Wednesday, 27 April 2011

HIX Oyster & Fish House pops-up at Selfridges in London

For one month only, the HIX Restaurant & Champagne bar at Selfridges will host a pop-up Hix Oyster & Fish House - Mark’s restaurant in Lyme Regis.
The venture coincides with Selfridges’ PROJECT OCEAN, a series of events, talks, in-store activity and installations aimed at bringing awareness to the problems of over-fishing in the world.
Selfridges has teamed up with a host of environmental organisations including The Zoological Society of London (ZSL), the Marine Conservation Society and Greenpeace to help our oceans.
PROJECT OCEAN will take place at Selfridges from May 11 to June 12 and, in addition, Val Warner, Mitch Tonks and Mark Hix will host a sustainable fish supper on Wednesday, May 25 at 7pm. Tickets are open to the public and cost £60 per person for a three-course menu and half a bottle of wine.
Mark Hix says: ‘PROJECT OCEAN is a huge undertaking, it aims to highlight the plight of endangered fish, and so Selfridges has eliminated all endangered fish stocks across the food halls and restaurants.
“For us at HIX it’s the perfect opportunity to show our commitment to sustainability and give Londoners a taste of our fish restaurant in Lyme Regis. The views from the restaurant might not be the same as Lyme Regis, but we’ll be cooking the dishes that we do in Lyme, celebrating local producers and seasonal produce from the seashore. I might even put some seaside sounds and seagulls on the ipod. We’ll add a bit of fishy drama to the event.’”
The menu will feature Mark’s signature style British cooking with an emphasis on South West seafood. Diners can enjoy whole Portland crab with mayonnaise, steamed rock mussels in Burow Hill Cider or Newlyn hake with cockles and alexanders.
Hix Oyster & Fish House at Selfridges opens on May 12 and reservation lines open on May 3.
Tickets for the May 25 sustainable fish supper are open to the public and cost £60 per person for a 3-course menu and half a bottle of wine. Call 01689 855 390 to book.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Book review: Everyday and Sunday – Recipes from Riverford Farm

Three years after the award-winning Riverford Farm Cook Book, Guy Watson and Jane Baxter have written the long-awaited follow-up.

Everyday and Sunday – Recipes from Riverford Farm features more of chef Jane’s wonderful seasonal recipes, interspersed with informative and interesting introductions about produce and growing from Guy, the owner of what is now the largest organic box scheme in the UK.

Many of the recipes will be familiar to visitors of the farm’s highly regarded on-site Field Kitchen restaurant and they are arranged month-by-month, which will be particularly useful to anybody who cooks dishes depending on what is in their weekly veg box or what is available at their local farmers’ market.

As the book’s title suggests, these are a combination of quick dishes for busy weekdays and more involved meals for leisurely family weekends.

There are some cracking recipes in the book. The dishes in the April and May chapters alone make me want to get straight into the kitchen and start cooking – for example: orecchiette with purple sprouting broccoli; wild garlic pesto; spiced chicken with spring greens; asparagus, egg, prosciutto and Parmesan; triple garlic frittata, and rhubarb and cinnamon cake.

I’ve been lucky enough to meet Jane a few times and these straightforward, unpretentious recipes reflect her down-to-earth approach perfectly, but also capture her infectious passion for really simple food with big flavours.

The first Riverford cookbook was impressive but this manages to be that rare thing - a follow-up volume that is even better than the original. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Everyday and Sunday – Recipes from Riverford Farm is published by Fourth Estate on May 2. The hardback costs £24.99 and the paperback is £18.99 (and only available from Riverford).

