Cumbriafoodie and Lenclume make the Wall Street Journal

lenclume wall street journal
I had a fun morning last week down at Lenclume in the Cumbrian village of Cartmel with Simons Rogans head chef Mark Birchall. We were putting a recipe together for the cover of The Wall street journal weekend magazine. Mark was doing the hard work whilst I just snapped away and then scoffed the results.What I enjoyed most was the fact that it was a really hot day and the ice cream started melting within minutes. Of course this would have ruined the look of the photos so Mark ended up back and forward to the kitchen and i simply cleaned up the leftovers. I managed 4 desserts before Mark got some liquid Nitro on the job to guarantee the last one wouldn’t melt.
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wall street journal lenclume
Another shot with the Nikon D800 and 105mm Macro lens
_DSC8664 - Copy       Here`s the recipe for anyone wanting to make this delicious dessert at home.
 Sorrel Ice Cream with Rhubarb Compote
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Serves: 4

120g caster sugar

8 egg yolks

600g milk

200g whipping cream

100g raw sorrel

1. Beat the sugar and yolks together until trebled in volume. Boil the milk and cream, then pour over the sugar and yolk mix.

2. Cook the mixture slowly on a low heat, until it’s thick and creamy and coats the back of a wooden spoon (around 20-30 minutes).

3. Add the sorrel, then blend until smooth; pass through a sieve and chill over ice.

4. Churn in an ice-cream maker.

Rhubarb Compote

230g rhubarb, peeled and sliced into 1 cm pieces

25g caster sugar

25 mL lemon juice

1 gelatin leaf

1. Place gelatin leaf in cold water to hydrate.

2. Meanwhile, mix all the remaining ingredients in a small bowl, cover with cling film and steam over a bain-marie for 45 minutes.

3. Strain the liquor, then place in a small saucepan and heat at a medium temperature until reduced to a light syrup. Cool slightly then stir in the gelatin and rhubarb pieces.

4. Refrigerate until set (around 2 hours). Serve with sorrel ice cream.

Tips: If you can’t find sorrel, replace the milk and cream in the recipe with 400 mL milk and 400 mL crème fraîche, for a lighter and slightly sour flavor that’s a good replacement for the sorrel. If you don’t have an ice-cream maker, freeze the mix for four hours, stirring it every 30 minutes.

Lenclume – 19 Course Sunday lunch.

                     lenc 2Panorama1As you all know , I`ve spent the last 10 years eating at Lenclume and i think by now everyone knows its “just down the road” and “on my doorstep” so i won`t go rubbing it in yet again. This was a totally random booking made on Twitter whilst half drunk in Wetherspoons on a Saturday evening.It was a simple case of “What are we doing for lunch tomorrow” ? and within 5 minutes i had a return `tweet` off head chef Mark Birchall and the job was done. So here it is in all of its wonderful glory…..19 amazing courses cooked for us by the very talented Mark and the Lenclume team…..and 4 hours to get through it all.

Oyster Pebbles.

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Cockle , Seaweed and Horseradish.

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Smoked Eel with Ham Fat.

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Lichen , Frozen Ox and Sour Cream.

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Chickpea wafers with Garlic and petals.

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Kohlrabi , Eggs and Truffle.

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Cod “Yolk” Sage cream , Pea shoots , Salt and Vinegar.

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Westcombe Dumpling , Vegetable Broth , Beetroot and Shoots.

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Valley Venison , Charcoal Oil , Mustard and Fennel.

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Valley Mushrooms ,Yellow  Pea and Lettuce , Smoked Marrow and Stonecrop.

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Mussels in their own juice , Cabbage and Leek.

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Artichokes with Goats Cheese , Tarragon and Malt.

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Butter poached Brill , Grilled Carrots , Manx Queenies and Celandine.

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Reg`s Guinea Hen , Kale , Potato , Offal and Scurvy grass.

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Selection of English cheeses.

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Sea Buckthorn , Buttermilk , Liquorice and Butternut.

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Rhubarb with Brown Butter , Wild Sorrel and Apple.

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Sheeps Milk , Gingerbread , Wild Chervil and Caramel.

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Pear , Sweet cheese and Celeriac.

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Aerated Chocolate , Kendal mint cake ice cream.

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To see the full set of photos from my lunch please CLICK HERE.

L'Enclume on Urbanspoon

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Simon Rogan at ” The French ” , The Midland Hotel , Manchester.

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Mr Rogan makes the move into Manchesters Midland hotel and Tuesday 12th March will see the doors opening to a very exciting start to the fine dining scene and fingers crossed the Michelin stars back into the city again. I was fortunate enough to be invited down yesterday to a preview of what the new look ” The French ” restaurant is going to be producing over the next few weeks. I believe there will be 2 multi course tasting menus in true Rogan style , a small and a large ( itll be something like a 5 and a 10 course choice i would expect.). Here`s a wee sneak preview of what delights await.

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 Little tasters… Wafers of Eel

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A selection of “The French ” Bread – White , Wholemeal and Beer.

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Artichoke broth and English Truffle Dumplings.

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Ox with Coal oil , Pumpkin seeds, Kohlrabi and sunflower shoots.

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Dorset Crab salad.

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A selection of Early Spring offerings –  New seasons baby salad leaves, vegetables , herbs and flowers with Lovage salt.

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 Sole with Scallops.

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Yewtree farm Herdwick Hoggett with Ewes milk emulsion.

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Cumbrian Rose Veal with lentils and Mushrooms

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Pear / biscuit

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Sasparilla 3 ways…. ” Sass n Soda “

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Little treats with coffee.

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The Restaurant interior.

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The most amazing lights , each light took 4 days to hang.Every individual crystal was hand cut to length….like asteroids crashing to earth , Stunning.

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Me and the ole Rogmeister.

the french , simon rogan

He`s a good mate , i just can`t understand why i drive him nuts.

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Preparations underway for our 15 seconds of ITV fame….watch out on Tuesday.P1020805                         P1020924  french Panorama2

The French by Simon Rogan on Urbanspoon

Simon Rogan Masterclass at Lakes College.

simon rogan lenclume

Living on the West coast of Cumbria It isn`t every day that you can come home from work , take a quick shower and then pop 5 minutes up the road to eat one of the worlds best chefs food for the price of a takeaway meal. On this occasion Simon Rogan had travelled up from Lenclume in Cartmel to my local catering school –   `Lakes College` near Whitehaven to inspire the next generation of up and coming young Chefs. Assisted by  Dan Cox ( director of Aulis ) Simon would mentor and over see the 2012 graduates as they all teamed together to produce a 5 course meal in the `Rogan style`. The ingredients were all from within the region , local farms , foraged and Cartmel grown from the Lenclume gardens.

simon rogan lenclume
As far as the `catch of the year` goes then this has got to be the one… . Appetiser , starter , main , pud and a sweet treat  with coffee. A glass of Champers , white , red and a dessert  wine for £40…WOW.  Obviously a total sell out from the off. Simon and Dan would spend the day carrying out a masterclass for the public and then straight to the kitchens to coach the students through the preparation of dinner using tips and techniques from the Lenclume.

