Melton Mowbray Artisan Cheese Festival

Yesterday me and the Mr went to the Artisan Cheese Fair situated in picturesque Melton Mowbray. With around 200 different cheeses and over 50 of the top cheese makers in the country all in one place – it was bound to be a trip I was going to enjoy!

I thought I’d share a few pics with you lovely lot and I hope they inspire you to go next year!

Melton Mowbray Artisan Cheese Fair“Hard Pressed” apple juice & apple and beetroot juice. Surprisingly delicious!

Melton Mowbray Artisan Cheese FairBeautiful, creamy Lancashire cheese from Mrs Kirkhams.

Melton Mowbray Artisan Cheese FairAward winning Bradburys cheese.

Melton Mowbray Artisan Cheese FairHuge chuckles of blue cheese from Stichelton Dairy.

Melton Mowbray Artisan Cheese FairA little bit of live, light hearted music to entertain. If I remember correctly they were singing “I’ve got a brand new combine harvester.”

Melton Mowbray Artisan Cheese FairAnother huge chuckle of cheese! This one is Vintage Poacher.

Melton Mowbray Artisan Cheese FairMore Vintage Poacher.

Melton Mowbray Artisan Cheese FairPeakland white cheese from The Hartington Cheese & Wine Company.

Melton Mowbray Artisan Cheese FairThe cheese the lady is cutting is an Oak smoked Newport cheese from Mr Moydens. Absolutely divine!

Melton Mowbray Artisan Cheese FairAward winning blue cheese from Burts Blue Cheese.

Melton Mowbray Artisan Cheese FairThis sign for Celtic Promise Cheese wasn’t lying… it stank to high heaven!! One of the strongest cheeses I have ever eaten and it was the gift that just keeps giving. It lingered for a good 20 minutes after! I’m still not sure whether I liked it or hated it haha.

Melton Mowbray Artisan Cheese FairMore Celtic Promise Cheese.

Melton Mowbray Artisan Cheese FairSome beautiful fresh coffee beans in a multitude of different flavours like sticky gingerbread, banoffee pie and maple & pecan. From Cherizena.

Melton Mowbray Artisan Cheese FairSome amazing savoury pies from Brockleby’s!

Melton Mowbray Artisan Cheese FairMore gorgeous pies from Brockleby’s, of the sweet kind this time.

Melton Mowbray Artisan Cheese FairSome lovely and unique sloeberry liquors from Sloeberry Spirits.

And that just about concludes our day out! It really was a lovely day and I’m definitely satisfied now I’ve eaten my own body weight in cheese!

Until next time lovelies

Miss KitchenMason

 

Heavenly Desserts

Heavenly DessertsA couple of days ago the Mr told me he was taking me out for an ‘unbelievably amazing dessert’ and the location was a surprise. Naturally I was both hungry &  intrigued. But he knows me so well that there was literally no doubt in my mind it would be incredible… and it TOTALLY was!

It’s a place in Derby (England) called Heavenly Desserts. A restaurant that only sells desserts. I know, it’s like they peered into my soul and invented what I’d always dreamed about! All the amazing dessert ideas you could possibly think of are on their menu. Including waffles, crepes, brownies & cookies. All topped with unbelievably indulgent ingredients like melted Belgian chocolate, chocolate chips, fresh fruit, whipped cream… the hardest part of the whole experience is choosing what you want. Unfortunately ‘Everything’ is not an option plus I don’t have a bottomless stomach. (Much to my dismay!)

I later discovered there are actually three branches, Derby (Westfield), Leicester & Birmingham. If you happen to be near one I implore you to pop in and give it a go!

Anyway, after MUCH deliberation, I started my heavenly desserts journey by sampling a Belgium White Chocolate Shot.

Heavenly DessertsIt is literally a shot glass of melted white Belgian chocolate with a strawberry to dip in it. I was in heaven. Ever since I can remember I have been obsessed with white chocolate. This was like food porn to me!

