Small dishes at Skosh, York

We’re on a serious spending ban at the moment, with our looming wedding, holiday and (casually thrown in for good measure) extension plans.

But we broke the rules on my birthday – thirty flippin’ one seeing as you ask – and went for a meal at the highly acclaimed Skosh in York.

The first question I asked – and so the first answer I’ll give – is what does Skosh stand for? Well, the word is an abbreviation of the Japanese word sukoshi (“skoh shee”) and means “a tiny bit” or “a small amount.”

As the name suggests, this place is all about small, shareable dishes, from beautiful sourdough bread and ‘puck’ nuggets, to chargrilled octopus, cured trout, and onion seed lavash.

I didn’t know where we were going to eat until we walked onto Micklegate, and had no idea what to expect in terms of atmosphere. You get all sorts in York – from the lah-de-dah to the casual and understated. Luckily, given the questionable state of my nail polish, it’s like a wholesome, relaxed, but ‘we do things well’-type cafe.

IMG-20170817-WA0000

The dishes may sound quite fancy to some, but everything is done incredibly well, and you know that there’s no way anything is going out if it doesn’t taste amazing. We could tell this from the start, so ordered several things without really knowing what they were – like ‘Cauliflower manchurian’.

You can order six or eight dishes to share, initially, but if you are still hungry, you can just add extras as you go along. Here’s what we went for:

House sourdough, acorn dairy butter & ‘gunpowder’ spice
Quite simply, lovely squashy bread with a decent crust, lovely butter, and – if you want to take things up a notch – a light spice mix to sprinkle over before you nibble.

20170813_144940

Cauliflower manchurian
This was very much like a sweet and sour cauliflower. Although there aren’t many visible components on the plate, the sauce was beautiful and had a real depth to it, as well as a great kick.

20170813_150853

Skosh fried chicken with brown butter hollandaise
Fried chicken – what’s not to like? This is a serious case of KFC – AND THEN SOME.

20170813_145610

Chargrilled octopus with tandoor spices and pickled lime puree
I don’t eat a lot of octopus, or in fact seafood other than the standard white fish and prawns. This was lovely – great big meaty chunks with a charred coating and a punchy lime puree to make it pop.

20170813_152717

45 day aged beef fillet tataki with sour cherry, mustard and kohlrabi
I was just the slightest bit hesitant with this dish – is it steak tartare, isn’t it steak tartare? It’s not. Tataki is a method of searing beef very quickly over a high heat, so that the outside is cooked but the inside remains rare. I knew it would taste great so dug in, and there were no issues!  I’m not usually into cherries, but they worked perfectly, and the kohlrabi (part of the cabbage family) was DELICIOUS. These tiny little cubes were so fresh against the beef.

20170813_152709-e1502966366758.jpg

Puck nuggets with plum ketchup
‘Puck’ is a combination of pork and duck, shredded and then shaped into little nuggets, and set off with a lovely sticky plum sauce.

20170813_153929

Mango lassi with saffron custard donut
Who can resist a little dessert? I wasn’t sure about the idea of saffron custard with this one, but it was great. As with every main dish, this dessert turned what could have been a big, stodgy, greasy donut situation into a refined bite. The saffron was there, but could be taken a bit further. I’m up for more!

20170813_155939

72% chocolate slice with fennel and black olive
This was complete deliciousness. The hero was the little chocolate tuile, which has that almost burnt flavour and sticky-but-crunchy texture. The fennel and black olive? Nowhere to be seen. I explained to the waiter that I didn’t really like either and this is what they rustled up with no fuss whatsoever. YES.

20170813_155928

All in all, for seven main plates, two desserts and a cider each, we spent £75. Dishes vary from £3 to £15, or, for larger groups, there’s a set menu for £35 a head. You will need to book in advance, though.

Find Skosh at 98 Micklegate, York YO1 6JX.

Forget burgers: The tasting menu at Marmadukes Town House Hotel

I’m never one to turn down a big greasy burger or a pile of pie and mash after work, but this kind of indulgent dish that makes you want to hibernate, then diet for the next year, seems to dominate city centre restaurants these days.

Last night, to celebrate five years since we first met, we treated ourselves to something completely different – an eight course tasting menu at York’s Marmadukes Town House Hotel. The chef is Adam Jackson,  who serves up a selection of complex, seasonal dishes that change every month or so, and with them he has recently been awarded a 3AA rosette by the AA Restaurant Guide.

Marma

Without wanting to sound over the top or tell you something you don’t already know given the 3AA hint above, it was immense. We got to try a velouté, I conquered my fear of mussels and just got to CHILL over amazing food for three hours. We felt like John and Gregg on Masterchef.

On arrival, we were shown to ‘the red room’, full of ornate old sofas, side tables and chandeliers, and served drinks from a selection of wines, spirits, classy cocktails and – if it’s your thing – a selection of more expensive rare wines. Each course on the menu has also been carefully matched to a wine, and these can be included with your meal for £48 per person.

