Corpulent Capers http://www.corpulentcapers.com Restaurants, reviews, recipes, recommendations & all things food related Tue, 01 Apr 2014 20:11:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9 A New Adventure for Corpulent Capers http://www.corpulentcapers.com/new-adventure-corpulent-capers/ http://www.corpulentcapers.com/new-adventure-corpulent-capers/#comments Tue, 01 Apr 2014 20:11:59 +0000 http://www.corpulentcapers.com/?p=1723 Mark and Carol of Corpulent Capers are embarking on a new adventure, a Food Adventure! As you know we are so passionate about locally produced, seasonal, fresh food that we have been blogging about it for several years and now we want to share our experiences with you. So what is Food Adventure? Food Adventure is all about food, fun, [&hellip

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Mark and Carol of Corpulent Capers are embarking on a new adventure, a Food Adventure!

As you know we are so passionate about locally produced, seasonal, fresh food that we have been blogging about it for several years and now we want to share our experiences with you.

vegetables A New Adventure for Corpulent Capers

Local, seasonal, organic vegetables

So what is Food Adventure? Food Adventure is all about food, fun, and adventure. Discover places, faces, plates and spaces as you go behind the scenes to meet some of Wales’ most talented food & drink producers, farmers and chefs.

pig A New Adventure for Corpulent Capers

An Oxford Sandy & Black Pig

Our unique tours may include a visit to a farm to meet a farmer passionate about his livestock and who is producing top quality meat, or a visit to one of Wales’ award winning vineyards. Maybe a day out foraging and then a sumptuous lunch, featuring foraged foods, tickles your fancy? We are working with some of Wales’ finest chefs and food producers who will give cooking demonstrations or hands on classes. A Food Adventure day out will showcase some of the best restaurants, farmers, and food & drink producers in South and Mid Wales.

milking cows A New Adventure for Corpulent Capers

Milking Time At The Farm

We are really excited about Food Adventure and will share more about our tours and the producers we work with over the next few weeks.

fish dish A New Adventure for Corpulent Capers

Pan Roasted Red Mullet, with Creamed Leeks, Lobster Bonbon and Lobster Sauce

You can sign up for our newsletter at www.foodadventure.co.uk, follow us on twitter @FoodAdventureUK or like us on Facebook.

Fun Fact:

Mark was a judge for the True Taste of Wales awards and will be a Great Taste Awards judge this year. Carol was a Director of the International Wine and Food Society of the Bahamas and led culinary tours from the Bahamas to New Orleans.

 

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Zest at the Cardiff Marriot with River Cottage http://www.corpulentcapers.com/zest-cardiff-marriot-river-cottage/ http://www.corpulentcapers.com/zest-cardiff-marriot-river-cottage/#comments Tue, 18 Mar 2014 20:05:35 +0000 http://www.corpulentcapers.com/?p=1703 We broke the news here that Marriott Hotels were piloting a partnership with Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s River Cottage and that the Cardiff Hotel was to be part of that pilot. Marriott have realised that a growing number of diners have an interest in the provenance of their food and so, in response, they are trying to improve their sourcing so [&hellip

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We broke the news here that Marriott Hotels were piloting a partnership with Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s River Cottage and that the Cardiff Hotel was to be part of that pilot.

Marriott have realised that a growing number of diners have an interest in the provenance of their food and so, in response, they are trying to improve their sourcing so as to offer a local, seasonal menu.

The Marriot kitchen team have been trained at River Cottage, who have also helped identify quality, local producers that they can source from.

Producers such as Graig Farm, Slade Farm Organics, Abergavenny Fine Foods, Gower Coast Seafood and the Welsh Box Scheme to name but a few.

Zest has set themselves some challenging goals including:-

  • Ensure that 80-percent of the ingredients at Zest to be obtained within a 60-mile radius.
  • To reduce our food waste to no more than 5-percent.
  • To use only organic meat
  • To use only free range organic chicken
  • To ensure that all fish and shellfish are procured from sustainable sources.

It’s great to see a large chain such as Marriott leading the way on this and it is to be hoped that their example is soon followed by other hospitality organisations.

So how is Zest and its food?

zest interior Zest at the Cardiff Marriot with River Cottage

Inside Zest

Well the restaurant suffers from its location, it is unmistakably a hotel restaurant and one that doubles as the breakfast buffet as well.  High ceilings, white tiled floors, and hotel décor do not really impart a cosy ambience.

Fortunately the staff are excellent, very friendly and accommodating which is a big help. If only you couldn’t hear them coming as they clip clop across that tiled floor.

First up was the Chef’s homemade Focaccia bread. This didn’t really get us off to a good start as frankly it was atrocious. I think Chef missed the River Cottage baking course.

Mrs A started with a Goats Cheese Salad of squash, beetroot, goat’s cheese and caper. A delightfully pretty dish it was, unfortunately, served so chilled that its flavour was masked.

goats cheese salad Zest at the Cardiff Marriot with River Cottage

Goat’s Cheese Salad with Squash, Beetroot and Capers.

