My time at the Ginger Pig Kitchen

I was once asked where I go to eat out in Weston-super-Mare and I recognised that most times I go out to eat are in other places. When eating locally, as a family, we usually end up in Bristol, as part of doing something else. It doesn’t help that quite a few places that we use to frequent have closed down.

So it was a nice to go out to eat at a local bistro in Weston-super-Mare. I and others visited the Ginger Pig Kitchen recently (as in January) for a “Christmas” dinner.

“At the Ginger Pig Kitchen we’re proud to be serving Modern British bistro food, made from fresh, with passion, using local suppliers and produce. We trust that with every visit you make you will get great service in a great environment.”

The environment is certainly interesting with pipework and wooden tables and what felt liked random chairs.

The menu looked inspiring and interesting, and it was quite difficult to make a choice, but as this was a booked meal I had to make my choice the week before! I also prefer not to do this, as what I felt like eating last week, may not be what I feel like eating now. However I did think I made the right choices.

For my starter I had the Cauliflower Bhaji, which was served with mango yoghurt chilli jam and crispy onion.

I got two bhaji, made from onion and cauliflower. They were crunchy and crisp outside and soft inside. I couldn’t really taste the cauliflower, but they were nice and spicy. I liked the crispy onion, but I do feel that it needed more yoghurt. Overall I did enjoy the bhaji and they were really tasty.

We then had a watermelon gazpacho in a spoon, which was quite nice and zingy. 

Forgot to take photograph of the spoon before drinking the soup.

My main course was I think the house speciality, which was Woodbarn Farm pork belly. It was served with a GPK black pudding bon bon, mashed potato and a braised carrot. On the plate was also a scattering of green leaves, crispy onions and something else.

It was quite a small piece of pork belly, but was well cooked. The cracking was crisp and crunchy, but wasn’t going to be teeth breaking. The pork was tender and tasty.

The GPK bon bon was nice and meaty, I think it could have had a deeper flavour. I did like the use of crackling as the bon bon stick. The mashed potato was nice and creamy, but I would liked to have had a gravy with a deeper flavour, the same could be said for the braised carrot. 

On the plate was also a scattering of green leaves, crispy onions and something else. I am not sure what this was and what it added to the dish. It did add texture, but I was a little underwhelmed by this addition to the dish. Overall I did enjoy this plate of food and it was delicious.

I had a choice of desserts, in the end I went with the cheese and biscuits. I had three pieces of cheese, crackers, chutney, fruit, and celery.

I did not eat the celery. Overall it was okay, nice cheese and nice accompaniments.

It certainly was a popular establishment and was full all evening. Took a photo of the restaurant (at the top of this post) as we were leaving and was now nearly empty, but that’s because it was late. The service was excellent, warm and friendly. I really enjoyed the food, it was delicious and it is certainly a place I would visit again.

Knuckle Time

I was staying in Berlin in December, for a few days attending a conference. The last time I had been to Germany was in 1985 staying for a couple of days in Munich on the way back from a camp in Yugoslavia. This was my first visit to Berlin and the first visit to a unified Germany. I was staying at the NH Collection Mitte ‘Checkpoint Charlie” in the heart of what was East Berlin. I had various meals and snacks while I was there in Berlin.

Much of the time I was eating at places which didn’t sell German cuisine, but as well as the conference dinner at Max und Moritz I also had dinner at Restaurant Maximilians in Berlin.

I did think about going there the first night I was in Berlin, but wasn’t sure, it looked like it was for tourists with all the waiting staff wearing lederhosen. However on another night I decided I would give it a try.

The place was really busy and noisy, but was shown to a table and sat down and I looked over the menu. I did quite fancy the goose special from their Christmas menu, but it was out of my budget. I did want to try something typical German, so I decided to go with the Pork Knuckle. You could either have a half or a whole knuckle, and it was served with Bavarian cabbage and bread dumplings.

Initially I was going to go with the half knuckle, but being a little bit hungry (and greedy) I went with the whole knuckle. 

I also ordered a beer to go with it. There was a wide choice of beers, however I went with the standard lager beer. I liked the beer, but it was different to the beers I have been drinking in the UK.

