Monday, 19 March 2012

St Petersburg, Manchester

Not knowing much about Russian cuisine, I was rather excited and intrigued when a friend invited me out for a meal at St Petersburg restaurant in Manchester. She had bought a Groupon which was needing to be spent, so it was a week night that we went.
The limits of the voucher meant that we could only choose from the Duke Stroganoff Menu between certain (early) times, but a quick look on the website showed us that this didn't appear to be very restrictive at all!
The menu had lots of exciting things to choose from, and the decision, for me anyway, could have been a lot harder if I was eating wheat. There were a few pancake options called Blini, which sounded great, but alas not for me. Maybe I'll do some research into the various recipes and try and re-create them at home.
I chose the Sveklas So Slivamy to start, which, according to the menu was a Russian mixed vegetable salad. and my friend chose the Schee - a sour cabbage soup.

The salad was fresh and creamy and seemed to consist mainly of beetroot and walnuts, and was rather like coleslaw. The portion was rather substantial, but this isn't a complaint, as it was lovely. Again, the soup was rather large, but very tasty. The only thing that was slightly disappointing was the accompaniment of those shop-bought bread rolls.

For the main course I chose the Miasnie Kotelty which were apparently "Russian Style juicy beef mincemeat rissoles (I'm never sure what a rissole actually is) served with a spicy sauce or sauce of your choice". I didn't get a choice of sauce, but spicy is always fine with me.
My friend chose the Pelmeni Sibirskie - beef and pork pelmeni (Russian style ravioli), served with fresh herbs and butter and a sauce of your choice. Again, not sure if there was a choice of sauce, but it came with a sour cream dip and some hot chilli sauce.

The beef rissoles were very juicy, and were covered in a rich creamy sauce. I loved the fact that the chips were homemade (are things homemade when made in a restaurant? - but you know what I mean) and the chilli sauce added a bit of heat. The salad garnish was fresh, but a little basic. I believe that the ravioli wasn't what was expected, but tasty and filling.

We opted for ice cream and the gateau of the day (chocolate) to finish off.

By this time, it was late in the evening, and the restaurant was now full. So obviously the restaurant is popular outside of the vouchers! We thought that the food was very good, and the choice of wine was good too, but we're not sure that we would pay full price. I suppose that's the danger with Groupon etc. They do get you into the restaurants to try to food and sample the atmosphere, but somehow you do think twice about going back without the discounts. Or is that just me being tight?! Actually, yes it is - the prices are not that expensive!
We found the service very good too, and although there are a few things that seem to be lost in translation on the menu, and many words which require concentration to pronounce, this all added to the fun. I think we will go back, just maybe when there's another offer....

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Vegetable and Blue Cheese Crumble

A couple of years ago, while I was eating wheat and all things bread, I ate what was a lovely meal in a pub in Tintagel, Cornwall. The trip was full of lovely culinary experiences. A traditional cream tea, a fantastic Nepalese curry, and of course the fabulous traditional Cornish pasty. Most of which are a little more difficult for me to eat now....
We were camping in Tintagel, and many evenings were spent eating out. Mostly at the pub in the village, where we almost worked our way through the menu. The dish that stuck in my mind was the veggie dish of Vegetable and Stilton Crumble.

We've recently been given a bag of dried gluten-free breadcrumbs, and since I am once again allowed to eat blue cheeses, I thought I'd have a go at re-creating this dish.
The amounts can be varied depending on your preferences or what you have in your fridge. Also, the amount of blue cheese can be varied depending on how cheesy you like things.
We served it with chips and peas, in true pub food style. Yum!

1 large leek, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
Half a broccoli, broken into florets
Half a cauliflower, broken into florets
200g blue cheese, crumbled
Half pint milk
Tablespoon flour
25g butter
Handful of breadcrumbs
25g grated Parmesan

1. Gently fry the onion and leek until soft.
2. Boil the broccoli, cauliflower and carrots until tender.
3. Mix all the vegetables together in a large bowl or pan.
4. Make a white sauce by first melting the butter in a pan. Stir in the flour, and then add the milk bit by bit, stirring continuously. When the sauce has thickened, stir in the blue cheese until melted, and season to taste.
5. Stir the cheese sauce through all the veg and spread in am ovenproof dish.
6. Mix the breadcrumbs with the Parmesan and sprinkle evenly over the veg.
7. Bake at 180C for about 20 mins or until the topping is golden.