A little amuse to start was a simplified Lenclume Crispy bread wafer with Cream Cheese , Vegetables and Herbs.

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Scallops in Coal Oil with Vintage Beetroot , Mustard and Horseradish.

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Yewtree farm Herdwick Hogget , Pickled Tongue , salt baked Celeriac , Leeks and Cowmire Cider.

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Coniston Wholemeal Stout in Blackberry , Liquorice and Sea Buckthorn.

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Parkin cake served with coffee.

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A worried looking Rogan …deep in thought about my offer of a night out in Whitehaven…. ” Anyone know where Chef`s gone ” ?

All in all it was a great evening.The students loved it , the diners loved it and hiccups were rare…it worked well both front and back of house….Let`s make these events regular guys.

A few more pics here on FLICKR

LENCLUME – What`s the best Camera for the Geeky food blogger.

If i were to hazard a guess I think you`ll all know pretty well by now that i`m quite a big fan of Chef Simon Rogan and his Lenclume restaurant in the Cumbrian village of Cartmel. I suppose i can even manage to call it my “local” seeing as though it`s only an hours drive away . Going from strength to strength in its 10th year of the business and currently standing at 10/10 in the Good food guide 2013 , 5 Rosettes in the AA guidebook Lenclume is finally getting the recognition it deserves with Michelin awarding the restaurant 2 stars in the 2013 guide.

During this visit i also finally managed to get a tour of the gardens off Chef Dan Cox. I was so impressed with the produce available at the moment throughout the gardens.It`s pretty cold up north in October and after a horrendous summer of constant rain i was pleasantly surprised at the amount and quality of herbs , flowers and vegetables in full bloom and fruit….it really is one hell of an operation going on there. They`re even doing research on chicken breeds and the correct diets just to get the perfect Egg yolk for one of their dishes. The whole Rogan operation is all coming together and boy is it looking great. Continue reading

Lenclume , Cartmel – Rogan reaching dizzy new heights.

lenclume , cartmel , simon rogan

I`ve been following the Lenclume  gang around since the place opened almost 10 years ago. I`ve watched Simon Rogan evolve through many stages of cuisine , endless experiments and i have to say it`s been one hell of a journey. Simon has now levelled out and the new phase of Lenclume food over the last few years has been producing  wonderful  delights from the Cumbrian landscape , sea , lakes and mountains and also the very best of the regions farmers and suppliers. The menus have now been cut to just the one….roundabout 16 – 18 dishes (£89) and they`re decided upon each morning dependant on what`s available that day. Don`t go whinging if the diners on the table have something different because i can guarantee you that you`ll have your own delights that they probably won`t have .It`s all going on behind the scenes in the kitchen and its literally being picked seconds before it hits the plates….it really is amazing. I truly believe in my heart that no chef is cooking like this in the United Kingdom, i  was honestly buzzing for days after this meal…..yeah yeah yeah so i`m a sad so and so but it`s true…. i really did get off on this meal. For those reading this and thinking of going to Noma to eat….just forget it as Lenclume is our British version and really is running at world class levels , it`s just stunning , as you can see in the photos below.

I consider  myself as a very fortunate guy as i manage to eat Rogans food every few months , i ate at Rognanic  a few weeks ago ( see here ) and i was expecting similar food on this menu but everything was different. Chef  Dan Cox told me that the menu had just been put together an hour before lunch and the lads had just returned from  picking ingredients at the farm and the local hedgerows .The menu was brought to the table and tucked away under a pebble , it was there if i needed to have a peep but i was just told to relax and let it flow.

I`ve already written plenty about Lenclume and Simon Rogan in the past so ill just shut up now and let the photos do the talking….and folks , just get over to Cartmel and sample the food , its running at the highest levels ever and apparently plans are in place to up their game even more.

This was probably the best meal i`ve ever eaten at Lenclume…. Enjoy.

Oyster pebbles – Delicate meringue filled with Oyster cream and apple. The leaves are Oysterleaf , a wild coastal plant with a mushroomy Oyster flavour.

lenclume , cartmel , simon rogan

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Eel  smoked with potato and Ham fat

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Cream cheese wafers – Simply stunning.

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Asparagus with Bay Shrimp.

lenclume , cartmel , simon rogan                The Lenclume breads – White , Pumpernickel and wholemeal.

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Cod “yolk” , Sage cream , salt and vinegar.

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Kohlrabi dumplings in Westcombe , Hyssop and Purple sprouting….OMG…i`ve never experience soft textured dumplings like these ones ever.They were like the worlds softest and most delicate Gnocchi , i must get this recipe. An absolute star dish and probably best dish of the day.

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Valley Venison , Charcoal Oil , Mustard and Fennel.This one got many Ooos and Ahhhhs when i had the Roganic version , another amazing dish with the Charcoal oil scenting the venison with the most unusual flavour.Hopefully this dish will forever grace the menus of Rogan , its wonderful. A new addition was the little candied spheres of what i think was sweet Fennel , filled with a liquid centre.

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Sea scallop with spiced Strawberry , grilled Cauliflower and coastal leaves.

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Cucumbers , Pineapple weed , frozen Lobster and Rat tails…..ok so you`re wanting to know where the Rats are ….look below , its a minature radish.I`ll just point out here about the plates at Lenclume…..totally unique and custom made for the restaurant by a local potter.The dish below looked stunning on the silver plate.

lenclume , simon rogan , cartmelOk , so here we go….Rat tail radish , peppery and easy to grow , Chef Rogan must lie in bed at night fantasising over his veggie catalogues.

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BBQ  leeks with poached marrow , English mace and egg yolk sauce.

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Lightly smoked bay Bass , Cockle juice , Courgettes and cotton Lavender.

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Reg`s Guinea hen and offal , Turnip and Elderflower.Delicate little Elderflowers sprinkled over the dish added a complimentary perfumed scent to the rich flavours.I believe that this one won`t be everyone`s cup of tea , you have to like offal as the flavour dominates…. I like offal so it was a winner for me.

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Iced chamomile , Spruce , Celery and black pepper….A wee taster to cleanse and prepare for the 3 desserts to come.

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Cumbrian slate , Gooseberry , Apple and Lemon Verbena…. How good is this ?  Rogan has invented edible stones that actually look like bits of Slate. Please dont even consider asking how they do this , i`ve really no idea….and what`s inside ? ok so i`ll tell a little secret , its a delicate Gooseberry mousse and it`s coated with a jelly coloured with the “burnt ash” of local Bramble leaves….How amazing is that ? Now i`m going to get in bother for telling.

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Cherries with Meadowsweet , Hazelnut and Apple.

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Gingerbread and iced watermint.

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Coniston Oatmeal Stout ice cream , Blackberry  and Plum soda.

lenclume , simon rogan , cartmellenclume , simon rogan , cartmelPicturesque postcard village scenes from Cartmel.
The river literally outside the kitchen door.
The Old Raleigh sign now becoming part of the restaurant exterior.( The Lenclume windowsill cat wasn`t there this time )
Cavendish arch leading the way to the temple.
Aulis research centre where lenclume dishes begin life.