Then we moved on to our ‘main course’. This was the Mr’s choice…

Heavenly Desserts

Heavenly DessertsI know, it looks incredible doesn’t it?! A giant golden waffle topped with a rich Nutella chocolate sauce, chopped hazelnuts, Ferrero Rocher, whipped cream & Nutella ice cream. It’s actually mind blowing how good this was!

But my choice was just as indulgent…

Heavenly Desserts

Heavenly DessertsI started salivating just looking at the pictures again haha! A giant golden waffle topped with rich, melted white Belgian chocolate, sliced fresh strawberries, whipped cream and madagascan vanilla ice cream.

Lets be honest… this was inevitable:

Heavenly DessertsThis is definitely a place I will be visiting again. Apparently they also do a take out service. It’s almost too good to be true! Well, almost. The fact that I felt SO full & gained like 3lb in one day made it very real but it was totally worth it!

An easy 9 out of 10!

I hope you enjoyed the post lovelies, until next time.

Miss KitchenMason

BIY Experts Event With John Whaite!

Bake It Yourself with Neff

I was in the middle of TK Maxx a few weeks ago and happened to be checking my e-mails. There was one in particular that caught my attention. I had to read it a couple of times to let it sink in, then I preceded to jump up and down screaming, “YES!” at the top of my voice! Yes, I got a few funny looks but honestly I didn’t really care! I had been invited to attend an event with the wonderful folks at Neff/Bake It Yourself for a day of baking fun with John Whaite. Yep, winner of The Great British Bake Off 2012! You literally have no idea how excited I was at that moment in time. (Although I’m sure all the confused innocent bystanders could fill you in.)

I accepted within minutes and began counting down the days until finally, it was here!

Excited and eager, I rolled up to Neff Headquarters and was greeted by John himself. At this point, I will admit, I was a little star struck! (Silly me.) But as he is so bloomin’ lovely, he made me a cup of tea and we all chatted amongst ourselves (scoffing the delicious biscuits and pastries provided – home made of course) until everyone had arrived.

After a chat with the BIY experts, we had a chance to ask John some questions. It was a little quiet at first but we all got stuck in soon enough!

One lady asked him what the best American buttercream recipe was. To which he responded, “Half the butter to icing sugar with a splash of milk. Make sure to really whisk the butter first, until it is almost white and very light, then add all the icing sugar in and whisk until smooth. Add a little milk if needed.”

I asked him how to stop cakes from rising (and sometimes subsequently sinking) in the centre. He kindly replied, “With smaller cakes, cook them at a higher temperature for a shorter amount of time. With larger cakes, low and slow is the way to go. It could also be the result of too much raising agent.”

The most commonly asked question was, “What is your favourite thing to bake?” This prompted my favorite answer of the whole day. “That’s not fair! That’s like me asking you which of your children is your favourite!” Haha! This guy’s seriously passionate about baking!

When we were all out of questions, we had an exclusive look around the Neff showroom at all their sparkling new ovens.

BIY Experts Day with John WhaiteI was really hoping I would win the lottery that night so I could have one of these bad boys myself, no such luck unfortunately. They really are incredible machines though. Their circotherm technology ensures a guaranteed even bake every time and the ‘slide & hide’ doors are definitely a nifty little feature! Don’t even get me started on their induction hobs, they are that good, you can actually melt chocolate directly in a saucepan. No need for any of that ‘glass bowl over a pan of barely simmering water’ malarkey – straight in the pan. On the flip side, it can also bring water to the boil in less than a minute. Absolutely amazing. So if any of you want to buy me a Christmas present this year… wink wink!

BIY Experts Day with John WhaiteBy this point, we were all getting a little peckish so we headed into the beautiful dining area to have a spot of lunch.

They had quite a selection on offer but I opted for the lamb casserole…

BIY Experts Day with John WhaiteWhich I must say was absolutely blinkin’ delicious! I’m pretty sure all of us were asking for the recipe by the end of our bowls.

In addition, we had plenty of amazing home made bread to mop it all up with…

BIY Experts Day with John WhaiteBaked fresh that morning I might add. It was a real feast for the eyes, everything from the unusual fougasse to the humble cottage loaf. YUM!

After we had filled our ‘baker’s bellies’ (as John calls them) we headed off into the demonstration room for our masterclass.

