Monday, 20 April 2015

Gorse at Mrs Atha's - Part of The Leeds Indie Food Festival 2015

If you haven't heard of Leeds Indie Food Festival and you like food and drink you're in for a treat, if you have skip the next two paragraphs.

Leeds indie food festival was an idea brought about to showcase the truly wonderful independents we have here in Leeds. What's even more wonderful is that the idea is a project from people of Leeds who are passionate about food and the independent businesses within the city and it was funded by the people of Leeds who are passionate about food and the independents within Leeds in the form of a kickstarter.

There is another food festival which runs each year but I don't think I am alone in thinking that the chain restaurants get all the top spots and therefore the footfall at this festival. It's most likely because they have the cash.

The indie food festival isn't a one or two dayer, it will start on 7th May and end on 24th May and take place over a variety of different locations. Some of the food events include rum tasting, beer and ice cream pop ups, Victorian-esq dinners and Leeds Feast which will be over two days at Tetley's. Events are already selling out so I'd advise you book sooner rather than later. If you think you can attend more than one event it might be worth you investing in a festival passport as these will give holders discounts and a few little extras not available to Joe Bloggs (unless Joe has one too). 

One of the pop ups that will feature in Leeds Indie Festival will be Gorse hosted at Mrs Atha's (after normal public hours of course). I was lucky to be invited to a sneak preview so I could show all you, my lovely readers, what's on offer before you sign up to something you may never have heard of before.

Here's a quick intro for you... Gorse is described as a "dinner experience for curious gastronomes", if that doesn't grab you by the wrists and force your hand in to buying a ticket read on... Gorse will offer a vegetable focused tasting menu (dates at the end of this post) built on 6 courses sourcing their ingredients from local suppliers around Yorkshire. It's an idea produced by Geoffrey and Richard: Geoffrey has recently relocated from Paris and Richard has been cooking up a storm in that there London. They have a wealth of experience between them which they are choosing to showcase to us lucky souls here in Leeds.

I had the chance to meet Geoffrey and his partner on the evening, such a lovely pair I wish them both well in their new life in Yorkshire. The evening was relaxed and informal and the food was unique, not like anything I've ever had before. If you can make it to one of their nights it's definitely one of the events I'd recommend attending. Passport holders get an extra special dish too.

So, to the food. What did we have? 

The first course was described as 'snacks' and comprised of a taco revisited, an avocado parfait, and a Wensleydale biscuit topped with pickled rhubarb.

All were very delicate and had strong but delicate flavours, designed to be eaten in one mouthful they were gone in moments but were not disappointing.

We were given with bread and butter to tie us over between courses. I think bread and butter is underrated. I love bread and butter, especially when the bread is soft and warm on the inside and crusty around the edge... just like this was.

The second course was a celeriac purée with celeriac pasta on top of a bantam egg. 

There were a few deviations in the cooking of the egg with mine being hard boiled D's being soft boiled (that's D's above) and I think Diane's was somewhere in the middle. Nevertheless a delicious dish. 

The third course consisted of asparagus, spinach, peas and rapeseed mayonnaise.

The mayonnaise was rich and creamy it created a perfect contrast against the crunch of the asparagus and the sweetness of the peas.

The fourth dish was onion caramelised in beer, with a pine nut emulsion a sliver of parsnip and clove.

A sweet dish not like something I've ever had before, each flavour shining through in it's own way. I'm glad to report that the clove wasn't overpowering but added a nice element to the overall dish.

The fifth dish was a transition dish from savoury to sweet consisting of carrot, mango, radish, basil and crème fraiche.

A simple, clean and refreshing dish it certainly cleansed my palate ready for the next dish.

The sixth dish, reserved for those with passports, was a panna cotta topped with roasted oatmeal and gorse, their name sake.

This was one of my favourites, if not favourite, dish of the night. I've never tasted panna cotta like it before, so light, so unlike any other. The crunchy oatmeal added an extra dimension to the dish, a sort of topsy turvy cheesecake.. but you know panna cotta not cheese, and erm.. oatmeal not biscuit. So in retrospect not like a cheescake at all. The gorse wasn't something I had ever eaten before, it was dry from the crystallisation and definitely should be eaten with a spoon full of cotta. D wasn't too keen describing it like eating grass... but don't tell Geoffrey.

The last course was an espresso tart.

Actually, more like a cheesecake than the last course.  It was dense and heavy but not overly flavoured with coffee. A happy medium between those who like coffee flavoured things and those who don't.

To cap off the end of the night we had a coffee courtesy of Mrs Atha's. I had to make mine a decaff as it was pushing past 10pm and I had to get some sleep that night having work the next day.

If you like what you see above you can book yourself on to one of their pop ups at Mrs Atha's on 7-9th and the 21-23rd May (2015) book here quick!

Check them out on facebook here 

To see what other events Leeds Indie Food Festival have on offer check them out here.

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