MFDF: Proper Local Food Day / Festival Feast

29 Sep

Proper Local Food Day

The hotly contended cook off between Robert Owen Brown (ROB) and Andrew Nutter was THE top billing for the Manchester Food and Drink Festival (MFDF) proper local food day, challenging The Mark Addy and Nutters chefs respectively to deliver three courses in 30 minutes using only ingredients from the attendant local producer’s stalls. Each entering with their own entourage, Nutter’s bedecked in Union Jack flags and ROB flanked by a cowboy and cave girl (?!), our two local lads were in it to win it.

Robert Owen Brown v. Andrew Nutter

With banter, bad jokes and improvised commentary from festival director Phil Jones, the cook-off wasn’t polished but it was fricking entertaining, with the chefs scrabbling around the marquee to grab produce from Bobby’s Bangers, The Bury Black Pudding Company and The Chocolate Café, all beacons in the local food scene and thankfully open following the show-down to lay your mitts on their fabulous wares.  

MFDF Proper Local Food Day Cook Off

ROB’s Menu

Starter: Bury black pudding, sausage and roasted tomato stew

Main: Roast lamb chop with roasted beetroot and pepper accompanied by a duck egg and Singleton’s Creamy Lancashire cheese omelette

Dessert: Chocolate and honey cream

Nutter’s Menu

Starter: Breakfast omelette souffle

Main: Goosnargh Chicken with Singleton’s Creamy Lancashire cheese with an olive and roasted vegetable fricassee

Dessert: Dark chocolate and strawberry souffle

Nutter’s friendly patter and wild enthusiasm won the crowd, but with a small judging panel boasting Phil Jones, Fergus Henderson and Sarah Howsen from Visit Manchester, the crowd didn’t get to taste the food, but on account of an exceptional omelette and his ongoing support for local producers, ROB won the day.

MFDF Proper Local Food Day Cook Off

MFDF Cook-Off Judging Panel

MFDF Cook-Off Winner Robert Owen Brown

Festival Feast with Fergus Henderson and Robert Owen Brown

Humble, earthy, British dishes are my delight, so the temptation of an evening of  food with Fergus Henderson, of St John and Nose to Tail Eating fame, and ROB, a game man of considerable skill, was too exciting to pass up. Hot on the heels of Fergus’ second Michelin star, the latest awarded for his new St. John Hotel venture in London’s Chinatown, not to mention the ripe success of ROB’s MFDF cook-off win, it was a poignant occasion for the hungry and expectant Manchester crowd.

Held in the cavernous festival hub marquee down on Albert Square, the evening kicked off with an intro from Manchester Confidential’s Gordo, who despite his best efforts to eulogise the work of the two attendant chefs, was repeatedly thwarted by a wonky PA system. (Much mirth, especially when he threatened to kick the damn thing to death). A warm and effusive Fergus followed, introducing the off cut and off-piste menu, and affectionately praising the work of ROB before passing us off into his very capable hands.

MFDF Festival Feast Menu

A starter of brawn and pigs ear salad had the evening off to a good start. Rich, meaty brawn accompanied by an acidic caper-flecked salad, topped with crunchy shreds of pigs ear* set the tone and a level of expectation for the evening, which the main event of partridge more than lived up to. A game meat light in tone, cooked perfectly pink and moist, the bird sang, and accompanied by roasted onion, carrots and a fondant potato, it was a simple and effective dish that fully deserved the clean plates sent back to the pass.  

Pressed Brawn with Crispy Pigs Ear Salad

Red Legged Partridge with Orbs of Joy and Bread Sauce

The Carrageen pudding was less successful. After the richness of the first two courses, the thick seaweed jelly, topped with tart blackcurrant and a quenelle of vanilla cream should have cut through and cleansed the palate, but was too bizarre to contemplate. The final billing of Leagram’s organic goat curd held promise, but the heavy-handed addition of brandy made the dish cloying and inedible. Accompanied by celery or something similarly fresh, the dish might have worked, but the proffered tuile biscuit was one sweet step too far.

Carrageen Pudding

Leagram’s Goats Curd

The evening was imperfect, but as with any good offal, treat it well and you have magic on your hands. Slow service, on account of the brigade working out the back of a marquee, loud and obtrusive sound from the nearby live music stage and near mid-winter temperatures aside, the convivial and friendly company from the long table set up, imaginative if not always enjoyable food and the chance to meet Fergus and ROB was a real joy. Festival in atmosphere and a feast for the senses, I’d do it all again.

* A more intense, less fatty take on pork scratchings.

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2 Responses to “MFDF: Proper Local Food Day / Festival Feast”

  1. Lois September 30, 2012 at 5:49 pm #

    Sounds wonderful, wish i could have been there!

  2. agogo22 September 30, 2012 at 2:18 pm #

    Reblogged this on msamba.

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