… and the Michelin Star Goes To …

Monday saw the launch of the 2018 UK Michelin Guide – streamed live in front of an invited audience. After an interminable build up they finally announced the 16 new stars.

No new stars for Yorkshire, seems their inspectors never get beyond Leicester apart from a star for Moor Hall at Aughton near Ormskirk and Loch Bay on the Isle of Skye. Unusually Michelin announced a third star, (making a total of only five in the UK)  for The Araki, a London sushi restaurant with just nine covers that serves one set menu at £300 per person. Drinks extra!

Happily all the current Yorkshire star holders held on to their badges and remain in the club. Once again congratulations to Skosh and Joro for their Bib Gourmand – recognition by Michelin for a restaurant  (or chef) worth watching.

We wrote way back in 2012 why we believe Michelin to be an outdated and irrelevant award but we understand why it means so much to chefs.  For an interesting article in the London Eater on why Michelin’s matter click here.

 

Michelin Delivers

Congratulations to Skosh, York and Joro, Sheffield on their Michelin Bib Gourmand announced this morning. So glad we visited and reported some time ago, we’ll never get a table now. Congratulations too to our neighbours the Staith House, North Shields for their Bib Gourmand.

The big one, the Michelin stars, are announced on Monday, 2nd October, live streamed at 11.30am. It’s my guess that York’s Cochon Aveugle will be crossing their fingers. It’s too soon for Horto, though the inspectors appear very keen on the small plates Scandi vibe.

There will be a lot of breath-holding among the current Yorkshire star holders hoping to hold on to their stars, the Star Inn, the Yorke Arms, the Black Swan, the Pipe and Glass, the Man Behind the Curtain and the Box Tree. No pressure guys.

 

Ibérica’s Authentic Paella

To Ibérica the stunning, former Bonhams/Hepper building on East Parade to learn about paella. We’d been invited by Marcos the CEO of the Ibérica Group who explained how we’d all been having too many touristy paellas and they were here to show us the proper thing.

The secret said Marcos is in the stock. It must be a proper fish or meat stock. The rice absorbs the liquid and provides all the flavour. There should only be a thin layer of rice, cooked over a high flame, preferably wood-fired and never stirred, this would release too much starch and make it sticky. When the rice can absorb no more stock the remaining liquid is allowed to caramelise so that it toasts a little at the bottom of the pan. This, is called the socorrat and considered the best bit of the paella.

To prove it they brought out a fish and a meat paella. It was thinner than I’d expected and not at all creamy like risotto. One was topped with prawns the other chicken (no mixed fish and meat they said) They were right of course the flavour is all in the rice, and with a special scraper, the chef released the wonderful crusty layer. It was indeed very good.

They also brought out anchovies and a selection of charcuterie, a plate of creamy and delicate croquetas, a strawberry and beetroot salad with an ajo blanco dressing, roasted bone marrow and steak tartar topped with fried quail eggs and for dessert, rice pudding with a brûlée top, churros and chocolate and an apple and salted caramel ice cream topped with whipped crema catalana.

What began as a talk about paella, morphed into a full blown lunch washed down with some rather luscious wines. We’re often sniffy about chains (Iberica will hate me for calling them a chain rather than a ‘collection’) but this we are willing to concede is one of the best, not least for its fabulous setting (make sure you use the loos) and of course the authentic paella.

Ibérica Leeds, Hepper House, 17a East Parade, Leeds LS1 2BH

T: 0113 403 7007

W: www.ibericarestaurants.com/restaurants/iberica-leeds/

Riverford Day

I’ve had a soft spot for Riverford Organics ever since they sent me one of their recipe boxes to try. I was a bit reluctant at first – who needs all those plastic pots and ingredients weighed out, but I was impressed. The dishes were delicious and very generous and they recycle all the packaging. When I sent a recipe box to my niece soon after she’d had a baby and was struggling in those first few days, she rated it the ‘best gift ever’.

Last week I was invited to a Vegetable Masterclass and lunch for Riverford customers near the Home Farm at Newby Wiske, where much of the veg is grown. Charming Ben prepared a vegetable and chick pea curry, showed us a good use for kohlrabi (roast it and serve with a spiced carrot and cannellini dip) and my favourite, a rice salad using ‘cured’ spring greens. Amazing what massaging thinly sliced cabbage with lime and salt does for cabbage.

I like their ethics too and I signed up for a veg. box delivery as soon as I got home. No need to commit forever; Riverford allow you to order their veg as and when you need it.

Riverford Organics

 

Kitchen Social

We told you ages ago about Yorkshire Food Finder; the company run by the irrepressible Sue and Aidan Nelson, who lead trails around Yorkshire sampling the best produce the county has to offer. Well they’ve expanded. Not only are there more trails: York – with a visit to the wonderful Haxby Bakehouse – the Yorkshire Dales, Thixendale for Ryedale Vinyard and to the Holderness coast with fisherman Andrew Sanderson then on to Justin Staal’s smokehouse.

