Friday, 9 March 2012

A gourmet day in Winchester

Winchester Cathedral from the Square
09: 30 First awake in one of the hotels in historic Winchester. The Wykeham Arms 18th inn is one of the best options as is the Winchester Hotel Du Vin the very first Hotel du Vin as usual offers good accommodation in the heart of historic Winchester , the breakfast menu offers  very well cooked traditional English breakfasts with very good French pastries like pain au chocolat or croissants

10:45 Ahead to the Westgate and then go to the Great Hall and Sally Port, the only surviving parts of the Winchester Castle, the medieval building founded in 1067 after the Norman invasion at the time was an important stronghold that served as  the English capital before moving  to London. Henry III adds the impressive Great Hall. Inside is hanging over one of the walls a medieval representation of the king Arthur’s round table, weighing 1200kg and made form English oak and later on painted in times of Henry VIII catapult your imagination to the English knights tales. Attached to the Hall is an enjoyable small museum with the history of Winchester through historic documents and photographs.

Winchester High Street has a local food market on Wednesday
11:30 Walk back to West-gate and walk down all the pedestrianized High Street, most of the shop are chains that  offer nothing new, but take a close look at  the impressive architecture with Regency and Elizabethan bow-fronted windows, the impressive clock of the Lloyds Bank Building (also have a quick glance inside) . Almost at the end you can find the Winchester Guildhall with a historic Victorian façade and next are the Abbey Gardens a nice place to rest and have a takeaway snack.

Winchester City Mill over the river
12:15 Stay in the High Street and a street after the gardens you will find the Winchester City Mill. Now this historic working mill is really worth a visit to discover the history and techniques of milling over the River Itchen.  Once inside look-up for the 18th century timber roof and in the centre of the room it is a proper millstone that thanks to the National Trust is still milling. Downstairs  is the Waterwheel and gears moved by the power of the millrace. Again in the main room a door leads to a little and charming island garden. Also the Winchester City mill is an otter watch centre.

Hotel du Vin dine room
13:30. Lunch time. Again The Wykeham Arms is a very good option like Hotel Du Vin. Hotel Du Vin menu offers since Burger in a brioche bread or a very tender ox cheek dish with an impressive wine menu in a well design dinners room

Winchester medieval tiles
15:30 From the restaurant go to the Winchester Cathedral a real architecture gem founded 1079 but works continued to 16th century. Inside the cathedral you find rich bishop’s tombs, chapels, great examples of medieval architecture and in particular I was impressed by the floor medieval tiles dated from 13th century the largest area of this kind in whole United Kingdom.

16:30 Cross the little square outside the Cathedral and have a quick glance to the Winchester City Museum, roman tiles and old fashion shops are on display. And walk in a narrow street full of restaurants and shops (Pizza Gourmet is always with students and the Pizzas are quite good) and come back to the High Street. Have a coffee break in the modern interior design Caracoli a high quality coffee shop that also offers seasonal cakes and biscuits for your coffee.

House overt the River Itchen
17:15 With the late afternoon lights of Winchester is good idea stroll around by the streets. Come back to the Cathedral, and explore the Pilgrims Hall area with the Winchester Cathedral Close houses in Tudor style. Pass the Gates and walk down College Street in the way to Winchester College, in the right side is Jane Austin house and the college. Winchester College is still running since 1382 and for this reason the tours have restricted time. Further Down in the left side the Bishops House and Wolvesey castle ruins. At the end of College Street it is the Winchester walls surrounded by gardens and the River Itchen where you can sit down to watch playful ducks.

Black Boy pub is a collectors dream
Inside of the Black Boy Pub

18:30 Getting dark and bit tired. Cross the river and ahead to Wharf Hill, a beautiful garden spot. Up the Hill is waiting for you one of the best English Pub that you can imagine brewing local ales and interesting pub dishes full of quality and charming fires. The Black Boy is much more than a simple pub it is a real collectors museum, whatever you sit or which area of the pub you are you will be amazed by the different objects  old vintage bottles, model airplanes and donkey and monkeys (not real, well I guess) that they look all engaged with the conversation of the local drinkers.

Hare at the black Rat
20:00 Just up to the corner of the Black Boy and by the same owner is the Black Rat Restaurant, another interior where you feel amazed by the details, that really feel that you are in another time being served Michelin star food with a lot of Spanish glimpses to the south Spanish countryside cuisine by Chris Bailey


Japan elderly food

Stylish Japanese old lady, the new food industry target
Food Japanese companies, like House Foods Corp. and other great manufacturers are exclusive food product for elderly Japanese people and for people that require medical care, focusing in  quality to please the taste of the eldest . The ageing of the Japanese population is well known worldwide and now has become the target of the food companies. In October, House Foods sent low protein meals for patients with renal diseases. The company tries to duplicate its line of products for old and ill people, reaching 25 articles this year.
Another company Nippon Suisan Kaisha Ltd. also began to sell in Tokyo food for patients who require medical care, the dishes conserve the shape of the conventional foods but that they are sufficiently smooth to eat without chewing.
At the same time, Kewpie Corp., decided in September to lower the prices in 20 of its 49 products specifically designed for those adults who receive medical attention.
The Japanese food market for elderly people has reach already the £ 834.3067 (U$1322) numbers that will be increasing given the natural ageing of the Japanese population


