To Illustrate: to clarify, explain or describe, through the use of pictures, diagrams or words, a concept or problem.

The concept is food: an amateur's illustration.

Friday, 6 May 2011

The Wheatsheaf Inn

The Wheatsheaf Inn, is a wonderful Gastropub/restaurant nestled in between the Cotswold hills, in a historic mill town Northleach. Northleach used to be my home town but luckily enough for me it still remains so for my father. Visits to him,  usually entail a little trip down to the Wheatsheaf, and I must say, after about 6 years of eating there, it has never failed to disappoint. It's owners, decoration and interior may have changed over the years, but it has constantly produced delicious, seasonal menus, which are frequently rotated and changed to accommodate for new, fresh local ingredients. Now, having recently been bought by the owner of the clothing brand Superdry (yes, I know, slightly weird), it has undergone  huge renovations; a new Bistro is opening in the garden this summer which I look forward to, rooms have been ripped out, and walls knocked through. The whole restaurant has been refurbished and expanded, however the food has not suffered due to the internal works and has continued to please and excite my taste buds, and bring in a huge hungry country crowd from miles away. 

For starters I has snails and mushrooms on toast (pictured below). It was delicious, the creamy sauce which I assumed was a kind of garlic, herb and cream sauce was light but flavoursome. The snails melted in my mouth and were complemented extremely well by the crunchy toast.

My father has a similar starter, but instead of snails and mushrooms, it was ham hock, peas and a poached egg. The ham was so tender and sweet and the egg, perfectly poached, oozed a bright yellow yolk all over the ham. It was delicious. I secretly preferred his, but I kept my plate envy to a minimum today and enjoyed my snails and mushrooms.

 I decided to have a Fillet of Loch Duart Salmon with Wild Mushrooms, Pancetta & Spinach for my main course. I have suddenly realised that I have a mushroom theme running through these courses. Oh well. Anyway, the salmon was tender, not overcooked and the spinach with little bits of pancetta hidden amidst it was nice. The only criticism, was there was a little too much oil, which suddenly made me feel very full. But other than that is was a perfectly cooked and presented fish dish.

The meal was lovely, as usual, my father and his wife had Rump of Lamb with Fine Beans, Tapenade & Dauphinoise Potatoes, which again was perfect. The lamb was pink and coated in a rich, dark sauce, whilst the potato was creamy in between layers and crisp on the outside, just as Potato Dauphinoise should be. Both the mains made the most out of simple, traditional ingredients, but were executed without fuss, and with no compromises to flavour.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Cobb Salad

A Cobb salad is a American garden salad.This recipes is inspired by the dish I had at a Friend of a Farmer in NYC.

Chopped salad greens - iceberg & Romaine lettuce, Watercress & Rocket,
Crisp bacon/pancetta, 
Roasted chicken breast,
Hard-boiled egg, 
Honey and Mustard dressing,

Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil and put the 2 eggs, and leave boiling for 6-7 minutes.

Meanwhile fry the chopped bacon with a little bit of butter until crispy.

Chop the tomatoes and avocado and mix with the salad leaves, liberally applying the honey and mustard dressing. Incorporate the roasted chicken and bacon (once cooked) into the leaves. Add a small handful of croutons.
Peel the hard-boiled eggs halve into two. Season and serve. 

Friend of a Farmer

Friend of a Farmer, is just one of the many trendy places to be seen tucking into brunch on a Saturday morning in NYC. Having heard about its popularity we were surprised to get two seats at the bar almost immediately after arriving, thinking we were going to have to join the queue of hungry New Yorkers that was beginning to snake around the cafe.

Once inside it was if we had been transported to countryside inn, rather than a busy metropolitan eatery. The walls were decorated with floral wall papers, and from the exposed wooden rafters, low hung lamps sat over each table. There were vases full of flowers and baskets full of fruit. The smell of pastries and freshly baked bread delightfully floated through the cafe, whilst we sat gloating at the fact we had managed to somehow sneak into one of the most popular breakfast spots around.

At the bar we were greeted by a friendly barman who quickly provided a large cafetiere of coffee whilst we patiently made our way through the extensive brunch menu; pumpkin or blueberry pancakes, home-made granola, and Belgian waffles were but a few of the sweet offerings. Eggs came in a dozen of varieties from smoked salmon scrambled eggs, Eggs Benedict and omelette's to Tortillas filled with scrambled eggs, guacamole, salsa & sour cream and crabcakes topped with poached eggs & hollandaise sauce. We were in a perfect vantage point, close to the kitchen entrance which meant I could try and peak at the dishes flying out, to help try and aid my decision. It didn't work. I ordered a french classic, eggs Benedict, of which I have ordered before, and my friend ordered a Cobb Salad, hmmmm, we were not as adventurous as we thought. 
However, the Cobb salad was fresh and full of sweet tomatoes, avocado and smoked pancetta topped with a perfectly hard-boiled egg (perfect as in yolk still runny). Whilst the eggs Benedict, well they were eggs Benedict. The salmon was served hot and the eggs were softly poached. The hollandaise sauce however, often considered to be the fundamental part of the dish was served sparingly which was a little disappointing. 
Whilst being a sought after brunch hot spot the food was not fanciful, it was light, fresh and comforting and the atmosphere was charmingly bucolic. I recommend it.