Whisky Tasting and the Hunting (Game) Menu at The Park Tower Knightsbridge

It’s the time of year for Game Hunting. Chef Pascal is a keen hunter and this time of year he likes to make the full use of the game that he hunts like venison.

Whisky Bar at The Hyde Bar Park Tower Hotel

The Whisky Bar

We had the pleasure of tasting some of the dishes he created on his ” Hunting Menu” at the Hyde Bar in theThe Park Tower Knightsbridge, a Luxury Collection Hotel. The Hyde Bar is a lounge bar that is off the lobby of the hotel.  The seating is quite private with tables separated by glass partitions. Every table has a plug point and WiFi, big plus points. On several evenings a week, there is a piano player who will gladly play your requests.

The Hyde Bar is also a Whisky Bar with over 130 premium brands on offer. They have a long and comprehensive Whisky menu with the most expensive at £250 a shot, the limited edition aged Dalmuir. In addition, they have a nice selection of cigars too but we didn’t have a chance to sample these.

The menu is not divided into the normal starters or mains. You can choose dishes in any order you fancy so we started with a Pheasant Paillard and Crispy Leg Confit with a Caesar salad. Lovely moist pheasant with a well dressed Caesar.

Pheasant Paillard and Crispy Leg Confit with a Caesar salad

Pheasant Paillard and Crispy Leg Confit with a Caesar salad

The Roasted Mallard Duck Breast with parsnips and green peppercorns was sublime. Done delightfully pink, the tender duck pieces and sweet parsnips made a tasty combination.

Roasted Mallard Duck Breast with parsnips and green peppercorns

Roasted Mallard Duck Breast with parsnips and green peppercorns

The bar manager Victor suggested that we pair 2 Dalmore Whiskies with our menu choices. They were the 12 year old and 15 year old .  If you find whisky neat is too strong, the flavour really opens up with just a dash of water. If you like it on the rocks, then use these special Whisky Stones
which act like ice but don’t melt to dilute your whisky.

Game menu and Dalmore Whisky Tasting

Game menu and Whisky Tasting

Game menu and Dalmore Whisky Tasting

Dalmore Whiskies


Game menu and Dalmore Whisky Tasting

Limited Edition Dalmore Whisky, Bottled 1990, Aged 21 Years. Bottle 76 of 777

Seeing as they didn’t have any Wild Geese that week, we ordered a couple of Venison dishes instead. Venison Parmentier followed. This had the most unctuous mash studded with chestnuts like hidden gems. The meat was rich and comforting, a real winner.

Venison Parmentier Game menu

Venison Parmentier

Venison Steak Hache Oeuf A Cheval was a not so little Venison Burger. A juicy meaty burger patty on a soft bun with a rich duck egg topping. Not for the faint hearted. This was a truly decadent burger, great ingredients and well executed. Although well seasoned, this dish was too gamey for me. If you do come I hear that the Venison meatballs are to die for.

Venison Steak Hache Oeuf A Cheval Game menu

Venison Steak Hache Oeuf A Cheval

We shared a light and tangy apple pie which had the lightest pastry and a filling with both cooked and fresh apple. It was not a chore to finish this pudding. Will definitely rate it as one of the best apple pies I have had in ages.

Tangy Apple Pie

So ladies, if you are planning a Christmas shopping trip to Knightsbridge, drop off your other halves here and order them a whisky tasting flight. They will thank you for it. It is also a great place to have a drink if you are in Knightsbridge as it has a lovely ambience and is not too crowded.

The Hyde Bar
The Park Tower Knightsbridge ·
101 Knightsbridge
London SW1X 7RN
0207 2358050

The Hyde Bar The Park Tower Knightsbridge, a Luxury Collection Hotel

The Hyde Bar, The Park Tower Knightsbridge, a Luxury Collection Hotel


The Park Tower Knightsbridge, a Luxury Collection Hotel

Hyde Bar at the Park Tower Knightsbridge on Urbanspoon

EatCookExplore was a guest of the Park Tower Hotel

Fish Pie with Roasted Garlic Sweet Potato Mash with @Lurpak Cooking Liquid #FoodAdventures

As I have been on the road for a few weeks, eating out US style, huge family sized servings for one person, sugar laden treats and all that. I have eaten more fried chicken in the last 2 weeks than the whole of the last 2 years. I needed a change, back to some human sized home cooked meals. Along came this offer from the people from Lurpak to try out one of their new products from the Cooks Range as an advertorial.

