Niamh Doherty

A Weekend Away, Foodie Friends, and an Apology

In Life on June 21, 2010 at 21:44

Hello, remember me? It seems like ages since I’ve posted a recipe – the last few weeks have been hectic, with a weekend in Manchester, a mad dash to A&E with my friend Andrea in labour in the back seat of the car – culminating in the arrival of beautiful Natalie Arwen – and trying to fit in a walk each evening. Add to that the fact that it’s been unseasonably warm here – we, in the almost sarcastically-named “sunny south-east” are more familiar with experiencing four different types of rain as opposed to four different seasons, and certainly not at all accustomed to protracted bouts of wide-skied, glorious, glorious sunshine – leaving me at a complete loss as to what to make for dinner, that I feel guilty for sitting indoors blogging when I could be outside feeling the sun on my skin, and you have a recipe for abandonment. I decided it was high time to actually post something, before the WordPress equivalent of Social Services declare me to be an unfit and negligent blogger, before forcibly taking The Loving Spoonful into care.

Two weekends ago, I went to stay with friends in Manchester. Polly and David are very good friends of mine, absolute darlings, and my most favourite couple in the world. They are also as food-obsessed as I am, so I knew that a fabulously palate-pleasing weekend was in store. Before moving to Manchester, they lived in Waterford, and Polly and I worked together, which is how we met.  I shared many happy, food-centric occasions with them before they moved to Manchester, and I miss them lots.

After they picked me up at the airport, we started the weekend chez Whittebaugh in style, with Civilised Hour – like Happy Hour, but far, far more Civilised.

That’s my vodka with cranberry juice and a wedge of lime, and Polly’s G&T. Shlurp.

Of course, you can’t have Civilised Hour without snackage. That just wouldn’t be Civilised.

Here we have baby beetroot, carrots and red peppers, Doritos, with sour cream and chive dip. Deeee-lish.

Before meeting another ex-work buddy, Jo and her brother, Johnny, we toddled down to Manchester’s Canal Street for an aperitif. The place. Was. HEAVING – we were lucky to find a free table canalside. And can I just say, I know it’s a commonly-held belief that the majority of gay men are outrageously good-looking, but oh my GOD… I was minded to chat up  the delicious specimen at the table next to us – what happens on Canal Street stays on Canal Street – until I remembered that I don’t have a penis, and therefore he would not have been interested. No fair!

That’s David’s Champagne Cocktail, Polly’s Mojito and my Pomeranian. All overpriced, and all extremely tasty.

After finishing our drinks, we headed to Dough, an Italian place in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. After much humming and hawing over the menu, we plumped for the following:

I added prosciutto to my funghi pizza. David was jealous. Oooh it was good.

Polly decided on the Moroccan – spiced lamb, red onion, diced mango, mozzarella, tomato sauce, mint, and cool yoghurt. It tasted even better than it sounds – I snuck a taste and the meat was gorgeously spiced, with cinnamon flavours to the fore. With the sweet mango and slightly tart yoghurt, it was to die for.

Worried that the waitress hadn’t clocked his accent, David ordered the American, just to make sure.  His pizza came topped with spicy pepperoni, mozzarella and tomato sauce.

We finished our night with some drinks in the back room of a bar whose humidity levels made the Florida Everglades in July seem like a cool and comfortable alternative.

More drinks followed at home, before I surrendered to sleep and gratefully sank onto the comfy futon.

Polly busied herself by doing some baking for breakfast the next morning, serving up Honey Yogurt Scones from The Fiddlehead Cookbook, from the now sadly-defunct restaurant and bakery in Juneau, Alaska.

Honey Yogurt Scones from The Fiddlehead Cookbook (Juneau, Alaska Restaurant and Bakery) by Nancy and John DeCherney, Deborah Marshall and Susan Brook. This recipe was developed by baker Claudia Coyner.

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 cup plain yogurt (can sub sour cream or buttermilk)

1 egg

1 3/4 cups plain flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 dried currants, dried cherries, pecans or raisins (Polly added raisins, om nom nom)

1 egg, beaten (optional)

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 220 Celcius and place rack in centre.

2. Melt together butter and honey in a small glass bowl in microwave, or in a small pan on stove over medium heat. Remove from heat and whisk in yogurt and egg.

3. In medium-sized mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in currants.

4. Pour egg mixture over flour mixture and, using a fork, very gently cut together just until dough is beginning to come together but is not quite completely combined.

5. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and gently pat into a 6-inch circle. Fold Dough in half and pat out again. Repeat two to three times, taking care not to overwork or knead dough.

6. Pat into a 1-inch-thick circle (about 6 inches in diameter) and cut into 6 wedges.

7. Place on an ungreased baking pan. Brush lightly with beaten egg (optional) and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until puffed and golden brown.

8. Remove from oven and serve immediately with lots of butter and homemade jam. They’re also amazing with honey.

Yep. I think I liked them.

For dinner, David cooked what can only be described as The Meal Of Destiny. I can’t even begin to describe how good this was. We ate garlic and herb crusted roast loin of pork with raspberry-chipotle glaze, atop a citrus rice and barley salad. The recipe is courtesy of Mr Emeril Lagasse (BAM!), and is a little labour-intensive, but so, so worth it. In fact, it’s only as I read through the recipe that I am even more grateful to David for cooking it for us…it is pretty involved. Again, though, your effort is repaid with every mouthful. So incredibly tasty was it, that David brought the leftovers to work the next morning. David Whitten does not “do” leftovers. THAT is how good this is.

Here’s the roast just out of the oven, chillaxing.

Pretty as a picture. It almost looked too beautiful to eat. I said, almost. The recipe is here, if anyone wants to try it. And I URGE you, BEG you, to try it.

I think we liked this too!

For dessert, Polly conjured up a dessert to match the fabulousness of dinner: Apricot Crumble served with Basil Mascarpone. This is a recipe from La Boheme restaurant in Waterford, and is taken from the Zest cookbook, a cookbook compiled for charity, with recipes contributed by Ireland’s most prestigious restaurants. Here’s David with his portion…

Here’s the recipe:

Apricot Crumble served with Basil Mascarpone

Ingredients:

150g butter

150g ground almonds

150g caster sugar

50g mascarpone cheese

50g honey

1/2 bunch basil, leaves removed

400g can apricot halves in natural juice

Method:

1. In a pan, melt the butter, then add the almond power and caster sugar, cooking slowly until this caramelises slightly. Allow the mixture to cool. This is the crumble. If the mixture won’t break up into crumble, you can cut it with with a knife.

2. Mix the mascarpone with the honey in the a food processor. Add the fresh basil leaves (reserving a few to decorate) and blend again briefly. Remove and set aside.

3. Again using the food processor, puree the apricot halves without their liquid.

4. Take four martini or champagne-style glasses and layer first the crumble, then the mascarpone cream and finish with the pureed apricot. Repeat until you have reached the top of the glass finishing with the crumble. Decorate with a fresh basil leaf and enjoy.

So there you have it…my wonderful foodie weekend. Thanks again Polly and David – hope we can do it again soon -xxx.

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  1. Holy moly! Deliciousness overload!

  2. Ooh a La Boheme recipe! La Boheme is our favorite restaurant in Waterford!

    It’s ridiculous we haven’t met up, we should lunch.

    • Ohmygosh me too, I just love it, I haven’t been for ages so I must invent an occasion soon.

      Lunch sounds great, I’ll see you at the Farmer’s Market on Sunday anyway, it was brilliant last year so I’m really looking forward to it now.

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