After a aperitiv in the shape of a “Pint Shop No. 1” and an introduction by Andrew, Stuart and David of Barker Brothers Butchers demonstrated how to make sausages and how to butcher a pig’s head.
Afterwards, we all had a go at making sausages and butchering half a pig’s head. I didn’t join in the sausagemaking but did butcher a pig’s head with varied results as it’s definitely not easy. I did get enough meat out of it for a decent meal, though.
Then Stuart Barker showed us how they break down a whole side. This was most impressive, even for a task they do several times a week, and he slowed down for us so we could see where and how he was cutting.
Watching and helping with this butchery had made us hungry so we were very keen to sit down and await the meal the chefs in the Pint Shop kitchens had prepared for us:
Crispy Pig’s Head, apple&rhubarb sauce (beer: Moor Revival): Some of the ear pieces were better than others, the best ones were like really good crackling. The rhubarb in the apple sauce added a good edge.
Clams & Cheeks, actually stinging nettles, cider brandy and broad bean sauce (beer: Camden Gentleman’s Wit
The first highlight: Pork shoulder & Ogleshield nuggets (beer: Siren&Elusive Dinner for Four). So soft and juicy on the inside and crunchy on the outside, with the Tewkesbury Mustard creme fraiche a perfect foil.
Then, the centre piece, a whole suckling pig, slow roasted, pulled and served in steamed buns with green slaw and rhubarb and chilli sauce (beer: Magic Rock Cannonball). Brilliant, just brilliant. I think everyone overstuffed themselves on that course.
The dessert was special, too: Vanilla ice cream with bacon brittle by Jack’s Gelato with an Imperial Stout called “Heaven & Hell” from De Molen. Outstanding! Bacon in ice cream might sound weird but it worked just as well as salted caramel does.
This evening was pretty much perfect. We watched and learned butchery, had a fantastic meal of pork and beer and received a goodie bag with meat (our own butchery plus a roasting joint, a rolled piece of belly in my case) and beer to take home. I hope they will do something similar soon or at least for next year’s event.
There are more photos on flickr.
If you’ve been following the food news in Cambridge, you probably know that Pavitt’s Pies has closed for business. For one last time Carri offered her pies to the public, this time at 12a Club on Market Square (upstairs of Don Pasquale). This evening had originally been scheduled during Eat Cambridge but had to be cancelled due to illness.
On arrival, there was a rather nice aperitif, a variation of a Negroni sbagliato but with apple to balance the bitterness a bit. Really refreshing and very quaffable.
The pies were served with mash, peas and some gravy. Just as the previous ones I had tried, the crust was crispy and the filling (mine was chicken and mushroom) perfectly cooked, moist but not too liquid so the pastry stayed crispy. If there had been a bit more gravy, I’d have finished all of the mash, too.
Dessert was three giant, tennis ball sized Profiteroles from Don Pasquale. Profiteroles aren’t usually my thing but these were great, good choux pastry and the cream wasn’t too cloying. Even the chocolate sauce was alright, despite not being dark. A huge portion, though, but I persevered while others at our table had to give up.
A great night, with great food and lovely people.
This was the last leftover Eat Cambridge fringe event. The Clandestine Gourmet (or on facebook) had scheduled one for the 15th but had such a large number of people interested that they set up a second one with the same menu. I only managed to get in because I was on the waiting list and someone cancelled just before the weekend.
The evening turned out to be spectacular, not only in terms of the food served but also from a social point of view. As I didn’t trust the bus service to be on time during the snow, I took an earlier one and arrived a bit too early but that meant I could pick a spot at the big round table which turned out to be an excellent choice as I shared it with a baker, a painter, a patissiere, a doctor of physics and a writer. As diverse as our backgrounds were the topics of conversation. It was really good fun and also interesting. We could easily have carried on for another few hours but we sadly had to part company just before midnight. I rarely immediately click with a whole table but this evening was something special. Contact details were exchanged at the end and I’m positive we’ll run into each other again soon.
Conversation only ceased when another course was served but not for long as the ooohs and aaahs made way to comments about the food we were eating.
Ah yes, the food. Photos and short descriptions of the courses follow. I’m not really happy with the quality of the photos (mixed light sources falsified the colours) but they will give you rough idea of what we had.
It started with a Blue Lagoon, a not too sweet cocktail, served with a bowl of mixed, freshly roasted nuts.
The “main course”: Red mullet, black beans, tarragon, confit tomatoes. The fish was moist and flaky, the beans earthy with some acidity from the tomato, the tarragon working really well. My only criticism, not enough tomato.
“Dessert” was hazelnut cake, toasted almond cream, raspberry sorbet. This looked huge but both the cake and the sorbet were really light. I even liked the cream despite not being really a fan of cream.
There were also fantastic truffles at the end but I didn’t get a photo as my lift home was about to leave.
The Clandestine Gourmet provides not just your usual supper club fare, this was superb, sophisticated and consistent cooking. They describe themselves as a “popup restaurant” and that description fits but with BYOB. Highly recommended.
Last Sunday saw the official end of Eat Cambridge, a party at the Cambridge Brew House for exhibitors, contributors, fringe event hosts and invited guests. Free drinks and food samples from the Brew House as well as some of the exhibitors (like Afternoon Tease, Carri Pavitt and Gourmandises) kept everyone watered and fed while they were reminiscing about the previous two weeks of the festival and networked. A perfect conclusion. A few photos follow, more on flickr.
