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Tuesday 29 March 2011

The London Foodie Goes to Cuba - Havana (Part I)

Having spent the first half of my life in South America, I reckoned I was prepared for whatever Cuba had to throw at me. During our two-week trip there, Cuba surprised me on many levels. It was not an easy holiday to plan (virtually no internet access meant it is hard to communicate electronically with locals) or a land to navigate, but despite our initial doubts, we are pleased to have found our way there.

I would be lying if I said I didn't go to Cuba partially for its tropical sun, abundant mojitos and fine Havana cigars. But having met many Cubans living in London, and heard some of their stories, the main purpose of our trip was to learn how Cubans live their lives in one of the last unreformed Communist countries in the world. We hired a car and planned to visit as many places as possible starting from Havana. We also decided to do home-stays (at Casas Particulares as they are known in Cuba) wherever possible, and eat in as many "Paladares" (thought to be the origin of supper clubs) as we could.


Of the many districts of the Cuban capital, we decided to stay at La Habana Vieja (Old Havana) because of its convenient central location and history. It is a district of contrasts - parts have been beautifully restored since the 1990s, but most streets are still dilapidated with grand colonial buildings long since fallen into disrepair, and hectic cobblestone streets lending a sense of wild disorder.

Arriving in Havana, we headed to our first Casa Particular run by Yamir Miró and his wife.  This was the simplest Casa during our stay in Cuba (CUC 30 or £20 per night, not including breakfast), but was also very well located off one of the most popular streets in the district (Obispo). The room was simply furnished but immaculately clean, and Yamir and his family were friendly and gave us many tips for the bars and restaurants in the area. I would recommend this Casa Particular to anyone visiting Havana and wanting to stay in a central location.

(Yamir Juantorena Miró, Obrapía, no. 401, apto. 2, Entre Aguacate y Compostela, Habana Vieja, Tel: 05 281-6962).

I had been warned that Cuba was not a gourmet destination, but no one prepared me for what I was to encounter. My first experiences of Cuban cuisine in Miami were very positive: the food I ate there, despite being simple, was wholesome and tasty. In Cuba however there is an almost total absence of good restaurants or appetising street food. Even the more upmarket eateries served pedestrian food which was poorly seasoned, often with defrosted meat or fish, and accompanied by tinned vegetables.

Templete was one such establishment. Opened by a Spanish immigrant, it is highly recommended by all guides, but the food was underwhelming at best and expensive (around £60 for two).

Dr G and I shared a platter of grilled fish and seafood @ £20, the saving grace of our meal being a lovely bottle of 2009 Spanish Verdejo by Protos. It was a young and refreshing wine with delicate honeyed citrus and apple fruit.

By far the best food we had in Havana was at the "Paladar La Cocina de Lilliam" (Calle 48, No 1311, entre 13 y 15, Playa Ciudad de la Habana). Located in an elegant house with lush gardens in a suburban district of the city, this supper club was one of the culinary highlights of our trip.

All the dishes we tried were excellent. The aubergines in Parmesan cheese dish was similar in concept to the Italian "Melanzane alla Parmigiana", but this version had the aubergines very thinly sliced, deep fried and covered in tomato sauce and cheese before being oven baked. 

Another delicious dish was the fried "Malanga" croquettes - Malanga is a native American yam or taro which is pounded and seasoned with garlic and other condiments, shaped into croquettes and deep fried. A perfect snack to go with some very cold beers.

The "Tamales en Cazuela", a deliciously thick cream of corn with thin slices of cured ham, was also excellent as was the "Ceviche". After all that food and four cocktails, our bill came to CUC 44 or £29, which I felt was reasonable for food of this quality.

Another supper club we visited was the "Paladar La Guarida" (Concordia #418 e/ Gervasio e Escobar, Centro Habana). One of the most popular paladares in Havana, it is located in the building where the 1990 film "Strawberry and Chocolate" was set.

The setting was elegant in a quirky way, while the food was good but unremarkable. Dr G went for "Grilled Snapper and Vegetables", while I opted for "Roast Chicken with Honey and Lemon Sauce".

I love cassava or "Yuca" as it is called in Cuba, so ordered a portion of "Yuca Frita" (cassava chips) and another of "Yuca con Mojo" (steamed cassava with oil and garlic).

We also ordered a side dish called "Moros y Cristianos" (mixed rice and black beans). These and "Malanga" are the most popular accompaniments to any meal in Cuban restaurants.

