We have fostered a tradition to buy each other foodie treat for Christmas or birthday. Previous gifts include a Gourmet break at Northcote, a dining experience in an old Pullman train carriage along the Carlisle-Settle line, chocolate making at School of Artisan Food and learning how to butcher a pig with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
This year Hubs bought me some tickets for an evening with Tim Maddams at Seasoned Cookery School, Catton Hall. It coincided with the Game Fair taking place on the estate at the same time. Due to work commitments we couldn’t make the fair, but looked forward to a night out. Tim Maddams has been head chef at River Cottage and now runs his own business, Green Sauce, teaching and catering for events throughout the UK.
Now this when I confess I’m not the biggest fan of game however Hubs is. This event would feature game and foraged foods available in April. The good thing about going to events with a tasting menu is that it’s an opportunity to try dishes I wouldn’t usually pick off a menu and be prepared to be surprised. A large amount of the main ingredients for the night were locally sourced from Catton or from near Tim’s home in Dorset.
The evening started with a small rum cocktail garnished with water mint. It was an informal event. Rather than sitting down we spent our time in the main part of Seasoned Cookery School watching Tim cook and chatting to other guests who appeared to come from all four corners of the UK to sample some of Tim’s cooking. I was lovely being able to chat to people who also had a passion about food.
Wild garlic and Derbyshire smoked Stilton cheese croquettes
These croquettes were the first course and one of my favourites. I’m a bit of a cheese fiend at the moment so this certainly satisfied a craving. Wild garlic is such a beautiful ingredient but it can be difficult to find near us so I was so pleased to see it featured on the menu. This really began to whet our appetites.
Cured organic trout sashimi
This was the first time I’d eaten trout and I’d always expected it to taste muddy, but this didn’t and I’ll certainly look out for trout on a menu to eat again.
Charcoal grilled spiced pigeon, cous cous, mint yoghurt, dukka and chilli
Another first (I think) for me – pigeon. I was surprised how much I enjoyed this course. As mentioned earlier in the post I’m not the biggest game eater as I find the taste can be too strong, but with the accompanying cous cous and dukka it made a rather delicious dish.
Penne pasta, alexanders, breadcrumbs, olive oil
My usual rule is if I don’t know an ingredient on a menu I’ll usually guess it’s a mushroom. This is what I did when I spotted alexanders on the menu, wrong. Turns out it’s a wild plant in which the leaves, roots, stems and buds can be eaten. Taste wise it reminded me of a cross between celery and courgette.
Rhubarb Eton fumble
Time for the sweet course. This was a hybrid dessert; a kind of Eton mess, crumble, fool mix and one I could eat again and again. The rhubarb had been slowly roasted so it kept its shape tasted beautifully sweet but was not mushy or stringy. This rhubarb was then paired with mini meringues, thickly whipped fool and a nutty, fennel crumble.
We both had a lovely evening and will certainly look at going to similar evenings again. I think Tim succeeded in introducing lots of new ingredients and flavours to us all.