The knuckle arrived, it was huge and there was a knife stuck in it! Alongside was some gravy.

pork knuckle

The pork knuckle had been slow cooked and then deep fried (I think) before being served. I enjoyed the crispy crackling on the outside, and the pork inside was soft and tender. 

The Bavarian cabbage was nice, as were the bread dumplings. The gravy was much needed adding moisture and flavour.

In the end there was way too much food for me, the dumplings though nice, were quite heavy and filling. There was a huge amount of pork, and I was unable to finish it. I probably should have not had breakfast or lunch before eating there.

Porchetta Bianca Pizza

I was staying in Wimbledon at the Hotel du Vin and had dinner a couple of times in their Italian themed restaurant. I had a nice starter of Ministrone Soup. I even surprised myself and went for a pizza for my main course, the Porchetta Bianca Pizza.

This was a white pizza topped with slow roasted pork belly with rosemary, mozzarella, mascarpone, white truffle oil and pecorino.

The base was really nice, as this was a white pizza there was no tomato on the base. There was ample toppings, and I did like the flavour of the pork belly, which contrasted well with the mascarpone cheese.

This was an excellent pizza, I would have liked more truffle oil though.

Alongside my Pizza I went with the Zucchini Fritti, which was thin strips (or shoestrings) of courgette deep fried. They were rather moreish.

Pork Shoulder Kebab

When I was last in Waitrose I saw in their barbecue range a Mexican inspired pork king kebab

Outdoor-bred British pork (shoulder) is seasoned with a spicy Al Pastor rub which blends chipotle and ancho chilli, black pepper, cumin, clove and cinnamon. Finished with a sticky pineapple, chilli and oregano glaze. 

I did quite like the sound of this, but then I saw the price of £9.50 (£11.88 per kg). Well this put me off slightly and I did think it might me a little too spicy for some.

So I decided to have a go at making it myself. I got some pork shoulder from Aldi, which was £3.19 (£4.56 per kg). This I cut into strips and then rubbed with some pepper and garlic seasoning, and some salt.

I then threaded the strips onto skewers. I used two skewers so that the pork was like a flat slab.

This I then chargrilled on my griddle pan.

Once the pork was cooked, I let it rest and then I sliced the pork off the skewer.

It was rather good.

Time for some Roast Pork

I was staying over at the Drayton Court Hotel in West Ealing again. I had arrived Sunday evening, so I went to the bar to get something to eat. Sunday at the Drayton Court Hotel in West Ealing means that it is Sunday roast day.

On a previous visit I had gone with the dry-aged sirloin of Owton’s beef which had been delicious and was probably one the best carvery meals I have ever had from a pub.

So though tempted by the roast beef, I decided to try the roast pork. On the plate was a few thick slices of roast pork, roasted parsnip and carrot, roast potatoes, pan fried greens, cauliflower cheese, a huge Yorkshire pudding, crunchy crackling, apple sauce,, and served with red wine gravy.

This was quite a big plate of food, and bigger than the roasts I have had before. I did enjoy the plate of food, but it wasn’t as good as it was before. The vegetables were just as good, but the roast potatoes were a little chewy; I did feel that they were heated up, well it was a little late in the day, so that perhaps contributed to this. The pork was nice, not as good as the beef, but was still cooked well. Overall I had high expectations, so was a little disappointed, despite having a really nice plate of food. It was really good and nice, but I was expecting outstanding. I still think though I would order it again.

Well I wasn’t impressed

At the Finzels Reach Market I decided to add a pork belly bao bun from the Ah-Ma’s Dumplings stall to my lunch.

I have had their dumplings before and had enjoyed them. So I had quite high expectations about the bao bun.

However it was awful, dry and little or no flavour. I’ve had much better bao buns from other places, this was a real disappointment. Also the accompaniments were not very nice either, the cabbage was not very pleasant and the cucumber was just okay.

I won’t be repeating the experience.