Despite the funky interiors and Cuban menu, I felt that this supper club was in fact a standard restaurant aimed primarily at foreign tourists, with an overpriced menu - Dr G and I spent about £45 for a very ordinary meal there.

A much better choice in my opinion and only a stone's throw from our Casa Particular in La Habana Vieja was a lively Cafe-Bar called "La Dichosa", (corner of Compostela y Obispo). As in most cafes in the area, La Dichosa had live bands performing Son Salsa (same style as Buena Vista Social Club) every evening, and the food also did not disappoint.

On our visit, Dr G and I went for "Grilled Lobster" served with rice and black beans, and salad which were reasonably priced. Mojitos and other cocktails were priced at £2 and national beers at £1 (Cristal - lighter and Bucanero - stronger).

Apart from searching for good food (unsuccessfully in the main), we did a few other things during our stay in Havana.  We visited the Museo del Ron Havana Club (Havana Club Rum Museum - tickets at £5). Tours are run in several languages including English and go through various rooms showing the process of rum-making starting from the sugar cane plantation right through to Cuba's national drink. The tour finishes in a gorgeous replica of a 1930s bar, where we were given a small glass of rum. Bar Havana Club is in the same building, and has live music and excellent Mojitos and other cocktails.

The Hotel Nacional is an interesting place to visit - supposedly one of the smartest hotels in the City, the hotel evokes the faded glamour of the 1930s, when it was built. It is the perfect place to relax whilst enjoying a Mojito or two in the gardens overlooking magnificent views of the sea.  It has a very good cigar shop, with extremely helpful and knowledgeable staff.

Not too far from the Hotel Nacional (between Calles 21 and 23 in Vedado District), Coppelia's flagship branch serves its famous ice creams to more than a thousand visitors a day, some queuing for more than an hour for the privilege.

Housed in a 1960s futuristic building, the park and ice cream parlour were part of the set for the 1990 Strawberry and Chocolate film. Foreigners have a separate area outside this intriguing building where they will pay the equivalent of about £3 for a couple of scoops of mass produced ice cream (roughly 20 times more than the locals!).

The Fabrica de Tabacos Partagas is one of Cuba's oldest and largest cigar factories, founded in 1845 and employing some 800 workers. Cohiba, Romeo y Julieta and Monte Cristo are some of the 12 fine "habanos" made at this factory. The rich, sweet smell of tobacco hits you as you walk through its entrance door. A guided tour costs £8, lasts 30 minutes, and was in my opinion one of the highlights of our trip to Havana. Unfortunately no photography is allowed.

Havana was an endearing but madly chaotic city, and not a particularly relaxing place to be.  Despite being very safe, the city is overcrowded, the streets are dusty and covered in potholes, and most buildings are crumbling away. Long queues are common at many of the shops selling basic products. While the Mojitos are cheap and abundant, and the cigars are the best in the world, the food was disappointing. After two and a half days there, Dr G and I were excited to make our way to our next stop, Viñales.

Part II of our Cuban adventure will follow soon. 

Wednesday 23 March 2011

Sake vs Shochu – Do You Know the Difference?

Earlier this month, I was invited to a couple of very interesting tastings. The first, organised by JETRO London, took place at the Japanese Embassy and was all about Shochu. A few days later I returned to the WSET for a lecture on Sake and had the opportunity to meet various producers from the Niigata Prefecture who were visiting, and taste some of their fare.

Unlike Sake, not much is known about Shochu outside Japan, and even there, the Japanese are sometimes confused by its limitless forms and styles. To make things worse, the word “Sake” in Japan can actually refer to all alcoholic drinks in general, although it most often refers to Sake as we know it in the West. In some parts of the far Western or Southern regions, the word “Sake” is sometimes used interchangeably to describe a type of distilled drink i.e. Shochu (Sake being a fermented drink).

So what is Shochu?

Native to Japan, Shochu is a DISTILLED drink, and can be made from a combination or one of a number of different raw materials - sweet potatoes, rice, barley, buckwheat, corn, rye, brown sugar, and chestnuts to name a few. The alcohol content is normally 25%, although it can be as high as 42% (if multi-distilled).

Raw Materials

Each of these raw materials will give very distinct flavour and aroma profiles to the final Shochu from light and smooth (rice) to peaty and earthy (potato) in the same way that the different peat and barley of regions in Scotland will determine the character of the final Scotch Whisky being made.