The Lurpak Cooks Range which consists of 4 products, Clarified Butter ( not the same of Ghee), Baking ( a soft butter blend), Cooking Liquid and Cooking Mist. I am guessing that you can use  the cooking mist to lightly grease cooking pans like they say in a lot of diet recipes but am not sure about the calorie count.

Lurpak Cooks Range

Mystery Box

I got sent this mystery box to cook something with. Nestled in the box was a bottle of their new Cooking Liquid, a bulb of garlic and some bay leaves. The Cooking Liquid is a blend of rapeseed oil and butter, in liquid form of course. On the PR blurb that came with it, it says that it is best used for baking, frying, roasting and even greasing tins. When you squeeze it out of the bottle, it looks like melted butter all ready to use. I would use this to pan fry fish where the blended oil won’t burn the butter content and you will still get the buttery flavour.

Lurpak Cooking Liquid

As part of their #FoodAdventures, I had to cook a dish with these ingredients, the garlic would be easy to use in any recipe but I have to say that the bay leaves left me a bit stumped. The most immediate thought was to cook something with fish, which led to thinking of a fish pie and using the bay leaves in the sauce. To make this a variation on the bog standard fish pie, I used a roasted garlic and low GI sweet potato mash for the topping.

This combination makes a fish pie with several different layers of flavours, from the smokiness of the fish to the creaminess of the white sauce to the slightly sweet mash layer and the contrasting saltiness of the cheese topping. The bright orange colour of the sweet potato  adds a colour zing to an otherwise beige dish. Perfect for some home cooked comfort food.

Fish Pie with Roasted Garlic Sweet Potato Mash served with green peas

Fish Pie with Roasted Garlic Sweet Potato Mash served with green peas

For this recipe you can buy the 3 fish combination (Cod, Salmon and smoked haddock) from a fishmonger or any supermarket fish counter. I have even seen it in the frozen section in Waitrose. You can also substitute or add some prawns into the recipe too.

I used the cooking liquid in making the sauce where you would usually use butter and I used it in the mash as well where other recipes call for olive oil. The liquid consistency made it easy to mix into the mash.

This recipe is a great one to prepare in advance of a dinner party and just pop it in the oven before your guests turn up.

Fish Pie with Roasted Garlic Sweet Potato Mash

Rating: 41

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes


Fish Pie with Roasted Garlic Sweet Potato Mash


    For the Filling
  • 750g 3 types of fish ( Salmon, cod and smoked haddock)
  • 1 pint or organic non homogenised milk
  • One onion studded with cloves
  • 3 Bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp Lurpak Cooking Liquid
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 4 hard boiled free range eggs
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
  • For the Roasted Garlic Sweet Potato Mash
  • 1kg Sweet Potatoes
  • 2 Bulbs of garlic
  • 2 tbsp of Lurpak Cooking Liquid or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
  • Some grated cheese for topping that melts well like Cheddar, Gruyere or Comte


