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Wild Cooks,

I guess with any city, you have a preconceived idea of how it will be and following my visit there about 10 years ago I knew there where changes afoot.

Belfast has such a cutting edge food scene and I was privileged to experience two places with two of my Great British Menu peers.

The trip was simply a chance to have a few days off in a new city and recharge the batteries before the Christmas rush. Here at Rudding Park we have now sold out for Christmas day at Clocktower. Can you believe it!

Back to Belfast and in the words of my little nephew…

“It is not always all about food Aunty Steph!”  Well actually this weekend was a real mix but the highlights for me where definitely eating at James Street South and Deanes at Queens.

Late arrival in the city on Thursday meant a wander around and we stumbled on the Christmas market . I have to be honest a glass or two of mulled wine was consumed and a hotdog of German sausage with crispy onions started the weekend off quite literally with a banger!

The Friday morning was spent wandering through this stunning place and look what we found…

Art in Belfast

Art in Belfast

Then onto the Titanic and what a museum experience. This was a real eye opener, not in the horror of the sinking (we all know that) but in the growth of the docks and the building of this vessel. I really enjoyed looking around, getting a feel for all things Titanic and I also bought my little nephew’s Christmas present!

Then onto the first meal of my two G.B.M. buddies with a trip to James Street South and a chance to meet Niall McKenna who was rushing out to do a private dinner in his building next door.

Naill and me -what a great guy

Niall and me -what a great guy

James Street South - Superb Cod dish with braised gem and carrot puree.

James Street South – Superb Cod dish with braised gem and carrot puree.

What a great chap very friendly, he really made us welcome and introduced us to a great team. David the Manager and William the Bar Manager took great care of us and the Head Chef, Steve, was a lovely guy and very very talented.

James Street South - Head chef Steve -Top Man!

James Street South – Head chef Steve -Top Man!

I found the food to be light, flavoursome and interesting. Thank you also goes to Sharn our waitress who was bubbly and fun.

James Street South pudding- Citrus and refreshing

James Street South pudding- Citrus and refreshing

But no rest in this city with Christmas shopping to do, you have everything within walking distance in the city centre- I definitely loaded up!

The next evening was a chance to meet one of the real characters and gastronomic gurus of Belfast Mr Michael Deane. Can you believe in my excitement I forgot to take his photo (Sorry Chef!) but I must admit it was an honour to meet a real Belfast success story. This chef has many high profile fans such as Roger Moore and U2 and I can see why the food is superb. Michael made us very welcome and talked to us about his restaurants and I was struck by what a passionate guy he was. Meeting his Head Chef, Chris Fearnan, at Deanes at Queens was great fun and highly gastronomic.

Deanes at Queens .Chris- what a Craic!

Deanes at Queens .Chris- what a Craic!

This chef’s food has been of great interest to me being a Great British Menu addict for obvious reasons!

I was not disappointed in this brassiere food in a busy restaurant. Check this out!

Chris what a  top dessert

Chris what a top dessert

The evening started at 8pm and finished as the last table out at 1:30am- well done Chris you did us proud and many many thanks.

We should have visited Rankin’s but you cannot do them all and I have to leave something for next time!

So, after two indulgent days it was time to see what the rest of Northern Ireland had to offer and a chance to take the costal road to the Giants Causeway.

Wild cook at the Causeway

Wild cook at the Causeway

The Causeway was impressive and fun to walk over, look out to sea and read about the Myths.

Then our whistle stop tour ended with a real bit of Irish fun at the oldest distillery in Ireland. Bushmills.

Bushmills - The oldest Distillery in the World!

Bushmills – The oldest Distillery in the World!

Can you believe I was driving!

Still what history! What aromas! And what a great tour (I recommend it!)

So that leaves me to toast Northern Ireland on a high.

“If you have not been to Belfast and Northern Ireland it is definitely your loss. Welcoming people (especially Chefs!), amazing food, stunning views, Titanic history and a contemporary city.”

A great Craic!

Steph x

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Well folks, i’m afraid it’s game over and I was totally gutted to narrowly miss out on the opportunity to cook for the judges by just one point. However, once again, the Great British Menu has been a truly amazing experience and a real challenge.

