May 13th. Today's the day, my dear old Dad would say to make a rook pie. How I miss him.
Check out the new Kitchen Club Masterclasses at The Suffolk Food Hall! I took part in a game masterclass last week which was enormous fun. As well as being informal and informative I made five new foodie friends. I am glad that I arrived hungry because we were served coffee and croissants while we listened to the enthusiastic Food Hall team telling us about the Broxstead Estate produce. The provenance of the ingredients supplied for the days cooking, and used on site is incredible, with as much as possible sourced from the farm. Mikey from the butchery gave a great demo on preparing a pheasant. De-boning, rolling and tying up ready for the oven.Then it was up to us to practice what we had learnt and to remove the breasts off our birds to make our own Pheasant Kievs. Head Chef Steve Robson was on hand throughout the day to talk through the recipes and share his expert knowledge and tips. We made our own garlic butter to stuff the Kievs and were also taught the technique to confit the legs of the pheasants and confit a beautifully carved (by ourselves) piece of potato. Steve kept us busy as we went on to prepare a Red Onion Tart Tatin. This was a carefully thought out menu, perfectly timed, because after two hours of chopping, rolling and stirring we got to take our finished dishes up to the restaurant and enjoy a leisurely lunch. Time to chat, ask Steve questions and swap notes with each other. There was far too much to eat in one sitting, so leftovers are boxed up to take home to enjoy later. More coffee, then back to the kitchen (which had been tidied in our absence) then on to work on our dessert recipe which was a Chocolate Fondant with Blackberry Compote. By the afternoon we were really getting in to it and enjoyed the challenge of spicing up our own blackberry compote and seeing who could get the perfect gooey middle to their pudding. Puddings were revealed at 3.30pm, with lots of oohs and aahhs, as we went back up to the restaurant to enjoy our astonishingly perfect puddings and more coffee. A great day out, with absolutely everything provided including a fact sheet, recipes and I hear a little gift to be added too! Masterclasses cost £75 per person with a very generous discount if you book all four in advance.
- The Masterclass team
- Mikey the butcher
- Duck fat for confit
- Pheasant legs ready to confit
- Making tarte tatin
- garlic butter
- Head Chef Steve
- Simmering confit potato
- Chocolate fondant from the oven
Quail, grouse, venison, lambs kidneys, wild mushrooms, blackberries, damsons and figs...there's all sorts of delicious Autumn Gameyness on this menu. It declares its honourable local intentions by highlighting the relevant items with two stars for Wyken produced food and one star for those from either Norfolk or Suffolk. We had a friendly, interested and well-informed waitress to help us get to the nitty-gritty of the provenance and anyway we saw the fantastic fig trees on the way in and we know it's true; Wyken has a long and proven reputation. The hits of the meal were the grouse (not starred) served off the bone and as tender as any we have ever had, and the damson trifle (two stars). The meat eaters seemed more favoured tham vegetarians with bigger portions (we didn't all have the grouse - we shared...) and red cabbage on two of the dishes is a bit of a short cut in the kitchen. But for just under £50 a head for three courses, including an on-trend aperitif - Prosecco with Campari and bitters - and a glass of their excellent and award-winning wine, we were happy. As the farmer among us pointed out, why not provide that unctious, golden Hillfarm rapeseed oil to dip the bread in, instead of importing the olive, and then we will send all our Suffolk visitors here.
...especially the one in Elmswell who we promised to mention a long time ago and only just got round to doing it. Why? Because it's on our doorstep, has lots of great value choice, couldn't be more helpful if you want to learn about meat - and why would you drive all that way to buy meat from a supermarket if you could get it here?