Sue Nelson’s cookery book collection

They’ve now added ‘Kitchen Socials’ to their repertoire and last week Squidbeak were guests to enjoy one at their Wheldrake home. We sat down to five superior courses, cooked by Sue in her fabulously equipped kitchen surrounded by her extraordinary 1,600+ cookery book library.

Every course, from the gin cured salmon Carpaccio, through to Bridlington lobster, chocolate dessert and a very fine cheeseboard (special mention for Botton cheeses), showcased Yorkshire produce. Just this one dinner made use of 27 different Yorkshire sourced ingredients which they reckoned was a record. Proof if it were needed that the county is a source of great food.

Both trails and dinners would make a gift with a difference or for a group of food loving friends. Yorkshire Food Finder 

 

Star Inn the Harbour

It’s Wednesday lunchtime and chef Andrew Pern is sitting in his whites at a table in his own Star Inn at Harome but there’s no food in sight and the cutlery and napkins have been pushed aside to make way for a large ‘mood board’ of magazine cuttings with ideas for his next big venture.

Rockpool of shellfish with oyster ice cream and seaweed velouté

The Star Inn the Harbour is his latest project. A 160 cover fish restaurant to be housed in the former Tourist Information Centre in the heart of Whitby. The plan is to open in May with a dining area, bar, ice cream parlour and outdoor seating. It’s a plum location in the heart of the town right by the harbour. No wonder the local competition are a little jumpy.

A preliminary menu (which he warns is bound to change) majors on fish and seafood (£5-£15 starters/£15-£22 mains). Naturally they’ll be doing fish and chips: ‘We’d be stupid not to,’ he says, but also Dover sole; monkfish ‘scampi’; halibut and lobster thermidor. On ice: oysters, langoustines, lobster, crevettes then maybe deep fried calamari, fish soup and his fabulous posh prawn cocktail served with a Bloody Mary sorbet.

There will be Rockpool, a Star Inn favourite. He dashes to the kitchen: ‘I’ll get them to make you one’. What comes out is a wooden box filled with pebbles and seaweed: ‘a bit of theatre’ he says and in a hand thrown pot (100 newly commissioned from a local potter) come scallops, prawns, oyster and mussels topped with oyster ice cream and in another pot, a seaweed velouté to pour over.

You will thank me for trying it so that I can confirm it’s absolutely terrific.

It’s also the reason why Pern has a Michelin star and why in January, the Star won Best Gastropub in Britain. Me, I’m counting down to May when the Star rises over the harbour and Andrew Pern, (he was born here) comes home.

Best Gastropub in Britain

 

Congratulations to Andrew Pern and head chef Steve Smith at the Star at Harome for picking up the award for Best Gastropub in Britain. It’s a great achievement and we’re thrilled for them. Good to see the Pipe and Glass in there at number 9 and an amazing showing for Lancashire with no less than 5 gastropubs in the top 50.

Here’s the list:

1 Star Inn at Harome

2 The Sportsman, Whitstable

3 The Pony & Trap, Bristol

4 Freemasons at Wiswell

5 The Coach, Marlow

The List

 

Closure of Le Langhe

Le Langhe shopWe were saddened to learn of the sudden closure of Le Langhe, probably our favourite restaurant in York. The shutters are up and it appears to be under new ownership. We know nothing more than what we have read on the website, which says little more than thank you and goodnight. Le Langhe was a crazy, idiosyncratic and superb Italian restaurant and consistently one of our top ten restaurants in Yorkshire. The mercurial Otto cooked like a dream, wonderful understated food from his Le Langhe homeland. We loved this place, the silky pasta, the amazing wine collection we could even handle the erratic service in exchange for such fabulous food. The deli was a wonderful resource and the only place to source white truffles. Thank you Otto for many fabulous meals, we will miss you.

World Class Obsession

If you’ve ever tried to get a table at Michael O’Hare’s Man Behind the Curtain, you will know it’s booked up forever. If you are quick, and prepared to travel out of the county, you might sample his food at a table at the Michelin starred Northcote, near Blackburn.

 

Man_Behind_CurtainObsession began as a week of events to fill the restaurant in the quiet months, now it is what Nigel Haworth calls ‘a monster event’ where 23 world-class chefs cook for a night over 17 nights and each year the line-up gets more amazing.

 

For Obsession 17 there’s O’Hare, Michael Wignal from Gidleigh Park, James Close and John Williams, recently Michelin-starred at the Raby Hunt and Ritz respectively. There’s a woman’s chef night with  Claire Clark, Anna Hansen, Isaac McHale from the Clove Club and Atul Kochhar from Benares.

 

But that’s not all, like us, you may not know leading chefs from Italy, Japan, Australia, Slovenia and China and the USA, but they are some of the world’s best coming to Blackburn to cook. I know it’s crazy.

 

It is a stunning line-up and pricey of course: £130 per person for champagne and canapés followed by five courses – add wine on top of that.

Obsession runs for 17 days from 20 January to 5th February. The hotline opens 8am on 1st November 033 999 7762.

www.northcote.com/obsession

 

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