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lenclume , simon rogan , cartmellenclume , simon rogan , cartmel

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Late Spring Foraging , There`s lots to be had for the food lovers.

A Saturday morning out and about in the hedgerows and woods with a little call off at the beach on the way home for an ice cream.Must have taken all of an hour in all and this is just what`s available for the wild food forager right now….a total feast for free.As far as chefs go then there really isnt an excuse , its on everyones doorstep from city parks to coastal areas and woodland , we all have something nearby.All it takes is a decent guide book , google and a creative mind.            

                                                            WOOD SORREL

                    Mallow – Looks like huge leaves of Rhubarb growing wild.

As you can see from the leaf and stalk on my car , they`re huge and a few leaves and stalks will go a long way. Simon Rogan actually cooks these at Lenclume / Roganic and purees them down to accompany the Muncaster Crab dish below.

ELDERFLOWERS AND ELDERFLOWER BUDS – Now these ones are amazing , theres so many things to do with Elder.The buds can be picked and pickled and the uses for the flowers at this stage are endless.Cordials and desserts are definitely the way to go.

                                                       COMMON BISTORT

                                                     COMMON BISTORT

                                                WILD GARLIC FLOWERS

                                          WILD GARLIC OR RAMSONS

                                                        HEDGE GARLIC

                                                            HEDGE GARLIC

                                                            THE PIGNUT

                                                                   PIGNUT FOLIAGE

                                PIGNUT , STRAIGHT OUT OF THE GROUND

                                               PIGNUT , SKIN REMOVED.

 RED CLOVER

                                                               HERB ROBERT

                                                             HERB ROBERT

                                                               HAWTHORN

                                                      GREEN ALKANET

                                                             COW PARSLEY

                                                        COW PARSLEY

                                                           STINGING NETTLE

                                                                   KNAPWEED

                                                             SILVERWEED

 CLEAVERS – I remember having lots of fun with these as a child , throwing them at peoples clothes , they stick to anything…especially old ladies coats…yes , i was a bad child.Nowadays , they`re better used when they`re young shoots in salads.I cannot shout up for them in a positive way and have yet to see them on a menu.

                                               YELLOW ARCHANGEL

                                                                    SEABEET

                                                       ROCK SAMPHIRE

                                                              SEA KALE

Simon Rogan – A Spring lunch at Roganic,London

I think most of you will know by now that i`m ever so slightly potty.I can only blame the Cumbrian air and breeding for that one.Last week i even amazed myself and decided on a whim to make a 14 hour , 700 mile round trip…just to eat lunch at Roganic in Marylebone.Car , train , tube , walk , Taxi , train , car and home again , all in the quest for some of Englands finest foods….So yes , totally nuts…but not as nutty as some people.I`m taking about the “Roganator” here , Simon Rogan the crazy chef from Lenclume in Cartmel.He`s a great lad really but he never ceases to amaze me with the never ending use of totally obscure ,wonderful and wild ingredients combined into his cutting edge cuisine.Chef Rogan is currently working behind the stoves of his London Roganic restaurant and also manages to do the same at his flagship Lenclume restaurant in Cumbria on Roganics closed days.Simon has always been known to use ever so slightly “strange” ingredients and since Lenclume opened its doors ten years ago i`ve been fed quite a few totally insane ones to be honest….Wild Roots , and shoots of every description ,  “Mad Barberry bark infusions” , Cep bomb raviolis , Fragrant Myhrr , Frozen sea water cubes ,BBQ Pig with Coca cola gel , ….Yep , over those ten years i`ve watched Rogan grow and flow through his sensible era, to his strange ….to his totally strange , back to the slightly sensible and now in 2012 chef has made his `one off` style of culinary creativity a huge success at world class level…but the man is still as nutty as the nuttiest fruit cake ( in Simons case his fruitcake is infused with Bistort , cow parsley and green Alkanet ).

As far as Mr Rogan goes , he`s fed me everything….or at least i thought he had.I booked myself onto the London train ,packed my camera and away i went to the big city to sample the new Spring menu at Simons Marylebone restaurant.It was a gorgeous day , a good 10 degrees warmer than Cumbria and before i knew it i was being welcomed by the friendly Roganic team and into the window seat for my 13 course mini feast…..and my first experience of… ” Coal “…..and so on with the menu.

                                            Smoked Pork and Eel croquettes

ion

                                 Onion biscuit , Nettle cream and Shallot jam.

          Roganic breads – Pumpernickel , Onion Thyme and Wholemeal with Ale.

                 Burnt cream of English mushrooms , Ramsons and Cheese drops.

         Grown up Egg yolk from the Golden egg , Celeriac , Sorrel and Garlic cream.

              Spring broth with Carrot dumplings , Sea kale shoots and Pearl barley.

 So this is where Chef Rogan managed to push the boundaries right over the edge again with his constantly developing cuisine…Cmon , “Coal” ….i seriously had my doubts here.Now before anyone asks , no , Rogan hasn`t bought a Cumbrian coal mine.What he`s actually done is to infuse the flavour of Coal into an organic Rapeseed oil.This is combined with raw diced fillet of Venison , scurvy grass , lightly pickled onion and  what appeared to be Broom flowers ( Gorse ). I have to admit , i was ever so slightly worried that Simon had gone completely AWOL here but hey…..it bloody well worked , infact the result was a total WOW , and one of the best dishes i have ever eaten from the hundreds of Rogan plates that ive sampled over the years.It took me back to childhood grass fires , wood smoke , BBQ coals, Oil products… I had one of my `closed eyes` moments and just didn`t want this one to end…..Amazing and i can say right now , hand on heart , a trip to Roganic just to sample this one dish would be well worthwhile.I`ll look out for more reports over the coming months , i`ll be interested to hear what other diners make of it.

                 Raw Venison in “Coal” oil , Mustard , Scurvy grass and Onions.

                  Crispy seaweed mashed Potatoes , Mace , wild Leek and Fennel.

               Cornish Lobster , Oyster , Apple , pickled Kohlrabi and coastal herbs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Grilled salad smoked over Embers , Truffle custard and Cobnuts.

                      Five flavoured Monkfish , Razor clams , Vinegar and Hazelnut.

          Herdwick Lamb flank, Sweetbread , Salsify , Hedge Garlic and Velvet caps.

                              Sweet cheese , Water celery , Artichoke and Malt.

                           

                      Rhubarb  with Meadowsweet , cream cake and sweet cicely.

                   Rowan shoot milk shake with Lemon curd brioche donut.

                                  Bourbon biscuit and white chocolate ice lolly.

                                                              The Roganic team

I cannot urge you strongly enough to come up to Cumbria and give the Lenclume experience a go , it`s simply wonderful.If Cartmel is a little too far to travel then go give the Spring menu a shot at Roganic.The food is very similar so at least its a chance to sample Simon Rogans cuisine and have a little taster of what`s happening up at the Mothership restaurant.Thanks also to the team for the constant smiles and awesome service.