Koji & Saccharification

Unlike wine where the grape sugars are turned into alcohol during fermentation, to make Shochu (as well as Sake), the sugar needed to produce alcohol must first be converted from starch. This process is known as “saccharification” and is achieved by the addition of KOJI, a type of fungus, to the raw material i.e. rice, sweet potatoes or barley. Different types of KOJI can be used for this (white, yellow or black) with each bringing out different characters in the final product. Once the sugars have been created, they will then need to be converted into alcohol, and this is done by adding water and YEAST. Both processes, saccharification of starch and alcoholic fermentation, happen concurrently.


Following fermentation, Shochu is either single or multi distilled. Single, pot-distilled Shochu will retain more of the character of the base ingredient, and is more “artisan” in production with a strongly individual taste and aroma. Multi, patent-distilled Shochu is higher in alcohol content, is cheaper and less flavoursome and is normally used as a base for cocktails.


Unlike Sake which is made to be drunk within a year of production, Shochu can improve with ageing. Maturation or ageing normally lasts between one and three months, but sometimes three or more years - for example Awamori Shochu from Okinawa can be matured for more than ten years. Vessels used to mature Shochu will impart their own character to the final drink - ceramic or earthenware pots, oak and sherry casks or the neutral stainless steel tanks.

In Japan, Shochu has enjoyed a tremendous rise in its popularity and sales over the last 10 years. Originally perceived as an old fashioned drink, it has gone through a change of image and is now drunk by a trendy and mostly young crowd. This is because Shochu is thought to be a healthier alternative to other spirits - containing a similar amount of enzymes to red wine, it is thought to help prevent heart attacks and strokes by naturally stimulating the breakdown of blood clots. In addition, it is a very low-calorie drink and some even claim that it will give less of a hangover as it is thought to be a purer drink due to being multi distilled (although there is no scientific proof to back this up).

At the Japanese Embassy event, of the many Shochu I tasted on that evening, NISENNEN NO YUME (Two Thousand Year Dream by Ikinokura Distillery Co.) was particularly outstanding. An unusually high alcohol content Shochu at 42% made from 2/3 barley and 1/3 malted rice, it had been matured for many years in Spanish sherry casks. The wood imparted an amber colour, aroma and flavour akin to a light whisky. It was smooth, subtle and very easy drinking.

The ASAGIRA NO HANA (Morning Mist Flowers by Takata Shuzohjyo Co.) was also very good. It was made entirely from malted rice with a 25% alcohol content and wild yeast taken from the native Japanese "nadeshiko" flower. Unsurprisingly, the floral aromas were intense in this fantastic Shochu.

Also outstanding was the BENI SATSUMA CHIRUZU BLACK (by Kami Distillery Co.), a 25% alcohol Shochu made from red sweet potatoes. This Shochu had a confectionary-like sweetness and an intense earthiness from its ageing in 140 year-old clay urns.

So what is Sake?

Also native to Japan, Sake is a FERMENTED drink , made solely from RICE and with an alcohol content of around 15%.

Sake Making Process

The process of making Sake, “Multi Parallel Fermentation”, is a complex and laborious one, and more information can be found here.

In summary, the main steps are as follows. Before fermentation takes place, Sake rice will need to be milled or “polished” to remove protein and oils from the exterior of the grains, leaving behind starch. Roughly speaking, the more “polished” the grains are, the more refined the Sake will be with some rice grains being polished to 80% (down to 20% of its original size). After polishing, the grains are rested, washed and steamed.

As in the production of Shochu, the sugar needed to produce alcohol must first be converted from starch (saccharification) which is achieved by the addition of KOJI to the cooked rice. The fermentable sugars will then need to be converted into alcohol, and this is done by adding YEAST.

After fermentation has taken place the Sake is pressed to separate the liquid from the solids. For some types of Sake, a small amount of distilled alcohol is added before pressing.  The dead yeast is then removed, the Sake is carbon filtered, pasteurised and diluted to around 15%. It is then matured for six months before being bottled and sold.

Ageing, Vintage, Hot or Chilled

Sake is not aged beyond the six month period mentioned and is meant to be consumed soon after purchase or within a year of production. There is no such thing as "vintage" in the Sake world.

Premium Sakes (see category below) should be served nearly always chilled; sometimes it can be slightly "warmed" but it should never be hot. There is no ideal temperature, but cool to chilled temperatures bring out the best in most Sakes, with subtle differences at each temperature range. Sake was traditionally served warm to hide the rougher characteristics of this type of drink, but much has changed in the last decades, and today, only table Sake is served heated.

Categories of Sake

Broadly speaking, there are only two types of Sake: FUTSUU-SHU (table Sake - 80% of the market) and TOKUTEI MEISHO-SHU (special designation Sake - 20% of the market).