  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6 or 180C fan oven.
  2. Place fish, bay leaves and onion in a pot and pour over milk.
  3. Boil for about 8 minutes and remove fish from the liquid and place in an ovenproof dish
  4. Flake the fish in the dish.
  5. Make the white sauce in a separate pan by using the Lurpak Cooking Liquid and flour to make a roux, stir vigorously and make sure that you cook this through so that you don't get the raw taste of flour in the sauce.
  6. Add the strained milk that was used to cook the fish and stir until sauce thickens.
  7. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Pour sauce over the flaked fish on the oven proof dish.
  9. Quarter the boiled eggs and place over the sauce.
  10. Make the Roasted Garlic Sweet Potato Mash
  11. Wash and prick the sweet potatoes.
  12. Roast the sweet potatoes with their skin on in a hot oven for about 40 minutes. Sweet potatoes get a bit too soggy if you boil them.
  13. Cut the top of a garlic bulb or two and place it on the roasting tray with the potatoes.
  14. When cooked, scoop out the flesh of the sweet potatoes and squeeze out the roasted garlic into a bowl and add 1tbsp of Lurpak Cooking Liquid, cayenne pepper and seasoning.
  15. Mash the potatoes and mix well. (If you want a richer mash, you can add cream or even cream cheese)
  16. Put together the final dish by spooning or piping the mash onto the fish mixture in the ovenproof dish.
  17. Top the mash with some grated cheese.
  18. Bake in the oven for about 35-40 minutes or until the mixture bubbles through the mash and is piping hot.
  19. Serve with green peas or some sautéed spinach on the side.

For more recipes using this new range, look for the #FoodAdventures hashtag on Twitter and Instagram.


How to Make Stock with Steve Smith

I love to tinker in the kitchen and must admit that my fundamental cookings skills consists of what I have learnt from friends, cooking lessons and cook books. Short of attending culinary school, I can glean tips and learn techniques from the cooking masterclasses I have attended. One the main skills to have is the ability to make a decent stock which can be used in a multitude of recipes.

I recently asked Steve Smith, Head Chef of Michelin Star Bohemia Restaurant in Jersey, a few questions about making stock and he filmed a video to answer my questions and to demonstrate making a mushroom stock. If you prefer, you can read the transcript below.

Steve says that the biggest fundamental difference between professional chefs and home cooks is their stocks. A good stock can improve the food the make at home, whether it is soup or risotto.

Question: Which stock is the one that cooks need to know how to make?

Steve: Chicken stock is the most versatile and you can use it in a lot of dishes.

How to make mushroom or vegetable stock

He demonstrates making mushroom stock. Firstly by chopping up some shallots.

Always add a pinch of salt into whatever stock that you are making as this brings out the flavour of the meat or veg that you are making.

Start off with a gentle heat, add some olive oil into the pot, add shallots and mushrooms and cook to soften and release some of the juice.

Add 3 tbsp Madeira wine and 2 litres of water, a good pinch of salt and a few sprigs of thyme which will give a bit of strenght to the stock. Put the lid on the pressure cooker for 10 minutes and you will then have a really intense stock. In a normal pot, boil for abou 30 minutes.

Question: What is the secret of making a good stock?

Steve: The secret ingredient for making the best stock is to start off with the best ingredients.

Question: I see veal stock used in a lot of recipes, why veal stock?

Steve: Veal stock is used for thickening as a base for sauces. It’s very versatile and manages to carry anything that is added to it and is there as a background flavour. Use it to give other sauces a body in conjunction with a different stock.

Question: What is the biggest mistake that people make when making stock?

Steve: The biggest mistake is overcooking the stock. For chicken stock you need to cook it for 2 1/2 to 3 hours and for mushroom or vegetable stock should take no more than half an hour.

Steve Smith has recently been appointed the head chef at the Bohemia Restaurant. You can watch a few more videos with more cooking tips at

Bohemia at The Club Hotel & Spa, Jersey
Green Street
St Helier

An English Steakhouse Gillrays

An English Steakhouse. It’s a bit of a rarity in London. Gillray’s at the County Hall Marriot is one of those elusive places that serves quality English Beef.

Gillrays is laid out as a circular bar with large picture windows overlooking the Thames which leads into an elongated dining room, making the most out of its position along this scenic stretch of the river. At each table, you can catch a glimpse of the London Eye or the Houses of Parliament.

Gillrays English Steak House at Marriot County Hall

At a recent visit for lunch, we enjoyed a drink in the bar before adjourning to our table with a view for lunch.

The main menu is quite concise with a choice of several English themed starters and mains. There is also a lunch menu of 2 or3 courses. Being a steakhouse the main attraction was a variety of cuts of meats including their signature Bull’s Head which is a 1kg of meat which should be enough for 2 people sharing.