Please click HERE to see the full photo package from my Roganic lunch.

Please click HERE to see a recent Lenclume meal from Cartmel.

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LENCLUME – The 2012 Winter menu.

So ,  my first post of the year and my little “easing into” the flow of 2012 and hopefully some pretty good eating. As i said in an earlier post i do have a new years resolution to get 2 stone off before my annual trip to Thailand in June. A`light` lunch at Lenclume would provide a natural , healthy and a good start to my fitness regime…That sounds to me like a bloody good philosophy and positive thinking to pave the way forward…. It “will” happen.
Chef Simon Rogan was spending the new year with family down south so wasn`t at the restaurant during my visit.Mark Birchall , fresh from his Roux scholarship prize winning placement at Can Roca in Spain was cooking as head chef in Simons absence.With Mark heading up the brigade i knew that a great meal was in store. The `light` lunch was meant to be a little taster into the world of  restaurant food for my son Max .He`s a bit of a Mc Donalds fan so was willing to let me attempt to introduce him into something a little more adventurous…. “Dad , I`ll eat whatever they give me”.. Mmmnnn , i had my doubts but it was worth a try.So here`s how my first decent restaurant meal of the year performed.

The usual nibbles arrived whilst perusing the 4 menus on offer.Little savoury Duck scratchings and crackers led us on to our first Amuse of the day  – Onion cheese wafers.

    Next up was the “Oyster pebbles” looking very like the accompanying local beach stones in the little glass pot….very realistic and an enjoyable amuse to get us smiling. As always , the very popular Lenclume bread was freshly baked and straight out of the oven.

   Carrot  Pork sacks with  were next , A Carrot foam with a rich Ham concoction hidden underneath.

Grilled Salad smoked over embers , Isle of Mull cheese , Truffle custard and Cobnuts

Valley Venison , Smoked salt , Chicory and Fennel.

Roasted Snow Crown in a rich Beef broth, Crispy Parsley , and cultivated Nameko

Native Lobster and pickled Beetroot , Apple and Bittercress.

And as far as baby radishes go… Chef Rogan picks em young.You can also see here the difference in cameras ( for anyone interested in food photography ).The camera i use 99% of the time is my little Panasonic Lumix LX5 ( £299) which is amazing for food photography, close up macro shots and generally being discreet in a restaurant.The photo above of the Lobster dish was shot with the Lumix whilst the one below right was shot using a £1,500 Canon EOS 7D and 17-70mm zoom lens.Notice the depth of field that the Canon produces and that only a fraction of the photo is in focus in front of and also behind the radish which is a really popular look in food photography.Give me the Lumix anyday.I only took the Canon to get some use out of it and im a little reluctant to sell it on ebay until i give it a decent chance.

  Halibut with Trout roe sauce , Celeriac and Chestnut.

Roasted Monkfish in our spices , Roasted Kiri Squash , Yoghurt and Raspberry vinegar.

Randolph`s Lop suckling pig with Northern Mead , Vintage vegetables and Nasturtium.

Yew tree farm Herdwick Hoggett in Mulled Cider , Brussels sprouts and Red Cabbage.

Sea Buckthorn and Anise, Hyssop , Liquorice and Butternut. I loved this dessert and the unusual and unique flavour of the sea buckthorn berries.Definitely at my top of the list for best puds of the year.

Fig and Malted cream , William Pear Ice.

Fresh Cheese ice cream with Sweet Brackens , Rosehips and Hazelnuts.

Aerated Parkin Meringue.

As always , Lenclume never fails to deliver and after a long and totally chilled Xmas / new year lunch we left very satisfied and educated.My son Max loved it and surprised me by eating everything ( apart from Lambs tongues ) so i`m sure that he will be wanting more of the same throughout the year.I`ll look forward to seeing what Simon and the guys deliver during 2012.I have a good feeling that we are all going to be seeing a lot more of Mr Rogan this year…fingers crossed. Cheers guys and happy new year.

The full set of photos from the meal can be viewed by clicking HERE.

L'Enclume on Urbanspoon

2011 – THE VERY BEST OF THE “CUMBRIAFOODIE” BUNCH

It`s been a wonderful 2011 for me when it comes to eating out , meeting people and generally having a good ole time. The London restaurant scene has played a big part in my year and i`ve thoroughly enjoyed travelling down to the capital to eat in some of the countries finest restaurants over the last 12 months. I have already started making plans for 2012 ( Ducasse , Waterside , Lenclume , Whatley manor ) and the first trip gets underway in January ( Ducasse , The Ritz , Gavroche ) followed shortly afterwards by Edinburgh in february ( Rhubarb room , Castle terrace )….and so on. Firm plans are also in place for me to lose 2 stone by june as well….erm…It will happen…..really.Thailand will see a slimline Mr Alan.

So a quick recap on what was best in 2011.Following on from my friends “The critical couple” and their Best of 2011 i decided to highlight my 2011 dream menu from the 30 or so Michelin restaurants i have visited during the year…Here goes.

For Starters it had to be Hestons “Meat fruit” from his Knightsbridge restaurant`Dinner`. Making the meat fruit at home has been my most popular piece on my Cumbriafoodie blog from all over the world  during 2011…and if anyone has 5/6 days to spare and the patience of a saint then here is exactly how to make this wee beauty. CLICK HERE.

As for the best bread in 2011…and all of the restaurants i`ve `ever` eaten in ….Heston does it again by a long mile.I had his bread in the Fat Duck in 2010 and again at “Dinner” .I don`t know anything about the bread other than it is fabulous.

On to my Veggie favourite and i really couldn`t separate these two starters.The first one was made by my friend Simon Rogan during a meal in his Cartmel restaurant `Lenclume`. Vintage Potatoes in Onion ashes with Whey sauce and Sorrel.

Another wonderful Veggie starter was made by Brett Graham during an August meal at the Ledbury in Notting hill , London. Hampshire Buffalo milk curd with Saint Nectaire truffle toasts and a broth of grilled Onions.

Pierre Gagnaires “Sketch” restaurant in London provided the years best Shellfish dish. Scottish Lobster , lightly cooked with ginger butter , swiss chard , banana , mango and bisque saucePaired up with a wonderful little salad of Lobster claw meat.

The Ledbury once again shone through with this amazing fish course of Flame grilled Mackerel , Smoked Eel , Celtic Mustard, Avocado and Shiso.The smokiness of the Mackerel skin brought back childhood memories of cooking over home made fires…I couldn`t  re-create the same Ledbury flavour when i tried it at home.

 My Game dish of the year was the August Grouse at The Ledbury. Roasted Breast and Confit legs of Grouse , with Red leaves and vegetables , Foie gras and Cherries. Best Lamb course of the year was served to us at St James , London –  “7 Park Place” by William`Billy` Drabble. An absolute classic cooking method taught to Chef by the legendary Nico Ladenis at Ninety park lane…. it`s totally `old school` at its best,  amazing.

