Tag Archives: pork belly

Wreckfish Bistro – A Masterclass – Liverpool

Wreckfish…..(great name for a bistro) is the fourth in a natty little run of openings by Gary Usher, the infamous, crowdfunding, twitter speak chef. Having raptured through Sticky, Burnt and Hispi (reviewed previously). it was time to get ‘wrecked’ in Liverpool. This time to luxuriate in an all day masterclass with the maestro himself. The winnings for stumping up a few bob to help this wonderful Seel Street edifice spring to life.

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Its set in what seems to be quite a hip neighbourhood, smart urban boutiques and bars abound. That said Wreckfish itself leaps out. Its smart two-tone grey exterior with understated branding cuts a serious dash.

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Table and kitchen ready, preparing, torching and crowning a pigeon

I’m early, but i’m made more than welcome by FOH Pete. He sees me right with a brew and a danish in the well-appointed bar area. The street level floor is flooded with natural light and has already been converted into a multi chef workspace. Long tables are set with folded aprons, towels, squirty bottles and sharp knives. The flash, stainless kitchen is bristling at the far end. Gradually the other fourteen contestants slip in. We’re all a bit nervous until Gazza steps in with the itinerary.

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Preparing the vodka cream, gossamer thin, golden pasta, lentils and pork at the ready

The demos are fronted by Gary. We all listen and laugh at the right places. He’s good, he’s got the obligatory rock star tats, he’s charismatic, he articulates with his hands as well as explain the tricks with his confident Cheshire brogue…..And he can cook……but not only that, so can his team that have stepped in to help today. Rich, Luke and Ryan are on hand to correct him and sell their improvements and help our little pairings pull off the steps. It’s important we do a decent job as most of the gear will be sold in the restaurant later, as well as becoming our afternoon lunch! No pressure then!

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Rich shows us how to pipe ricotta, pasta making and serve with parmesan and squash puree

We start by making pasta. Given I often make my own I’m thinking this is going to be straightforward. But no, I hadn’t bargained on the passion and attention to detail that they all exude. It’s only egg yolks used here, no salt….Oh and don’t forget to add the saffron reduction for that spectacular golden hue. Its kneaded forever before being cling filmed for posterity. Suitably rested the whole team support Gazza in rolling out the longest piece of gossamer thin, golden plastic. We ‘squodge’ the ricotta to one side along its length and then communally fold and tease into tortellini ready for our starter later.

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Salmon time! blow torching, set with pickled cucumber and our vodka cream

Next it’s the salmon. This is our next course. A huge slab is presented to our teams of two. Again, easy this, just carve up into sections. But no, first up slice along the base 3 mm above the skin to cut out the bloodline! Slice in two and take out more of the fat. Cure in sugar and salt for fifteen minutes, ready for cooking in the water bath and being finally blowtorched for presentation and flavour. I was nearly right!

Vodka cream next. A chefs palate test. Who gets the vodka, sugar, salt content right? They all do I reckon.

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Paul ties up ‘our’ pork belly. Served with lentils and salsa verde

We then stuff a glorious slab of well hung pork belly with a mix of bread, prunes and sautéed onion. Its rolled then we all learn to do the butchers knot and tie up this wondrous dish. It’s all in the double twist of the hand and the pulley system. We learn this is normally cooked for over ten hours after an initial blast to get the crackling going. One or two get the chance to prepare some pigeons.

We then take turns in the kitchen finishing off the dishes and getting to work the pass and shouting “service”. I totally loved it. I was buzzing.

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Action shots!

I was on boiling pasta duty with partner for the day Paul, whilst others got to dribble beurre noisette, blowtorch salmon, roast pigeons and plate up pork. We then had the enviable task of eating it all washed down with plenty of white wine. We even slurped a champagne toast during an impromptu Q&A.

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Rich’s Madeleines – sublime

Sadly, after a sumptuous four course meal, it all came to an end, though not before a flourish with a trio of Rich’s glorious madeleines. Then it was hand shakes all round and we all ventured off. A magical day and further confirmation that the latest venture Wreckfish is up there with the best.

