Disappointing main course

I was attending a team away day at Ashorne Hill Conference Centre and it was time for dinner. As part of my job I will often attend events and conferences. Sometimes these will be in hotels and other times they are in dedicated conference centres. I usually have lunch, which usually defaults to some kind of buffet lunch. For some events and conferences I stay over and that means having dinner.

So there I was attending an “away day” at the Ashorne Hill Conference Centre near to Leamington Spa. It was a lunchtime to lunchtime event, so there was dinner in the evening. For my starter I went with the smoked salmon on a crumpet, with a poached egg and topped with hollandaise sauce and a chive crumb, which was rather nice.

My main course, though was rather disappointing. I had gone with the mushroom pasta carbonara.

pasta

Though this was a vegetarian dish, I could quite easily see the mushrooms replacing the pancetta or the guanciale. What I didn’t expect was the pasta, that pasta that was used was pasta shells or conchiglie.

Usually with carbonara, spaghetti is the most common pasta, but fettuccine, rigatoni, linguine, or bucatini are also used.

The garlic bread appeared to be made from naan bread!

The dish just didn’t work for me, it didn’t taste right and I didn’t like it (and I usually like pasta).

In the end I returned the dish and had it replaced it with some pork belly, which was much better.

Nice smoked salmon starter

I was attending a team away day at Ashorne Hill Conference Centre and it was time for dinner.

As part of my job I will often attend events and conferences. Sometimes these will be in hotels and other times they are in dedicated conference centres. I usually have lunch, which usually defaults to some kind of buffet lunch. For some events and conferences I stay over and that means having dinner. I have had some outstanding food at some conference venues. I had been to Ashorne Hill Conference Centre before, last year I had an okay meal of crispy chilli beef, chicken, and cheese and biscuits.

So there I was attending an “away day” at the Ashorne Hill Conference Centre near to Leamington Spa. It was a lunchtime to lunchtime event, so there was dinner in the evening.

For my starter I went with the smoked salmon on a crumpet, with a poached egg and topped with hollandaise sauce and a chive crumb.

I did think the crumpet was an interesting choice, but overall I really enjoyed the starter. The smoked salmon was excellent, the poached egg was cooked perfectly and the sauce and crumb just added to the dish. 

A really lovely way to start a meal.

Conference Dining

As part of my job I will often attend events and conferences. Sometimes these will be in hotels and other times they are in dedicated conference centres. I usually have lunch, which usually defaults to some kind of buffet lunch. For some events and conferences I stay over and that means having dinner. Over the years I have had some very disappointing meals, I remember one conference dinner in Sheffield Town Hall which was really quite awful. It comprised an over-cooked chicken breast wrapped in a rasher of bacon, served with soggy tasteless vegetables. Other times I have had some outstanding food.

In September I was attending an “away day” at the Ashorne Hill Conference Centre near to Leamington Spa.

It was a lunchtime to lunchtime event, so there was dinner in the evening.

What I did like was that we could choose from a menu and so we didn’t all need to have the same food.

For my start I chose the crispy chilli beef.

crispy chilli beef

Well this was disappointing as it wasn’t crispy chilli beef, well not like other times I have eaten crispy chilli beef. It was rather chewy and the sauce didn’t really work and certainly could have had more chilli.

For my main I went with the chicken, something I wouldn’t usually choose, but it was served on a bed of wild mushrooms.

chicken

The chicken was tender, moist and full of flavour.

For dessert I went with cheese and biscuits.

cheese and biscuits

This was a nice selection of cheese, nice chutney and a selection of biscuits and bread.

Overall it was a meal I enjoyed, but certainly not one of the best conference dinners I have had.

ALT-C Gala Buffet Dinner

When I realised that the ALT-C Gala Dinner was going to be a buffet, I have to admit my heart dropped. I had visions of coleslaw, slices of pork pie, pineapple and cheese cubes on sticks, cold indian snacks…

Well my assumptions were dashed and in the end the gala dinner was excellent, if just a little too long!

Produced by students from Leeds City College I was impressed with the quality of catering and presentation of the food. Most of the food was from local producers across Yorkshire which was nice.

For starters we were served with a dish of locally smoked salmon (we were miles from the sea and from Scotland) alongside was a beetroot and potato salad. I had trouble finding the potato and didn’t think too much of the beetroot jelly, but really enjoyed the smoked salmon, which was full of flavour.

#altc2011 Starter

The main course was the “buffet” part and we had to get up from the table. There was a choice of four main courses, roast beef, roast turkey, salmon and a vegetarian “pie” option. To be honest I meant to keep a copy of the menu, but forgot to. I chose the beef with Yorkshire Pudding.

#altc2011 main course

It came with roast potatoes, a selection of steamed green vegetables and some roasted root vegetables (parsnips and carrots).

For desert, I think the best way to describe it was as a posh rhubarb custard.

#altc2011 Pudding

I personally didn’t like it, one part of the rhubarb was rock hard, and the rhubarb jelly cube was not nice. In the end I left most of mine.

The meal was finished off with coffee and homemade chocolates.

Overall I did enjoy the meal, the quality of the ingredients and the cooking was excellent. For me the only downside was the time it took to go through the meal, sitting down at 8.00pm we didn’t get the coffee until after 11.00pm not sure why this happened, but think the buffet aspect may have slowed things down. In the end the length of the meal was a minor annoyance, and the eating experience was excellent.

Conference Dining

I don’t go to as many conferences as people often think, but I do probably photograph my food at most of them…

Recently I was attending a review meeting at Aston University and we had dinner the night before at the Aston Business School. Unlike a lot of conference dinners we had a choice, which is always nice. Also not only a choice, but we could choose on the night. Normally choice is either completely limited to a single choice, or if there is a choice you have to make that choice weeks in advance. I’m not a fan of that as often what tickles my fancy weeks ago, is not what I want to eat on the night! So having the choice on the evening I am eating is a real treat.

For my starter I went with the warm tartlet of chorizo, mushrooms and roasted shallots.

In other words a quiche! It was quite tasty and very nice. It was well presented too.

For the main dish, I went with the slow cooked blade of beef with a bourguignon sauce, served with dauphinoise potatoes and green beans.

The beef was very tender and was full of flavour. I would have liked more sauce, as in places the beef was a little dry. The potatoes were great and the beans were beans.

I was tempted by the other dishes on the menu, the slow braised shoulder of Moroccan lamb with North African cous cous when it arrived on the table looked really nice.

The cassoulet of beans with Gorgonzola polenta and roasted aubergine also looked great.

What was nice was that there were two vegetarian options, most times you have the single choice of a mushroom risotto.

So what about to finish with, well I am a sucker for cheese and biscuits and went with that.

Very nice, even with the large amount of celery, which I never eat. I did feel that if you provide four biscuits it would be nice to have at least four pieces of cheese. I felt short-changed with the cheese, it needed more cheese, or more different cheeses.

Must mention the excellent service, any place which has a table of twenty as we did and know who ordered what is a real bonus. The food came out and was served to the correct people. So much nicer than someone holding out a dish and calling out “who ordered the fish?”

Overall it was a really nice meal, nice to have a choice, cooked well, great service and nice surroundings.