Thursday, 21 April 2011

REVIEW: The Kings Arms, Lockerley, Hampshire

Although it opened last Christmas, The Kings Arms at Lockerley has pretty much kept itself beneath the radar until now. It doesn’t even have a website, although I’m assured that it will do in the very near future.
Nestling in a beautiful village close to the Test Valley, the pub once suffered from a bad reputation because of a few unsavoury locals and eventually closed down.
The ambitious new owners have breathed new life into the only pub in the village and many of the locals are now returning to the place after avoiding it for more than a decade.
A detached redbrick pub with a trickling stream running through the large garden, it is a homely sort of place which feels more pub than restaurant. A good thing.
Inside, the pub is tastefully decorated with walls of local art, old wine bottles, antiques and baskets of dried lavender. There is an upright piano near the door, which may come in handy if any of the rock legends living nearby pop in for a pint of Ringwood ale.
Old pictures of country pursuits remind visitors of its rural location, although its close proximity to Romsey and its railway station makes it accessible for those without a car.
Chef Tim Futter’s food is unpretentious and the menu is appealing, not to mention sensibly priced.
There is a good use of local ingredients and a strong sense of seasonality, both of which were evident in a well composed starter of English asparagus paired with champ potato and local Winchester cheese (£5.95).
Grilled hake with a nicoise salad and aioli (£13.95) was an excellent lunchtime choice for such a warm day. The fish was eye-poppingly fresh and precisely cooked, and topped with an unadvertised bread crumbed Scotch egg with an impressively runny yolk. The sweetness of the roasted red peppers and salty green olives worked well with the fish.
To finish, a creamy slice of iced coffee parfait with excellent honeycomb (£5.75) displayed a delicate hand.
There is a sense that The Kings Arms is only just hitting its stride and there are big plans for a kitchen garden, chickens and private dining ‘pods’ (small eco-friendly cabins), as well as an outside kitchen.

The Kings Arms, Romsey Road, Lockerley, Hampshire, SO51 0JF. Tel: 01794 340332.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Review: Sam's Kitchen Deli, Bath

A ridiculous desk-load of (paid!) work has meant that I haven't been able to add to this blog for a week or so but I simply have to break off and tell you about Sam's Kitchen Deli, although it's one of those culinary discoveries that I'm almost reluctant to share for fear of not getting a table next time.
And it's not as if Sam's Kitchen Deli has many tables in the first place. In fact, it only has seating for about a dozen people at any one time - most of them squeezed around the farmhouse table in the middle of this former antiques shop close to Bath's main shopping area.
It's the first venture for Sam Wylde and Steve Wesley, whose impressive joint CV includes stints at Babington House hotel, The Archangel in Frome and At The Chapel in Bruton.
Sam's Kitchen Deli is a modest affair with a tiny open kitchen behind the counter, a fabulous flagstone floor, one sofa and an upright piano beneath shelves of wine (to buy and takeaway - the place doesn't have a licence) and deli items.
Everything but the bread and pastries are made on the premises and the menu changes every day, including the daily 'roast', which on the day I visited was a fabulous pork belly, which I ate with a bowl of room temperature purple sprouting broccoli and homemade sweet chilli jam served in a dinky little Kilner jar.
To accompany it, an Ottolenghi-style pearl barley and pomegranate salad scooped from one of the ceramic bowls on the counter, and a portion of the roasted aubergine, fennel and pesto.
Other savoury options on offer included a croissant filled with Westcombe Cheddar and prosciutto, and warm slices of goats' cheese and roasted red pepper tart boasting crisp, short pastry.
To finish, an exemplary slice of River Cafe-inspired flourless chocolate Nemesis still warm from the oven and as molten as a chocolate fondant. The orange and polenta cake and the white chocolate and macadamia nut brownies were also going down well with others around the farmhouse table, as was carefully-made coffee dispensed from the bright yellow La Marzocco.
Apparently, I was the first food hack to sniff out Sam's Kitchen Deli but judging from this experience I certainly won't be the last.
In a city that desperately needs more high quality eating places, Sam's Kitchen Deli is a genuine breath of fresh air and Bath's best-kept secret. Until now, of course.

Sam's Kitchen, 61 Walcot Street, Bath. Tel: 01225 481159.