We opted for the duck liver parfait and a scallops with black pudding for starters. The scallops were cooked jut right and the black pudding was delicious.

scallops and black pudding

Duck Liver Parfait

The duck liver parfait was an odd bowl of warm and runny liver mousse served with some sour dough toast. It tasted fine but the consistency was unexpected and this was probably the least successful dish the meal.

For mains, it had to be steak. I had a rib eye steak and my companion had the fillet steak (not the lady fillet which is the name that butchers give to the thinner end of a fillet). The beef is Aberdeen Angus from Yorkshire, and much to our delight it is grass fed (but barley finished) and had been dry aged for 35 days and cooked on a Montague grill at 500⁰C.

Main courses served with a smil

We also had to have the triple cooked chips and some bone marrow to go with the steaks. We both loved the steaks but my companion didn’t take to the roasted bone marrow. Our food was served with much enthusiasm by Anthony, the restaurant manager and he was extremely patient with our endless questions about the provenance of the beef, cooking techniques, etc.

steaks, marrow bone and triple cooked chips

On the pudding menu, the main attraction was their signature boozy sherry trifle. This came deconstructed in a jam jar filled with the sponge, custard and cream. On the side was a glass of sherry which you had to pour in yourself. The portion was rather large and although delicious, it was a real struggle to finish after a big piece of steak. The other pudding we tried was the flourless chocolate cake which was a chocolate lovers dream.

English sherry trifle

Flourless chocolate cake

It was a thoroughly enjoyable English meal in a stunning location. If you are visiting London, this is a great place to stop for lunch after sightseeing around Westminster.

Gillrays also offers a lunch menu at £22 or 3 courses at £27, both served with a gin cocktail.

Gillray's Steakhouse & Bar on Urbanspoon

Eat Cook Explore was a guest of Gillrays.


Hearty Pies and Real Ales at The Foundry Camden

Camden Town, is the land of endless kebab and fried chicken shops and where there really aren’t many real restaurants at all. Then there is The Foundry, which is a nice little restaurant off the main stretch and away from the crowds, on Delancey  Street.

Walking in off the street, your in the bar area which also incorporates the casual dining area. The portraits of jazz musicians on the walls hints at the theme of this restaurant and live music venue. This rooms leads onto a buffer space with a glass roof and a living wall which then opens up into the auditorium built for classical music performances. This “The Forge” which is run as a non profit organisation to gives young musicians a venue to showcase their talents.

The Foundry Camden

Upstairs, there is a spacious restaurant space with windows that can be opened up for the nights when there are live acts performing. The walls are clad in sustainable wood and like downstairs, more jazz singers watch over you as you eat.

Now on to the pies. The Foundry recently introduced Pie Day on Fridays where they will have a variety of pies on the menu.

A group of cold of hungry bloggers were ushered into the kitchen where the head chef did a quick demo on how they make their steak and ale pies and a sweet pear tart. The meat in the pie is slow cooked for about 2 -3 hours in a veal jus, Meantime real ale and a variety of aromatics until tender before it is used to fill butter puff pastry cases.

The Foundry Steak and Ale Pie

The sweet pear and frangipane tarts are made with a puff pastry base and filled with frangipane cream and topped with slices of pear before being baked for 15 ins in a medium oven.

Each pie we tasted was paired with a real ale from Meantime Brewing Company, the 2nd largest craft beer brewery in London. Rob from Meantime, a passionate beer brewer, shared some great historical stories on beer and how they make their beers and what inspires them to create their new beers.

meantime brewing company

When we sat down for the tasting, the first pie was an unexpectly robust vegetarian pie made with mushroom, spinach, parmesan and cream, seen here drenched in their delicious onion gravy.

Vegetarian Pie

This was paired with the London Pale Ale, made from an original Victorian recipe.

