Table Talk Friday 14 December

Brrrr now is the time to warm up with some Caribbean spices,  chance your luck at winning a tasting dinner for two and try Hereford’s finest food and drink. Enjoy.

Tan Rosie food hamper

Yay! My delivery of Tan Rosie spices arrived today. If you would like to give your cooking some authentic Caribbean flavours, have a look at their website for a range of hampers containing jerk rub, hot pepper sauce, fiery chilli fudge and more.  These and the gift vouchers for cookery courses will make a great present for the foodie in your life.

Paul Foster book signing

Feeling lucky? Paul Foster has added a golden ticket to the signed copies of his cookbook. Order online for delivery and you could be the lucky winner of a tasting dinner for two at his Michelin star restaurant Salt in Stratford upon Avon.

The Riverside Inn Aymestrey

Congratulations to the winners of the inaugural Hereford Times Food and Drink Awards  –

Food and Drink Business of the Year : The Riverside Inn at Aymestrey

Best Butcher of the Year: Ogleby Butchers

Best Café/Tearoom: De Koffie Pot

Best Dairy Producer: Monkland Cheese Dairy

Best Brewer : Swan Brewery

Best Restaurant/Dining Pub: The Riverside Inn at Aymestrey

Best Cider Producer: Celtic Marches Beverages

Community Pub of the Year: The Pandy Inn

Best Independent Food and Drink Retailer: The Green Bean Shop

Best Drinks Producer : Black Mountain Botanicals

Best Farm Shop: Pengethley Farm Shop

Best Food Product: Myrtle’s Kitchen

Food and Drink Business of the Year: The Riverside Inn at Aymestrey

Table Talk Friday 9th November

Hand-crafted chocolates, a Beatles-themed bar and new cook book from a Michelin star chef are the treats in store in this week’s Table Talk.

Henley Chocolates passion fruit truffles

Hand-crafted in the heart of Warwickshire, Henley Chocolates is currently running a CrowdFunding campaign. ‘Chocolate Can Bring Change’ aims to help to spread the chocolate love in an authentic way and the team are looking to raise £20,000 to invest in equipment to expand their business. Rewards vary from stocking fillers to chocolate for life so check out their page to support them.

Hard Days Night bar Newcastle under Lyne

If you are a Beatles fan, then head over to the new Hard Days Night bar which has opened on Kings Street in Newcastle-under-Lyme. Serving a range of Beatles-inspired cocktails craft beers and gins, the bar also features a replica of the Abbey Road pedestrian crossing.

Salt cook book by Paul Foster

On Monday (12th) you will need to make room on your bookshelf for Paul Foster’s first cookbook, named after his Michelin star restaurant Salt. His eagerly-anticipated debut book captures his remarkable story while offering 40 thrilling recipes that are “visually spectacular, intelligently designed and bursting with flavour.” RRP £39.99.

Table Talk – Friday 5th October

Salt restaurant Stratford upon Avon
Congratulations to Paul Foster and his team at Salt who have been awarded their first Michelin star. A record number of stars were announced by the food guide this week, with 21 restaurants achieving their first star. The Stratford upon Avon restaurant is delighted on the accolade as the guide says that “the cooking of Paul Foster is daring yet has real clarity”.

wood fired pizza oven

The Globe in Theatre Street, Warwick is re-opening next Friday (12th) following a big makeover. Changes include a new wood-fired oven to serve hand-crafted pizzas made in the Neapolitan style, a fresh new look and layout in the pub’s bar and dining areas plus the refurbishment of their guest bedroooms.

Brad Carter Carters of Moseley

The man hiding behind the cover is Birmingham wonder chef Brad Carter, who has just scooped Sustainable Star award from olive magazine. For the past 15 years olive magazine has championed the chefs that are making a difference to the way we eat in the UK. Instead of focusing on ‘celebrity chefs’ and ‘TV cooks’, they have sought out the professionals behind the pass who are breaking a sweat, innovating and pioneering. Carter’s of Moseley has been recognised for proving that they care just as much about the environment as the food they’re serving.

Salt Dining is coming soon….

After an initial setback with a property falling through, keep your fingers crossed that it is good news at last for chef Paul Foster regarding his new restaurant Salt Dining.

605 fans of the former Mallory Court head chef backed his Kickstarter campaign earlier in the year, pledging more than £100,000 to help Paul realise his dream of opening his own restaurant in Warwickshire.


Paul says; “Out of nowhere a stunning property fell onto my lap, I acted quick and had an offer accepted before it went on the market and into the hands of agents. Things are now moving forward well and Rhiain and I are very hopeful for an opening early in the New Year.

“Unfortunately at present I can’t give away more details like location etc as we haven’t signed yet and I suppose I feel like it is a case of once bitten twice shy. All I can say is that I fell in love with this place straight away, it is in good condition for us to have a relatively quick turn around and something where we can start small and humble and grow the business into something special.”