Back to Côte Brasserie

I have been to Côte in Ealing a couple of times, on a recent visit I really quite enjoyed the cassoulet I had. I was needing dinner and decided that I would visit Côte for food. It was quite busy, which I found out later was down to the pre-theatre crowd. However a table was found for me and I sat down and looked over the menu. I was tempted by the cassoulet, which I’ve had before, or trying out the Breton fish stew.

As it was a weekday there was a prix fixe (fixed price) menu, so I went with that having two courses, a starter and a main. 

If I am eating out I generally prefer a starter over a desert. There was a limit choice of four starters, though tempted by the wild mushroom soup, I went with the Pork Terrine with spiced apple chutney and pain de campagne.

It was a nice terrine and the accompanying chutney was a good contrast. I think a stronger flavour would have worked for the terrine, but it had a nice texture. My pain de campagne was well toasted, slightly burnt on the edges. I would have preferred a more lightly toasted bread with my terrine.

There were five choices for the mains. I did think about ordering the Toulouse Sausages with puy lentils and sautéed kale with a Dijonnaise dressing for my main. However I went with the Poulet Grille. This is a chargrilled chicken breast with a creamy wild mushroom and thyme sauce served with gratin potato. 

The presentation of the dish was rather messy I thought. The gratin potato was nice and creamy, but there was no golden crust. I think I was expecting more of a defined structure of potato. The wild mushroom sauce was nice, but lacked flavour, partly down to the excess cream from the gratin potato which diluted the sauce. The chicken was slightly overcooked, but I enjoyed the flavour.

I did enjoy the food and it was tasty. Service was warm, friendly and efficient.

Roasted Pork Belly

M&S sell a pork belly joint seasoned with salt and pepper. We have this quite often, and I use the same technique each time. In a roasting pan I add a bed of cut vegetables. The actual composition does depend on what’s in the fridge. This time I used apple, onion, carrots, a garlic bulb cut in half, and some mushrooms. I drizzled some garlic olive oil as well over the joint.

I start off with a hot (fan) oven, about 200℃ and roast the pork belly for about ten minutes before turning the heat down to 160℃. I usually cook the join for about ninety minutes. The plan is to slow roast the joint to make it tender. A hot fast roast will result in a shorter cooking time, but the meat will be tough and chewy (and probably a little fatty).

I leave the joint to rest for about twenty to thirty minutes, which gives me time to increase the heat in the oven to finish off the roast potatoes and roasted vegetables. I will usually use the roasting pan juices to make some gravy.

I slice the joint into thin slices and serve with roast potatoes and vegetables.

Time for a Ramen

 

ramen

This was my take on a ramen dish.

In a bowl I added some cooked rice noodles. On top of this I added some sliced shiitake mushrooms, baby spinach, pak choi, Thai basil, coriander and sliced red pepper.

I then added some ramen broth. I used an itsu brillant broth which I heated up in a pan before filling the bowls.

On top of the ramen I added pork belly, pork loin and a tea-stained hard boiled egg. 

The pork belly was cooked on a low heat in the oven. I then finished it off in a frying pan with some (gluten free) chow mien sauce.

The pork loin was rubbed in some seasoning as well as Chinese five spice. This I then roasted in the oven. Once cooked it was sliced and added to the top of the ramen.

I would have liked to add some sliced spring onions, but we didn’t have any in the fridge.

It was a tasty broth, first time I used it, and it worked well with the ingredients. The pork was lovely and tasty.

Slow Roasted Pork Salad

Back in the summer for an evening meal, we had slow roasted pork belly with potatoes and salad.

The pork belly was from M&S and comes already seasoned. It has no rind, so you don’t get crackling, but slow roasting usually (for me results) in rubbery crackling anyhow. It is a tasty joint and a favourite in our house.

I did small roast potatoes, using Maris Piper potatoes which are par boiled and then roasted in hot oil in the oven. I generally add a little butter towards the end of cooking to add colour and a final crispness.

The salad included a personal favourite of thinly sliced raw cauliflower in a spicy mayonnaise. We first had this eating out at a  cafe in Wapping Wharf in Bristol. We stole the idea and now have it on a regular basis.

Overall a delicious meal and very tasty.