Meantime brewing company

Then we had a chicken pie which was paired with the Light Indian Pale Ale. This one had a fruity flavour and a citrusy tang. This was my favourite of all the beer we tasted that night as it tasted more like a soft drink than a beer.

Lastly, we had the steak and ale pie with the rich succulent slow cooked meat, crispy buttery pastry and lashings of onion gravy. Rich and unctious. Delicious. They paired this with the Meantime stout which is derived from the London Porter beer. which has a dark brown colour which has a slight balsamic flavour, with burnt toast and chocolate notes.

The Forge and The Foundry Camden

For pudding, we were served the Frangipane and pear pie that we saw them make earlier. A very light and crispy pastry and not overly sweet. The chocolate porter sweet beer they served with this complemented the sweetness of the pudding. This is one of the more modern beers that they make and was brewed using some secrets tips including using chocolate in the brewing process unlike some others who add in chocolate syrup or chocolate essence to an already brewed beer. There are hints of raisin and coffee flavours. Quite interesting.

If you fancy some great tasting home made pies, you must try the steak and ale pie. It is well worth the trip to Camden. Better yet, buy a few to takeaway too. Fridays are pie days at the Foundry.

The Forge has a full programme of musical events and there are some that include a dining option too. Check it out on their webstie.

The Forge and The Foundry
3-7 Delancey St  London
London NW1 7NL
020 7387 5959

The Foundry on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

Tom Kitchin’s Scottish Feast at The Cube

Tom Kitchin is one of top chefs from Edinburgh and after failing to get to his restaurant, The Kitchin a short while back, I was thrilled that he was cooking at The Cube by Electrolux. I had been to The Cube previously for an amazing lunch by Claude Bosi .

Dining at The Cube is a really special event as you feel as if you are a private guest of the chef at a very exclusive meal. There is only space for 20 people and the chef serves and introduces every dish himself.

In addition to that, if you are so inclined, you can even help in the open kitchen that is adjoining the dining area.

Electrolux The Cube Tom Kitchin

On this day, Tom Kitchin was doing his all Scottish Menu with all the ingredients sent down by train that very day. His signature is what he calls “From Nature to Plate” using the best seasonal local ingredients. A lot of the dishes on the menu included produce that were caught or foraged in Scotland by specialist suppliers that Tom uses. A menu like this would be very difficult to create in London if you have to rely on local suppliers.

Tom honed his skills in the kitchens of Pierre Koffman, Guy Savoy and Alain Ducasse and you see the French influences in his cooking but it is far from faddy and overly cheffy. He takes great Scottish produce and produces dishes where the ingredients are the stars.

So once again, we ascended to this glass structure on the top of the Royal Festival Hall. The skies were blue and the sun was shining as we had aperitifs on the terrace before lunch. If you come for dinner, the view will be spectacular over the Thames, The Palace of Westminster and the London Eye all lit up.

As with all posh meal, we kick off with an amuse bouche of chilled fennel soup.This was swiftly followed by a really stunning Shellfish Rockpool. In the bowl was a selection of West Coast shellfish served with freshly picked sea vegetables from the Isle of Bute and with theatrical flair, the sea washed over the rockpool in the form of a shellfish consomme. Super fresh shellfish swimming in a deeply flavoured consomme. Sublime.

Electrolux The Cube Tom Kitchin

Every course was paired with a wine and this dish was paired with Castro Valdez Albarino 2011.

Electrolux The Cube Tom Kitchin

Next followed razor clams or spoots, said Tom in his lilting Scottish accent. These were from Arisaig and served with chorizo and lemon confit. Tom invited us to help him plate up and I had a go and made a bit of mess. Of all the dishes, this one was the easiest to get the guests to participate in and not make a hash of it. The dish was simple but rich in that the spoots were coated in a creamy sauce and looked spectacular served over the shells and decorated with micro herbs.

Electrolux The Cube Tom Kitchin

For the next course Tom served a Boned and Rolled Pig’s Head with Langoustine from the Isle of Skye and served with a crispy ear salad. Now what on earth is an ear salad? Tom says it is poor man’s crackling made by braising pigs ears which are then sliced and baked until crisp. It was also not the pig’s head but the pig’s cheek which are slow cooked until tender. This was a great one to try at home.

