Saturday 31 October 2015

De Locos Tapas, Ronda, Spain.

It's hard to get a reservation in Spain on a Monday. That's because many restaurants are actually shut. So when I found De Locos Tapas was open on the day before we flew back to England from Malaga, I decided that it was worth a return detour to Ronda. Everyone should visit Ronda at least once, a pretty little old town perched on top of a cliff. We usually splash out on a night in the Parador, a luxury government run hotel chain, overlooking the famous new bridge.
There was only problem, I was just recovering from a nasty case of food poisoning that had laid me low for the previous 24 hours. My appetite wasn't up to it's normal greedy levels but I did my best considering.
Don't even think of trying to walk-in to De Locos. There are only a handful of tables outside and these are always reserved as we saw during the night, they had to turn loads of people away. We felt pretty smug we had pre-booked via email.
The tapas here are a little experimental, like Zeruko in San Sebastian, owner, Guillermo is from the Basque Country too. He runs this little place with his charming wife and explains everything on the daily changing menu in detail. Look at those prices!
We start with a 'birds nest' truffled egg. Good but more style over actual flavour.
Next, Scallop Ceviche, Basque Spider Crab and a lovely fresh coconut Ajo Blanco.
The risotto is more like a disappointingly dry rice but the wasabi ice cream is a revelation!
More lovely stuff with tender octopus and tuna tataki, the grilled foie gras is divine.
We share a beautiful gin and tonic sorbet for dessert, a perfect way to end any meal.
We both loved De Locos, it sometimes veers into gimmick over pure flavour but who cares when in general it's all so enjoyable to eat for such little money. Well worth the detour to Ronda, we plan to return and eat lots more if we can get a table.

Wednesday 28 October 2015

Turners, Lancashire

There are a few reasons why the set of photos I took at lovely local café Turners are amongst my most favourites.
1. Hands.
I went in with the intention of using more human interaction in the photos. Hands and people holding dishes just adds that personal touch which seemed to suite this friendly place so well.
2. Colour. I always bump up the colours on photos and the bright blue aprons, the purple upholstery and the blue chairs combined, really makes for aesthetically pleasing shots. I especially love the way the green leaves pop against the burgundy backdrop below. The meat picture underneath also echoes the tone and the blue bowls contrast perfectly.
3. Black and White. Where the colour is muddled or not really doing anything for the photo I often convert to black and white which is effective especially when there are people in the frame, giving a classic, timeless quality.
4. People. Some people just seem to take good photos. We all know that instinctively. If there are those people around I try to frame them in the picture and get them to be my model without them knowing about it hopefully! (Was that Changing Rooms presenter Linda Barker in the middle booth? It certainly looked like her).
5. Details. Sometimes looking for small details, close ups and small elements can say as much about a place as a wide open shot with lots in it.
6. Food. It helps if the food is presented in a beautiful way and is as colourful as this. Chef Tom Parker from their highly rated pub up the road The White Swan at Fence came down to plate up. The wooden table and board are pleasingly distressed, which all adds to the right look.
In the end the client loved the photos as much as I did which is hugely satisfying as I always put in so much effort and pride into my work.

Monday 26 October 2015

Lunya, Manchester.

It's been well over a year since our trip to Lunya in Liverpool so we've been eagerly looking forward to it opening here in Manchester. This is a part of a new wave of quality Spanish restaurants signifying the next level or two up from the likes of crap and cheap chains like La Tasca. The thing about these guys like Ibérica and Levanter is that they really understand Spanish food always begins with the very finest products not from Industrial 'food' suppliers like Brakes. We blagged our way into the family and friends only soft opening yesterday ("I claim I know Peter", the boss, like a teenager trying to get into a party, even though I'd only met him once). We had a selection of excellent tapas and superb Suckling Pig, cochinillo asado, famously from Segovia. (I would recommend José María restaurant if you're ever in Segovia and want to try it over there).
Bacalao Sliders. (£6.95). 
Hot Smoked Baby Anchovies. (£7.35). It's good to taste these at once as you can see the difference in flavour intensity, again all fine produce.
Our favourite of the tapas, the Idiazabal Orzo Risotto. (£6.25) We've had the original inspiration behind this dish at Borda Berri in San Sebastian. In fact they often use Orzo (actually pasta) all over the Basque country. I love the creamy texture.
Calamari. (£7.55).
Estofado. Slow roasted Ox Cheeks, £7.45.
Then the pièce de résistance. Roast Suckling Pig. (£37.95 PP). Cut at our table with plates as is customary in Segovia. (Bookable 48hrs in advance).
So juicy and tender with lovely bits of crackling skin and great crisp roasties. We take the pig home to last us the whole week~ utilizing the pig's ears, boiling up for stock etc. Nothing ever gets wasted in our house.
Horchata. A favourite of Mrs Bacon's, a milky drink of tigernuts from Valencia.
Really good coffee & nice desserts including this White Chocolate Cheesecake.
Lunya have really hit the ground running, many of their chefs are from the Liverpool branch and it shows. Service was a little slow but this is exactly what the soft opening period is for, to iron out the understandable tweaks. 
It's wonderful to see the beautiful Barton Arcade so full of life too. Lunya really is an excellent and independent addition to the city in a prime location. I think they'll do very well here.
Paid in full. 50% off pre opening.
Lunya Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato