I've been pondering whether to start blogging about food I've eaten at home as well as my eating out experiences. My mind has been made up by a few things I've enjoyed over the past week or so. I'm not going to start posting photo's and recipes of my cooking (I'll leave that to others who do it far better than I ever would), but I would like to sing the praises of any food producers or suppliers whose products I've been impressed by. So here goes:
Steak, Savin Hill Farm
I've seen the Savin Hill Farm stall at a few farmers' markets (if I recall correctly), most recently at the fortnightly Manchester Real Food Market in Piccadilly Gardens last Saturday. I'm always on the look out for a good steak but have been put off these guys in the past as the meat on offer is all vaccum packed. I suppose it might not impair the flavour when it actually comes to cooking it, but it always seems to make the meat so sweaty and unappealing. Anyhow I had a brief chat with the guy on the stall, who seemed very enthusiastic and knowledgeable. He told me that the beef is from British White Cattle, a rare breed native to the North-West. I bought a piece of rump steak (just over 9oz for just under a fiver), and here it is after a brief liaison with my griddle:
Pretty good it was too. Quite a mild flavour, not overly beefy with a good texture (not melt in the mouth, I don't hold with this 'melt in the mouth' business for steak. It's meat not ice-cream). Far better than your average supermarket steak, but not up there with my all-time favourite (I like beef from the Ginger Pig best. Yorkshire farmed but shops only in London. You can buy direct from the farm if you call to pre-order but I wish they'd open a shop up North). Worth a try.
At Manchester Real Food Market, also available by mail order.
Macaroons, English Rose Bakery
Macaroons as in French macarons. Not those English things covered in dessicated coconut with a glace cherry on top. These are the stonkingly expensive, beautiful, delicate almond meringuey type things made by posh Parisian types Laduree and Pierre Herme. Readily available from stores in the more upmarket parts of London I'm not sure if they have penetrated the North yet. So the English Rose Bakery have stolen a march and done it for them, and can be found at the fortnightly Manchester Real Food Market in Piccadilly Gardens (amongst other places).
Delicious, and at £2.50 for the four very reasonable for well-made macaroons. They were doing a good trade in Valentine's gifts, but not having a Valentine for the first year in several I scoffed all four myself. I think the flavours were raspberry, vanilla, pistachio and coffee. Pistachio was my favourite but they also do salted caramel (but had run out when I bought mine) which will almost certainly be no.1 in my book.
At Manchester Real Food Market, other markets, and can be ordered online.
Finally a big up for a behemoth of the curry world that hardly needs the recommendation. I'm going to sing their praises anyway as I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of their pre-packed curries that are available in the supermarket. Last Friday night a few of us shared chicken and lamb karahi's, a keema matter (mince & peas) karahi and a chicken tikka masala.
Each of the four dishes was good, with distinctive, strongly spiced flavours. A big improvement on the usual watery, underpowered slop that ready meal curries provide. The best of the bunch, rather unexpectedly, was the tikka masala which had a really rich, reduced tomato sauce that had me scraping out the dregs with cold nan bread later in the evening. My only criticism is that the meat, particularly the chicken, was a bit dry and overcooked. At £2.99 per curry they are cheaper than any takeaway curry around, and probably better than most of them too.
Widely available. I bought them in Morrisons in Rothwell.