On the Friday, a street food market was set up in Hope Street Yard off Mill Road. Not only were there vans from Steak and Honour (who sold out his 80 burgers in 90 minutes, sadly disapponting a sizeable queue and I didn’t get a photo), nanna mexico, Jack from Jack’s Gelato (who because of the weather decided to serve hot dogs instead of ice creams), Fired Up Pizza from a wood fired oven and milkshakes but the shops and studios in the yard had opened their doors as well. There was live music, too, and despite the cold and wet weather, a large number of people had turned up and made the event another success. Here are a few photographic impressions:
The next fringe event I attended was presented by Anne Prince at Cambridge Kitchens in Mill Road.
Suzy Oakes was a passionate home cook, collecting recipes from all over the world and equally passionate about her neighbourhood. Setting up the Mill Road Winter Fair was just one of her accomplishments.
Her recipes have now been collected in a book. A selection of dishes from the dishes were cooked and presented by David Underwood. These were accompanied by a wine tasting by Matt of Cambridge Wine Merchants.
Due to the limited space, we were divided into two groups, one tasted the wine first, the other the food and then we swapped. Probably not ideal but it worked.
There were freshly baked breads as well as tzatziki, rouille and aioli to dip them in.
Today’s Eat Cambridge fringe event for me was a cookery demonstration at Inder’s Kitchen, in my (and many others’) opinion the best delivery service in Cambridge. They only deliver (no restaurant or take-away) and operate out of an unit in Clifton Road which is where the demo too place.
Co-owner and head chef Inder Bull showed us how to make two starters: potato cakes and samosas.
The potato cakes were simply made from cooked potatoes, freshly chopped chillies and coriander and spices formed into patties and pan-fried.
The samosas were a bit more involved, first the filling is cooked with onions, potatoes, spices, herbs and peas and left to cool. The simple pastry (pro tip: adding a little lemon juice makes it extra crispy) is rolled into circles, then one is brushed with oil and another one laid on top, forming two layer which are then lightly toasted. The layers are then separated again, cut in half, folded into a pointy baggy shape (for the vegetarian version, a simple “flour glue” is used instead of egg to hold them together), stuffed, folded shut and deep fried at 160°C.
Then the audience got stuck in:
The finished product:
There is another demo tomorrow at 12.
If you’ve read my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of the Plate Lickers Supperclub, run by The Afternoon Tease and Miss Igs. For Eat Cambridge, the pair decided to serve brunch, in two sessions of 30 covers each, in the depths of the Guildhall.
The simple tables were set up among rafters, slanted ceilings and antique, wrought-iron stairs, fitting with the supperclub’s retro theme.
This was the menu:
The brunch went like this:
Great food, excellent company and lovely hosts, what more could you want?
Due to the vagaries of the Cambridge bus service I only arrived at about 10:45 and the Guildhall was already packed with people wandering around and perusing and sampling the wares on offer. The crowd was especially thick around the Gog Magog Farm Shop’s, Inder’s Kitchen’s and the Norfolk Street Bakery’s stalls but everybody else did a roaring trade, some even selling out before the end of the fair. When I took a quick break from the Plate Lickers Brunch (see separate post) at around 3:30 to pick up some cheese from the Gogs, the hall was still very busy and I had to queue. I don’t know if there is an official record of visitor numbers but it must have been a few thousands over the day. I’ve even seen tweets from people who wanted to get in but were put off by the sheer number of people there.
Throughout the day there you could listen to interesting talks in the smaller hall. The topics on offer ranged from shopping locally via the advantages of sourdough/slow breadmaking techniques to cocktails. These were also very well received.
I heard rumours that the organisers have already been asked to hold another one and seeing the response it is quite obvious that the demand is there. I spoke to the organising committee members afterwards and everyone was completely overwhelmed by the response. They had hoped the fair would be a success but nobody had forseen quite how popular it turned out to be.
So, huge congratulations to Caroline, Heidi and Sian of Eat Cambridge!
Here are a few photographic impressions, you can find many more on flickr.
The festival kicked off in style with a dinner at Corpus Christi College. Mark Poynton, chef patron of Michelin starred Restaurant Alimentum in Hills Road created a three-course menu inspired by Mrs. Parker’s 16th century cookbook Proper Newe Booke of Cokerye (link to the history and an online version of the book).
The evening started with a drinks reception during which I met a few of the guests and easily found a conversation topic, food and restaurants, as pretty much everyone there had a keen interest in good food, which was to be expected.
We were then led into the dining room, laid out with a large horseshoe shaped table, an apple with a name tag marking each place setting.
After a short opening speech by the Lady Mayor of Cambridge, Councillor Sheila Stuart, food historia Dr. Annie Gray from Ely (you might remember her from Kitchen Cabinet) gave a presentation on Mrs. Parker’s book and a short history on cookery in the mediaeval and Tudor periods.
Then it was time to eat and Mark Poynton presented his starter, a salad of smoked eel (a very common ingredient at the time, especially in Cambridgeshire where the Fens were full of them) with apple, turnip and horseradish:
This was a familiar dish to the Alimentum regulars (of which there were quite a few) as a similar version was on the menu last year and it was just as good. The horseradish and fresh ingredients cut through the fattiness of the fish without masking its flavour. Wine: Albarino, Rias Baixas, 2009
The main was slow roast venison, liver parfait, charcoal baked celeriac, savoy cabbage, confit lemon and port sauce. The deeply flavoured meat was perfectly cooked and the other elements harmonised with it just as you would expect. Wine: Apaltagua Cabernet Sauvignon, 2011
And finally, dessert: Rosewater parfait, coated in pistachio crumbs, with orange granita. This was really fresh and surprisingly light. Wine: Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, 2008
A few more impressions:
Still more photos on flickr.
Jean-Luc Benazet has a number of photos from behind the scenes.