Seafood and wine workshops at the Andaz Hotel
7am on a Saturday morning is not the usual start time for events I attend, 7pm is more like it, but since Billingsgate market is only open early mornings, I had no choice but to be up at the crack of dawn to get down to the market for the new series the “Andaz Liverpool Street Seafood Workshops” in conjunction with Head Chef Martin Scholz of Catch Restaurant (part of the Andaz Hotel) is launching during the London Restaurant Festival.
Catch’s Head Chef, Martin Scholz met us at the Billingsgate market and gave us a tour round, meeting suppliers, showing us the different species of fish the market sells and showing us how to select seafood as well as shop sustainably. The market was winding down but the time we got there (8am) but Saturday the market is open to regular punters and there was still plenty of people around and fish to buy. I’d never been to such a big fish market and it was eye-opening to see fish as something other than fillets. Frankly, they are not the cuddliest animals around.
After our tour we headed back to the Andaz Hotel for our seafood cookery class in the Andaz Studio, a private dining room/workspace where we would be helping out Chef Martin and his assistant chef, Gavin. The space is great as it has an open plan kitchen at one end where guests can either watch the chefs at work or roll up their sleeves and pitch in. We got to slicing and dicing the ingredients for our lunch. Chef Martin was great, funny and friendly but a consummate professional at the same time. Cooking with the chef was not only fun but also educational as Martin had lots of little hints and tips.
It took a few hours to get lunch ready but it was well worth the wait. A light and delectable bouillabaise to start, arctic cod with chorizo risotto and olive tapenade stuffed squid for the main followed by chestnut creme brulee with toffee ice cream made for a delicious lunch. I love seafood and it made me feel quite good that we were eating a meal that was (mostly) low in fat and cholesterol.
Lunch was paired with a series of wines picked by sommelier Joris Beijn. As a bit of a twist on the traditional food and wine matches, Joris gave us three wine samples for each dish to show not only how wines can match with a meal but also how they cannot.
For the bouillabaise, Joris presented a Chilean sauvignon blanc, a German Riesling and a 1980 Madeira Bual to try and then choose the one we thought went best. What was most interesting was that while the wines might have been good on their own, when paired with food they weren’t always so agreeable. We all agreed that the sauvignon clearly didn’t go with the sweet prawns and scallops of the soup. There was a bit of disagreement between the riesling and the madeira. Some preferred the riesling but I thought it had too much ripe fruit and not quite enough acidity for the dish. The clear winner for me (and Joris’ pick as well) was the madeira. While it didn’t look like a white wine, being a chestnut brown colour, it was very lively, great acidity with nutty notes and a sweetness that was not overpowering but worked well with the food.
The rest of the pairings were just as interesting but I’m going to save those for another post.
A great way to spend a Saturday morning with all your hard work being rewarded with a health conscious and delicious lunch. Chef Martin and Catch restaurant will be running the same seafood workshop on the 15th Oct but they are considering adding them on as a regular feature. For more information on the Andaz Liverpool Street Seafood Workshop, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 (0) 207 618 7200 . The course runs from 7:45 am to 2pm and costs £70 per person and includes the class and lunch.
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