FUTSUU-SHU - Table Sake

For this type of Sake, there are no "polishing" requirements, rice used is normally of a lower grade, and distilled alcohol is added in amounts far exceeding those permitted for the higher category.


Premium Sakes fall within two categories - the ones that have NOT been fortified by the addition of distilled alcohol (JUNMAI) and the others which have (HONJOZO and GINJO).

Classification within these two categories will depend on various factors, but most importantly it will consider the amount of "polishing" of the grains and the quality/grade of rice being used. There are about 65 varieties of Sake rice and naturally some are more prized than others.

At the "Sakes of Niigata" tasting at the WSET, it was fascinating to notice the differences in style and flavour characteristics from one classification to another. In my opinion, the top classification Sakes i.e. DAIGINJO and JUNMAI DAIGINJO, were also the best Sakes of the evening.

Of the eight Sakes tasted on that evening, the ICHISHIMA GINNOYOROKOBI DAIGINJO (by Ichishima Sake House, polished down to 35%!) was particularly fine and complex with  floral and clay notes on the palate, and a very long finish. Another excellent Sake was the SETCHUBAI GINJO (milled down to 40%) by the Maruyama Sake House - gutsy, with floral notes and very smooth.

Thanks to Denise Medrano (The Wine Sleuth) and John Toppon of The Japan Society for inviting me along to these fantastic events.

Tuesday 22 March 2011

London Cooking Club - Malaysian by May and a Recipe for Ikan Bilis

Last Saturday, on the 19th March 2011, food blogger extraordinaire May of Slow Food Kitchen co-hosted the "Malaysian by May" London Cooking Club event at my home in Islington.

Twelve diners and readers of this blog got together to cook a Malaysian meal under May's watchful eyes and assistance. All the recipes were May's and she kindly devised the menu for the event. As usual, we had a fantastic group of people, a mix of new and regular faces, and we had a great time cooking, drinking and talking.

To read more about this event, visit the Lex Eat! blog for her candid review here.

One of the dishes Dr G and I prepared was the IKAN BILIS - deep fried tiny anchovies and peanuts with caramelised onion and chilli powder. I really enjoyed cooking this, and the flavours were so unusual but in my opinion very delicious. It can be served as a snack or as a side dish. I think this would work very nicely on top of a bowl of steamed Jasmine rice!

Deep Fried Anchovies, Peanuts with Caramelised Onion and Chilli Powder

  • 300gr dried tiny anchovies (ikan bilis)
  • 2 onions
  • 180ml oil
  • 150g of raw peanuts (skin on)
  • 2 tbsp chilli powder
  • 4-6 tbsp palm sugar

 - Quickly rinse then shake the dried anchovies dry. Do not soak. Dry in the sun (!) or oven-dry for about 20 or 30 mins. Drying the anchovies will ensure that the fish will be crisp when fried. Peel the onions then finely blend them in a food processor.

 - Heat a wok over a high flame until it smokes. Add the oil. Reduce to a medium flame, then add the peanuts. Stir-fry until light golden brown. BE CAREFUL, as the peanuts will burn within seconds, so keep your eyes peeled! Remove and drain well.

 - Reheat the oil over a high flame, then add the dried anchovies. Stir fry until light golden brown and crispy. Remove and drain.

 - Discard the used oil then wipe the wok clean. Add some new oil. Stir fry the onions for a few minutes. Add the chilli powder and sugar. Stir fry for a few more minutes.

 - Lower to a medium high flame then add the peanuts and anchovies. Mix all ingredients well together in the wok, then remove from the heat.

 - Allow to cool before serving or storing in an airtight container. Enjoy!

London Cooking Club
19th March 2011
Malaysian by May
With May Chong


Ikan Bilis and Hacang
Chicken and Beef Satay with Peanut Sauce
Cucur Udang (Prawn Fritters)


Sup Kambing - Spicy Lamb or Mutton Soup

Main Courses

 Mum's Turmeric Prawn Curry
Ikan Bakar (Barbecue Spicy Fish)
Beef Rendang
Kapitan Nyonya Chicken Curry


Sambal Terung - Aubergine Sambal
Stir FriedGreen Beans in Belacan
Malaysian Vegetable Curry
Coconut Rice with Pandan Leaf


Sago Gula Melaka

Tuesday 15 March 2011

Supper Clubbing with a Difference

The arrival of supper clubs in the London food scene a couple of years ago has changed the way many Londoners think about eating out. Supper Club dinners are I think more than just a meal out - they are about experimentation, meeting strangers and making new friends, and venturing beyond the comfort zones of most people.

