Traditional Lancashire fayre and tapas are not things you would expect to find on the same menu.
But catering students at Accrington College did just that at a special themed evening to showcase some of the best produce from across the county.
From Bury black pudding to Morecambe Bay potted shrimps, they produced a seven-dish tapas tasting menu while Burnley brewery Moorhouses matched each course with one of its real ales.
Despite living just a 10 minute drive away from the student restaurant Eatery 1853, at Accrington’s Globe Centre, I’d never been before.
The atmosphere was friendly and welcoming and we were seated at a nicely laid table for two near the front of the restaurant.
The first course was the Morecambe Bay potted shrimps, one of my favourite restaurant starters, paired with Moorhouses’ White Mist, a wheat beer. If I’m honest I’ve always thought too much emphasis is placed on matching food to the right drink, whether it be wine or, as in this case, beer but these two were a match made in heaven. The ale was refreshing, the shrimps were great and I could’ve happily eaten those for the rest of the evening.
Next up was a bite-sized barmcake topped with Lancashire cheese and pickle and teamed with a glass of Premier Bitter. The cheese was delicious and gooey and the pickle was the perfect accompaniment. The bitter, not normally something I would choose to drink, worked extremely well with the flavours in the food.
Bury black pudding was the next dish, served simply with a scrape of English mustard. The pudding had been expertly steamed and melted in the mouth. I thought the Pride of Pendle it was served with was a good match, easy to drink, and would’ve gone well with most of the dishes on the menu.
The fourth dish was Blond Witch beer battered cauliflower. Although seemingly one of the least exciting courses, this was an absolute gem and one of my favourites of the evening. The cauliflower was curried, full of flavour, and was served with a delicious dipping sauce I wish I had the recipe for. This was paired with Blond Witch, my favourite beer of the evening, and, according to Moorhouses managing director David Grant, the one most favoured by lager drinkers. To me this was beer/food combination at its best.
Dark beer Black Cat with its distinct liquorice taste was the drink matched with the mini rag pudding, chips in dripping, mushy peas and gravy. The suet pastry filled with shin beef was a delight and matched the deep flavour of the beer.
By this point it’s not surprising that I was starting to feel more than a little full. But with two more courses to go I didn’t want to miss out.
The cheese course was small croquettas filled with Garstang Blue and accompanied by a mixture of Lancashire and sun blush tomatoes. Paired with Ruby Witch, the flavour combinations were great though the ale had something of an acquired taste.
The meal was perfectly rounded off with a traditional Lancashire dessert, Eccles cake, and clotted cream, coupled with the sweet notes of Pendle Witches Brew.
Under the guidance of chef lecturer Lee Hyatt, the students did a fantastic job, both in and out of the kitchen. It was hard to believe some of them who were waiting on had only been at the college for five weeks.