Never eat anything bigger than your head
Cookery Quote
Whenever you see crossed chives you are in trouble
We should all be eating less meat and better meat

Pies, beer and chocolate – what’s not to like?

The cellars at the venerable Stafford Hotel in London’s Clubland (the hotel is now part of the Kempinski Group) are very deep and very solid. Today it’s a great place to hide out as there is no phone reception whatsoever, but during the Second World War it did sterling work as a bomb shelter. In honour of National pie week (yet another PR wheeze, what will they think of next?) Head Chef Brendan Fyldes launched a special pie menu at the Stafford’s Lyttelton Restaurant and our onerous task was to try both the pies and the beers that they had been matched with.
The pies were very good – the rabbit and crayfish, served in a scallop shell had admirable crisp pastry – this was teamed with Hopback Summer Lightning. The crisp bitterness of the beer works well with the sweetish pie filling. The “Pheasant, Wild Duck and Foie Gras” was more like a terrine in pastry than a pie but ate very well and was billed as a match for Harviestoun Bitter and Twisted. The “Potted game and pistachio” was a hand raised pie that looked a bit like a classic pork pie. It was served with Ilkley Brewery’s “Siberia” - one of Melissa Cole’s creations, a sharp beer with the zing of rhubarb (hence the name) On a heavier note there was the “Buckinghamshire Pudding” solid with suet and filled with beef in red wine, as to what we drank with the Bucks Pud history (or rather my note) doesn’t relate. Two lessons learnt – a good pie is a real treat – pies and beer are happy bedfellows.
Beer has its charms but meanwhile the Academy of Chocolate held the tastings for the 2013 Awards at Westminster Kingsway College. If ever you wanted proof of the invigorating sugar rush you get from tucking into a lot of chocolate you should pop into these tastings. At the beginning of the session everyone is sober and serious but after an hour munching truffles even the most reserved of the judges were starting to babble. The judges notes make stern reading – we had to check out appearance; aroma; touch; sound of the snap; mouthfeel; flavour; and the all important finish. Three dozen truffles later it was hard to focus but broadly it was “yes” to the simple intense flavours and a more guarded “probably not” to the truffles that tried to combine three or four different flavours. A muddle is still a muddle even when it is a chocolate muddle! Now we wait for the announcement of the medals

The Lyttelton Restaurant, The Stafford London Kempinski, St James's Place 16-18, SW1A 1NJ London (0207 493 0111)

Charles Campion - Thursday 28th February 2013

  • The Diner - Double decker
  • Hard Rock Cafe - HRC burger
  • Arbutus - Squid and mackerel burger
  • Haché - Cheeseburger
  • Eagle Diner - Golden Hog (wild boar)
  • Gourmet Burger Kitchen - Buffalo burger