BIY Experts Day with John WhaiteJohn (with the help of his lovely BIY Expert assistants Karen & Lynn) showed us how to make several delightful treats from his debut recipe book: John Whaite Bakes.

Here he is teaching us how to ice his ‘Bunch of Roses’ madeleines using ribbons of a runny fondant icing.

BIY Experts Day with John WhaiteFollowed by a lesson in his ‘Mocha Choca’ madeleines with a rich and decadent chocolate dipping sauce.

BIY Experts Day with John Whaite

BIY Experts Day with John WhaiteThe way John talks about baking is not quite how I expected. For him, It’s not about being overly precise, accurate or ‘pretty’ about everything, it’s all about flavours, textures and experimenting. “If it doesn’t taste amazing after 3 hours of baking, for me, it’s not worth it.” I love how slap dash he is about it all though. Everything he baked seemed to have a really charming & rustic ‘home made’ look to it. I can also confirm, that everything tasted absolutely divine!

After our highly informative yet hilarious demonstration (it appears baking has a lot of innuendo) we got to possibly the most amusing part of the day. John had an idea for a fun activity for us all to take part in… and then he kicked it up a notch. He had us all decorating cupcakes. Sounds pretty simple right? Nope. He had us do it blindfolded…

BIY Experts Day with John WhaiteMore frosting ended up on hands, arms, faces & hair than it did on the actual cupcakes! The room was filled to the brim with laughter (particularly John’s) and the finished cakes were even more hilarious!

John did pick out a couple of winners, and I must say… a bloody good effort considering the odds were stacked against us.

BIY Experts Day with John WhaiteThere was a wooden spoon award given for the erm, how do I put this tactfully, the ‘least pretty’ cakes!

BIY Experts Day with John WhaiteHahaha! John said when he was watching Nick decorate, the look of concentration on his face had him laughing harder than he’d ever laughed before! A worthy winner of a prized Neff Spatula.

When our sides had stopped splitting, we headed back into the dining room to enjoy a spot of afternoon tea and John’s wonderful baked treats from the demonstration.

The table was lined with his Lemon and Poppy Seed Scones partnered with some freshly whipped cream & lemon curd…

BIY Experts Event With John Whaite!

BIY Experts Event With John Whaite!With a beautiful display to the side, boasting his Choca Mocha Madeleines & Chocolate Dipping Sauce…

BIY Experts Event With John Whaite!Apricot and White Chocolate Flapjacks and Dark Chocolate & Ginger Cookies…

BIY Experts Event With John Whaite!And the ‘Bunch of Roses’ Madeleines…

BIY Experts Event With John Whaite!My personal favourite was the flapjacks. I’ve never thought to use treacle in them before but wow, I’m going to in the future! It gives them a real depth of flavour contrasted to the bursts of sweetness you get from the apricots and white chocolate. Absolutely delicious and perfect with a good cup of tea!

BIY Experts Event With John Whaite!When we’d wet our whistles and satisfied our sweet teeth, John was kind enough to get stuck into a bit of book signing and have some photos taken…

BIY Experts Event With John Whaite!I’m sure I speak for all that attended when I say, what a perfect end to a perfect day. I met some genuinely lovely people there. Not to mention the incredible team at Bake It Yourself/Neff and John himself who did a wonderful job at hosting a fabulous event! A day I will fondly remember (and boast about!) for many years to come.

Bake It Yourself are a fantastic online baking community boasting tons of tasty recipes, expert baking knowledge & fantastic competitions. You can check them out on Facebook HERE. Well worth a ‘Like.’

My final thought for the day…

“Experiment, enjoy & eat! The 3 E’s of baking.” John told us this near the end of his demonstration. The more I think about it, the more I completely agree with him. Baking should be about experimenting with flavours and styles that you like. You should embark on each bake because you enjoy it and it makes you happy. And most importantly, the whole point is so that you, your friends and your family can eat your creations!  Baking is something that brings people together and let’s be honest, there’s nothing more rewarding than hearing yummy noises and knowing that you’re the reason behind it!