We went for a modest beer and glass of wine, keen to save space for the main event – a feast featuring oriental nibbles, marmite butter, cookie crumb, and ‘hen of the wood’ to name just a few. They were all presented so beautifully that I can’t not include photos of each and every one:

Nibbles: one of the best miso soups we’ve ever tasted, along with tuna tartare and a lovely chicken bite with puffed riceMarma1

Lancashire Bomber – Marmite – Cucumber: A just-right warm cheesy bread roll with a fresh pickled cucumber and marmite butter. I’m not a massive cheese person, had never tried pickled cucumber and can’t say I crave Marmite, but this was delicious.

Marma2

Pork – Hen of the Woods – Peas: This was one of my favourite dishes – tender pork ravioli with a gorgeous meaty sauce, the velouté, small but really great crispy croutons, and mushrooms.

Marma3

Salmon – Asparagus – Mussels – Samphire: And this was Paul’s favourite. Beautifully cooked salmon with the best crispy skin, topped with what seemed like salty shoestring fries and resting on a bed of samphire, mussels and a delicate creamy sauce.

Marma4

Beef – Provençal: This was a beautiful, lightly cooked cut of beef with an oxtail sauce and hints of flavours from the French region of Provence. Olives and baked tomatoes nestled among green beans and lovely squashy gnocchi rolled in parmesan.

Marma5

Lemon – Mint – Blueberry: All I could say about this dish, after slowly weaving through the different elements, was that it was so interesting. Not at all in a sarcastic ‘interesting = weird’ way, but in a way that the chef combined so many different flavours and textures. There was a blueberry compote, chewy mini meringue, a sugared crispy mint leaf, a minty mousse, a sharp lemon custard and a citrus ice. It was great.

Marma6

Chocolate – Beetroot  – Hazelnut: I was looking forward to this *shock* The treat in the middle is a beetroot and chocolate sorbet on top of the richest dark chocolate cookie crumb. On top of the creme fraiche is a kind of beetroot crisp, which was sometimes crispy and occasionally chewy. The best bit for me was the crumb and the little hazelnut dots, which had a great smoky, almost burnt taste that added yet another element to the dish.

Marma7

And finally, for Paul only, was a cheese course with crackers, truffle, almonds and the most amazing carrot cake. It’s inspired me to make some this weekend, although maybe I shouldn’t given the size of my stomach after all that.

Marma8

The service and surroundings have to get a mention, too. Each course and every little detail was described by the restaurant team and we were given plenty of time to let each one settle (and/or undo our top buttons) before moving on to the next. I’d happily eat out less often to try more tasting menus like this.

We paid £60 each, plus drinks, and would highly recommend a trip. Find it at: Marmadukes Hotel, 4-5 St Peters Grove, Bootham, York YO30 6AQ.

Hand painting leopard print tableware

I wrote a while ago about the leopard print trend that refuses to go away (HOORAH!), and how you can build it into your room décor if you just cannot acceptably buy another leopard print item of clothing.

Inspired by this, I used a day off work to sharpen up our tableware and create some hand painted bowls featuring the nation’s favourite print.

Although you’re usually advised to hand wash hand painted pots to preserve the colours – so a little impractical for those (me) who rely on a dishwasher – they work really well as occasional tableware. So I chose to make two ‘swoosh bowls’ with a white exterior and printed interior. Here they are waiting for their makeover…

20161010_125254

Colour-wise, we all want something that’s going to work with existing crockery and place settings, but continue to work if we ever upgrade. So I went for a crimson, black and dark grey scheme that fits with some treasured TK Maxx serving bowls we stumbled upon last Christmas. It’s strange when you apply the paint, as the colour changes significantly and becomes much more vivid when the bowls are fired. All you can do as you paint is have faith and just keep going, in the knowledge that the colours will change and everything will look much better after some time in the kiln.

20161010_125815

20161010_135610

20161010_140647

Here they are after three hours of painting dots (it’s a killer). I was not at all sure how they’d turn out at this point.

20161010_153917

And here’s the finished product. To be completely honest, it just looks like blobs or flowers  to me. I like them, but I think I can work on my leopard print skills. Who knew it was so hard to work with blobs?!

20161119_140608

Fancy creating something similar? If you’re in and around Leeds, try Jackrabbits Pottery in Roundhay. They have a range of items to paint from egg cups to tealight holders, vases to huge serving bowls, and can talk you through the process if you haven’t been before. They also have hot drinks and cakes while you paint, as a consolation prize if your print turns out like mine 😉

11 foodie gifts for every craving

If your office is anything like ours, there’s a lot of food chat. There’s chat when you eat it, order it, can’t eat it (sob) or would like to eat it.

In PR, foodie essentials include burgers (energy for late night event coverage), avocado (to make up for weekend diet slippage) and prosecco (most of the time).

But based on hot ass trendy foods at the moment, you could go for anything from egg, to cupcakes to fancy flavoured gin.

If you’re buying a gift for a foodie friend, or getting ahead with planning for a small religious day in eleven weeks’ time, here’s some inspiration. I’ll take that burger:

xmas-gifts

Egg cup buckets, Lakeland; Popcorn candle, GourmetCandle at Etsy; Prosecco phone case, Redbubble; Gin doormat, iwantoneofthose.com; Coffee candle, Yankee Candle; Burger phone, EBASE at Amazon; Novelty cake rubbers, Paperchase; Avocado hand cream, John Lewis; Tea caddy, Williamson Tea; Lola’s Forever, WHSmith.