Thursday, 8 March 2012

Clams and mushroom risotto

My clam risotto with razor clams
Has been a while since I cooked risotto, my love affair with risotto recipes started time ago in a Venice restaurant, risotto to be perfectly creamy need a good quantity of butter( buffala butter even better) The last week  watching one of the David de Jorge recipes I find out a clam risotto recipe made it with Mascarpone cheese by guest blogger and food styler Aran Goyoaga. Adding Mascarpone cheese instead of butter transform your dish in a low fat risotto

Yesterday in the Hove Fish market when I saw the whole kilogram of clams for just 9 pounds, I thought will be a good idea try one day the recipe, but when I saw as well in the fish counter the razor clams, was like  a will have definitely a Seafood risotto for lunch.

Let absorb well all the stock
You need:  2 garlic (sliced) 500g clams (washed in running water) - 4 razor clams – 2 tbsp of parsley (chopped) – 100ml dry white wine – 100g mixed frozen mushroom (or a fresh mix when are in season) – 200g risotto rice – 1tbsp of mascarpone cheese – Chopped tarragon for garnish.

1. In a saucepan heat 2 tbsp of olive oil at medium heat, then add one of the sliced garlic, and parsley, stir and add the clams with 50ml white wine. Bring the heat to a medium high, cover and wait until the clams opens. Between 4-5 minutes is the most usual time. Set aside
2. In a wide saucepan. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil at medium heat, add the remaining garlic and mixed mushrooms, cook for 3 minutes, and then add the rice, stir the rice until is well coated in the oil and cook for one extra minute. Add 50ml of wine, let absorb.
3. Then add one ladleful of stock, stir a couple of times and once the stock has been absorbed add the next ladleful. Repeat the same process until the rice is creamy and has a bite. More or less take between 17 to 20 minutes. If you need more stock just add a bit of hot water.

Grill razor clams are just delicious in their own
4. Meanwhile you are cooking the rice, hot a grill pan until is very hot and just add the razor clams. Will take at least 4 minutes until they open. Keep them warm.
5. Two minutes before the rice is done add the mascarpone cheese, mix very well and add the clams with all the juices in the pan. Season with a pinch of salt and plenty black ground pepper.
6. Serve the risotto and mushrooms in individual plates, garnish with chopped tarragon and top each plate with a razor clam and a sprinkle of olive oil.


Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Forum Santiago 2012

The Forum of Santiago was held for the third year in the capital of Galicia Santiago de Compostela on 26, 27 and 28 February 2012 with an estimate of 15.000 visitors. With this new edition the Forum Santiago becomes the Spanish national gastronomic event . In the forum take place several activities: live cooking sessions, workshops and tasting for a small audience, guided tastings, lectures and debates, contests and prizes, product presentations of the exhibitors, culinary workshops for children
The forum has plenty of Spanish young chefs, and some top star like the Roca Brothers or Xavier Pellicer that held several Michelin Stars and likes work with biodynamic ingredients.

Also the Forum Santiago is a good platform to know the best wines of Galicia, personally I think is if the Galician winemakers stay working in the same direction soon Galician Wines will become one of the favourites wine region for wine lovers.

Joan Roca
 The big news this year was the new gastronomic concept that the Roca brothers are working at the moment, having not enough to have already one of the best restaurants of the world’s El Celler de Can Roca
The new idea consists in having just twelve fellow dinners sit down in isolated dining room where they are going to enjoy  a kind of culinary opera. The dishes or aromas on the round table will be supported by video art and music with the idea to come together all the senses and following a common narrative.
Fran Abreu video artist and opera manager is helping with the project of the Roca Brothers that are looking for new paths to the avant-garde cuisine 

More Spanish Gastronomic Festivals: Madrid Fusion 2012


Rocket Nutritional Facts

Rocket leaves. Photo by kelpenhagen
Is an edible annual plant naturally from the Mediterranean basin, easy to find in the wild or beside routes or around the city in countries like, Portugal, Morocco, Greece, Spain or Italy, once upon the time considered a bad vegetable; since the Roman times has never enjoyed such a popularity like now, starting such popularity two decades ago when top restaurant started to use like a side dish. Today rocket is present in a lot of salad recipes because the peppery acid flavour of the rocket leaves stand up over the rest of salad leaves. Rockets leaves are at their best at the end of the winter.