Like John says in his book, “There are recipes for every day and every mood.” All you need to do, is get your bake on.

I hope you enjoyed the post my lovelies. Until next time.

Miss KitchenMason

Annie’s Burger Shack, Nottingham

Annie's Burger Shack

Situated inside The Navigation Pub in Nottingham city centre, this American burger restaurant has conjured up quite a name for itself over the last couple of years. Boasting a menu with a massive 25+ burger choice, all hand made to order from locally sourced ingredients. All except the occasional item that is sourced from it’s country of origin (i.e. Jerk seasoning from Jamaica.) It also hosts plenty of live music entertainment and carries a large selection of real ales behind the bar. It’s even won awards claiming they make the UK’s number 1 burger, but does it really live up to all the hype?

Annie's Burger Shack

Annie's Burger Shack

Annie's Burger Shack

Annie's Burger Shack

The venue itself is very pleasant with a cosy yet lively feel to it. There’s both indoor and outdoor seating with a nice little smoking area. The location is also ideal with the bus and train stations being only a 5 minute walk away.

My main concern about the venue is that I don’t feel it’s large enough to fulfill it’s popularity. We struggled to get a table and actually ended up eating in the smoking area. Which, to be completely honest, wasn’t really a big problem for us but I know it would be for a lot of people. What was a little  frustrating, is that when we phoned to book a table, 3 weeks prior, they said they only took bookings for parties of 6 or more. Other than that it’s first come first serve. I personally felt disheartened by this as not everyone likes to go out in large groups and may just want a nice meal with their partner or a friend. As a result, they will be subjected to waiting. I think this method of booking is a little unfair in the grand scheme of things.

However, once we had managed to commandeer a table, we began studying the menu in search of our burgers. This is actually harder than it seems as there are so many to choose from and they all sound so delicious! There really is a burger for everyone. There’s the classic burgers with cheese, bacon and other toppings, the hot & spicy burgers with jalapeños and even scotch bonnets, the just plain weird burgers with toppings such as peanut butter and raspberry jam… and even if you can’t find what you want, they are more than happy to custom make you one to your tastes. Top marks for creativity and flair with the menu.

Referring back to my point about the venue size not being able to live up to it’s popularity, the unfortunate knock on effect of this is the wait times. We actually had to wait 2 whole hours for our burgers. Yep, 2 hours. Now I understand that it was a busy Saturday night and a wait was inevitable, but 2 hours is quite frankly taking the biscuit.

That being said, the eyes weren’t disappointed when they eventually made it to our table…

All burgers are served on a toasted bun with lettuce, tomato & mayo and each come with a side of curly fries, skinny fries or wedges.

The 'Howlin Wolf' Burger

The Mr chose The ‘Howlin Wolf’ Burger. A 1/2 lb burger topped with cheddar, chopped chillis, jalapeños, black olives, onions, peppers, pure hot chilli paste and finished off with a whole grilled scotch bonnet.

The 'Thin Lizzy' Burger

My brother Adam chose The ‘Thin Lizzy’ Burger. A 1/2 lb burger topped with homemdae guiness soaked sauteed mushrooms and onions in a gravy and finished with melted swiss cheese.

The 'Jamie Blackmore' Burger

My future sister in law Phebe chose The ‘Jamie Blackmore’ Burger from the specials board. A 1/2 lb burger topped with their own home made slow cooked BBQ pulled pork, red Leicester and a garnish of salsa.

The 'Lemmy' Burger

My brother Neil opted for The ‘Lemmy’ Burger. A 1/2 lb burger topped with melted cheddar, tons of grilled jalapeño peppers and their own Jack Daniels mustard sauce.

The 'Peppino Pepperoni Pizza' Burger

The 'Peppino Pepperoni Pizza' Burger

And I went with The ‘Peppino Pepperoni Pizza’ Burger. A 1/2 lb burger topped with marinara tomato sauce, melted mozzarella, little pepperonis and a pinch of parmesan cheese on top.