Electrolux The Cube Tom Kitchin

The pig’s head is a dish that plays on the nose to tail eating trend and this one was done very well with tender meat and the contrasting texture of the crispy ears. Paired with a Sicilian Red, Etna Rosso 2009 which was unfortunately corked but was quickly replaced by the sommelier.

Electrolux The Cube Tom Kitchin

The next dish described just simple as Scallop certainly had wow factor. It was a baked hand dived scallop (hand picked by Robert in ) with a white wine sauce. Tom said that this is a very easy to do for a dinner party as you can prepare it in advance and use shop bought puff pastry to seal in the edges. Good tip.You can watch him describe how to make it at home on the video. Wine pairing – A hunter’s Chardonnay, 2009.

Electrolux The Cube Tom Kitchin

This was followed by A rack of lamb from Dornach cooked on a bed of hay and served with Scottish girolles. There was also some neck of lamb cooked in a Big Green Egg, the oen piece of kit that every chef wants to have in their kitchen today. The use of hay was to create some smoke which added a layer of flavour to the lamb. (Tip: Tom says to buy the hay from pet shops for guinea pigs as this was usually clean enough to cook with). A full bodied Erial Tradition Familia TF from Ribera del Duero was served with this.

Electrolux The Cube Tom Kitchin

After that spectacular series of courses, we topped it all off with a Glazed Lemon Tart with a lemon macaron and creme fraiche sorbet.They served a lovely Sauterne from Chateu Petite Vendrines 2002.

Electrolux The Cube Tom Kitchin

In case we didn’t have enough to eat, we had these stunning little carrot cake bites as petit fours at the end.

Electrolux The Cube Tom Kitchin

What a spectacular meal and what a lovely friendly man Tom was. He was a bit shy and I guess a bit taken aback by these inquisitive food bloggers.

The Cube is running up to the end of December and if you like fine food cooked by top chefs with a personal touch, do try and book as they are very popular. Lunch is priced at £175 and dinner at £215 which includes all wines and beverages.

You can book by calling +44 (0) 207 288 6450.

You can try Tom’s food at his restaurant in Edinburgh at:

The Kitchin
78 Commercial Quay
Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6LX
Telephone 0131 555 1755

Slow Food Kitchen was a guest of Electrolux at The Cube.

Scotch Beef Masterclass at The Guinea Grill

If you are passionate about knowing where your beef comes from, there is nothing better than lunch with some people who really know their stuff. At a recent lunch hosted by Quality Meat Scotland I got to meet  Laurent Vernet, Scotch Beef Master. He is the font of all knowledge to do with Scotch Beef.

Scotch Beef Masterclass Quality Meat Scotland

Why Scotch Beef ?

Scotch Beef has a worldwide reputation of being one of the highest quality meats in the world. This is wholly due to the care and stringent quality requirements of meat production that results in this superior product.

Quality Meat Scotland has been running their world-leading quality assurance scheme behind Scotch Beef for 20 years. They are responsible for improving the efficiency and productivity of red meat production in Scotland. Scotch Beef is also the first red meat to be awarded the coveted European PGI status.

Scotch Beef is it is defined by the quality in origin. When you see the blue Scotch Beef rosettes and the PGI logo you can be sure that the beef you’re buying has been reared to the high standards required in Scotland and then slaughtered in an approved abatoir. Don’t confuse this with anything that says Scottish Beef as this is a completely different product. It could be meat imported into Scotland and processed and therefore not bred to the same stringent requirements.

Farmers and processors are regularly checked to make sure that they meet the high standards of care and welfare for the beef to be labelled Scotch.

About 82% of Scotland’s agricultural area is grass and rough grazing, not suitable for crops but perfect for cattle and sheep. This forage based livestock production system is an efficient way of producing protein as 1 kg of beef needs only 0.92 kg of protein suitable for human consumption.