Main course Beef dish that stood out from the rest was made by James Knappett ( now cooking at The Ledbury ) at Marcus Wareing in the Berkeley , London. A fairly straight forward and simple dish but cooked to perfection and the combination of the melting beef fillet , Smoked bone marrow and tartness of the berries had me sat in my chair , eyes closed and totally drifting away on a cloud….Still my best main of a lifetime.

A very close second place to the beef but i`ve included it here as ” Best classic” dish of the year and one that only took me 30 odd years to get around to tasting… Pigs Trotters “Pierre Koffmann” at Londons `Koffmanns` in the Berkeley hotel … I must return for more.

Kenny Atkinson at the Orangery in Rockliffe Hall and his award winning Northumbrian cheeseboard.I`ve had a lot of nice cheese over the year but this one “took the biscuit”….a truly fabulous tasting of Northern cheeses and their accompaniments.

Chef Simon Rogan at his finest once again creating a wonderful dessert from local Cumbrian produce at his Cartmel restaurant Lenclume. Quince with Buttermilk , Iced and crispy Damsons , Sweet brackens and Rosehips….Amazing. ( watch out for this guy in 2012 )

“Stop press”…Get the brakes on…. December 29th and It`s definitely a close shave for the pud of the year.I ate a 2011 last minute “light” 16 course lunch today at Lenclume and experienced some amazing food.The pudding below definitely hits the mark to rival the one above so i`m firing it in at the last minute.These guys are going to be knocking some pretty good stuff out in 2012…cant wait.So the one below is  “Sea Buckthorn ice cream ( Liquid Nitro ) Anise , Hyssop , Liquorice and Butternut”. The sponge like item that sits on top of the dish i `think` is the light El Bulli type of sponge cooked inside a cup…but it was crispy so im guessing that it was then put in a dehydrator….it was good.The sea buckthorn is such a unique flavour , there`s really nothing quite like it.It`s a love it or hate it experience and definitely my flavour of the year ,it really is amazing.

Petits fours and sweet treats with coffee don`t come much better than this.By the time these ones landed on our table we had competely overstuffed ourselves to bursting point.They were beautifully packaged up in a little box and were swiftly devoured the following morning in bed.Thanks to Le Champignon Sauvage in Cheltenham.

And finally…. I can`t end  my 2011 dining without mentioning my “Best Service” experience…and that simply has to go to the staff at Marcus Wareing in the Berkeley hotel , London. As i said in my blog post ( click here ) This is hospitality at the highest level…I simply cannot fault it. Thanks to Dimitri Bellos and all of the team.

And that`s my final post of the year folks .I wish you all a very happy new year and hope you can consume as many calories as i`m going to during 2012.

Happy eating , Cheers Alan.

Visionary Dining – Young Chef of the year 2011.

An amazing and very enjoyable evening at the lakes hotel school in Kendal last night , 11 wonderful courses of fabulous food , enjoyable wine, top class chefs and lovely people.The evening started at 4.30 and i ate , slurped lots of wine and fell into bed at 1 am……then got back up at 4.30 for the journey back to Sellafield and the delights of first shift…..So i`ll let the pics do the talking as i`m not up for blabbering away tonight…..time for bed.

Champagne and Canapes – Aumbry Restaurant , Manchester

Scallop and Caviar Ceviche / Jasmine and Honey Spherifications.

SOUP – Michael Lipscombe with Mark Poynton (Alimentum ) –  Oxtail , Ceps and Truffle

FLIGHT – Gareth Bevan with Kenny Atkinson (Rockliffe Hall) – Pressed Terrine
of Yorkshire Partridge , Foie gras and Ham hock, Celeriac & mustard
remoulade, pickled pears and roasted Hazelnuts.

JAPAN – Nick Evans with Michael Wignall  (The Latymer at Pennyhill park )– Teriyaki marinated Rainbow trout , seaweed salad , chervil mousseline , seaweed tea.

CARROTS – David Simms with Simon Rogan (Lenclume) – Mainly Carrot ,
other subtle flavours  – Smoke , Ham , Cheddar , Vinegar and Chervil.

THE SEA – Tom Lawson with Rupert Rowley (Fischers Baslow ) – A selection of
lightly pickled shellfish , tomato ( marie rose ) Brown bread and butter.

4 LEGS – Steve Smith with Sujan Sakar (Freemasons arms) – Pigs trotters ,
Tandoori spices , Apple and pumpkin.

2050 – Andrew Postlethwaite with Chris Holland (Alderley edge hotel) – Beef tea ,
delicate Ginger , Lemongrass , sesame , Soya oriental  flavour noodles.

GAME ( and the winning dish ) – Rohan Nevis with Aiden Byrne (The church green) – Wild Hare wrapped in Chicory and Sage.

CHOCOLATE – John Killington with Andre Garret (Galvin@windows) – Dark chocolate
mainly with a little white , hint of Tonka bean, some spice , cardamom, star
anise and some Orange.

APPLES – Derek Donaldson with Alan Irwin (Lujon ) – Apple cremeux ,
Cinnamon sponge , Camomile smoked Apple pastilles , Granny smith sorbet , Pink
lady jelly , Gingerbread sable , crisps and foam.

If you would like to view all of the photos from the Visionary dining evening then please just click HERE to see them on my Flickr page.

LENCLUME – An Autumn lunch by Simon Rogan.

Another great year for Simon Rogan and Lenclume in Cartmel Cumbria.The team seem to be going from strength to strength by the week lately. Their newly opened Roganic in Marylebone, London headed up by Ben Spalding has been receiving rave reviews from both  critics and diners alike.My meal on opening day was fantastic ( click here to view ). The latest plans for Simon up in Cumbria have been the farm purchase just outside of the village so watch out for some top rate dairy and garden produce in the near future.
Top marks also go to the fantastic Mark Birchall for winning the 2011 Roux scholarship prize.This has resulted in Simon temporarily losing his top guy at Lenclume for 6 months while Mark claims his prize – working at the restaurant of his choice.Mark chose El Celler de Can Roca in Girona , Spain….Number 2 on the worlds best restaurant list. Imagine the ideas Mark is going to be hitting Lenclume with…should be fun.
Another fantastic achievement for Simon and the team was their amazing score of 9/10 in the 2012 Good food guide.This placed them at Number 2 in the whole of the United Kingdom…wow , what a result. They also retained their 5 AA rosettes in the 2012 AA guide , the highest possible score. So after all of that fantastic news i just had to go and have lunch at Lenclume last week to see for myself what kitchen is currently producing. As always , innovative , fresher than fresh, ever so slightly whacky and as you can see for yourself below…Mind blowing food.My `light`  lunch consisted of the following ” 16 ” courses.

DUCK SCRATCHINGS

AVOCADO AND STICHLETON BISCUIT

BEETROOT AND MOZZARELLA , CUCUMBER AND DILL

COD “YOLKS” AND WILD WATERCRESS , GARLIC , SALT AND VINEGAR.

ENGLISH TRUFFLE PUDDING IN TRUFFLE BROTH, PUFFED BARLEY AND FENNEL.

SMOKED BESSY BECK TROUT WITH OYSTER , TROUT ROES, AND PICKLED VEGETABLES.