I was happy with my Podium of Puddings on last night’s show and I thought it really embraced the Olympic theme. However the standard was really high all week and the boys’ scores  just topped me at the last hurdle! 

Nigel Howarth was a great mentor and I wish Charlie and Colin all the very best in tonight’s show when they cook for the judges – I will be watching!

Please click here for my Podium of Puddings recipe.

Thank you to all of you who watched me this week on the Great British Menu and for all your kind comments.

I am just getting prepared for the Spring Flower Show at the Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate – there’s no rest for the wicked! My demonstrations are at the cookery theatre at the following times:

Saturday 28 April – 12pm – local produce and foraged items

Saturday 28 April – 3:30pm – cooking a three course meal alongside the director of Womersley Vinegar

Hope to see you there!

Steph x

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Dear Wild Cooks,

Following on from last night’s ‘Team Spirit Re-Vealed’ I am delighted to be back in the race.

Cooking on a big green egg is an amazing experience and it really gets all the desired flavours to the meat.

Nigel’s pep talk on last night’s show really helped me focus my mind on the two final courses and I felt a huge sigh of relief when he announced the results for the main course!

Click here for my Team Spirit Re-Vealed recipe.

Tune in tonight at 7:30pm on BBC2 to see my Podium of Puddings.

Steph x

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Well folks, the fish course is done and although Nigel did not like my ‘Olympic’ theming and props, things turn a corner for me tonight with my veal main course.

The fish course recipe was well received by the Brownlee brothers (they ate two bowls full!) and it was a pleasure to go to their home and meet the boys and their family.

I was so impressed by their determination and the family’s support was incredible, with mum and dad travelling all over the world to watch and support their boys.

Have some fun during the Olympics with my See-Food fish recipe…remember the goggles and nose pegs!

Tune in tonight at 7:30pm on BBC2 as we battle it out for points on our main courses.

Steph x

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Well Wild Cooks, I am glad the Great British Menu is rolling for the North East.

I watched the show at home last night and I cannot believe I had a long beep on the ‘Beeb’ when I dropped my goats cheese! This will do wonders for my street credibility especially with the young chefs at Rudding Park!

The goat’s milk I used on last night’s show is an amazing product and the drive up to Yellisons Farm is stunning – they are very spoilt goats!

As promised, please find my Goats Cheese recipe here.

Watch this space for the next instalment. Tonight’s “SEE FOOD” recipe will be on the blog tomorrow.

Steph x

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Dear Wild Cooks,
 
Taking time to smell the roses is always a good thing in my book, so when I was approached to M.C and do a cooking demonstration at the Harrogate Flower Show I was delighted…roses, chefs and all!!

Rob gets me involved in his demo!

Rob gets me involved in his demo!

Robert Ramsden was as passionate as ever about Yorkshire food and brought some wonderful local and international produce along for his demonstration.

My Great British Menu compatriot, Tim Bilton, showed us how to cook John Dory in a lovely springtime recipe packed with flavour, and even used his own brand of olive oil and wine! 

Tim prepares his fennel and pea shoot salad
Tim prepares his fennel and pea shoot salad

I found some great foraging finds in a fresh patch of woods at Rudding Park which went down really well at the show.

Have you ever tried edible flowers? There are some great ones around at the moment, such as borage flowers, chamomile, and chives. Remember to always check before eating that they are edible and not a protected species.

Flower power…!!

Steph x

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Dear Wild Cooks,

What an experience, what fun! It was amazing to be a part of the Great British Menu and many thanks to the crew for making the whole experience truly memorable.

I want all my Wild Cooks to have the recipes and I have included a few tips and inspirations along the way to tell you how each dish came about.

It is a monster blog but probably best to be digested as one piece!

Overall, I thought what the judges said was fair and in some cases very kind. It made my day when I heard Prue Leith comment about my cooking ability, Oliver Peyton’s vote and Matthew Fort’s comment on the lamb ‘being wonderful’. Nigel Haworth too was full of constructive criticism and also praise which was very grounding and kept us three chefs motivated throughout the week.

I hope you enjoyed my week and enjoy the rest of the series!

Steph x

view my Great British Menu recipes and tips

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