourmet-on-the-go @ 1:22 pm

Caldo Verde – Potato, Greens & Sausage Soup - Ingredients

This delicious and simple ‘green broth’ has its humble roots in northern Portugal.  Initially a dish created to use what was abundant on the land – potatoes and greens, with the addition of onion, garlic and sausage if available – it has become a hugely popular soup, often served as a starter at Portuguese celebrations.

The ingredients in this recipe are few, so it will pay on the flavour stakes to buy quality produce.  I’ve used a British made chorizo from ‘The Bath Pig’ in this recipe, and must say it was delicious – juicy flavoursome meat, with a good yet balanced fat ratio, and a big smoky paprika hit. If you have access to a decent deli, Portuguese chouriço or linguiça are ideal, or any form of smoked or cured sausage with paprika.  I like to add half of the sausage to the soup for added flavour, and then shallow fry the other half to garnish, this adds a different texture, a more intense flavour and provides beautiful smoky paprika oil to drizzle.

For the greens, I went for cavolo nero from my local farm shop, because it looked and smelt fantastic!  You’ve got to follow your senses.  Spring greens are ideal for this recipe, bushy kale, or even savoy cabbage – whatever is available and good.

Traditional recipes mostly use water instead of stock, although I find a good chicken stock, watered down, immeasurably tastier and more satisfying.

This soup is substantial enough to serve for dinner, with a couple of hunks of bread it makes for a filling and delicious meal.  Anyway, I shall now halt the blurb and get on with the recipe – Enjoy.

Caldo Verde – Potato, Greens & Sausage Soup Recipe

Caldo Verde – Potato, Greens & Sausage Soup Recipe
Print
Author: Sarah Fay
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
Total time: 40 mins
Serves: 4
Ingredients:
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 100g cooking chorizo, halved and sliced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 fat garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1.2 litre water, or half water and half chicken/vegetable stock
  • 200g cavolo nero (or springs greens/kale/dark green cabbage), thick middle stem removed, and leaves shredded finely
  • Sea salt & white pepper
Method:
  1. Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add half the chorizo slices and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until lightly browned and the paprika colours the oil.
  2. Turn the heat down to low and add the chopped onion and garlic. Gently sweat the ingredients for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions become soft and translucent.
  3. Add the potatoes, water/stock and a generous pinch of salt to the pot, raise the heat and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat and gently simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes are soft, skimming off any scum from the surface with a ladle.
  4. Use a hand held masher to mash the potatoes into the stock and form a creamy soup consistency.
  5. Add the greens to the soup, and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes until tender. Taste and check the seasoning, adding more salt and white pepper as desired.
  6. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the remaining chorizo slices and cook for a few minutes until lightly brown.
  7. Ladle the caldo verde into bowls and top with the fried chorizo and a drizzle of the pan oil.

 

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