My starter was smoked venison with pickled mushrooms and leaves. The venison was moist and tasty and a decent dressing pulled it all together.

duck Zest at the Cardiff Marriot with River Cottage

Smoked Venison

Mrs A’s main was Slow Roasted Lamb with Celeriac Mash. The lamb was sourced from Slade Farm Organics. It was beautifully cooked, moist and tender with a rich sauce that frankly there could have been more of.  The celeriac mash was a little overpowered by the large strips of chili running through it. If they had been finely chopped and less, then the dish would have benefited.

lamb celeriac Zest at the Cardiff Marriot with River Cottage

Slow Roasted Lamb with Celeriac Mash

I had the Slow Cooked Organic Brisket with kale, and Anchovy and Rosemary Potatoes. Delightfully rich it really hit the spot.

brisket Zest at the Cardiff Marriot with River Cottage

Slow Cooked Organic Brisket

The side of kale was also a little heavy on the chili, but very nicely cooked and the addition of fennel seed was a nice touch.  We had some excellent honey glazed rainbow carrots as well.

rainbow carrots 300x225 Zest at the Cardiff Marriot with River Cottage

Rainbow Carrots

 

kale 300x225 Zest at the Cardiff Marriot with River Cottage

Kale with Chili & Fennel

Mrs A chose a Sticky Date Pudding for dessert, served with a vanilla ice cream. Whilst I chose an Apple and Cherry Crumble.  Both delivered in terms of flavour and sweetness.

sticky date pudding Zest at the Cardiff Marriot with River Cottage

Sticky Date Pudding

apple cherry crumble Zest at the Cardiff Marriot with River Cottage

Apple & Cherry Crumble

Whilst not faultless the cooking at Zest is definitely a step up from your average hotel restaurant and therein lies the rub, as the space screams hotel at you.  There is a much more comfortable upper tier to the restaurant although that was not is use the night we went as it had been laid up in readiness for breakfast the next day.

Whilst I’m not sure if Zest will succeed in pulling local non-residents into the hotel, I think if I was staying at the Marriott then Zest would certainly stop me from exiting the building to try find a local eatery.

I hope the hotel’s marketing team can carve out a reputation for Zest independently of the hotel as that’s what it needs to help it stand out from the chains that surround it.  It has all the right ingredients after all.

Zest
Cardiff Marriott Hotel
Mill Lane
Cardiff
CF10 1EZ

Tel: 02920 399 944
Web: Zest

We were invited to try Zest as guests of Nylon Communications and as such all food and drink was complimentary.

 
minilogo Zest at the Cardiff Marriot with River Cottage

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Learn Patisserie with former Claridges Patissier, Beverly Reed http://www.corpulentcapers.com/learn-patisserie-claridges-ex-patissier-beverly-reed/ http://www.corpulentcapers.com/learn-patisserie-claridges-ex-patissier-beverly-reed/#comments Fri, 28 Feb 2014 19:30:23 +0000 http://www.corpulentcapers.com/?p=1690 I’ve always been of the opinion if you want to do something well you should learn from an expert. So when I decided that I’d like to learn a bit more about making patisserie there was no better class to attend than one run by Beverly Reed. Beverly began her love affair with food after leaving catering college and making [&hellip

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bevbio Learn Patisserie with former Claridges Patissier, Beverly Reed

Beverly Reed

I’ve always been of the opinion if you want to do something well you should learn from an expert.

So when I decided that I’d like to learn a bit more about making patisserie there was no better class to attend than one run by Beverly Reed.

Beverly began her love affair with food after leaving catering college and making a false start as a waitress in a Harrogate Forte Hotel. She returned to the kitchen and spent several years building up a dizzying CV, which included spells as a pâtissier at Claridges in London and Michelin starred restaurants at Château de Montreuil in France, Stuckis and Der Walserhof in Switzerland and L’Ortolan near Reading.

On my first course with Bev we learned how to make macaroons, scones and Gâteau Basque. This is the classic Basque dessert. It has a crunchy tart-like exterior and a soft filling. Typically Gâteau Basque is constructed from layers of an almond flour based cake with a filling of pastry cream (crème pâtissière).

IMG 3616 Learn Patisserie with former Claridges Patissier, Beverly Reed

Gateau Basque

Everything we made that day tasted fabulous and we found Bev to a great teacher, making the complicated seem simple and with bags of patience (which she really needed).

So much did we enjoy our day of baking that we enrolled again for Bev’s next class. This time we made a Tarte Belle-Hélène, basically a chocolate and pear tart. It was absolutely stunning!

tarte belle helene Learn Patisserie with former Claridges Patissier, Beverly Reed

Tarte Belle-Hélène

Beverly has recently expanded her cooking classes and is now running additional classes at Haberdashers School for Girls in Monmouth. So if you want to learn to patisserie from a real expert sign up for one of her classes now, but be quick places are selling fast.

Upcoming Patisserie Classes with spaces.

11th March, 6-9pm
Baked White Chocolate & Hazelnut Cheesecake

18th March, 6-9pm
Seasonal Panna cotta with Biscotti

6th May, 6-9pm
Strawberry Shortcake

Courses cost only £30 each. What a bargain!

For more info or to book on any of the above courses please contact Beverly on 01633 897550
email: bev@creativefood.co.uk
or visit: creativefood.co.uk

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Abra Ca Debora Pancake Day Hamper Giveaway http://www.corpulentcapers.com/abra-ca-debora-pancake-day-hamper-giveaway/ http://www.corpulentcapers.com/abra-ca-debora-pancake-day-hamper-giveaway/#comments Tue, 25 Feb 2014 19:23:38 +0000 http://www.corpulentcapers.com/?p=1680 The tradition of eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, more commonly known as Pancake Day, is not one I grew up with. I am more familiar with Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras. As a child, being raised as a Roman Catholic, I always gave something up for Lent; usually chocolate …. I do wish however I had grown up with the tradition [&hellip

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The tradition of eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, more commonly known as Pancake Day, is not one I grew up with. I am more familiar with Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras. As a child, being raised as a Roman Catholic, I always gave something up for Lent; usually chocolate …. I do wish however I had grown up with the tradition of eating delicate sweet pancakes before giving up my chocolate. It would have made the 40 days of Lent so much easier!