My burger didn’t last long at all, in fact, it was a complete contrast to my childhood in that I was actually the first to finish! It was a great flavour combination and not something I would ever think of doing myself at home. The blend of herbs and cheeses along with the mini pepperonis really did make it taste like a pizza on a burger. My only criticism was that my patty was a teeny bit drier than I was expecting but it was still probably one of the nicest burgers I have had at a restaurant.

The Mr was quite happy with his burger, if anything – for him, the scotch bonnet was a little too much. (And he really likes his hot food!) He opted to give it to my brother Neil who swallowed it whole. It’s worth mentioning that my bro is a bit of an animal when it comes to meats and hot foods so the bonnet posed no problem to him at all. He didn’t even break a sweat. That being said, the Mr feels that he has eaten burgers better than this one before but it was still tasty.

Its also worth noting that the sides were actually very tasty. The spices they put on the curly fries and wedges really do taste delicious. (I can’t comment on the skinny fries though as none of us had them.)

When it comes down to value for money, I think for what you get – it’s quite fairly priced. They range from around £8.50 – £12.90 and that includes your burger and choice of fries.

All in all I still feel I was slightly underwhelmed by the experience but that was predominantly down to the search for a table & the waiting times. The actual food was tasty for the price you pay and the atmosphere of the pub itself was enjoyable.

I would give it a gracious 7/10.

If you are interested in visiting, check out there website Here.

Miss KitchenMason

Nat & Jim’s Wedding!

Chocolate 3 Tiered Wedding Cake

This weekend, I’ll be honest, I didn’t really have much of a chance to cook or bake a recipe to share with you lovely lot. But, two of my wonderful friends did get hitched! Hurrah!

This wedding also set a bit of a challenge for me… the cake. Yep, I made the wedding cake. Now I have never made a tiered cake before but I do relish a challenge, especially in 30°C British summer heat! (Note to self… sugar does NOT like heat)

The beautiful, sunny day started with the church ceremony where Nat & Jim exchanged their vows. With lots of wedding leaflets being turned into make shift fans, we headed out into the church gardens for photos.

Nat & Jim's Wedding - Church Gardens

Now I usually sport my jean’s and trainers look but hey, it’s my friends wedding so I made an effort!

Me & the Mr

Yep, I wore a dress. ME?! I know, slightly out of character but the Mr does look rather handsome when he’s suited and booted and I didn’t want to let the side down!

Next item on the menu was the wedding breakfast. I still don’t understand why it’s called breakfast as it’s normally always eaten in the afternoon, but hey, who am I to argue?

So we headed off to a local indian restaurant where we ate, drank and got very merry! They had even personalised the wine bottles…

Nat & Jim's Wedding Wine

Nat & Jim's Table DecorationsI loved their home made table decorations too, so colourful!

After we had all filled our faces & enjoyed the speeches, we saw the happy couple off to their next surprise. The bride’s lovely Mum, Tina, had arranged for a canal boat to cruise them to the third and final venue… the Steamboat Pub at Trent Lock, where we were all waiting to greet them.

Nat & Jim's Canal boat Trip

Meanwhile… I was frantically trying to stack the cake before they arrived. It’s worth mentioning that I may have had one or two glasses of vino by this point, but thank goodness it went without a hitch! Panic over!

It was lovely to see how much the bride and groom were enjoying themselves though, such a happy fun filled day.

Nat & Jim's WeddingIn true tradition they kicked the evenings celebrations off with the first dance…

Nat & Jim's First Dance

There’s something about first dances at weddings, you can’t help but feel all happy and ‘mushy’ inside. SO happy for them!

Right, onto the cake. It had to be chocolate. ALL chocolate. Nat is practically made of chocolate she loves it that much!

The Wedding Cake

It really was quite hilarious the measures I took to try and keep my house cool whilst I was creating this cake. At one point, I even made a make shift kitchen blind out of an apron, white A4 paper & sellotape! When all is said and done though, it was totally worth it. It went down an absolute storm and there were literally crumbs left! More importantly, the bride and groom loved it… mission accomplished!

On another note, aren’t the wall decorations absolutely beautiful? One of the most wonderful things about this wedding was that almost everyone contributed creatively in one way or another. Many of my friends hand made those stunning decorations, I had made the cake and Paul made the cheeky little cake toppers!

