Belgium food

20120216-191922.jpgIt’s mid February in 2012 and we’re convening at Matt’s for the latest instalment in the long running Cook Off series. This month the theme loosely revolves around the wonders of Belgium. We’re expecting great things. We’ll update the blog with recipes, reviews, booze (and the hangovers it guaranteed) in the next few days.

In the meantime, here’s a run down of the menu for tonight:

Cured Salmon and Pickled Oyster salad | Carbonnade Flamande with Mustard Croutons | Spiced Fruit Pudding

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The Winter Warmer

The utter refinement of sloe joy

The utter refinement of sloe joy

Oh, sloe gin, how I love thee. You warm cockles that other spirits can only aspire to reach.

I’ve been sloe obsessed in recent years – identifying the best harvesting sites and drawing up plans for the annual battle with the birds – for when perfect picking conditions are reached the feathered assailants attack. As the sloes start to show signs of ripeness those plans fall into place, implemented with great vigour. I must get my annual sloe fix. Continue reading

Salmon Tartare

The thought of a lump of raw salmon starter wasn’t necessarily the most appealing to me at least. Smoked and thinly sliced, absolutely. Cured, marvellous. But a lump of Salmon? (BHT comment).  We shouldn’t have been scared – especially when presented with something as attractive and tasty as this.  Steeping the salmon in lemon juice effectivelycooked it and the combination of gerkins, capers and dill worked wonders.  Definitely something to revel in. Continue reading

December Booze

December 2011 cook-off, by BHT, hosted at Le Paices.

Booze included:

1599 Small Batch Gin

Il Mashio da Monte

and a 2008 Pinot Noir, Migration Anderson Valley which was amazing.

We finished up with a wonderful Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru and a cheeky bottle of 1998 Montbazillac

Bourbon

We had an impromptu whisky tasting last night (with cheese and sausages and wine).

There was a blind tasting on 4 Bourbons and this is how they rated overall:

  1. Vintage 17 year old (around £50)
  2. Hudson Manhattan Rye (around (£48)
  3. Clarkes Sour Mash (£11 from Aldi)
  4. Benchmark (£13 from Tesco’s)

Needless to say, we got wasted and even smoked a cigar, followed by Gears of War and Forza on XBox.