Snug as a bug in a rug! My beautiful quail eggs.
Originally uploaded by Manne.
Spent the weekend at the utterly amazing Ashburton Cookery School, doing the "Gastro Plus" course.
Had no clue what to expect, but it certainly wasn't brand spanking new kitchens, Michelin-trained instructors and the best, locally sourced ingredients I have ever had the pleasure working with.
From pan fried red mullet and scallops; through butterflied pork tenderloin with a hot cherry tomato salsa; then baked sea bream filleted by myself served with a fricassee of cockles, artichokes, peas and apple; to confit of duck leg and pan fried duck breast with a cassis jus...
We were well fed. Or how does lavender creme brulee sound, does that do it for you? Certainly no need to go out and eat in the evenings! Although, of course we did... *blush*
Perhaps the best surprise was the gin and tonic sorbet with lime zest though, followed by the champagne sorbet.
No wonder cookery schools are booming across the UK, if they are all of the same standard.
Ashburton may not be big, but it happens to have the second best fishmonger in the UK for example... And two butchers down the main street, a really lovely veg shop and several bakeries. Foodie heaven! Nearby is also Riverford farm, which delivers veg all over the UK.
We did lots of things, very intense two days, and in retrospect I wish I had taken more photos. There just wasn't enough time though, and I wanted to really immerse myself in the experience and not make the mistake of seeing it all through a lens.
Sometimes I find the incessant photographing and posting of stuff in real time actually detracts from an experience rather than add anything to it. Luckily the WiFi in the school building didn't work, and 3G was just out of the question... Thank you for that! :)
Here are the few photos I actually took in a Flickr photo set with some added commentary.
White chocolate parfait with classy fruit salad and blowtorch action... (Ashburton)
Originally uploaded by Manne.
The dessert of white chocolate parfait on a classy fruit salad with warm sauce was amazing, and so simple to make! Parfait excluded... But replace that with a piece of brownie and some nice old fashioned vanilla ice cream and it is still impressive in my opinion.
One thing I did take a photo of, because I was so amazed with myself, was the one of the three poached quail eggs above, resting neatly in their container before being arranged around a pan fried duck breast served with shredded confit of duck leg and prunes on a potato and parsnip rösti. Man, was that ever tasty!
I never thought I would be able to poach an egg, let alone a teensy weensy quail egg! Or try three at the same time!
Easy peasy. Carve top off with a serrated knife, pour egg into a small bowl with some white wine vinegar. Leave for 10 minutes. This separates yolk and white and starts the cooking process.
Heat a largish pot of water to near simmering (not boiling, all you need is about 80 degress Celsius!) along with some vinegar (1 tsp to a half litre), give it a gentle swirl and carefully pour in the eggs.
Walk away! Leave them be! Even if it looks a mess just let the gentle swirl collect the strands of white and roll them up.
When you see the white has coagulated you may touch. If they are stuck to the bottom, gently pry them loose with a spoon. They should bob upwards when done.
Pick out and immediately put in cold water to stop the cooking. Remove any trailing strands of white if you like, to make them look pretty.
You can do this well in advance of any serving, to make sure you get it right. When it is time to serve, just heat them for half a minute in simmering water, then dish them out immediately.
I recommend anyone to try out a course at Ashburton Cookery School. Best two days I have spent away in a very long time. Despite the freezing chill at the B&B...
Also, if you are passing through Ashburton (heh...) do check out Moorish, the Spanish/North African tapas restaurant on West Street.
Excellent food, really friendly staff and the warmest, loveliest dining room I have seen.
Perhaps coming in out of the cold made me exaggerate that last part a bit, but the food was spot on.
Big, big thanks to W for this amazing Christmas gift. For her hopefully a gift that keeps on giving as I apply my newfound skills in our kitchen.