Over the last two years I have visited numerous supper clubs - many have come and gone, but I am pleased to see that those I thought were consistently good are still with us, while others have morphed into restaurants. You may or may not be a supporter of supper clubs, but I hope you will agree that London is a better place with them around.

Two recent trends I have noticed are the appearance of famous/celebrity guests chefs at some of the more popular supper clubs, and the development of links between supper clubs and charities. Whether you regard these as positive or negative directions (I would be interested to hear from you), I have had the opportunity to attend a number of these events, some of which I will feature in this post.

Fernandez and Leluu with Yell for the Jamie Oliver Foundation

I recently went back to one of my favourite London Supper Clubs "Fernandez and Leluu" for an event sponsored by Yell for the Jamie Oliver Foundation. Yell has launched TrustedPlaces, a new platform where members can review the businesses listed on the Yell website and gain donation points. Every time a member writes a review, they'll earn 25 donation points (or 25p) to go towards a charity of their choice.


The Jamie Oliver Foundation is one of the many charities supported by the scheme. The foundation raises awareness (via practical teaching projects, training and employment ) of the importance of nutritious food and cooking and their impact on the lives of everyone, especially children and other vulnerable groups. As a food blogger I can't think of many other initiatives that are closer to my heart.

The food served on the occasion was among the best I have had at F&L. Simon and Uyen were in excellent form as delicious plates were brought out one after the other. We started with a platter of beautifully presented sushi (all the fish was supplied by Richard of Fin & Flounder of Broadway Market) washed down with a young but very agreeable 2010 New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough (Small and Small). Supplied by Naked Wines, this wine was a less restrained and easy going example of this varietal - fresh and grassy with gooseberry and other green fruit characters.

Other fantastic dishes that followed were a slow cooked oxtail stew with green beans (flavoursome and yielding) and a sea bream "ceviche" served with fine slices of tuna sashimi. Fin & Flounder's fish was impeccably fresh in this delicious dish - I loved the unusual addition of coconut milk to the marinade which gave an extra layer of complexity to an otherwise simple dish.

You can read my previous reviews of Fernandez and Leluu here.

Fernandez and Leluu with Unearthed for Action Against Hunger

Later last year, I returned to F&L to take part in an event sponsored by Unearthed & Campo Viejo in aid of Action Against Hunger’s Eat In Campaign. As part of ACF International, Action Against Hunger is a global humanitarian organization committed to ending world hunger. It works to save the lives of malnourished children while providing communities with access to safe water and sustainable solutions to hunger.

The idea behind their current campaign is to encourage enthusiastic cooks to host dinner parties across the country, spreading the word of Action Against Hunger's charitable works while giving guests the opportunity to make their own personal donations. Action Against Hunger is another of the charities supported by TrustedPlaces and Yell.

On this occasion, the food was supplied by Unearthed, a fantastic company I had already come across. A young and dynamic company, run by a small number of people including Simon Day, who was present at the dinner. Simon is one of the buyers, and travels the world to unearth his foodie discoveries and bring these to the shelves of Waitrose, Ocado and Abel & Cole among others. What a fantastic job!

Inspired by his Spanish heritage, Simon Fernandez prepared an array of delicious dishes. Some of the most impressive included a simple selection of cold meats, duck rillette, tortilla and mushroom, followed by pears poached in vanilla & Champagne served with Serrano Ham, lettuce & watercress salad.

The star of evening in my opinion was Simon's "Baked Rice w/ Catalan Sausages, Pork Ribs, Pave, and French Saucisson Sec" - this was nothing short of outstanding. The rice was baked under a layer of thin slices of potatoes and cherry tomatoes, making it moist and deliciously flavoured by the cured meats. A triumph.

I cannot think of a more comforting dessert than Simon's Churros With Green & Blacks Dark Chocolate, Orange Zest, Chilli & Cinnamon. Deep-fried sweetened dough is dusted in sugar and cinnamon, then dunked into thick hot chocolate. Divine!

The wines for the evening were provided by Campo Viejo, the most noteworthy being the 2003 Rioja Gran Reserva - a blend of several grapes, with tempranillo predominant, aged in oak for 5 years. It was well structured, with a garnet colour reflecting its maturity, a good weight of fruit, soft tannins, and a long finish. It retails at around £13.

