The last weekend in September means Taste of Cumbria Festival in Cockermouth, Cumbria. Seeing as I live not too far away, we have attended the festival every year since the first event in 2009. It’s a great showcase of local food produce, drinks and kitchenware there are produced and manufactured locally.
THE Simon Rogan, of L’Enclume, Fera and The French fame, had a pop-up restaurant on the go. For any other foodies, you may appreciate how amazing this opportunity could be. Simon Rogan is an amazing chef, utilising locally grown produce in his food – much of it foraged from our beautiful Cumbrian countryside.
I was utterly gobsmacked when A came home from work telling me that he’d arranged us tickets for Sunday lunch in Simon Rogan’s restaurant! Eeep!! Cue excitement building…
We were told to get up to the pop-up restaurant, which was held at a local car garage, by 12pm for a 12:30pm start. We arrived at the garage and were shown to our table. Considering this was in a garage, they’d made it look really quite fancy! A wall of tyres and a Mini were used to discreetly cover, what I can only imagine were, the back of the refrigerators – a great touch.
The tables were laid with fresh, clean white tablecloths, fine glassware and silver cutlery. Fresh bread was served on Wavy Grain solid wood serving boards and pretty green flowers were the centrepiece – a true reflection of Rogan’s simplistic, homegrown principals. Water was available on the tables to cleanse the palette or for those who were designated drivers in minimalistic, capped glass bottles. Simon himself even popped out of the kitchen to say a few words! To be honest, I don’t really remember what he said – I was so awestruck that he was only a few metres away!
In the kitchen, Simon had a handful of chefs from his L’Enclume restaurant with a number of catering students from the local college. I thought that this was a brilliant touch – can you imagine having that you’ve worked with Simon Rogan on you CV?! The front of house staff were also students from the college, which was a great opportunity for all involved.
The menu was presented tucked into our napkins, detailing the spectacular 4 course lunch we were about to receive and the accompanying wines for each course. The Sommelier took us through each choice of wine, describing the regions and grapes of which the wines were made and the different notes we would taste in the wine that would match the food perfectly. The wines were amazing and really matched each course wonderfully (even if I did get a tad squiffy mid-afternoon)!
Ok, so here’s the food. For those who have read my previous posts, you’ll know that I’m really not a fan of sweetcorn. Some would say I have a bit of a phobia – it’s not that I’m scared of sweetcorn, as it doesn’t frighten me per say. Although, I can’t stand the sight, smell or taste of it. So I was pretty nervous that I was going to have a load of sweetcorn on my plate during the second course… I was brave, and I tried it. I cleared my plate because I didn’t want our Simon to think I was being ungrateful for the food he and his team had so lovingly prepared for us. I asked A if he had videoed the moment as it would never happen again!!
I tried all sorts I didn’t think I ever would, including the sweetcorn, like Eel (which is actually really nice), quail and artichokes. Everything went together so well – I wish I could cook food like this!
I’ve visited a couple of Simon Rogan’s restaurants and never really been a fan of the dessert courses. This is because I like my puddings sweet. Really sweet. I was pleasantly surprised at how sweet the Crab Apple dessert was, the crispy biscuit laid over the caramelised yogurt and crab apple was really nice and added a crunchy texture to an otherwise very smooth dish.
I was so impressed with the food and wines presented to us, I’ve been planning another trip to L’Enclume in Cartmel. I would highly recommend anyone try a Simon Rogan restaurant – they really are worth it.