Al Fassia and Canteloupe Melon!

The days are getting longer, the year is flying by and I am starting to get excited as in 4 weeks I will be in Gascony, learning some new cookery skills for a few days. I recently organised our teams monthly meeting which offered a chance to find somewhere to eat, something that I find challenging as most love Nando’s, (I am not saying Nando’s is good or bad as I have only been ‘forced’ to eat there once, but never again, its just not me!), so I try and find cost effective interesting places to eat that don’t ship in pre-prepped food, where you can see the menu changes, and is seasonal.

So what to do in Windsor on a Thursday evening and research pointed to Al Fassia, a Moroccan eatery full of promise.

WP_20140424_20_17_40_ProThe Meze was amazing as you can see in the picture above, everything from the most perfect Hummus, Broad Beans, Spinach, Aubergine it was fantastic, tasty and fresh.

WP_20140424_20_17_49_ProMerguez Sausages arrived, spicy, piquant tasty but unfussy and rustic. We also had some Filo stuffed parcels, my mouth was zinging the starter was a real success.

WP_20140424_19_57_24_ProAnyone that knows me will appreciate my love of wine, I am not really a beer person, except maybe a Real Ale at Christmas or if the food dictates it as part of the tasting experience.  The Chateau Raslane, pictured above was AWESOME, it wasn’t cheap at £29.95 but for a Restaurant, amazing value for money.

WP_20140424_20_44_14_ProWhen in Morocco as they say! Mains were a couple of Tagine’s, one Chicken and one Lamb they smelt as delicious as they looked, the steamy mist rising to the ceiling as the top was removed, (poetry is not one of my strong points but hey ho!).

I forgot to take a picture of dessert, which was Seffa, a sweet Cous Cous dish with Cinnamon and Coconut which was delicious, never had it before, will do if I see it again.

So if you happen to be near Windsor, or need an excuse give Al Fassia a try, the service and food was exceptional and very good value, certainly prepared fresh. The owners brother has a Restaurant in Marrakech and part of the inspiration behind this gem.

WP_20140427_17_41_11_Pro Looking for a light and tasty dish over the weekend seemed an excuse to play around with Salads. This is a French Rick Stein inspired dish, with the core ingredients being Canteloupe Melon and Goats Cheese. To add some further flavour Marmande Tomatoes, Aleppo Pepper, and Poppy Seeds are used along with Cucumber with the seeds removed, and thinly sliced and a dressing made of 3 Tbls Rapeseed Oil and 1/2 Tbls Moscatel Vinegar, which is slightly sweeter than regular Red or White Wine variants.

WP_20140427_17_49_38_ProThis dish is mostly a construction job, such as thinly slicing the Red Onion and adding to the Marinade/Dressing, which starts to cook and soften what can be a harsh flavour. Adding Poppy Seeds to the dressing adds another interesting texture and flavour.

WP_20140427_18_07_37_ProMelon can be quite bland, unless your sitting in some hot country where it grows naturally so to add some extra flavour, shiffonade some Mint leaves and layer the Melon and Mint, leaving for AT LEAST 2 hours in the fridge, it imparts a beautiful but subtle element which lifts the Melon. The Goats Cheese is sliced and sprinkled with the Aleppo Pepper, again, leaving for a couple of hours to infuse. The Sour Dough Bread is used to make some crispy Garlic Croutons, adding texture to the Salad along with more flavour.

WP_20140427_19_54_39_ProYou can layer the Salad, starting with some Lettuce, then the Melon, Cucumber then the Goats Cheese topped with the Red Onion Dressing, finish with the Croutons.

Richard Bertinet is one of my food heroes and his ‘proper’ bread is now available in the Newbury Waitrose, I used leftover Sour Dough for the Garlic Croutons, I had scoffed the rest earlier that day, his bread is awesome if you can get it and worth checking if you live in the South West around Bath, Swindon and Newbury areas.

This Salad is a very simple dish that just needs time to prepare, marinate and construct, but tastes delicious, it’s one I will be repeating in the future.

Till next time

L8ers……………………………………..

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