Rocket Nutrition Facts per 100g

Vitamin C
Vitamin A
25 kcal
15 mg
2373 IU

 Like other greens, rocket is a very low calorie vegetable; just 100g of fresh leaves provides just 25 calories and also has many vital phytochemicals, anti-oxidants, vitamins, and minerals that can immensely benefit our health. The rocket is rich in Vitamin A (beta-carotene) and Vitamin C, the last one help to a better absorption of the Iron that is also in the rocket leaves. Also rockets are good in fibre and the bitter flavour helps the digestive system.

In the market

Today rocket is harvested all year around in green houses, but the rocket natural season start to end of the winter to beginning of the summer.  In the supermarket or fresh market look for crispy green colour young leaves. Discard any with yellow, wilted, bruised leaves. At home place in the vegetable container of your fridge. 


Monday, 5 March 2012

Why I love English Cider and Three Cider recipes

Cider barrel. Photo by Jojo 77
I always associate cider with joy, in our private family celebration my mother always like to say cheers with a flute glass (like the English aristocracy in the 17th century) of Spanish cider rather than champagne, I am not sure if it was because she really liked it or because the little low content in alcohol or perhaps because the more little in the family can have a little sip without getting tipsy
Then when I grow up and I become a rugby fan Bulmers and Magners cider with their heavy advertisement in Pubs and rugby events did the rest for me, so now I am the kind of guy that I am going first for a cider in the pub rather than a pint of beer.
The cider making process doesn’t differ too much from the wine one, first the apples are washed and pressed, then the yeast is added and fermented for some weeks and then siphoned off from the yeast to mature further in steel tanks, bottles or even oak barrels to add more character.

English Apples. Photo by ant-photos
Luckily England has several regions where you can find great quality cider and even very good organic cider and some very traditional brands of cider makers since 2 centuries ago and don't forget that cider has been drunk in England since before the Romans landed in the British shores
Cider was considered the English champagne, now the English cider is recovering its status lost in the past century (considered a cheap drink for the drunks) and not just the big brands are doing well in the big supermarket, you also can find local and smaller producer making traditional cider and another making new blends, because at the end in Britain there are around 2000 apples varieties.
The last big triumph of the cider makers has been to catch the eye of the rising British cuisine and media chefs like Heston Blumenthal, Jaime Oliver and the BBC Hairy Bikers that are cooking with cider instead of wine or brandy.

Three easy recipes with recipes

Before to start, cooking get a flat cider non-carbonated, start with dry or medium dry ciders before to explore some sweet ciders for your recipes. Cider is a great substitute in wine cooking recipes.

Simple Hake in cider 

Hake with cider is traditional dish from north Spain

You need for 4 serves: 4 hake fillets – 400ml apple cider – 400g potatoes  (peeled and diced in 2x2 cms) – 1 small onion (finely chopped) – 2 garlic cloves (chopped) – 100ml olive oil – 2 cooking apples (peeled and diced) - Flour for coating and chopped parsley to serve. Oven at 180ºC

1. Wash and pat dry the hake, then season with salt and black ground pepper. Then coat in the flour shaking any excess.
2. In a deep frying pan  heat the olive oil in a medium heat, and fry the fish fillet from both sides by 2 minutes each side. Set aside.
3.Then stir in the potatoes and fry them until golden brown, at the end add the garlic, onion and apple and cook 3 extra minutes. Remove from the heat.
4. Return the fish to the pan and pour over the cider. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes until the fish is done.
5. Serve the fish with the potatoes and rest of the ingredients in individual plates, pour over some of the cider juices and scatter over some parsley.

Pork loin with cider

You need for 4 serves: 750g – 1 kg of pork boneless loin roast – 400ml apple cider – 3 green apples – 8 prunes – 4 tbsp of olive oil. Oven at 200ºC

1. In a roasting try coated with olive oil, rub the loin roast with salt, pepper and the olive oil. Before putting in the oven pour over the cider. Cook for about 50 minutes (check the cooking recommendation of your loin), pouring over the juices every 12 minutes.
2. Meanwhile wash the apples, slice them in the middle and remove the seeds (without peeling the apples).
3. After 30 minutes of the loin is in the oven spread into the baking tray the apple and prunes. If the cider has been evaporated, just add some more.
4. When the cooking time is finished remove from the oven, set aside the loin pork to rest. Remove also the apple, without burning yourself remove the apple peel and blend the apples..
5. Fillet your loin pork, serve in individual dishes, with the apple puree in one side and the prunes in another side of the dish. Pour over some juices from the baking tray.

Mussels with vegetables and cider

Use apple cider instead of the classic white wine
You need: 1kg of  mussels (cleaned and de-bearded) – half leek (in Juliana) half carrot (in Juliana) – 50g chopped onion – 50g chopped celery – 2 tbsp thyme leaves only -  150ml apple cider – 100ml cream. Chopped parsley to serve.

1. In a deep pan at medium high heat add first the mussels and top them with the vegetables and thyme. Cover with a lid. And shake a couple of times during the cooking process
2. After 3 minutes, pour in the cream, shake again, and cook for an extra minute without the lid.
3. Discard any mussels that have not opened and serve with some chopped parsley