Hamper2014 001 Abra Ca Debora Pancake Day Hamper Giveaway

Win this fabulous Abra Ca Debora Pancake Day Hamper

Abra-ca-Debora, maker of delightful Dutch pancakes, is going to sweeten one lucky readers Pancake Tuesday with a fantastic Pancake Day Hamper (worth approx. £30) filled with goodies such as their large Dutch Pancakes, their Diddy Dutch Pancakes (see our blog post here), curds and jams from The English Provender Co and Green & Black chocolate (contents of hamper may vary).

So what am I going to make for this Tuesday? Well I am going to make some fabulous banana split pancakes using this recipe from Abra-ca-Debora as my inspiration. Banana Split Pancake Recipe

choccy bananas Abra Ca Debora Pancake Day Hamper Giveaway

Abra Ca Debora Choccy Bananas

What will you make?

If you would like the chance to win a free hamper from Abra-ca-Debora all you need to do is like our Corpulent Capers Facebook page using the widget below. If you follow @babettesffest on Twitter we’ll give you a second chance to win.

Click here to view this promotion.

The rules:-

  • The deadline for entries is 23:59 GMT Tuesday 4th March 2014.
  • The competition is open to U.K. mainland residents only, sorry.
  • The winners will be selected from all valid entries.
  • The editors decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into
  • Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
  • The prize is one Abra-Ca-Debra Pancake Day Hamper, as shown above, and includes free delivery anywhere in mainland UK. (Contents may vary)
  • The prize cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • The prize is offered and provided by Big Fish Design Limited.
  • Where prizes are to be provided by a third party, Corpulent Capers accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
  • One entry per person only.
  • Entrants must provide a valid email address for contacting the winner.
  • By entering you agree to join our mailing list. You may unsubscribe at any time and we will never pass your details to any other party. Your privacy is very important to us.
  • The winners will be notified by email. If no response is received within 3 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

 

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James Sommerin – Interview with a Chef http://www.corpulentcapers.com/james-sommerin-interview-chef/ http://www.corpulentcapers.com/james-sommerin-interview-chef/#comments Fri, 17 Jan 2014 21:27:05 +0000 http://www.corpulentcapers.com/?p=1653 James Sommerin is little frustrated. Today is the day that he and I had hoped would be the day that he showed me round his new restaurant. A restaurant that was just going through the finishing touches before opening in a few days. Alas Restaurant James Sommerin, already beset with delays, has suffered one more. This time it is not [&hellip

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James Sommerin James Sommerin   Interview with a Chef

James Sommerin
Photo: Huw Jones Photography

James Sommerin is little frustrated. Today is the day that he and I had hoped would be the day that he showed me round his new restaurant. A restaurant that was just going through the finishing touches before opening in a few days. Alas Restaurant James Sommerin, already beset with delays, has suffered one more.

This time it is not the developers or the planners who are at fault it’s the weather. The terrible storms that have lashed us over the last few weeks have had an effect. Fortunately there was no flooding but the storms hit before the windows had been installed in the upper floors of the Beachcliff development on the Penarth Seafront that will be home to James’ new venture. This meant water damage from above and with no glass in place dehumidifiers are useless and so there is nothing to do but wait.

“How long?” I ask.
“The earliest I will get the keys is April 7th”, he says. “Providing they finish getting the windows in and we don’t get any snow. I’m really hoping to be open in time for Easter.”

So rather than looking at an actual restaurant we sit down with a cup of coffee, a pot of tea and a set of plans.

Restaurant James Sommerin will have a 55 cover main dining area, a 12 seat private dining room and a 4 seat chef’s table. Additionally there will be 9 bedrooms. With his name above the door, James has planned every aspect of the restaurant from the kitchen equipment to the tableware in the dining room. There will be a lot of natural wood in the restaurant and bar surfaces will be made of slate but because slate is soft and easily scratched they will be topped with glass.

The design of the kitchen has obviously been done with great care and James has been able to specify top of the range equipment. You can’t cook to Michelin standard on a Camping Gaz and so James is installing a Bonnet Maestro Classic Range costing £70k. Now you start to realise why fine dining doesn’t come cheap. There will be no gas in the kitchen either as James has opted to go induction. One of the reasons for this is that a lack of flame means a cooler kitchen and a cooler kitchen makes for a much more pleasant working environment for the kitchen staff.

In the restaurant the private dining area will be separated from the main area by a sliding glass wall, which can be retracted to extend the main area if required. There will be a lot of glass, including a large window that will afford the diners a view into the kitchen itself. In the kitchen the chef’s table will be right in the heart, just a few feet from the range. Another reason he’s gone for the induction system.

Behind the restaurants small reception area is the lift that allows access to the bedrooms, which will open shortly after the restaurant. Each of the nine bedrooms is large enough to qualify for a five star rating. The bedrooms will be spread over 3 floors. There will be 3 on the first floor, one of which will be an accessible room, 4 on the second floor and 2 suites on the third floor. The suites are large enough to accommodate a table for six if you really, really want to dine in private. A portable station will allow a chef and a waiter to be despatched to a suite for truly personal service.

TomatoGazpacho James Sommerin   Interview with a Chef

James has been developing new dishes ready for the launch. Here’s his  Tomato Gazpacho.
Photo: Huw Jones Photography

After we had finished looking at the plans I asked James a few questions about the new restaurant and about himself.

MA: James, I don’t want to dwell on the trials of the past but your name is synonymous with the old Crown at Whitebrook, where you gained and held a Michelin Star for  7 years. We all know that the Crown closed in March 2013 but there had been rumours you were looking for your own place for a while before that happened. True or false?
JS: True! I suppose I had decided about 2 years prior that I wanted to move on at some point but that would be subject to finding the right venue. I actually handed my notice in the January, with a view to leaving in the October to give them time to find a replacement for me, but they took the decision to close it in the March.

