Tag: the food report

The Food Report: The London Carriage Works

The Food Report: The London Carriage Works

Last week, meeting a very dear friend for a reunion before he jetted off to another far-away country, I went along to The London Carriage Works on Hope Street for a delightful dinner.

The London Carriage Works

Whilst this might be a little out of our usual budget for a Monday evening, their ‘Autumn Mondays’ offers two courses for £17.50 or three for £22.50, with a bottle of wine thrown in to share. Considering that mains head up to £30 on the A la Carte and the menu is still of an incredibly high standard, this was really excellent value for money.

The service was excellent, starting before we had even arrived with the marvellous online booking system. We were warmly greeted upon arrival and selected our wine alongside some lovely fresh bread. I was rather displeased at the assumption that my male companion would taste the wine, considering that I have much more knowledge on the subject, but this was the only faux pas of the evening.

The London Carriage Works

I started with a Kidderton ash goats’ cheese creation, complete with fig, microherbs and lovely savoury but sweet tuiles. The brittle made this meal, with its extreme crunch and perfect sweetness against tangy goats’ cheese in its original form as well as a perfectly fluffy foam. The textures of this dish were everything I need in a starter! Rob had a chicken liver parfait with perfect little toasts and a red onion marmalade. Considering that he normally hates relishes or chutneys I was impressed to see a completely clean plate!

The London Carriage WorksThe London Carriage Works

For main I opted for sea bass, with a wonderful selection of mushrooms and sea beet. The accompanying sauce seemed like a tangy beurre blanc, although I couldn’t be sure. It was delicious nonetheless! I would never normally eat fish skin because it is so often left slimy and fatty, but here it was super crisp, cracking to expose perfectly cooked, light fish, and so I ate it all up.

Rob had a Wirral pork loin, with heritage carrots, fondant potato, greens and some unidentified sauces (I didn’t try these!). I was most impressed that the fondant potato was properly cooked, but of course Rob was in love with the pork.

The London Carriage Works The London Carriage Works

For pudding, Rob had a chocolate torte with raspberry sorbet, which he made me try. The torte was perfectly rich, creamy and melt in the mouth, with a base that yielded to our forks with ease – no horribly solid base here! The sorbet was intensely flavoured with raspberry, whilst staying light, as sorbet should be.

I’ve saved my pudding until last as it was my favourite part of the meal. I had a basil panna cotta, with chilled strawberry consommé. The panna cotta was wobbling enticingly as it arrived, but was rich with cream and light with herbiness, against the sweetness of the strawberry. Once again the textures were perfectly balanced, with fresh slices of strawberry, basil leaves and finely chopped pistachios adding freshness and crunch. Balancing usually savoury herbs in puddings can be very tricky, but here there was no shying away from the basil flavour so that it matched the fruit, rather than being drowned out.

The London Carriage Works The London Carriage Works

Overall, we had an absolutely beautiful evening in wonderful surroundings with excellent service and great wine. The food was delicious, with incredible presentation, and such good value for the quality. The menu changes daily so if you head along you may find different dishes on offer, but I would return for that panna cotta alone any day. We were completely transported from daily life, forgetting that it had been a Monday filled with work, and the service was just attentive enough whilst allowing us to get engrossed in serious life chats. I would certainly recommend trying The London Carriage Works, and rushing along to sample Autumn Mondays, and I hope that I’ll be back to visit soon.

Have you been to The London Carriage Works? What’s your favourite place for midweek fine dining?

The Food Report: Plum and Almond Crumble

The Food Report: Plum and Almond Crumble

I’m going to make a very bold claim today. This is the best crumble I’ve ever made: a plum and almond crumble.

I picked up a load of beautiful plums from the Farmers’ Market a couple of weeks ago. Wonderful seasonal stone fruit is one of my favourite things and it called for an amazing crumble.

plum and almond crumbleplum and almond crumble

My standard crumble topping is 200g flour, 100g butter, 75g sugar  but this time I subsituted half of the flour with ground almonds. I then chopped up a big handful of whole almonds (around 100g in total) and added these to the crumble.

plum and almond crumble

While I was making this I cooked the plums down, adding about 1 tbsp of brown sugar as they were already fairly sweet. I thought about adding some almond essence but I didn’t want to go overboard with the almond, and I’m glad that I didn’t. Once they were cooked I layered them into a dish and sprinkled over the crumble topping. Normally I go for the Nigel Slater water-splashing trick but I didn’t feel this mixture needed it.

Then I just baked til golden and bubbling. The bubbling edges are my favourite bits!

plum and almond crumbleplum and almond crumble

Once baked, the topping was super crunchy and textured, cracking to reveal soft, unctuous plums with the perfect level of tartness.

I served mine with a good dollop of clotted cream, but it would be equally excellent with custard.

Have you tried plum and almond crumble? What’s your favourite autumn pudding?

The Food Report: Crumble

The Food Report: Crumble

Most of my meals begin with a craving for just one ingredient. I just ate two weeks of Mexican food because I had a craving for avocados that led into a deep need for black beans.

This Sunday’s food-based love letter started with a pot in the corner of my eye in M&S. I absolutely adore homemade custard, but I have to admit there is a very special place in my heart for the kind you can buy from the shops, made with thick cream and big flecks of vanilla. Once I saw this, I knew I would need a pudding to accompany it. If you’re going to have a pudding with custard it should really be a crumble or a pie, and I knew this one should be a crumble. I didn’t want apple – I’ve overloaded on apple puddings recently – so what was it to be?

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Plums, of course.

I bought yellow and purple plums for my pudding, and stewed these down for the filling. I kept a few back, then sliced them and popped the slices in at the end, before adding the topping. This way you get a variety of textures rather than just a stewed mess. If you like yours more like a compote you can leave out this step, or stew the fruit for much less time for an even more textured affair. I added a dash of peach juice and the merest sprinkle of sugar to these already-sweet fruits, but you could add more sugar to taste or a splash of red wine. Plums love red wine.

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Then you just need to add your crumble topping of choice. Mine is 200g flour (self-raising is fine, it adds a more cobbler-like crust), 100g butter, 75g sugar – rub it all together, throw it on your fruit and then use Nigel Slater’s trick of splashing a little water onto the surface to get a variety of crumbs in there. I also sprinkle on some oats, because they’re delicious.

Bake it until it’s golden brown and bubbling at the edges (my favourite bit of crumble is the little sticky bits that catch on the tin). Then you can spoon it out and dollop on the custard that started this whole kitchen session.

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Preferably you should prefix this kind of pudding with an amazing roast dinner. Use all your crockery and make a mess of your kitchen. Eat it all up and leave the washing up until you’ve had a nap.

Which ingredients set you off on kitchen adventures? Is this just me?