      ROYAL KIDNEY COOKED IN CHICKEN FAT , CRAB AND HORSERADISH.

JERUSALEM ARTICHOKES , ST TOLA , TARRAGON , MALT.

PLAICE FILLET AND WHITE VIENNA BAKED IN SALT , KALE GREENS AND     RAZOR CLAMS.

SUCKLING PIG , PARSNIP AND APPLE, WILD CHERVIL AND GROUND IVY.

CHESTNUT, HONEY OATS , ANISE , HYSSOP , APPLE.

                        BLACKBERRIES AND HONEY CAKE , OPAL PLUM ICE.

QUINCE WITH BUTTERMILK , ICED AND CRISPY DAMSONS,SWEET BRACKEN AND ROSEHIPS.

MILKSHAKE.

AERATED CHOCOLATE, KENDAL MINT CAKE ICE.

RASPBERRY MERINGUE

To see all the photos from my Lunch at Lenclume then please just click HERE.

” The Paul ” – Copenhagen and my strange Danish weekend.

I often wonder which one of my parents i inherited my `ever so slightly` nutty behaviour from.They both deny at times that i`m their son and said i was delivered on the doorstep in a parcel. Apparently our local Milkman showed signs of madness when i was a baby and neither of my parents would ever discuss this with me so i often wonder .I`m also far better looking than they ever were so ive got serious doubts in my old age….So as far as very strange people go, try this one….. I`m lying in my bed , it`s a friday morning at 5.30 am and the alarm clock has just woken me from my dreamy slumber.Time to leave my lovely warm bed behind for another shift at my local Nuclear plant .Suddenly a moment of extreme madness passes through me …Mmnnnnn , should i go to work today …or throw caution to the wind and get the next flight to “somewhere” in Europe ? ….Life`s too short …… live for the moment……this life isn`t a dress rehearsal etc etc……So let`s do it. Computer on….. navigate straight on to flight supermarket , click , click , click  and before i know it my bag`s packed and i`ve set off on the three hour drive to Manchester airport and on to a flight to……Copenhagen. Jeez……where the hell did that one come from ? I thought about Barcelona , i thought about Prague , Marrakech, Amsterdam….but Copenhagen ???? it`s in Denmark ….isn`t it ?
To be totally honest here , the one word that implanted itself securely in my sub conscious little brain at 5.30 on that friday morning  was a four letter one…N…O…M…A. Here was me thinking i could simply get on a plane , book a hotel , turn up at the reception desk at the Worlds number one restaurant and get a table for one…..How wrong i was.
I arrived in Denmark , checked into the hotel and `first things first`, i enquired with the girls behind my hotel reception desk –  “whats the chances of me getting into Noma tonight…tomorrow ? ” The reception staff just laughed , said some strange Hurrrrrdy Gurrrrrrdy Danish words ….laughed again and then said “No chance sir , try booking 6 months in advance sir ” ….. “Okay , erm….thanks,  but thanks for nothing ladies,  ill do it myself “…. Mmmnnnn so  that one didn`t work , i`ll go and phone them from my room. –  ” Hi  –  any chance of a table tonight , tomorrow , next day…I`ve travelled from England just to eat at Noma” ?  I`m sure they also laughed quietly…”Sorry sir we are fully booked and cannot even squeeze you into a tiny little corner , we have a very large waiting list also for cancelled  tables so i`m sorry to say you must join the end of the queue “…..Ermmmm ok. Now for my emergency back up Master plan…..How to jump to the top of that list in one easy step. I contacted my friend Sandia in London , this was a sure fire way to get a table….Sandia couldn`t fail , after all she was the queen of the `front of house` when she worked at Noma…plus her husband  James ( head chef at Marcus Wareing) was top guy in Noma`s kitchen….Here was my `insider` ticket to foodie heaven.I lay on the bed,  looking at my  phone willing that text to return, which it did shortly after……here we  go…..Message from Sandia….. “Sorry Alan , i`ve tried my hardest and a table this weekend is totally impossible”….Ahh….Ohhhh well , to be honest i wasn`t that bothered anyways  –  i`ll find somewhere better…..onwards and upwards.
I sent a text to my friend Simon Rogan , owner of Lenclume in the UK. I asked Simon where i should eat in Copenhagen as i only knew the one place in the whole of Scandanavia ,His answer was simply this –  “You must try The Paul  , it`s probably one of the best places to eat over in Denmark “.I quickly got the restaurants number off Google and phoned them up for a table, only to find out very quickly  – “Sorry sir ,we are totally full up , no tables available – ever again as we close forever in one weeks time”….”Oh that`s just typical…….Cmon….give me a break” , `im not having much luck here, stuck in Europes most boring city am i ?….i showered….got dressed and went and got drunk on the very expensive Danish beer…..Not happy at all.
Next day i  awoke , and decided that i would try `The Paul` again…but this time i would turn up and ask face to face….surely they couldn`t refuse me that way. I set off on a slow walk to The Paul restaurant.Two hours later i arrived outside of Tivoli Gardens , the big amusement park situated in the centre of  Copenhagen. To actually get to the restaurant every diner has to pay the 95 dkr ( £11.50 ) entrance fee to the fun park…Unbelievable. So get this –  if a party of 10 people decide they all want to eat at The Paul then that`s £115 right away…..just to enter the park and walk straight to the restaurant .Ive never encountered anything so strange before , apparently it`s some old city bye-law.Anyways , long story short , i walked the walk , paid my money , found the restaurant and got a straight  “NO….Very sorry we are full with a party today sir “
I wont go into detail, but all i`ll say is that after 5 minutes of very calm negociating and crawling on my bloodied bare knees , they gave in and offered me a table for one….I was  a happy guy.
Simple instruction followed….”Just feed me please , no menu and  please match the food with some nice wines ….but let me start with a well deserved large glass of cold dark and Malty Erdinger beer “….and let`s get this show on the road…i was really ready at long last  for some good high end cooking and wine. I sat and surveyed the restaurant while i was waiting for my beer , trying to figure out the  Whacky decor whilst looking out of the window at the kids sailing past on  little Pirate boats, …….this was a crazy place .
Chef Paul Cunningham has been cooking here for 7 years and sadly the clock was ticking down to total closure in 6 days from now, i detected a strange feeling in the air, the end of the show,  the whole aura was very strange, the restaurant artwork was a little look into chef Pauls world… which seemed nuttier than a fruitcake ( in a nice kinda way ),  a Rocking horse was suspended from the ceiling , canvas portraits of the chef and prints from `times gone by` covered the walls and totally obscure prints that Paul had taken himself or collected were hanging everywhere , totally whacky , but i liked it. As for chef Pauls cooking, well it was right up there with Europes very best chefs.A fine pedigree of past restaurants littered Pauls C.V , Chewton glen , Luckham park , Maltsters Arms , Harveys (with Marco pierre white ) Le champignon sauvage and Sollerod Kro….. WOW.