MA: So what have you been doing with yourself since then?
JS: Well initially all my effort was put into the new site, but due to some of the delays I’ve been able to do some consultancy work in places like Cumbria. I’ve also had the opportunity to eat at a lot more places. One of the problems with chef’s hours is that you rarely get time off to eat in other establishments so I’ve taken the opportunity to eat out a lot more.

MA: All in the name of research! As you say the project has suffered a number of delays which must be very frustrating and costly for you, the latest being caused by the recent storms. How have you coped and are you confident that Easter is a realistic goal?
JS: All good things  come to those who wait. Isn’t that the phrase? I’ve had more time to consider what I want, but it has been annoying not being able to order and fit the things as I’ve decided on them. I am confident that we can open for Easter, once the windows go in on the upper floors and the building becomes watertight we can move ahead at a pace. The other thing is that my style of food is generally light so it will be great to launch with a nice Spring menu.

MA: Speaking of menus, how will the food at Restaurant James Sommerin differ from that at The Crown?
JS: Well my style of cooking is still my style of cooking, so don’t expect a complete re-invention because that won’t happen. However, my role at The Crown was to be Head Chef and run the kitchen but there were still things I couldn’t do. Here it’s all me and I can pretty much do what I want so that will be different. Also, as I said, I have had a chance to look at what other people are doing even at Michelin 3 Star level.

MackeralSalad James Sommerin   Interview with a Chef

Another sample dish – Mackerel Salad, Roast Cucumber with Olive Oil Caviar
Photo: Huw Jones Photography

MA: So can you give us a bit more of a clue what we can expect?
JS: The primary focus will be on the ingredients.

MA: Quality, Local?
JS: Yes but the quality is the most important part. I’m all for using local ingredients but if the local ingredients are poor then there’s no point. So it’s quality first for me.

MA: And?
JS: Well I’ve been experimenting with new methods, I’ve got this great way of making pasta that’s not really pasta but you can get it super thin. You’ll love it. My style is quite intricate, but I think you’ll see more planning and less process. The dishes will be simplified to let the ingredients speak for themselves, hence the focus on quality ingredients.

MA: Any other differences?
JS: Well there will be no à la carte in the evening, it will be tasting menu only.

MA: Just the one?
JS: No I’m thinking that we will offer 3 different tasting menu’s starting with a 5 course, then a 7 course and finally a 10 course. The 5 and 7 course will be written and the 10 course will probably be blind as it will be based around the freshest daily ingredients and we won’t know what is available until the day.

MA: Do you have a price point in mind?
JS: Yes, the 5 course will be priced at £55 and the 10 course will be £85.

MA: Considering the picture you’ve painted of the restaurant and the fact that I’ve had the good fortune to eat your food in the past that sounds quite reasonable. Now what about lunch times?
JS: We’ll probably offer a 3 course light lunch menu for about £25 and we will also offer a quick turn round for the corporate customer who needs a business lunch in a reasonable time frame.

TroutMiquis James Sommerin   Interview with a Chef

Marinated Trout, Pickled Samphire & Dashi Crisp – Is your mouth watering yet?
Photo: Huw Jones Photography

MA: Excellent. Now you did mention your chef’s table, can you tell me more?
JS: Yes, the chef’s table will be a true experience. Unlike a lot of restaurants that have a chef’s table in a room near the kitchenn ours in right in the heart of it. You’ll have to come through the restaurant like everyone else, enter the kitchen, walk right through it to the table which is just behind the range. You’ll be in the thick of things. No waiters, you’ll be served both food and wine by the chefs. There is no limit on courses the food will just come as we cook. You’ll be able to see the cooking and the plating right up close and talk with the chefs throughout the service.

MA: Sounds amazing, dare I ask how much?
JS: Well it’s only a table of four so you won’t be stuck with trying to find a group of a dozen to come along or be faced with paying a grand or so to have it for a couple. You’ll be able to book it as a couple or a group of four at £150 per head and for that you can stay in the kitchen all night from the beginning of service to the very end.

MA: Well I now know where my wife and I will be going for her birthday this year!
JS: (Smiles)

MA: Now The Crown had quite an extensive cellar, what’s your take on wine?
JS: I’ve been doing a lot more with wine and food pairing now I’ve had some time, which has been very interesting and I’ve learned a lot. I don’t want to try and hold a massive cellar stock like The Crown did, but we are having a custom built wine fridge fitted and a purpose made area to store the reds. I see the majority of our wines being in the £25 – £40 range with a few better ones available for special occasions.

MA: One more question about the food. Michelin?
JS: I make no secret of the fact that I want my star back.

MA: I didn’t doubt it. So can we talk about service?
JS: Please.

MA: Not to upset you but the last time I was at The Crown I was very unhappy with the service, not because it was bad but because it was so stuffy. In fact I ate my food really feeling that the waitress disapproved of us for some reason. Now, how is your quest for quality going to reflect itself at the front of house?
JS: The service has to be first class, but I’m much more relaxed and so it won’t be stuffy. I want an atmosphere and a buzz not a whispered silence. The wait staff will be friendly, although not familiar, but they will all be excellent at what they do. I’m starting to interview at the moment and I know the kind of people I’m looking for. Also we will have music in the dining room, which we would never have had at The Crown. I’ve even been putting some playlists together.

