It’s been an interesting few weeks as the year slowly draws to a close, and I have managed to eat in some really good restaurants as my work takes me from Norfolk to Cornwall and back home again to Newbury.
There have been several stand-out experiences that deserve a mention but before I dive into food I need to explain the title of this blog. After several years of ‘umming and arrring’ I decided to invest in some new knives for the kitchen recently, scouring the web and looking at numerous suppliers I finally settled on some 67 Layer Damascus beasts, they were an investment to last me forever but nowhere near as expensive as some of the more popular brands as seen on TV cookery competitions and programmes. Endorsed by Tom Aitken and others, if they were good enough for him then they might be ok!!
I ordered the set, and impressive they were too, stunning with the effect of the layers and nice and sharp… Ouch, within a day of using them I had managed to take the tip of one of my fingers!! It was being careless that did it, with a paring knife too, not even a big shiny cooks knife.
Later that evening I was a bit peckish so sliced a Cinnamon Bagel in half, popped it into the toaster and waited as the aroma’s drifted around the kitchen. As I removed them, one of the edges had become ‘paper sharp’ and next thing I had another small cut, just unbelievable, haven’t cut myself in years and within hours two cuts and one with a ‘BAGEL’!!!!
So back to the food, in no particular order the 1st award goes to The Bladebone at Chapel Row nr Upper BuckleBerry which is in between Reading and Newbury. We have eaten their 3 times in the last few weeks, and only knew of its existence because of twitter, friends advertising its greatness, and yes, it is VERY good. The last visit was for Sunday lunch, traditional Roast Beef with all the trimmings cooked to perfection. We absolutely loved the way the Veg was served as above, very generous too (and the rest of the food was awesome Richie).
The next dish was a surprise, Satay Chicken & Crab, Vanilla Lime Custard, Spiced Peanuts and Cucumber served at the Seckford Hall Hotel, a 15th Century establishment nr Woodbridge in Norfolk. I was here on business and the Duck Two Ways with Parsnip and White Chocolate Puree and Pickled Blackberries was another standout dish.
Next, it was a trip to ‘Hooked‘ in Truro, Cornwall on another business trip. A taster of Crab Thermidor, Crab & Sweetcorn Chowder and Hand-picked Crab Salad it was just delicious. It’s so nice to have access to such amazing fresh ingredients which with a little care and attention can deliver such amazing results.
Still ‘Hooked’! I was a bit extravagant with the main. I should explain that my employer does not pay for all these meals, I get a small daily subsidy when I am travelling which would cover a typical meal, but I choose to use the opportunity to ‘invest’ my own cash in something a bit more extravagent, in this case 1/2 a Lobster!, Crevettes, Scallops, Frites, home made Tartare Sauce, and a fresh dressed salad. It was stunning, sweet, perfectly cooked and well worth the investment.
Now for the star performer, not that the others were bad, they were all excellent and I would have no hesitation is recommending them but Isidro’s is something a bit special. Isidro’s is a ‘pop-up’ based out of 16 Bartholomew Street Newbury which used to be the home of ‘brebis’, a family run Michelin quality French Restaurant which has just started a couple of new venture’s, the guest pop-up, and a fine dining establishment that comes to you, in the form of a double decker bus called ‘Nomadic’. Isidro’s is the 1st pop-up guest with ‘Georgian’ food to follow care of Caucasian Spice Box as well as fine French care of the owner Sam more details HERE.
The menu consisted of 5 Courses (well 6 actually, the Filipino spring rolls above were an extra surprise), not rushed, beautifully presented, packed full of flavour and not ‘tuned’ to english tastes (chilli is chilli).
Never had Japanese Gyoza’s before, they were a triumph perfectly cooked, melt in the mouth and just delicious.
The Vietnamese Salad Rolls were just as tasty, one had already been eaten before I remembered to capture the moment, served with a proper Peanut sauce and Nuoc Cham, this food was not out of jars or tins and it just kept coming (but at a nice steady pace).
So, I don’t ‘get’ Sweet Potato, it just seems wrong and is something I steer clear of with a passion. Not tonight as one of the mains was a Sweet Potato Red Thai Curry, damn it was sooooo good. The other main for us meat eaters was KFC (Korean Fried Chicken). Now I have made this myself, a recipe from Judy Joo’s book with Gochujang Sauce, this put mine to shame so I will be speaking to them and gaining some clues as to how they cook theirs, it was brilliant.
Dessert was finally here and we just had enough room to eat it, light, tasty fragrant Pandan, Coconut, Pineapple, Marscapone and Mango Puree, which arrived after I took the picture above.
So a quick tour of several places to eat and they were all damn sooo good, Isidro’s pipped the post though due to the experience, The Bladebone is also standout and should you be in the area check it out, I would advise booking first to avoid disappointment as it does get very busy and you could be unfortunately turned away. It’s a favourite of Chris Tarrant, who lives nearby, he was supping a pint last time we were there!!
Next week I am having lunch with a friend at recently Michelin Star awarded ‘The Woodspeen’ so watch out for a review.
……………………….Until next time…………………L8ers……………………