You may have seen my recent review of The Samling. I returned last month to shoot their new menu which was a huge honour for me. I wanted to share the photos that I took with my new camera and lens as I (and the client) were so pleased with them. A bit of luck played a part too, I drove up and back in torrential rain but in the two or three hour window of brightness and occasional sun, we got some striking shots of the incredibly impressive food. There's nothing better for shooting food than good natural light.
My only regret is that I didn't have time to eat on this trip, although I managed to snaffle a confit egg (a little prematurely it turned out!) We can't wait to return when the impressive sounding extension is finished. This and other new openings in Cumbria surely cement the reputation of this area as surely one of the best places to eat in the whole country. More photos here. The Samling website here.
Coque is a newly awarded two Michelin star restaurant on the outskirts of Madrid. It's a 50 minute taxi ride away but as Michelin say, it's 'well worth a detour'. We finally arrive and are immediately shown down to the large cellar room for pre-drink cocktails and snacks....
Coque club Sour grape Sauvignion Blanc. Merlot Macaroon with cheese "torta de queso". Crunchy Tempranillo Airy bite of red wine. Pedro Ximenez ice cream.
Then we are ushered into a small old fashioned elevator which takes you up to The Kitchen.
We've not always been fans of kitchen 'tours' and it is a bit strange standing eating soup in the middle of a busy service but on balance we rather liked it. We're shown the ovens where the whole suckling pig comes out. The cold groundnut almond and white garlic soup eaten standing in the kitchen is beautiful.
Smoked Batavia lettuce with tomato and 'meat sweat' (above).
Then we finally arrive into the elegant dining room.
We go for The Archaeology menu which is two dishes longer but one of those is sea urchin which I don't want to miss out on. Next, Bao Bread filled with hare is good but I'm not sure about this trend for this type of bread in this context, (this was also served at Azurmendi). However filling up on too much bread is never a good idea as it's going to be a long night of eating, so in this aspect it works well.
Roast tomato with humus and juice of smoked dried tomato roast onion and mint foam.
Gastronomic seeds on 5 different continents with passion fruit juice. An unusual though not unpleasant course.
Cod stew with cayenne, golden chanterelles with cauliflower cous-cous with spicy oil. Check out the face relief in the plate.
Red mullet grilled with his crunchy flakes and a seafood sauce.
Sea urchin with apricot beans curry and iberian sauce. This was one of our favourites, absolutely wonderful rich sticky broth of intensely flavoured sea urchins
Old marinated sea-bass and Partridge with apple vinegar, juniper, mustard and spring onion. Maran Egg stewed chicken with poached egg with stewed ceps and Iberian belly pork. Another winner.
Squid grilled with iberian sauce and squid ink.
Creamy oxtail and shin Ravioli with Cabernet Sauvignon glaze with oporto fig.
Glazed Suckling Pig tender and juicy with its crackling spicy pumpkin purée and roasted pear. This is the finest suckling pig I've ever eaten. The meat is rich and juicy and beautifully smoky.
Nuts in different textures and liqueurs. My favourite dessert of the year so far. So beautiful and simple. Ice cream/sorbet nut flavoured in the different nut shapes. Perfect.
We are then taken down to The Lounge for more desserts. Both of which are superb. Sour yoghurt with blueberries with smoked milk foam. Chocolate with cream of yuzu and sacher torte.
It was an epic long night of fine eating at Coque, in four different rooms. I hear a rumour that they may be re-locating to the centre of the city which will remove any disadvantage of it's current slightly remote spot. It's well worth the journey though.
I was back up in The Lake District again after last week's photo shoot at The Samling. The Forest Side has been a long time coming and I couldn't wait to eat and photograph the food. We're such big fans of head chef Kevin Tickle from when he was head chef at Rogan & Co.
It's such an impressive place, I even got a tour of the swish rooms (three are even dog friendly). The Dining Room is modern, clean, fresh and bathed in light with views over to the nearby hills.
I sampled the epic (longer) tasting menu priced at £75. We begin with some snacks.