MA: From what you’ve said about the restaurant, the food and the ethos I can’t wait for you to open.
JS: Neither can I! (laughs)

RaspberryChocolate James Sommerin   Interview with a Chef

Raspberries, Aerated Chocolate, Lime & Miso
Photo: Huw Jones Photography

MA: For those people that don’t know you, didn’t visit The Crown and have never eaten your food, can I ask you a few things about you?
JS: Sure.

MA: You were born in Caerleon, you worked in Scotland, came back to Wales, started at The Crown as sous chef in 2000, became head chef in 2003 and won your Michelin Star in 2007. Yet you credit your grandmother as being a huge influence on you, what was the most important thing she taught you?
JS: Well she was the one that taught me how to cook when I was a child and gave me an appreciation for good food. I would spend every Saturday at her house and we would cook together.

MA: In late 2007, just after you had won your Star, Jay Rayner in the Observer said you were a ‘chef to watch’. At the time you were quoted as saying that your ambition was to win another star. Would you still like to be the first Michelin two-star in Wales?
JS: I would love to hold two stars, I would love to be the first in Wales to do so, but if I don’t I’ll happily be the second.

MA: James, what is your favourite comfort food?
JS: Shepherd’s Pie. It’s a real ‘hugger’ and proper home cooking.

MA: What’s your essential kitchen item?
JS: I have two. A good quality knife and a Pacojet.

MA: How do you pick your suppliers?
JS: Well obviously they must supply quality products but I look for people with the same ethos as I do, that have a quality service, are honest and want to support me because that, ultimately, supports them.

MA: What’s your favourite restaurant?
JS: The Ledbury.

MA: Money no object, where do you want to eat that you haven’t?
JS: Coi in San Francisco (Chef Daniel Patterson, 2 Michelin Stars)

MA: You’ve cited Gordon Ramsey as someone you admire, are you as shouty/sweary in the kitchen?
JS: No I admire him for the business he’s created. I’m a lot more relaxed, I like a laugh and a joke in the kitchen, and I like music in my kitchen. I do have very high expectations of my staff, but if I ask them to pull an 18 hour shift I’ll be there side by side with them.

MA: How have customers changed during your career?
JS: Well they are lot more informed than when I started and I think they have a better appreciation of good food. Nowadays they understand the process more and I also think that they are proud of the industry, and realise how much work and effort is put in.

MA: What about cookery on TV, with Masterchef in all its forms, GBBO, The Taste etc. is that good or bad?
JS: Good, I’m sure it’s a bubble but it’s good and is partly why the customer has changed. Oh and I love Bake Off!

MA: (Laughs) Would you do more?
JS: If they asked me.

MA: How do you cope with bad reviews? Do you read them? What about Trip Advisor?
JS: I try not to fixate on them. I think for any chef that is creating dishes, a knock on their food is hard to swallow because we take it so personally. I try to step back and remember that they are a window looking in and they may see it differently to me. Sometimes it offers an opportunity to improve.

MA: And what about food bloggers? (Smiles.)
JS: Well you guys are new territory really. My first real exposure was when I was reviewed by the Critical Couple when at The Crown. That was a positive experience. Hopefully, passionate people writing about food are always a good thing.

MA: Well James, it’s been an absolute pleasure talking to you and Restaurant James Sommerin definitely sounds like it will be worth the wait. I’m really excited by what you’ve told me, I can’t wait to come back in a few weeks for an actual guided tour and, more so, I can’t wait to be able to book a table.
JS: Well actually I’ve already had some enquiries and so I’ve opened a diary and I’ve taken some bookings already.

MA: You mean people can book now? I’m sure there will readers of this blog that have been chomping at the bit waiting for you to open so they can get a table. If they can do that now, we need to tell them and give them the number.
JS: Right. Okay. Let’s do it. They can call on 07722 216727

 

Restaurant James Sommerin
Beachcliff
Penarth.
(Opens Late April, exact date TBC)

To pre-book call 07722 216727

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The Chefs Table at Laguna Kitchen and Bar, Park Plaza Cardiff http://www.corpulentcapers.com/chefs-table-laguna-kitchen-bar-park-plaza-cardiff/ http://www.corpulentcapers.com/chefs-table-laguna-kitchen-bar-park-plaza-cardiff/#comments Sun, 12 Jan 2014 17:03:16 +0000 http://www.corpulentcapers.com/?p=1636 I’d been to the Laguna Restaurant at the Park Plaza once before when I had sampled a pre-theatre dinner before a visit to the New Theatre. What had impressed me at the time, and still does, is that it is a hotel restaurant that doesn’t feel like a hotel restaurant. A feat rarely achieved outside of London. At the time [&hellip

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laguna The Chefs Table at Laguna Kitchen and Bar, Park Plaza CardiffI’d been to the Laguna Restaurant at the Park Plaza once before when I had sampled a pre-theatre dinner before a visit to the New Theatre. What had impressed me at the time, and still does, is that it is a hotel restaurant that doesn’t feel like a hotel restaurant. A feat rarely achieved outside of London.

At the time of my first visit I was also quite impressed with the quality of the food, so an invitation to try out their take on a Chef’s Table was eagerly snapped up. Okay, so first up this isn’t really a chef’s table in the true sense, as you are not in the kitchen at all. Rather you are sitting at a high table in the restaurant a few feet from the pass. Also half the table have their back to the kitchen but as you’re actually not in it, there’s not much to see anyway so this isn’t too much of a problem.

The Chefs Table menu is a no choice gourmet tasting menu, paired with wine. And what a menu it is.

We started off with a bread selection with the obligatory oil and vinegar before moving onto a Mise en bouche.

laguna bread The Chefs Table at Laguna Kitchen and Bar, Park Plaza Cardiff

Bread Selection

The Mise en bouche comprised smoked slices of Brecon venison, some delightful Neal’s Yard goat curt, heritage beetroot and slices of muscovado baked peaches drizzled with truffle honey. This was paired with a Del Fin Del Mundo Extra Brut.

laguna mise en bouche The Chefs Table at Laguna Kitchen and Bar, Park Plaza Cardiff

Mise en Bouche

Our next course was an incredible sharing seafood platter billed as a Spectacular Selection of the Finest Hot and Cold Sea Food Coastline Vegetables, Welsh Tracklements. Wow! This was a visually stunning dish and if you are seafood lover you would be in heaven. Baked lobster and prawns, pickled cockles and samphire, a trio of cold smoked, hot smoked and beetroot cured salmon, a selection of mussels, octopus and baby squid were all excellent but the star of the show was a pastry topped scallop with chorizo served in the shell. The wine pairing was a very nice 2011 Chateau Fontaine Sancerre.

laguna seafood The Chefs Table at Laguna Kitchen and Bar, Park Plaza Cardiff

Spectacular Selection of the Finest Hot and Cold Sea Food Coastline Vegetables, Welsh Tracklements

Laguna Chefs Table Seafood The Chefs Table at Laguna Kitchen and Bar, Park Plaza Cardiff

Seafood Platter in close up.

Before moving from the sea to the land we had a palate cleansing sorbet made from Bombay Sapphire Gin and Tonic. Now I’m not a gin lover but this had a nice citrus acidity that set us up for what was to come next.

laguna sorbet The Chefs Table at Laguna Kitchen and Bar, Park Plaza Cardiff

Bombay Sapphire Gin and Tonic Sorbet

Just as I was wondering how the next course was going to be able to hold its own against that platter an Open Beef Wellington with Roasted Shallots, Wild Mushrooms and Port Wine Jus was set in front of me. Ah so that’s how!

Another triumph, a tender, flavoursome beef fillet accompanied by a soft rich parfait of goose liver with a crisp pastry astride a lovely fondant potato all brought together by the port wine jus. Impressive! Paired with a 2011 Del Fin Del Mundo Malbec Reserva.

laguna beef The Chefs Table at Laguna Kitchen and Bar, Park Plaza Cardiff

Open Beef Wellington with Roasted Shallots, Wild Mushrooms and Port Wine Jus

Dessert came in the form of a Jersey Cream Crème Brulee, Passion Fruit, Short Bread Biscuits. Wow this is good stuff, thick, smooth vanilla custard, thin but crisp sugar top, a nice short shortbread and the natural sourness of the passion fruit to cut through it. Delightful! Add in a glass of a great dessert wine in a Moscato Passitto and away we go.

laguna brulee The Chefs Table at Laguna Kitchen and Bar, Park Plaza Cardiff

Jersey Cream Crème Brulee, Passion Fruit, Short Bread Biscuits

To round everything off we were served a selection of raspberries and Home Made Petit Fours to accompany our coffee.

laguna petitfour The Chefs Table at Laguna Kitchen and Bar, Park Plaza Cardiff

Home Made Petit Four

Experienced Laguna head chef, Justin Llewellyn, has certainly done a great job of forging relationships with local Welsh suppliers to put together an exemplary tasting menu. The quality of the food on offer is as good if not better than anything else you will currently find in Cardiff.

laguna coffee The Chefs Table at Laguna Kitchen and Bar, Park Plaza Cardiff

So good to see a glass of water served with a coffee.

The Chefs Table is available to book for groups of between six and twelve. At £45.00 per head including the wine pairing this must be the best value fine dining available in Cardiff at the moment.

Go! Go round up your friends and book the Chefs Table, you won’t be disappointed.

Laguna Kitchen and Bar
Park Plaza Hotel
Greyfriars Road
Cardiff
CF10 3AL

Tel: 02920 111 103
Email: lagunarestaurant@parkplazahotels.co.uk
Web: www.lagunakitchenandbar.com

We were invited to attend the Chefs Table by Working Word PR and as such all food and drink was complimentary.

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Holiday Meals & Wine Pairing Advice http://www.corpulentcapers.com/holiday-meals-wine-pairing-advice/ http://www.corpulentcapers.com/holiday-meals-wine-pairing-advice/#comments Tue, 17 Dec 2013 10:15:06 +0000 http://www.corpulentcapers.com/?p=1629 With the holiday season just about to kick off, many will be focused on some of the delicious meals to come. Indeed, holiday recipes are a significant part of what makes this time of year so special for many of us, and there’s great value in perfecting a dish over the years to give the family something to look forward [&hellip

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Moscato 1 Holiday Meals & Wine Pairing AdviceWith the holiday season just about to kick off, many will be focused on some of the delicious meals to come. Indeed, holiday recipes are a significant part of what makes this time of year so special for many of us, and there’s great value in perfecting a dish over the years to give the family something to look forward to. And for many food enthusiasts, the best way to take these perfected holiday recipes to the next level is with the ideal wine pairing.

Finding wine for the holidays can be tricky enough on its own, simply because you’ll probably want a special bottle or two on hand. One interesting option is to look through Marks and Spencer online, where the wine section not only offers variety, but provides you with options for selecting entire cases (allowing you to sample various bottles). Alternatively, your local wine shop may well be featuring a few special bottles for the holidays, which can always be fun to try. But before you bother with selecting wines, you should still give some thought to pairing them. And with that in mind, here are a few basic tips for pairing wine with traditional holiday meals.