Scottish beef farmers also help to manage Scotland’s landscape by allowing cattle and sheep graze, thereby helping to maintain many hill and upland habitats.

A Steak is Not Just a Steak

When you buy a steak or eat a steak, you don’t really think much about its origins or breeds. I am one of those people who like to ask where the meat comes from and most of the time, the restaurant doesn’t really know.

Scotch Beef Masterclass Quality Meat Scotland

About Cattle Breeds

Scotch Beef comes from mainly a few well-known breeds like Aberdeen Angus.  As the Aberdeen Angus are relatively small animals it’s usually crossbred with other species like Charolais and Limoussin, which increases yield and productivity.

Nowadays, due to more discerning customers restaurants there is a higher demand for rare breeds like the  Galloway and Highland. Unfortunately for us down in England, meat from these breeds are not readily available.

I was surprised to learn that there was no market in veal as there is no demand unlike what I saw in the Jura mountains where there was high demand for veal from male calves from Montbeliard dairy cattle.

Meat from Male and Female animals taste very different

One other thing that affects the taste of meat are hormones. Bulls, Cows, Steers (castrated), Heifers (never mated, under 3), Calves, Young Bulls (never mated) are all at different stages of maturity.

Meat from animals that had mated and had different levels of hormones like the Cow tastes acidic, a bit vinegary. Meat from bulls tastes metallic from the testosterone. In a taste test the QMS ran, young women liked the taste of meat from Young Bulls the best. Nature eh?

How Feed and Welfare Affects the Taste

Most beef in Scotland are grass fed as they have an abundance of grazing pastures. However in the winter some of the less hardy breeds are kept indoors when they are fed a diet of silage. Silage is made from dried grass and grass crops like corn and other cereals. These crops are harvested in the warm months and then stored as animal feed over the winter period.

Some animals are corn-fed to finish them off as this increases the size of the animal very rapidly that it produces meat that is tender but less flavour than grass fed cattle. This also changes the balance of Omega 3 and 6 in the meat.

Sometimes the cattle is fed draff which is a by product from whisky distilling. This has the effect of sweetening the meat.

The Aging Process Adds Flavour to The Meat

If you watch a lot of cooking program programs it like I do, you’d see chefs going on about 28 days matured beef. The length of the aging does not make it more tender as meat doesn’t get any more tender after 9 days as this is when it has reached 90% of maximum tenderness.

Further maturation does however increase the flavour in the meat as water evaporates, further concentrating the flavour.

There are two different types of maturation: dry and wet. Wet maturation is usually done in a vacuum packed and the meat only loses about 0.5% of its weight. Dry maturation causes a much bigger reduction in total weight, creating a more expensive product.

If you buy meat that has been wet matured, it releases water when you cook it and your steak will steam instead of fry.

The Tasting

At the lunch, we had a masterclass in tasting beef. The taste of beef is influenced by the juiciness, the flavour and tenderness.

Juiciness is about the sensation when you chew a piece of beef and varies depending on the right kind of fat in the beef. The fat in beef coats the mouth which creates the sensation of generating saliva, more juicy.

The flavour of beef is not dependent on the breed but more on the feed, how they were slaughtered and how long the meat had been matured.

Scotch Beef Masterclass Quality Meat Scotland

Photo by

Laurent told us that a lot of red meat tastes about the same but it’s the fat from the marbling that actually gives it the distinct flavour. When buying a joint for roasting, do not be fooled into thinking that a joint wrapped with a lot of fat has a lot of flavour. It doesn’t. Only fat in the marbling and not fat on the outside gives beef its flavour.

As the first plates of meat appeared, we were told that these were all nine-day aged sirloin which came from a cow, a  young ball and a steer.

When comparing each steak  side-by-side it was easy to see the difference. The cow meat was tougher, with a darker red colour and bigger fibres.  The cow meat usually has wobbly muscles and the meat is firm and tough. Cow meat is a good one to use in burgers.

The steer steak, which has no hormones, had a pinker colour. The meat was softer, with no sourness.