Paul's Cake Toppers

How awesome are they?! Here’s a pic of myself and Paul posing with our creations…

Me & Paul & The Wedding Cake!And the Bride and Groom’s reactions haha…

Nat, Jim & the Wedding Cake!

Nat, Jim & the Wedding Cake!

Nat, Jim & the Wedding Cake!The next time I saw the cake it looked a little something like this…

The Wedding Cake!

Not a lot left! I was so pleased to see my efforts being well received though, couldn’t have been more proud or happy!

All in all, it was such a beautiful day. The sun was shining, everyone was in great spirits and my friends were married! Truly a day that will be remembered for many years to come.

So I would like to give one final MAHOOSIVE congratulations to my good friends Nat & Jim. I sincerely wish you a lifetime of happiness together.

Hope you all enjoyed the post my lovelies.

Miss KitchenMason

Restaurant Review: The Hand & Flowers

The Hand & Flowers Pub

This weekend I had the pleasure of dining at the only pub to have ever been awarded 2 Michelin stars. It was my first ever Michelin experience and one that I will never forget as long as I live! The trip was to celebrate my Mum’s Birthday, so a big shout out & Happy Birthday Mum!

The Hand & Flowers pub is situated in a lovely little country town called Marlow on the outskirts of London. As soon as you walk in you feel completely relaxed in it’s rustically charming atmosphere. There is no posh, hoity toity-ness about this place at all. You are just made to feel completely at ease and very welcome by the supremely delightful front of house staff. When your table is ready, you are lead to beautiful solid oak tables with some seriously comfy chairs/sofas. With fresh flowers & lit candles on every table, you can’t help but just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Which leads me onto the food. Aaah, the food… I’m literally struggling to find words to describe how breathtakingly fantastic it was! Well, have a look at the photos and see for yourself how intriguing and beautiful each dish was.

Complimentary

When you are seated, the waiter brings you over a basket of white & wholemeal sour dough bread followed by a newspaper cone of whitebait fish with a marie rose dipping sauce. All complimentary and all delicious! Which I’ll be honest, I found quite surprising as I’m not a huge fish eater!

Complimentary Sour Dough Bread Complimentary White Bait with a Marie Rose Sauce

The Starters

My Starter, The ScallopsThis was my starter. Blowtorched Scottish Scallop with Warm Roast Chicken Bouillon, Morels, Nasturtium and Apple. I have literally never tasted anything like this before and I can honestly say, I don’t think anything is going to come even remotely close to how freaking amazing it was! The scallops just melted in your mouth and that teamed up with the apple jelly at the bottom of the bowl, wow. Just, wow. It was like there was an angelic choir having a sing song in my mouth!

The Mr's Starter, The TerrineThis was the Mr’s starter, Pork and Mushroom Terrine with Dill, Pickles and Toasted Sourdough.

The Birthday Girls Starter, The Duck ParfaitThe Birthday girl’s starter, Parfait of Duck and Foie Gras with Orange Chutney and Toasted Brioche.

Dad's Starter, Potato "Risotto"Dad’s Starter, Potato “Risotto” with Baked Potato Stock, Fresh Morels & Hop Shoots.

The Main Courses

My Main Course, The Pork & Glazed CheekThis was my main course, Tenderloin of Wiltshire Pork with Pickled Mustard Leaf, Malt Glazed Cheek, Garlic Sausage and Potato Dauphine. This was like playing hide and seek with your dinner. Every time you moved something on the plate, another food appeared out of nowhere! I was halfway through the meal before I discovered the garlic sausage and the ham hiding at the back! (Best garlic sausage & ham I’ve ever eaten in my life by the way!) The glazed cheek was incredible though. For something that is so fatty, it just melted in your mouth leaving behind a delicate sweetness that worked beautifully with the rest of the dish. I must admit though, it was the little crispy potato dauphine balls that did it for me – outstanding!