    • Ham Entrees – Ham is one of the most popular meats for holiday entrees, and as noted by a Huffington Post article on the same subject, it’s often accompanied by a sweet sauce or glaze. The combination of flavorful meat with sweetness makes for a tricky combination to match, though a smoky or slightly sweet red wine will usually be the best accompaniment, as it will stand up to the dish. Syrah may be your best bet.
    • Turkey Entrees – Along with goose, turkey is a very popular bird for holiday feasts (often Thanksgiving, but for Christmas as well). Many like to suggest that white meats should always pair with white wine, but in this case it may be wise to make an exception. A red Zinfandel is a wonderful choice. These wines tend to be complex without being overpowering, and can handle both the light and dark meat, as well as the various sides (cranberry, stuffing, etc.) traditionally present.
    • Duck Entrees – Duck is perhaps the most unique tasting of the birds popular in holiday entrees (though if your family tends toward pheasant or quail you’ll be used to other unique options), and can be tricky for wine. Duck is a very fatty meat, and therefore demands a wine with a bit of punch to it. However, like turkey and ham, and really any holiday meal, it’s often accompanied by sweet complements. Pinot Noir is worth considering, as a strong enough red to handle the fattiness, but with enough fruitiness to pair well.
    • Holiday Desserts – Holiday Desserts take all forms, and for many sparkling wine is the ideal pairing for any dessert or festive occasion. However if you’re looking for an alternative, a Moscato or sweet Zinfandel can be a great accompaniment to traditional rich desserts.

This is a guest post by Damon Miller. Damon is a freelance writer and food and travel enthusiast who particularly enjoys visiting and sampling different vineyards across the world.

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Foodie Penpals – November 2013 http://www.corpulentcapers.com/foodie-penpals-november-2013/ http://www.corpulentcapers.com/foodie-penpals-november-2013/#comments Mon, 02 Dec 2013 19:43:42 +0000 http://www.corpulentcapers.com/?p=1621 I was so delighted with my first Foodie Pen Pal experience in October that I decided to do it again in November. I was matched with Kate from England whose brother used to live in Swansea and enjoyed visiting Swansea market, so I sent a parcel containing Welsh cakes, laver bread and other Welsh goodies. Vanessa from Greece was given [&hellip

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I was so delighted with my first Foodie Pen Pal experience in October that I decided to do it again in November. I was matched with Kate from England whose brother used to live in Swansea and enjoyed visiting Swansea market, so I sent a parcel containing Welsh cakes, laver bread and other Welsh goodies.

Vanessa from Greece was given my name; she put a lot of thought and love into my parcel! What a joy!

IMG 4523 Foodie Penpals   November 2013

Greek Foodie Penpal Parcel

The crowning jewel of the package is the Kalamata olives which are my favourite olives and the pride of Greece.

There is one item that I have never tasted in the package, stamnagathi, a type of wild chicory which grows in difficult to reach areas of the mountains in Crete. The stamnagathi was baked in some bread sticks.

I also learned something new with this package. I have heard of mastic chewing gum but what I did not know is that mastic is the resin from the mastic tree, which is indigenous to Chios in Greece. Also included are candies that have mastic.

Finally in the package are things that I am familiar with but am very excited to try the Greek varieties of them: tomato paste from Kyknos, green sage which can be used as a tea or as a herb for cooking, halva, and a dark chocolate wafer (Vanessa’s favourite from her childhood).

Foodie Penpals will be taking a break in December and will start up again in the New Year. If you live in the UK or Europe, you can read more about how it works here. If you live in the Americas you can read more about it here.

I will participate again in January and will be searching my farmer’s market for locally made non perishable food items that are light to post. According to the guidelines, the cost of the parcel should not exceed £10 excluding postage. You may adjust how much you spend on your parcel to reflect the higher cost of postage if sending to a foreign country. If you have any ideas for a foodie parcel, please do leave a suggestion!

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The Otley Brewing Company Win A Mini Keg Giveaway http://www.corpulentcapers.com/otley-brewing-company/ http://www.corpulentcapers.com/otley-brewing-company/#comments Thu, 28 Nov 2013 21:10:35 +0000 http://www.corpulentcapers.com/?p=1606 What makes Otley Beer so delicious and unique? Otley Brewing Company is a family run business started by Paul, Nick, Robert, Charlie and Matthew Otley in 2005. The idea brewed as a conversation over a few pints of beer…the start of many an idea! As the family owned pubs, they knew what people liked to drink but more importantly what [&hellip

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What makes Otley Beer so delicious and unique?

Otley Brewing Company is a family run business started by Paul, Nick, Robert, Charlie and Matthew Otley in 2005. The idea brewed as a conversation over a few pints of beer…the start of many an idea! As the family owned pubs, they knew what people liked to drink but more importantly what was missing from the market. Driven by the love of great beer and a desire to craft unique ales, they decided to make their own beers.

Brewing The Otley Brewing Company Win A Mini Keg Giveaway

Where the Beer is Brewed

As a small family run microbrewery they are not afraid of being innovative and are committed to using the finest ingredients to make their ales. The water for their beer comes from the Brecon Beacons; the Malt comes from Tucker Maltings, which is one of the few Malthouses that produces malt in the traditional way, and their hops are sourced from all over the world.

malt hops The Otley Brewing Company Win A Mini Keg Giveaway

Malt and Hops

It’s not just the ingredients that make this an excellent quaff but the unique combinations of hops, often decided over a pint of beer, which gives them a fresh and modern award winning range of beers.

ingredients The Otley Brewing Company Win A Mini Keg Giveaway

A unique range of ingredients

Otley is one of the first breweries to add unique but subtle flavourings to their beer. All of their beers drink well on their own but they also shine when drunk with a meal. Their Thai Bo has a subtle hint of lime leaf, lemongrass and galangal and is perfect with Chinese or Indian food. 09 Blond is a clear wheat beer with roasted orange peel, coriander and cloves and is scrumptious with salad and fish. The Oh Ho Ho has a background note of blueberries and goes well with steak and the Porter is sublime with dessert.