My beer arrived with a few little nibbles , huge crunchy unripe green olives and the most delectable little baby unripe peaches.I googled these peaches as i`ve never seen them anywhere before and  couldn`t find them at all on the internet. Please feed me some info if anyone reading this can help me out with a supplier , thanks…and now for the food -

Green Olive and Green baby Peach / Salted and spiced / Fennel pollen caramel /  Iberico , Pan con raspberry.

                                                            Fennel pollen caramel

Iberico , Pan con raspberry.

Koffmanns  Olive oil and Manitoba malted bread with Aabybro dairy butter.

Lemon sole , Forest fungi , Smoked beef marrow.

Monkfish Mojo , Herbs , Relish Charcuteri.

Dark Berried Pigeon, English Liquorice , Pain d` epice.

                                                         Lemon…… “Cream pie”

                                                       Peaches , cream , Dill

                     Hazelnut truffle , Espresso caramel , Earl grey financier.

     And finally sir….. A quirky way to deliver the bill….Set lunch £59…Happy days.

To view the full set of photos then please click  HERE

3 Star Michelin food by James Knappett @ Marcus Wareing.

22 Courses in the Berkeley hotel , Knightsbridge , London

I`ve eaten quite a few meals over the years in a number of  high key restaurants scattered all around the UK.Some bad meals , lots of good ones and a “couple” of top of the ladder ones. I say “couple” because only that amount stand out to me as food memories which will last a lifetime.Nico Ladenis at Ninety park lane started me off back in the Nineties ( 1993 i think ) and his “tasting menu” consisting of several Nico classics had me knocked off my feet at the time. The menu now hangs framed on my wall as an everlasting reminder of  Nico , a culinary legend in a restaurant that was very short lived and now stands firmly in the  history books of legendary master chefs.Seventeen years have since  passed by and many more enjoyable restaurant treats came my way,but unfortunately nothing as memorable as Nico…. until summer 2010 when my next super meal was experienced. I sat down and ate 30 courses cooked for me by Simon Rogan at Lenclume in Cartmel ,Cumbria. 30 courses of fresh , wild , foraged and home grown ingredients , new tastes , textures and flavours which i had never experienced before and although a totally different style of cuisine , it gave me the very same buzz as the Nico meal. ( click HERE to see the lenclume meal ) .This Rogan experience was followed only weeks later by a fantastic lunch cooked for me by Aiden Byrne at the Hillbark hotel near Liverpool , a luxury trip through some of Europes finest produce expertly cooked by Aiden and his team.( Click HERE to see the meal ) Unfortunately Aiden left Hillbark shortly after my visit so i now count myself as one of the fortunate few to have ever experienced Aidens personalised touch in such a grand location as Hillbark…Ill never forget those delights.
 So , only three meals of such  a high calibre in 35 years of dining out…until time came around for my birthday treat , August 19th 2011 and dinner at Marcus wareing at the Berkeley hotel in London…..Now , problem is , where and how do i possibly begin to start to describe this heavenly experience ? , i`m in dreamy mode even now looking at the menu from my wonderful evening and wondering where the hell to start. – Ok , so i`ll start with the star of the show , chef Mr James Knappett.
James Knappett was going to be cooking my dinner , Marcus Wareing was elsewhere so James was leading the kitchen brigade as the head chef .James has an amazing pedigree and when i read the impressive list of restaurants that he`d worked in i was really excited at the thought of what he would be cooking for us.Thomas Kellers “Per Se” in New york , Gordon Ramsay , Rick Stein and 2 years in the kitchens of the `worlds Number one` restaurant – Noma in Copenhagen…WOW , i was wondering what James was capable of whilst in charge of the Berkeley kitchen team. I had already been studying the Menus for a couple of weeks prior to my dinner there. I could see influences of Noma straight away on the various menus that Marcus and James had created together.Marcus specialising very much in classic cuisine ( ex Gordon Ramsay ) married up with James`s wild and modern twist of flowers , hedgrow , seashore , wild and foraged produce.Part and parcel of chefs daily chores whilst working at Noma was their daily forage in the countryside and then creating a menu around what was available that day . So what an amazing combination they had at the Berkeley kitchen, both of classic mixed with modern, exactly what i love so much in cuisine.When i dine out , i want to be eating Lobster , foie gras , truffles , reduced sauces etc etc .Im very much old school in my tastebuds but i also get off on the modern twists of food “from nature to plate” , Simon Rogan and Lenclume for instance.So my meal with James would be very much of a cross between the two….or so i hoped.

 We arrived at the Berkeley hotel in Knightsbridge at 7.30 , perfect timing for  fantastic cocktails in the hotels “Blue bar” , a well known celebrity destination hang out.It was to be a long night of eating , 5 hours to be precise so time to relax , enjoy the friendly faces and prepare for the feast that lay ahead. Shortly after we were greeted and ushered through to the Restaurant , it was stunning , all with a Burgundy / Aubergine theme….and very…..very…..very dark.Ohhh dear , my immediate thought straight away was ” My photos “.The restaurant really was so badly lit that i doubted that even my trusty little well researched Panasonic Lumix LX5 wouldnt be able to save the day. I had flashbacks to my night taking photos in `The Witchery` in Edinburgh , the fantastic Gothic restaurant lit only by candlelight…which was so dark i had to read the menu with my phone light. I had horrific thoughts , the Berkeley restaurant lighting wasn`t quite as bad but it was still going to be a nightmare to use a camera – with no flash. I asked one of the staff if they could turn up the lighting over my table but i was politely informed that it wasn`t possible as all the restaurant lighting would increase…Ahh well , onwards and upwards and ill try and make the very best of a bad job and then let photoshop save the day on my computer….as it did with the Witchery photos ( click HERE to view ) ….Its a lifesaving computer programme sent from the heavens .
And so the food started to arrive , as you can see from the photos below , photoshop actually worked its magic and managed to turn dark and grainy photos into something not far from acceptable.Next time i go to the Berkeley then ill do Lunch , sit beside a window and get some decent light on the plates , wait and see the difference.Little appetiser treats from the chef arrived one by one – Aubergine tart , / Grilled Quails hearts , / Pickled egg , caviar and Pigs skin , / Pineapple weed , Scottish Scallop in pickled Cucumber , grape , Lime mayonnaise. / Dorset Crab , Avocado puree , tomato , pickled vegetables , pickled Chilli , coriander

Aubergine tart

Grilled Quails hearts

Pickled egg , caviar and Pigs skin

Pineapple weed , Scottish Scallop in pickled Cucumber , grape , Lime mayonnaise.

Dorset Crab , Avocado puree , tomato , pickled vegetables , pickled Chilli , coriander

Creamed Foie Gras , caramelised milk tuile, fresh cobnuts, blackberries and Hyssop

Burrata “stretched” Mozarella , Malted crumbs , cherries and onions.

Summer “Vegetable patch” – Pickled Damsons , pea puree , turnip , baby carrots , Elderflowers , soft Goats curd and Elderflower dressing.

Butter poached Scottish Lobster,Quails egg ,Nori Seaweed powder,buttered cabbageVinegar.

Girolles , Herb Pappardelli , Chickweed , Purslane , Truffle butter and Fresh Truffle from Tuscany.