The Mr's Main Course, Fillet SteakThis was what the Mr had for his main course, Fillet of Lancashire Beef with Hand and Flowers Chips, and Béarnaise Sauce. He allowed us all to steal a chip each, BEST CHIPS EVER! They were so stupendously soft & fluffy in the middle and super crispy on the outside! I’m sorry Heston, move over – there’s a new chip master in town! I tried a piece of the fillet steak with the sauce too. It was out of this world! Absolutely remarkable.

The Birthday Girl's Main Course, Red MulletThis was what the Birthday Girl chose, Cornish Red Mullet with Beef Dripping, Oxtail and Bay Leaf Dressing. I’ll be honest, the look of it scares the crap out of me! I’m not a fan of having a whole fish on a plate in front of me but Mum said it tasted beautiful. (Albeit, a little confusing to dissect especially if you have never eaten a whole fish before!)

Dad's Main Course, The VenisonAnd finally Dad’s main course was the Loin of Costwold Venison, King Oyster Mushroom “Farci”, Blowtorched Gem Lettuce and Salt Baked Beetroot. I tasted a bit of this too (Ok, I tried to be cheeky and nick a taste of pretty much everything I could get my hands on!) The venison was so rich & peppery! Packed with an extraordinary amount of flavour though, superb.

The Desserts

My Dessert, Chocolate & Ale CakeThis little beauty was my dessert. The Hand & Flowers Chocolate and Ale Cake with Salted Caramel and Muscovado Ice Cream. Served with a shot glass of Real Ale. I swear I had a foodgasm when I ate this! As rich as it was, I could have eaten another. From the frosted nut on top of the muscovado ice cream, to it’s gooey chocolatey rich ale core, down to the salted caramel disc on the bottom – it was perfect in every way! Well and truly sensational!

The Mr's Dessert, Banana SouffleThe Mr chose the Banana Soufflé with Gingerbread Custard and Yoghurt Ice Cream as his final course. It certainly looks impressive though doesn’t it? Definitely a soufflé that rose to the occasion!

Dad's Dessert, Sesame PuddingMy Dad chose the Warm Sesame Pudding with Green Tea Sorbet, Crème Fraîche and Maple. But the final icing on the cake (so to speak) was what they pulled out the bag for my Mum…

Mum's Dessert, The Pistachio CakeHow sweet is that?! It really was the perfect touch to the perfect evening. Mum had the Warm Pistachio Sponge Cake with Melon Sorbet and Marzipan by the way – and she said it was light and gorgeous which is exactly what she wanted after the rich dishes she had chosen before it.

There was one slight epic fail on my part though…

Oops!

Oops! Only I could drop my spoon & smash a glass at a Michelin starred establishment, what a plank!

That mishap aside, it really was an amazing experience. But for somewhere with a 6 month waiting list I would expect nothing less!

It just leaves me to say a massive thank you and big hugs to my Mum & Dad for sharing the experience with me and the Mr. It is one that I will never forget and shall look back on fondly.

Until next time cherubs.

Miss KitchenMason

Chiang Mai Cookery School

So here it is, Chiang Mai Cookery School. This was probably one of my favourite experiences from the whole holiday in Thailand! I wonder why…?? Haha!

This was the cooking area where we worked. All tools & ingredients were there ready for us when we came out the demonstration room after seeing how each dish was made. And the best bit? You don’t have to do any pot washing!!

Our first lesson of the day was vegetable carving. I actually found it to be strangely therapeutic! First up was a tomato rose.

The idea is to make a kind of continuous snake from the tomato skin. At the top of the tomato – slice the top but just before cutting it straight off, stop & begin slicing in a helix around the tomato until you reach the bottom and there is no more skin left.

Starting from the smallest end, roll the skin up tightly until you reach the “top” piece. Then fold the “top” piece underneath the rolled skin to make a base and et vous voila! Tomato rose!

(Here is a video explanation to help: Tomato Rose.)

Next on the menu was this really pretty carrot leaf. (My personal favourite.) The carrots were already sliced for us on the course but all you need to do is slice the carrot on an angle to get a larger surface area.

First, shape the top into a leaf shaped point. (As in diagram 1) Then, leaving about 1cm at the top and 1cm at the bottom, cut out the line in the centre.