Otley Beer Minikeg The Otley Brewing Company Win A Mini Keg Giveaway

The Current Otley Range

Otley is located in Ponytpridd, just up the road from their friendly and welcoming pub and restaurant The Bunch of Grapes.

COMPETITION
Thanks to the generosity of Otley, we are running a contest to give you a chance to win a Minikeg of their beer. You must be over 18 to enter and, due to delivery issues, live in the mainland UK, excluding Northern Scotland.

HOW TO ENTER
Note you need a Facebook account to be able to enter this competition, sorry. Use the Widget below to confirm your email address, name, city and date of birth (you must be 18 or over to enter). Then click the like button to become a fan of the Otley Brewing Co on Facebook.  If you have a Twitter account you can get a second entry and better your chances of winning if you use the bonus screen to follow the Otley Twitter Account.

Full rules are at the end of this post.

Click here to view this promotion.

 

  • The deadline for entries is 23:59 GMT Friday 6th December 2013.
  • The competition is open to U.K. mainland residents only (excluding Northern Scotland), sorry.
  • You must be 18 or over to enter.
  • The winners will be selected from all valid entries.
  • The editors decison is final and no correspondence will be entered into
  • Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
  • The prize is one mini keg of Otley Beer of unspecified type, as shown above, and includes free delivery anywhere in mainland UK excluding Northern Scotland.
  • The prize cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • The prize is offered and provided by the Otley Brewing Company.
  • Where prizes are to be provided by a third party, Corpulent Capers accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
  • One entry per person only.
  • Entrants must provide a valid email address for contacting the winner.
  • By entering you agree to join our mailing list. You may unsubscribe at any time and we will never pass your details to any other party. Your privacy is very important to us.
  • The winners will be notified by email. If no response is received within 7 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

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Dan Lepard’s Classic Christmas Pudding Recipe http://www.corpulentcapers.com/dan-lepards-classic-christmas-pudding-recipe/ http://www.corpulentcapers.com/dan-lepards-classic-christmas-pudding-recipe/#comments Sat, 23 Nov 2013 19:36:13 +0000 http://www.corpulentcapers.com/?p=1598 This is the recipe I will be using for my Christmas Pudding this year. Stir Up Sunday, the traditional day for making your pud is on the 24th November.  Sainsbury’s is reviving this tradition and has kindly supplied the ingredients. This year, Sainsbury’s has enlisted the help of baker and food writer Dan Lepard to inspire families up and down [&hellip

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This is the recipe I will be using for my Christmas Pudding this year. Stir Up Sunday, the traditional day for making your pud is on the 24th November.  Sainsbury’s is reviving this tradition and has kindly supplied the ingredients.

This year, Sainsbury’s has enlisted the help of baker and food writer Dan Lepard to inspire families up and down the country to revive this old unifying family tradition.

On Sunday (24th November), Dan will be hosting a live Christmas pudding Tweet-a-long between 2:00pm and 4:00pm. He’ll be on-hand to answer all your questions – sharing his insider tips and helpful videos to ensure your Stir-up Sunday is a success.

Dan Lepard's Classic Christmas Pudding
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A classic Christmas Pudding Recipe from an award-winning baker and food wriiter
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: British
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 385g Sainsbury's mixed dried fruit
  • 80g Sainsbury's ready-to-eat dried figs, roughly chopped
  • 75g Sainsbury's glacé cherries, roughly chopped
  • 100ml basics brandy, plus some for flaming
  • 1 small cooking apple, peeled cored and grated
  • 1 small orange, zest and juice
  • 100g shredded suet (vegetarian if you wish)
  • 3 medium British free-range Woodland eggs by Sainsbury's, beaten
  • 100g Sainsbury's ground almonds
  • 200g soft muscovado sugar
  • 140g self-raising flour
  • 20g Sainsbury's almonds, halved
  • 1 teaspoon ground mixed spice by Sainsbury's
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon by Sainsbury's
Instructions
  1. Classic Christmas Pudding
  2. Put the mixed fruit, dried figs and glacé cherries into large pan with the brandy and bring to the boil; turn down and simmer for five minutes. Remove from the heat, cover with a lid and leave to soak overnight.
  3. Grease a 1 litre pudding basin.
  4. Mix together the cooking apple, orange juice and zest, suet, beaten eggs, ground almonds, sugar, and flour in a large mixing bowl.
  5. Stir in the soaked fruit, almonds, mixed spice and cinnamon. Pour into the greased basin. Cover the basin with two large circles of greaseproof paper and one of tin foil and secure around the top of the basin with string. Make a handle across the basin with the string.
  6. Place the basin in a large saucepan, with a lid, and pour in boiling water until it comes half way up the basin. Cover with the lid and steam for two hours. Allow to cool, then wrap the whole basin in foil and store until Christmas (see tip).
  7. One hour and 30 minutes before you want to serve the pudding, place into a large saucepan, as before, and steam for 1 hour and 30 minutes until cooked through and springy to touch.
  8. To serve, pour over a couple of tablespoons of brandy and light the pudding. Serve with brandy butter, cream or vanilla custard.
Notes
Cook’s tips: Store your prepared pudding, well wrapped and in a cool, dry place for up to 3 months.

Flaming your pudding
Warm a little brandy, pour over the undecorated steamed pudding and light.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 Calories: 586 Fat: 18.9g Saturated fat: 5.7g Sugar: 49.6g Sodium: 0.28g

 

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