HAVE you ever watched mouth-watering dishes being prepared on MasterChef and had the urge to rush to the kitchen and create them yourself?
I have, but last week I was fortunate enough not to have to create those memorable dishes, I had them bought straight to me by the MasterChef winner himself.
Nestled away in the the rural village of Eckington in the Avon valleys and the picturesque Cotswolds, is Eckington Manor, a pretty farmhouse which has been converted into a luxurious country house and restaurant.
Eckington Manor recently opened its doors to my partner and I, where we were invited to try their £75 six course MasterChef tasting menu, prepared by MasterChef 2015 winner Mark Stinchcombe and his wife Sue.
As a big foodie fan always looking to give my tastebuds a new experience at every possible opportunity, I was very much excited to try the exclusive menu of dishes Mark had produced during his time on the show.
Upon arrival we were led to our table before Mark and Sue gave a speech about their journey on the show and what we had in store.
First up was the snacks and the pigs head with Earl Grey soaked prune puree. I’ve never had pigs head before but without beating around the bush it was one of my favourite dishes on the night.
The succulent pork accompanied by the prune puree packed flavour and left me wanting more than just a bitesize chunk!
Next up was the artichoke skin, pickled cherry and cocoa nib. Again this was something I had never tried and was full of flavour. The crispy skin was coated with a beautiful fruity tang and the final dish of lamb sweetbread, goats curd, courgette and basil had a fluffy texture and fell apart in the mouth, rounded off a perfect way to start proceedings.
The starter was a simple tomato salad with smoked aubergine and olive crumb, but was light, juicy and fresh just as one would expect and want entering course three.
I love fish and Mark’s scallops with roasted lemon, peas and buttermilk was a marvellous creation of flavours. With an iced glaze across the scallops, it was again fresh and delightful. I could definitely appreciate why Mark had cruised through the show’s rounds with such exquisite tastes thus far.
‘Now the showstopper’ as Mark put it. Fillet of beef with marrow bone crusted short rib and carrots coated in a charcoal emulsion. Divine is an understatement. The generous portion of beef was thick and juicy and the ribs were sticky and sweet. It truly was the showstopper and I was ready to throw in the towel after being hit with such heavenly treats.
But there is always room for desert and the elderflower panna cotta with strawberry parfait, gooseberry and candyfloss was the ultimate pudding for the strongest of sweet tooth diners. The gooseberry was poured into the bubble of candyfloss which melted into the jar of delight.
Despite having four courses already, it was demolished in minutes.
Finally a round of coffee and petit fours which was refreshing and a fitting way to end what was a unique and exciting experience.
Hats off to Mark and Sue and all the staff at Eckington Manor for creating such a humble environment for all to enjoy and a personal congratulations from me to all of the team for producing a ‘bucket list’ evening for my partner and I.