Now was the start of the fish experience.The waiter came over to my table with a big smile on his face….” and now James is going to give you a little tour through the Cornish fishing industrys  catch of the day” , starting with Cornish Mackerel , Smoked Paprika , Paprika oil , Sweetcorn puree , Grated Zests , Parmesan , coriander , Lime puree.

Cornish Line caught Sea bass with 7 textures of Cauliflower , pine nuts , flaked Almonds , sauce Polonaise , Purslaine

Cornish Turbot , New potatoes , Green Strawberries , courgette and Coastal herbs.

Wood pigeon , Turnip , cabbage , Chocolate sauce , pigeon jus

Cumbrian Lamb with Japanese Rose petals , Yoghurt and charred Leeks.

Beef , Smoked Bone marrow , Hogweed seeds , Grilled courgette , cucumber , Raspberries and Nasturtiums. The best main course of my life, no two ways about it.The beef melted , it was so tender.The smokiness of the bone marrow paired up with the tartness of the raspberries , the reduced sauce ….Ohhhh it was a gift from heaven.I actually eat most of this course with my eyes closed , never ever experiencing flavours like this before.I finished the plate of food badly wanting more I noticed that my partner had one last piece left on her plate…”darling …please..cmon it`s my bithday”  , and so followed one last fork full of ecstasy….who need drugs ?

Broken down Pina Colada , Pineapple sorbet , Rum and different textures of Coconut.

Caramelised apple parfait , Bramley apple jelly and sorbet , pearl barley and cinnamon.

“Hay” creme brulee , Strawberries , Sweet cicely , Malt crumbs

Caramel sundae with different textures of Caramel , Yoghurt and Malt.

Liquorice cake , Smoked milk ice cream , fresh pear and wood Sorrel.

Sea Buckthorn mousse in Milk chocolate….My special birthday cake .

And some yummy chocs to take away back to the hotel

 So….to summarise my 22 course dinner by James Knappett @ Marcus Wareing @ The Berkeley…..Spoken from the heart as an `impartial diner` – First of all the negative points….or should i just say `point` ?….The restaurant lighting.The lighting was horrendous for anyone who enjoys taking pics of their meal , flash photography isnt allowed in the restaurant in respect for other diners.So bloggers and lovers of food , and those wanting to show off their wonderful meal on their phones or cameras have to rely on the restaurants available light. Far more importantly the food is so amazing and pleasing to the eye that i personally feel that it needs to be proudly presented in all of its glory.Take for example the `summer vegetable patch` , it was visually beautiful , a work of art on the plate but sadly couldnt be seen to its full potential and beauty because of the poor lighting , same for the rest of the food. So c`mon Berkeley and tweak the lighting levels up “just a wee bit”.
As for the good points….Ohhhhhh i`m gonna struggle here ha ha….Well for a start, no two ways about it I ate 3 star Michelin food, ….I ate James Knappetts 3 star Michelin food.This guy is so talented he blew me away with his innovative , perfectly cooked and faultless food….Words fail me right now but theres no doubting that this guy is going places, he`s cooking up there with the best 3 star chefs in Europe and its only a matter of time before his name is up in lights.There you go…Summed up in a couple of lines.I`m a happy diner , im a happy blogger and hopefully my photos and words will portray what an amazing dining experience we had at the the Berkeley. Marcus…You`re leaving your kitchen in very good hands.
 I cant end this piece without thanking the front of house team.It makes a world of difference to see people smiling and it seems that everyone at the restaurant was doing just that.It`s evident that everyone is happy at the Berkeley and that came over during service. A quick look inside the kitchen ( By then it was 01:15am ) and a big thank you to Chef James and the team and we had to make our excuses to leave and let the lads all get back to their beds……Seeing as though they were all back up again at 07:00…..Ohhhhh No….Life as a young chef.Thanks also to our Sommelier , a lovely guy with some beautiful wines…and yet again , a mini education for myself in pairing wine with food….Cheers.

TO VIEW ALL OF THE PHOTOS FROM THE JAMES KNAPPETT 22 COURSE DINNER PLEASE CLICK HERE

ROGANIC – Simon Rogan and Ben Spalding take on London.

Just by a stroke of luck i happened to be in London on the weekend that Simon Rogans new `pop up` restaurant “Roganic” was opening on a two week`ramp up` soft start.Even luckier for me that i was searching around for somewhere to do lunch on Roganics first day and happened to discover that i could book a table to eat at opening time on opening day…..First official diner to eat at Roganic.


The restaurant is situated on a quiet and really clean site in Marylebone ( Blandford street ) and as soon as Simon secured the property everything happened in a bit of a whirlwind, the trades were sent in to fast track the refurbishment.Chefs and staff were appointed and Simon Rogan added more craziness to his non stop life at Lenclume in Cartmel by taking on the weekly journeys between his London and Cumbrian restaurants until things were well firmly established.Ben Spalding would head up the kitchen at Roganic , a young highly talented chef with a great pedigree from a background in some pretty high end eateries – L`autre pied , The capital , Rhodes , Gordon Ramsay , Per Se ,
Fat duck and Le Manoir….wow , this guy has an amazing history.Teamed up with Simon then i had very high expectations of what they were capable of as a collective pair in the kitchen.I really don`t need to start writing volumes about the food at Roganic ,the photos simply speak for themselves and if they don`t tempt diners to eat there then
nothing will.The hedgrow and woodland herbs and flowers don`t grow on Blandford street . Simon can`t do what he does in Cartmel and simply walk outside the kitchen door to pick fat hen , Hedge garlic,Bistort , Sweet cicely and many more herbs so somehow they`ve managed to export them down from Cumbria as though they had been picked five minutes prior to being delicately placed on the dishes.


So enjoy my little journey through the food of Roganic and the 10 course tasting menu , encompassing the best of British organic produce with a Cumbrian twist.Oh and by the way , service was near perfection , fault free and the staff were all well educated on the food being served….including the Chenopodiums, Hyssop , Orache and Mallow buzz words i threw in at them.Sandia Chang ( Per Se , Noma and Marcus Wareing ) and Jon
Cannon ( Galvin ) head up front of House….Two lovely people , keep up the good work and good luck to a great future for Roganic.

Full set of pics from my lunch at Roganic – CLICK HERE or scroll down for highlights

Appetiser – Chick pea wafer, cream cheese with herbs.

Broad bean and Hyssop , fresh curds and beetroot

Yellow turnip baked in salt , smoked yolk , Blite and wild mustard

Sea water cured Kentish Mackerel , Orache , broccoli and warm Elderflower honey

Shredded Ox tongue , Pickles and sourdough paper

Flaky crab and Mallow cream , young Squid and cucumber

Vintage potatoes in onion ashes , lovage and wood sorrel

Roasted Brill , chicken salt , cockles and ruby chard

Cumbrian Hogget , Artichokes and Chenopodiums

Sweet cicely with strawberries , buttermilk and verbena

Warm spiced bread , salted almonds , Buckthorn curd and smoked clotted cream

Cherry marshmallow and cherry shot

Little treats with coffee.

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