Here’s hoping that in 2017 everything will come together for Paul and he will finally be able to open  Salt Dining in Warwickshire.

Hold the burritos

Visit Mexico food

On the first date with my partner he asked me why I had drunk a shot of rattlesnake’s blood 20 years earlier in Acapulco. My defence was that I had been drinking tequila with some Canadian policewomen all night, so common sense and inhibitions were long gone for this foolish holiday anecdote.

Since then I’ve stuck to more traditional aspects of Mexican cuisine. Mainly guided by former Masterchef winner and restauranteur Thomasina Miers who is doing a great job in expanding my  knowledge of Mexican ingredients and dishes at Wahaca.


It wasn’t until this week though that I was truly able to appreciate how much more the cuisine has to offer. As a guest of Mallory Court I was lucky enough to join a select group of diners on Friday 25 September to experience a special dinner as part of the Mexican UK 2015 Restaurant Festival.

This chef cultural exchange programme has been running since April as part of a collaboration between the UK government  and Mexican Tourism Board, to showcase the country’s very talented chefs and to encourage an exchange of culinary skill and knowledge about ingredients.

From just six UK chefs, Paul Foster, head chef at The Dining Room at Mallory Court, was deeply honoured to be approached by the Mexican Tourist Board to take part in celebrating ‘The Year of Mexico in the United Kingdom’.

Romero y Azahar restaurant

He visited Mexico in May, with chef Alfredo Villanueva from Romero y Azahar restaurant (Monterrey) as his guide to local markets, cantinas and restaurants where he tried ants eggs, a cactus fruit called tuna and pigs liver amongst other local delicacies.

In an exciting exchange of flavours, Mallory Court hosted Alfredo to jointly prepare a six course dinner with Paul, with each chef creating three courses each of their own unique culinary styles.

Mallory Court crispy pork cheek

The first dish of the evening was Alfredo’s  ‘Chicarron en salsa verde’ of crispy pork cheek with tomatillo, cured pork belly, jaapeno pepper, courgette, epazote, corn and a raw green sauce which had a vivid zesty colour.

Mallory Court hand-dived scallop

Paul followed this with a hand-dived scallop, black garlic, charred leeks and onion ketchup, where the garlic had been roasted almost to a caramel.

Mallory Court cured mackerel dish

‘Mar y cacao’ was Alfredo’s fish course of cured mackerel, adobo pepper ash, mashed beans in cacao butter, radish and fermented turnip.  This was my first taste of adobo ash and fermented turnips and I was a fan of both.

Mallory Court grouse dish

Paul’s meat dish was grouse breast and ragu, with parsnip and elderberries which had a lovely seasonal warmth.

Mallory Court caramalized goats milk

The first of two desserts followed with Alfredo’s ‘Campechana de dulce de leche’ of caramalized goat’s milk and Mezcal mousse, puff pastry and spiced chocolate sauce with the tang of the goat’s milk offset by the sweeter ingredients.

Mallory Court whipped pumpkin

Our dinner concluded with Paul’s whipped pumpkin, vanilla poached chicory and muscavado ice cream, where Paul adeptly demonstrated that you can use vegetables in desserts to give a sweet taste without the sugar content.

Paul and Alfredo chatted to guests after service about how much they had enjoyed the experience and what they had learnt from each other in this exchange. This is always my favourite part of the evening when you get a chance to talk to the chefs, discover what inspires them and be able to thank them in person for an amazing evening.

Our dishes were paired with organic Chablis Brocard, Pinor Noir and Moscato d’Asti, which were all included in the £95 cost of the meal, along with cocktails and canapés upon arrival and petit fours with our coffee.

Mallory Court dinner guest Reg Keys and partner Jenny, Alfredo and Paul Foster

Like all great meals, the company makes an extra special and we were fortunate enough to be seated with a couple who were about to get married at the hotel and their friends. The bride and groom to be turned out to be Reg Keys and his partner Jenny.

Reg is a founder member of the campaign group Milltary Families Against War. His son Lance Corporal Tom Keys, was a Royal Military policeman and one of six red Caps killed in Iraq in June 2003. He stood against Tony Blair for the Sedgwick seat and is commentator for national media. He has a fascinating and emotional life story, which is currently being filmed by Willy McGovern, with Tim Roth playing the part of Reg. The programme will be broadcast by BBC1 in the New Year.

I can’t guarantee that you will be dining with such interesting company, but If you have enjoyed reading my review and would like to experience Mallory Court for yourself, the  next dinner event will be on Saturday 17 October for  The Battle of Eden – 70s Style. Read all about out it on the October events page.

Mallory Court Hotel Leamington Spa

Mallory Court is a stunning 31 bedroom manor house set in 10 acres of grounds, just outside of Leamington Spa. I had pegged this luxury hotel as a venue for weddings, but not necessarily dining, so even though it is very local to me I hadn’t visited before last week’s dinner. I don’t intend to wait too long though to return and enjoy Paul Foster’s cooking and the hotel’s faultless service again.