Winchester and my best friend’s wedding

We were in Winchester for a few days this week with my family to celebrate the wedding of one of my best friends from sixth-form college who has become such a close family friend that he’s really a part of the family! It was a beautiful and emotional day starting with the ceremony in the Guildhall in the centre of Winchester, and finishing in a quaint, pretty village hall in Rotherwick. I couldn’t be happier for my friend and I’m so glad that he has found the man that he can share his life with and who is so loving and kind.

19/12/2015: Barnsley chop – Norton Park Q Hotel, Winchester

http://www.qhotels.co.uk/our-locations/norton-park/food-drink/

We arrived just in time to get a table in the hotel restaurant this evening before they closed. I have recently seen a Hairy Bikers episode where they cooked up a Barnsley chop and I haven’t come across it before so it seemed fitting to order it tonight and give it a go. The meat was tender and delicious once you cut around the oddly shaped bones. I chose the pepper sauce to go with it which I expected to be the regular creamy stuff you get with steaks, but this was a dark, glossy, rich sauce with a beautiful peppery flavour and I really enjoyed it!

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20/12/2015: Pork adobo

The wedding day! There was a great buffet decked out with cottage pie, vegetarian lasagne, and this pork adobo, as well as some chorizo, cheeses, and other foods from places that mean a lot to the couple. My friend’s now-husband is from the Philippines and so he cooked this beautiful Filipino dish made by stewing pork in a stock that contains vinegar. After Christmas I will be doing my best to get his recipe!

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21/12/2015 – Norton Park Q Hotel, Winchester

http://www.qhotels.co.uk/our-locations/norton-park/food-drink/

Lizi: Rump of Lamb

Mark had something similar to this on the weekend that we got engaged, but I didn’t and really fancied it so I decided to order it this evening. The meat was tender and tasted absolutely heavenly. I also enjoyed the dauphinoise potatoes and another beautifully glossy sauce!

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Mark: Beef in Bourguignon sauce

I had already eaten lamb steak earlier in the year so went for a classic beef dish that you don’t often see on the menu in the UK. I was happy with my choice as the dish was delicious – particularly the bourguignon sauce. It was rich with flavour, and a lot thicker than I’ve had before (which wasn’t a bad thing). The accompaniments were some chopped veg and a creamy mash, which were good enough.

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22/12/2015 – River Cottage Canteen, Winchester

https://www.rivercottage.net/canteens/winchester

Today was our last day all together in Winchester and so we swapped our Christmas presents this morning and then made our way into town for a lovely festive meal at the River Cottage Canteen. I love River Cottage; the consistently delicious food, the focus on local produce, sustainability, home growing, and especially on family and so this was a perfect place for us all to come with my one-year-old nephew – I know right?! He’s one already! He got a great selection of food from the kids menu which i something that I feel differentiated the River Cottage Canteen from other restaurants I was considering for this meal. Because we were celebrating, we started off with the River Cottage Elderflower Bubbly which was fantastic and I definitely recommend it!

Lizi: Megrim Sole

I started with air-dried venison, cinnamon roast apples, hazelnuts & shaved Lyburn Winchester cheese, and I loved trying something a little different that still brought a host of festive flavours. The venison was delicate and delicious, and the hazelnuts were made into a herby crumb adding a crunchy, herby hit to the dish. The cinnamon roast apples made the dish and brought it to another christmassy level!

I followed my venison with the fillet of megrim sole, potted crab & seaweed butter, puréed roasted cauliflower. When I was deciding what to order I was so tempted by the beef brisket, but the potted crab & seaweed butter just held my attention and I had to order this instead. I’m glad I did because it was delicious! It was a perfectly sized portion of fish that was cooked beautifully and the butter and puree were so smooth and delicious! I loved how the edges of the cauliflower had browned too and gave a bit of a nutty edge to it. Yum!

I finished off with a honey & bay panna cotta, boozy prunes & spiced biscuit! The panna cotta was a generous size and had a good wobble and was lovely and creamy. You could definitely taste bay, perhaps more than you could taste honey, but I really enjoyed the herby flavour. The prunes and the spiced biscuit really balanced the dish with some sweetness and crunch.

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Mark: Beef Brisket

I chose the Baked beetroot, wilted radicchio & Somerset feta salad, preserved orange dressing to start, with the beef brisket braised with bacon, red wine & prunes, pickled walnuts & smashed celeriac for my main course, and then a warm date & parsnip pudding, vanilla ice cream & brandy butterscotch for dessert.

The beetroot was a refreshing start to a three course meal. The flavours and components were simple but all complimented each other well. I’m a big fan of beetroot and was happy to see a generous amount on the plate.

The beef brisket was the most popular dish on the table, because you know, it sounds pretty awesome. Thankfully for us it did not disappoint. The beef had been cooked beautifully and was so tender. Delicious! All the extras were clearly there for a reason and added some great flavour to the dish – I loved the prunes. An honorary mention has to go out to the communal roast potatoes on the table. Holy cow these were yummy potatoes. I only started eating them after I had finished all of my beef brisket and at first was looking round for some more gravy to coat them with. After taking my first bite I was pleased that I hadn’t kept any gravy back. They were beautiful on their own and I continued to demolish four roasties before saving the smallest of spaces for dessert.

The dessert was a generous portion of the date and parsnip pudding, but there was no way I wasn’t going to finish this. This was a seriously good pudding, and the ice cream was super smooth. I want some more right now. Yum yum yum yum. Perfect way to finish off a great meal.

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