Monday, 31 October 2011

The Three Fishes

We'd been meaning to go to The Three Fishes, one of the Ribble Valley Inns, for a while now. Actually we were inspired to try one of the Inns after our visit to Northcote a couple of years ago. Our recent visit to The Three Fishes was prompted by my cousin who had moved to the area, and had visited there a few times. We were looking for somewhere to join her for Sunday lunch, and on the bright autumnal day, we thought a drive up to Mitton would be nice.

The pub does not take bookings for small groups so we arrived earlyish to ensure a seat. At around 12:30, the pub was quite busy, but we were seated straight away. With a couple of real ales ordered from the bar we had a look through the menu. I thought about phoning ahead to ask about gluten-free options, but didn't on this occasion, but when asked the waitress produced the gluten-free menu - which was rather impressive. Mainly because they clearly kept in some gluten free bread products so were able to provide me with the choice of most of the starter options.
Clearly this is a simple thing for kitchens to do, just get a couple of loaves in, so why don't other places do it?

I'd already looked through the menu online and so my mind was already made up - next time I will go for some of the bread options - just because I can!

Between us we ordered the Courgettes with garlic, chilli and tomato fondue, the Terrine, the Cheese and onion pie, the Aubergine and Lancashire cheese bake and the Roast of the day - Pork.
Both the courgette and aubergine dishes were very tasty, although, possibly a reflection of my choices, they were rather similar, the tomato fondue of the main course being very similar if not the same, as the sauce for the aubergine. The pork was good and came with a generous amount of vegetables on the side. And the cheese and onion pie was very very cheesy. Probably being your weekly recommended amount of cheese all in one go. This came with a jacket potato with sour cream and a small side salad.

We had a couple of deserts, and a coffee - served with the famous (to us anyway) mini Eccles cake which is one of the main reasons why my cousin loves the place so much!

The prices were reasonable for the food we received. And the food was very good. If we'd chosen a different pub for Sunday lunch we think we'd have been presented with bigger portions, but these certainly weren't small by any means.
We would recommend The Three Fishes to anyone. even the fussiest of eaters will find something on the menu, but those who are more adventurous will not be disappointed. And for the real ale drinkers, the choice available is rather impressive. The village of Mitton and the surrounding area are lovely, and it all makes for a lovely lunch out.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Spiced Aubergine with Polenta

Spiced Aubergine with Polenta
Although we do not shop very much at Sainsbury's (except for gluten-free bread of course) we somehow acquired a Sainsbury's magazine.  Normally we pick up a free Morrison's magazine which often has some decent recipes or ideas but not sure if I had ever used a Sainsbury's one.  Well this time a recipe did catch my eye and it needed goats cheese which was great as we had a little left following a recent dinner party.

Anyway we thought we would share this one as it is healthy, vegetarian and gluten-free.  It also looks good on a plate.

The recipe said to use quick-cook polenta but we used ready cooked polenta and sliced it up before grilling.  The result is pretty much the same and it saved a bit of time.

What you will need for 2:

Ready made polenta (about 300g) sliced into 3 portions each.
1 aubergine cut into small chunks
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or hot paprika)
1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
300g passata
1 tablespoon olive oil
15g flat-leaf parsley finely chopped
50g goats cheese crumbled


Brown the aubergine in a heavy based pan with olive oil and season.
Add the garlic and spices and stir till the aubergines are coated.
Add the passata and balsamic vinegar, simmer for 20 minutes.
Grill the polenta on both sides and arrange on a bed of salad leaves such as rocket and watercress or a baby leaf mix.
Stir the parsley into the sauce and pour over the polenta.
Crumble the goats cheese over it all so it just begins to melt.

The flavours in this dish were great.  The cinnamon and cayenne gave the dish a meditareanean/middle eastern feel which was really freshened up with the addition of parsley.  Balsamic vinegar and goats cheese gave it a welcomed tang.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Holy Basil - The Street Food Collective

Today we made the fantastic discovery of Holy Basil while pottering around the Manchester Food and Drink Festival. We'd only nipped in briefly on an afternoon off, and didn't really have a plan about what to see/try. After the obligatory burger from the Savin Hill Farm stand at St Ann's Square we headed up to Albert Square to the main festival hub.
After wandering around the square a couple of times the place that stood out to us the most was Holy Basil. 
The menu was written on a white board at the back of the stand and their dishes included Beef Masaman Curry, Jungle Curry, salads and satay. It was the Masaman which took our fancy, which we were told would be ready in 5 mins. After a quick half pint of Chocolate Tom we returned for the curry.

We got to chatting with the stall holder, first about the ingredients - their kaffir lime leaves come from the chef's own garden and smelt like nothing we've smelled before. A far cry from the only ones we've managed to find - dried in packets in Sainsbury's. But then about the business itself.

Holy Basil Thai Street View Kompany is a member of the Street Food Collective (@streetsidefood a group who want to and are bringing street food to Manchester. The stallholder explained that there are many countries around the world with street food cultures and Britain doesn't quite seem to match up, and in particular, Manchester. There are of course the occasional burger or jacket potato stands but that's about it. Holy Basil, along with a number of other stands at the festival appear at different food events or festivals but the long term hope is to convince Manchester council to agree to some sort of opportunity to let these street sellers have a more permanent outlet for their wares.
The food itself was fantastic. Very authentic - must be those lime leaves, along with the other ingredients! It was cooked to order. Even though the menu said beef masaman, we were offered either beef, chicken or vegetable (we went for the beef). The side orders were either noodles or steamed rice, and the whole thing was garnished with chilli and coriander.
The curry had a lovely balance of flavours, not too hot but with enough kick, and was a beautiful texture. The rice was cooked perfectly and presented beautifully.
We were told that another aim of Holy Basil is to successfully compete with the city's more usual lunchtime options such as the many sandwich shops, McDonalds or bakeries, by producing smaller snack sized options at prices which are comparable. For me this would be fantastic, as all their food (apart from the noodles) is wheat free, and it would be an easy lunchtime option rather than searching through the sandwiches, pasta salads, and pasties to find that expensive gluten-free option.

The festival is coming to an end in the next couple of days, but if you're in Manchester tomorrow, go and try out Holy Basil in Albert Square. And definitely definitely keep an eye out for them, and other Street Food Collective members events around the area.