Saturday, 12 November 2011

Blackfriars

I haven’t been to Blackfriars restaurant in Newcastle for quite a while, so when I received an email inviting me to try their new Food and Drink Matching evening I was quick to reply in the affirmative. My Flavour Thesaurus is never far from hand at home, it's a beautiful book and I really enjoy looking for new combinations and flavours I haven’t tried before.


The idea of five courses of different foods matched with interesting drinks sounded a pretty good way to spend a Thursday evening. Blackfriars is housed in an old Priory which dates back to 1239. The Dominican Friars arrived in Newcastle in 1221 and were donated the land by three sisters and the Mayor at the time and set about building what is still there today. It is said to be the oldest dining room in the UK, which is pretty interesting to think of yourself sitting eating your supper in the same place that Henry III was in the 13th Century. Apparently it was his favourite place to dine when he visited Newcastle to fight the Scots... We looked round the old banqueting hall which is beautiful and very dramatic. The restaurant have researched in great detail original menus of the time and now put on events and large scale dining parties with traditional Medieval feasts full of unusual spices and whole suckling pigs...

We passed the evening with tales of wine regions, historical food matches and plenty to eat and drink. Andy Hook of Blackfriars took us through each course, starting with almonds, olives and a Manzanilla sherry. I'm a recently converted sherry lover, so thoroughly enjoyed in. This was followed by warm smoked salmon and whisky, I'm not quite so at home with the whisky just yet, but the salmon was beautiful and smoked by the restaurant themselves.



One of the chefs from Blackfriars was eating with us and it was really interesting to hear from him about how everything was cooked, smoked, pickled or baked. They even make their own black pudding, which was the next course, with a beautiful sauce and a glass of chilled champagne.

I've thought about making my own black pudding ever since I had a go at my own home-made salami. I'm not quite sure how my little kitchen would cope with gallons of blood sloshing about though, so perhaps another batch of salami may come first...



The next course was a lovely handmade pasta with wild mushrooms and a beautiful sauce with basil and cream which was matched with a slightly chilled Pinot Noir from the Languedoc. Throughout the night we ate, chatted about food and drink combinations, who liked what, what works and doesn’t, it was a really interesting evening all round.

Cheese and beer followed, five different cheeses, varying in strength and type and some beautiful pickled celery that I may have to have a go at making. There was a traditional ale from the Wylam brewery, a strawberry beer and a more standard lager. I really enjoyed the strawberry beer with the cheese, which I would never have guessed at all. I always go for a glass of red with cheese, the difference was interesting.


The highlight for me was the chocolate tart, it was beautiful, and I don't usually have a sweet tooth in the slightest. It was rich and dark and delicious and unusually had flecks of salt through it which worked so well. Along with a glass of fortified sweet red wine and tales of sweet wines of the world it was a lovely end to the evening...



1 comment:

  1. This looks like a lovely evening, and blackfriars is such an amazing restaurant - it's like stepping back in time, looking out at the courtyard you can completely forget where you are. I'll have to look out for the next time they are doing an evening like this.

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