Next, starting from the bottom, carefully cut out the small leaf shapes on both sides of the centre line. Angle them upwards. I found it easier to have the carrot upside down for this. (As in diagram 2)

Then starting from the bottom again, begin carving out triangles in-between the leaf shaped holes to form the jagged edge. (Started in diagram 2, ending up like diagram 3) Then shape the bottom of the carrot into a point – like the bottom of a leaf and there you have it, a carrot leaf!

The last carving we were taught was this, the lotus flower. Its quite tricky but once you’ve had a few goes it gets a little easier. Just like anything, practice makes perfect!

So, firstly make 4 incisions at the top of the tomato to create 8 segments. (As in diagram 1) NOTE: only go 1cm deep into the tomato or you will cut the sack and the seeds will burst out.

Second, lengthen each incision to the bottom of the tomato – again, only 1 cm deep into the tomato. (As in diagram 2)

Third, pull out all the segments. Some can be a little stubborn but stick with it! (As in diagram 3)

Fourth, slice the dark red skin from the light red flesh on each segment. (As in diagram 4) This is the tricky bit so take your time.

Lastly, just as you would with ribbon on a present, curl the dark red skin on each segment with the back of your knife. Then pull the light red flesh from the centre and rest it on each curled skin.

It’s so pretty isn’t it?! I really loved learning how to make these. In fact, me and the Mr even held a family gathering when we got back and had a little plate of these to show off our new skills. Everyone commented on how beautiful they looked… I was so chuffed!!

After the vegetable carving we were taught how to make 6 different Thai dishes. What follows are some of my favourites.

This is the Tom Jued. (Clear Soup with Minced Pork.) Absolutely delicious! I didn’t think I was a fan of clear soups until I tried this, now I definitely am!

This was the Mr’s Gaeng Phed Ped Yang. (Red Curry with Roast Duck.) Apparently this is one of the King’s favourite dishes and I must say – he has great taste! The depth of flavour is phenomenal. Its so sweet and creamy!

This was one of the afternoon dishes – Gai Phad King. (Chicken with Ginger.) I couldn’t believe how quick this was to make! It was also one of the recipes that I noticed I could source all of the ingredients back here at home. Here is how to make it for yourself.

Serves 2

  • 150g Chicken Breast, thinly sliced
  • 30ml (2tbsp) Oil
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 Onion, sliced
  • 30g Fresh Ginger, shredded
  • 1 Red Chilli, sliced
  • 60ml Chicken Stock
  • 2 Spring Onions, cut into 1″ pieces

Sauce:

  • 1 tbsp Fish Sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp Oyster Sauce
  • 1 tbsp Light Soy Sauce

Heat the oil in a wok until it just starts to smoke then add the garlic. As soon as you can smell the garlic, add in the onion & the chicken and stir fry until the outside of the chicken turns white.

Then add the ginger and stir fry to combine. Add all the sauce ingredients and stir fry again. Add the chillis and the chicken stock and stir fry for 1 minute. Lastly, add the spring onions and stir fry to combine.

Serve and wolf it down!

This was one that really surprised me. Khao Neow Mamuang. (Mango with Sticky Rice.) I really did not expect to like this Thai pudding but ended up loving it so much that I bought half the ingredients back with me so I could have a go at recreating it at home!

Pon (our teacher) got us all up helping out in the demonstration room on this classic Thai dessert. Here is me hard at work, flavouring the sauce with pandanus leaves.

The Mr was in charge of slicing the melon (with a gigantic knife!) and presenting the pudding on the plate. It was such a fantastic day! Both of us thoroughly enjoyed it!

Now I know that you lot will all be hungry for loads of authentic Thai recipes but you will have to bear with me until I get a chance to find suitable UK equivalents for all the ingredients we just can’t get over here! Sad but true I’m afraid.

In the mean time though – do give the Chicken and Ginger recipe a go! It’s a super quick and super tasty authentic Thai dish. And I know that we can get all the ingredients from our local supermarkets too. Brucy bonus!

And on that note my lovelies – I bid you farewell!

Until next time.

Miss KitchenMason