I took home economics classes at high school as I’m sure everybody else did. They were basic.
The first lesson we were all told to bring something in to cook during a double period (1 hour 10 minutes if I recall correctly).
I took in a packet of frozen fish fingers. You may mock but I was by no means the only one who took in similar gastronomic delights. Findus Crispy Pancakes rocked up to the classroom as did a Pot Noodle.
I grilled my fish fingers with great flair and genius, and then ate said fish fingers. Let’s just say I made Captain Birdseye proud. My ‘cooking’ and eating cannot have taken too long so goodness knows what I did for the rest of the lesson (aside from bask in my own culinary smugness). In fact the Pot Noodle chef must have really been twiddling their thumbs waiting for Geography.
I’ll never know the point to this – there wasn’t even a ‘moral of the story’ where the teacher said ‘ha, you’re all so ridiculous and basic and by the end of term you’ll be flambe-ing with the best of them, this daft lesson a distant memory’.
No, we all just went to Geography and the next week made a flan.
No such randomness at Trafford College in Timperley. Last night I joined friends at the restaurant/classroom Aspire, to enjoy a wonderful 5 course menu as put together by guest chef Si Toft and students.
Si, is a Timperley native but is currently treating the residents of, and visitors to, Abersoch, with his charming restaurant The Dining Room.
The menu was impressive both in description and indeed taste:
I’m no Jay Rayner and but I’m certainly a person who eats food and loves food. And I loved this food.
The potted shrimp and mussels were the perfect intro to the five courses. I attacked the dish with such gusto that most of it had been eaten before I remembered to take photographic evidence (as it should be – although if it’s not on Instagram was it even cooked, served and eaten?).
The Sea cured Mackerel was lovely, and the tang of the pickled vegetables cut through the succulent fish beautifully.
Next to the table, was the Cullen skink. Hands up, I had no idea what this was going to be. My best guess was fish, which was kind of true, but it was a thick Scottish soup with, I believe, potatoes, smoked haddock and onions. Again presentation was thoughtful and stylish.
My favourite part of the dish was the seaweed crisp. Now here I know what I’m talking about. Here I become less Gregg Wallace and more Charles Campion. Crisps are my bag. And these were mighty fine and certainly knocked the (still AMAZING) prawn cocktail Seabrook into a cocked hat.
After a delightful run of seafood dishes, meat made a magnificent entrance to the table with the bold and beautiful Roast lamb belly. A winter warmer indeed, the combination of lamb, bacon (I do love a lardon) and cockles delivered the right side of rich, beautiful flavours.
The best puddings are those that make you forget you were too full to eat anymore.
Enter the pannacotta, sorbet, meringue and star of the show, honey shortbread.
If the last dish was winter in a bowl, this was summer on a plate in both aesthetics and flavours.
In short, Si Toft and the wonderful students produced a menu which was imaginative, beautiful and delicious. My words may not come with culinary expertise and technical terms, but as a punter who loves food, I don’t think you can say fairer than that.
All the deets.