The young bull was softer than the cow but it had very distinctive sour and metallic flavour. A young bull’s meat has very little fat, so very little flavour and this is best served with some sauces.

We then blind tasted a variety of steaks from different animals and with different maturity and ageing. Next we tried steaks that were matured for 16 and 27 days.

The 16 day Sirloin was my favourite as it was much softer, more tender and a lot more juicy with a rich beef flavour.

The 27 day aged was fed on silage therefore had more acidity but better than the 9 day one. It was probably a Charolais breed.

We then tasted a very mature fillet steak that been forgotten at the back of the fridge . This is extremely gamey with a very strong flavour and was really unpleasant.

We also tried a few different cuts including a heart. By this point we were finding it really difficult to differentiate one cut rom another.

Just when we thought that the never ending platters of meat had ended, the proper lunch of a roast sirloin was delivered. This was truly a meat lovers event.

I learnt a lot and will be asking even more questions of the supermarkets and butchers from now on.

Scotch Beef Masterclass

Photo by


This event was hosted by The Guinea Grill a founding member of the Scotch Beef Club. You can learn more about Scotch Beef at the QMS website and you must get their free iphone app from iTunes. I use it to help me work out what times to cook my steaks. It even has an alarm built in to remind you to turn your steak.

Slow Food Kitchen was a guest of Quality Meat Scotland.


Delfina And Bermondsey Honey

Bermondsey Street near London Bridge is turning into a bit of a foodie haven. With Jose and the newly opened Pizarro along the same stretch and the hip Zucca down the road, you are not short of options to eat along here.

Delfina is an unusual restaurant housed in a cavernous minimalistic white space. It’s previous incarnations as a chocolate factory are not distinguishable now. We went for lunch recently and my dining companion’s text to me before I arrived as ” I’m waiting in the hangar”. Having so much space, the tables are set quite far apart so it would make a great venue to have a business lunch without being overhead by the next tables.

From the ala carte menu we hadthe wild mushroom ravioli with truffle cream (£5.95) was a bit dry and the portion could have been a bit bigger. The Rosary Ash goats cheese, trio of beetroot with a honey dressing (£5.50) , which was quite a delightfully well balanced combination.

For mains, it was a fish kind of day so I opted for the fish of the day with a lemon and mustard dressing (£13.75). The fish was perfectly cooked, quite a large portion and well seasoned. The other fish on the menu was cod, which for a restaurant that boasts of supporting sustainable fish is a bit off.

The second main course was breaded taleggio cheese with roasted tomatoes (£9.95). My friend said that the cheese was rather bland and felt it lacked an element.

For puddings, there was the blood orange pannacotta with pistachio syrup (£4.50), lovely to look at and qutie delicious.

The fig and frangipane tart (£4.95) was light and not overly sweet but rather over powered by the cinammon ice cream.

Delfina Bemondsey St

Delfina is a good choice for lunch around the London Bridge area, not over priced and nicely excuted food (if you choose correctly) with a seasonal menu. The service was unhurried but at times inattentive. They also offer a set lunch menu at a very reasonable price.

Delfina is open for lunch on Mon – Friday and for dinner on Fridays.


Delfina on Urbanspoon

Bermondsey Bees and Bermondsey Honey

A while back we were invited to Delfina for a special event highlighting it’s menu with Bermondsey Honey. This had just won the best Restaurant Honey award.   A bunch of us were invited to see the hives before a dinner at Delfina.

Who knew that there were beekeepers in this very urban part of London. Dale Gibson keeps 2 hives at the top of his house on Bermondsey Street. It might seem unusual but there is ample  vegetation in the area for the bees to feast on and it’s unique location gives this honey its distinctive flavour. The honey is available for sale locally but there isn’t a lot of it as there are only 2 hives. If you do see any, do buy some. London Beekeepers need to be supported and encouraged to help the declining population of honey bees.

Bermondsey Street Honey

Dale Gibson Bermondsey Street Honey

Bermondsey Street Honey

Hives on the rooftop


Slowfoodkitchen was a guest of Delfina.