Friday Food Club with Anna Hansen for Fairtrade

Lee and Fiona's Friday Food Club is another favourite of mine. One of the more upmarket supper clubs in London, I have been lucky enough to eat there several times. The food has always impressed me, as has the hosts' charm and generosity towards their guests.

I have purchased Fairtrade products in the past, but was completely unaware of how wide ranging was their portfolio of certified products - over 3,000 products from coffee to flowers bear the Fairtrade logo! The Fairtrade Foundation is an independent non-profit organisation that licenses the use of the FAIRTRADE mark on products in the UK in accordance with internationally agreed Fairtrade standards.

The Foundation’s mission is to work with businesses, community groups and individuals to ensure that vulnerable producers get a fair share for their produce, and to deliver decent livelihoods for farmers, workers and their communities. The Foundation is committed to tackling poverty and injustice created through trade via their FAIRTRADE Mark. Having grown up in Brazil, I am aware of the huge importance of the work this organisation carries out in Latin America, as well as Asia and Africa.

Anna Hansen, chef/owner of The Modern Pantry in Clerkenwell (and Peter Gordon's former partner at Providores), took over the supper club to cook us a slap-up three course meal on behalf of Fairtrade.

We started with "spiced Burford brown hens scotch egg" served with yuzu tomato chutney, green pea purée and chilled curry sauce. I enjoyed this a great deal, particularly Anna's use of Japanese "yuzu" in an otherwise classic British dish. Yuzu is a Japanese green citrus fruit, which tastes like a cross between a lemon and a tangerine, and is incredibly aromatic and delicious. It is nearly impossible to find fresh "yuzu" in the UK, but small bottles of yuzu juice can be purchased at Japanese grocers. It is an expensive product even in Japan.

For the main course, we had "roast loin of venison" - another magnificent dish. The meat was cooked to perfection and tasted delicious served with chestnut and nutmeg puree, pomegranate and rhubarb jelly, and slow roast grape jus. I enjoyed the bold flavour combinations and creativity of Anna's cooking in this dish.

The "white chocolate, vanilla and green tea panna cotta" was ultra light and refreshing, and the classic combination of Japanese green tea and white chocolate worked really well.

Three Fairtrade wines were available on the evening - Percheron, a 2010 South African Sauvignon Blanc, Los Unidos, a 2010 Chilean Cabernet Franc/Carmenère blend, and Stella Organics, a 2010 Shiraz from South Africa.

You can read my previous review of Friday Food Club here.

Friday Food Club with Mark Hix for Chance UK

Mark Hix is something of a culinary institution in London, and I was keen to try out his cooking and meet him when I heard of his charity event for Chance UK at the Friday Food Club. Chance UK is a London charity which aims to help reduce crime and antisocial behaviour in 5-11 year olds, by providing mentoring programmes. Tickets were sold at £100 per person, with all proceeds going to Chance UK.

To start the evening, we had an amuse bouche, "Deep Fried Quail Eggs with Asparagus Puree" - the quail eggs had been coated in bread crumbs and deep fried, yet the yoke remained yieldingly tender, and the fresh asparagus purée appeared to be a witty allusion to mushy peas.

Our next dish was a platter of various different boiled eggs - duck, chicken and quail, some shelled, some not, sitting on a bed of cress, baby fennel and chervil. Home-made loaves of white bread, celery salt and mayonnaise were the accompaniments to this simple dish.

(Picture Courtesy of Vintage Macaroon)

Mark's own De Beauvoir smoked salmon ‘HIX cure’ was served next with shaved fennel salad. A simple, delicately smoked salmon, served with a pleasing Sauvignon Blanc Domaine Pont du Livier 2009, Loire, France. The main course was Pan Fried Ling with Summer Vegetables (broad beans, peas, beans and pea shoots), paired with a 2009 Sancerre Domaine de la Rossignol, from the Loire.

(Picture Courtesy of Vintage Macaroon)

(Picture Courtesy of Vintage Macaroon)

Dessert was one of Mark's signature dishes - Perry Jelly with Summer Fruits and Elderflower Ice Cream. It was served with a Prosecco Rosé Follador Di Valdobbiadene 2009, Col San Martino, Italy. It was a light and refreshing dessert. This was followed by a selection of British cheeses with a 2008 Côte du Rhone Domaine Bouvachon Nomine.

(Picture Courtesy of Vintage Macaroon)

This was an evening of simple but well-executed dishes. The opportunity to meet and chat with Mark Hix in such an intimate environment whilst supporting Chance UK made this a unique event.

(Picture Courtesy of Vintage Macaroon)

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