Armed with Gary’s infectious drive and his uncanny knack of building empowered teams, each with the freedom to develop the brand, maintaining consistency and quality along the way, it seems inconceivable that Wreckfish is the last. Surely its just the start? I reckon this story will run and run. Cant wait to get back to Wreckfish……and another masterclass.

Wreckfish Bistro
60 Seel Street
Liverpool
L1 4BE
0151 7071960
http://www.wreckfish.co

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Bull’s Head – Mobberley, Cheshire

“Great food and quality ales on tap. It’s another for the list!”

After landing from a week away golfing with some chums, The Cooktwit needed to be in top form to placate The Flame. Country walks with a decent feed tends to do the trick. In stepped The Bulls Head in Mobberley. Mobberley is a quaint village set in Cheshire between Knutsford and Wilmslow. It tends to be one of the places the big North West football clubs use to house prospective foreign talent. I would suggest The Bulls Head lies at the centrepiece of the offer. It’s a perfect facsimile of the quintessential country pub. Set down a leafy lane it makes a fine sight, particularly when washed in the fine autumn sunshine that greeted us. The large outdoor garden (no doubt a former bowling green?) is lined with outdoor bench sets. Despite being only twelve thirty they are almost full of eager punters. Many no doubt slipped out from nearby offices.

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I slip inside to survey the set up. Six real ales line up the bar. A ‘White Bull’ light ale by Wincle Beers is ordered up. As The Flame had already taken up residence outside it was the briefest of internal tours to determine the fittings. Solid tables with solid ‘seatage’ sets the tone. It’s exactly as you would imagine. I’m sure winter will bring plenty of roaring fires. It’s terrifically traditional, low beams, stone floors, jaunty signage, it’s great stuff, very comforting. I took out a couple of clipboards, each clipping a sheath of cream card. The menu is extensive and features British pub grub favourites. Sandwich of the day was crab. I was severely tempted but decided to test out the special ‘Pie week’ menu. I love a good pie.

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We both went straight for mains. The flame went for her standard fish pie (£12.95) with a portion of chips. It arrived on its plank with some spinach and peas. She expressed a small initial disappointment when presented with the small rectangular tin, but it was short lived. It was packed with smoked fish, mainly salmon along with haddock and trout. She proclaimed it to be one of the best and a very close run thing to her all time favourite from The Church Green (see here).

The laden fish pie
The laden fish pie

I ordered up from the pie week menu. Smoked pork belly, Yorkshire chorizo and spiced apple cider with a mustard grain mash (£14.50). I prefer a full pie and was mildly disappointed to receive a cast pot with a puff pastry top. However, after forking a couple of luscious globules of pork belly and some cuboids of spicy chorizo, washed in a sweet creamy sauce I was back on track. I finally mopped up with the mustard mash. It was all rather good. The chips were decent enough, but we have been treated to the Freemasons at Wiswell versions lately and it tends to slightly taint anyone’s else’s.

Pork belly and chorizo pie
Pork belly and chorizo pie

I rounded off with a ‘Famous Mobberley Mess’ (£5.25). I’m not sure why it was famous but it was rather good if you like that sort of thing (and I do!). A decent green tea and black coffee rounded off.

The Mobberley mess
The Mobberley mess

We then took off round their three and a half mile pub walk. A natty little flyer is on hand to lead the way. As it was a glorious October day it was perfectly get ’roundable’ in trainers. I dare say wellies would have been needed back in August! A further ginger ale was imbibed on our return as recommended by the genial host. A couple of Manchester United players had settled next to us by this time. We enjoyed a truly wonderful few hours. Service was friendly and engaging. This is another one for the regular list for us. Fully recommended.

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The Bulls Head

Mill Lane
Mobberley
Knutsford
Cheshire
WA16 7HX

t: 01565 873395
e: info@thebullsheadpub.co.uk