Andi Walker Pop Up – Riverside Inn, Chelmsford

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I must admit I am always on the go. This is great (although tiring), but it does mean sometimes I reply to emails about blogging events way into the future and forget about them until nearer the time. A nifty trick I have now is to add them to my calendar straight away with an alert a couple of days before. So you can imagine how exited I was when and alert popped up on Monday to remind me that I GET TO EAT ALL THE GOOD FOOD THURSDAY.

Andi Walker was a semi finalist on the 2015 Masterchef which isn’t an easy feat when you see the talent on the show. His pop up at the Riverside Inn has quietly been making waves since it opened a few months ago and it isn’t unlikely to call up for a table and find it fully booked. Andi takes over the top floor of the venue from Thursday to Saturday every week and offers a 6 course tasting menu for £39 per person. One of the things Andi has the incredible ability to do is to take a few ingredients that are in season and turn them into something amazing. After a bland experience at Reids Bar in Billericay last weekend, I was looking forward to trying some great food. I don’t know about you but cooking things like a roast and a fry up petrify me because everything happens at once, and not only did Andi cook for a huge amount of people at this event, but he also made sure myself and my guest had vegetarian options.

The tasting menu was compiled of 6 different dishes. Each dish was made from ingredient’s that are currently in season and everything was put together beautifully.

Course 1 – Leek Bhaji’s and Artichokes

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I did take my notepad but unfortunately it is a bit awkward to sit at the table writing in a massive £14.99 Paperchase number. This means you need to forgive me for not remembering exactly what was in the artichokes. The leek bhaji’s were pretty unforgettable though. When I do dare to treat myself to an Indian onion bhaji’s are my absolute go to but the only thing I don’t like about them is the fact they can be terribly greasy. The leek bhaji’s Andi made were light and fluffy and he succeeds in compiling dishes that are the perfect amount of food. After all ,there’s nothing worse than going home after a meal feeling like a potato with arms, legs, and a face.

Course 2 – Sourdough Bread with Marmite Butter

Legend has it I was born with a jar of Marmite which I was eating from the jar with a spoon on the way out. That was a lie – but I do love the stuff. I’ve had everything in Marmite flavour but I have never tried Marmite butter. There were a few people at our table who were less than fans of Marmite (love it or hate it right?) and even they loved the Marmite butter. This is something I am absolutely going to try and make at home. The creaminess of the butter manages to negate the harsher flavours of the Marmite so you get a little bit of an experience of the flavour without it being overwhelming.

I didn’t get a picture of this course because I wanted to eat it so badly.

Course 3 – Salt Baked Celeriac with Apple Mustard and Pickled Onions

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I’d never had celeriac before. I mean, I probably have but not in an ‘I remember what that tastes like’ kind of way. The ingredients for this course were so simple but the mustard and pickled onions really livened up the taste of the celeriac. I also enjoyed the crunch the apples and the onions provided which balanced out how soft the celeriac was. The only downfall to this was that because I love mustard I got over excited and ate too much in one go which is why I couldn’t finish the dish. Unfortunately I am slightly like a 5 year old and if I like the food I will just continue to eat it regardless of how hot or spicy it is.

Course 4 – Mushroom Risotto with Goats Cheese and Granola

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If there is one thing I love – it’s rice. You can imagine how thrilled I was that the vegetarian main course was risotto. The mushroom risotto served for the main was so sooth and creamy and it was almost like eating silk. The goats cheese was a wonderful addition and as a cheese fan I wholeheartedly advocate adding cheese to anything. The interesting ingredient for me was the granola topping. Again, like the celeriac dish, it just gave that bit of texture to an otherwise smooth dish. I really enjoyed this one but by now I had started to get full and there was no way I was going to run out of room before I could sample the chocolate torte.

Course 5 –  Chocolate Torte with Peanut Butter Ice Cream, Caramel and Peanuts

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Usually I am not a dessert fan but this one blew me away. I tend to prefer savoury over sweet but peanuts and peanut butter will always hold a soft spot in my heart. Andi came over to explain each dish personally and the peanut butter only had two ingredients in it. Madness! how can something taste that good with only two ingredients?! The chocolate torte was delicious. I’ve had a lot of chocolate torte experiences in my time. You could say I am a chocolate tart. Some good, some bad, and some a little bit strange. This was one of my favourites. Dessert tends not to be my favourite because it is heavy and stodgy and I dislike the idea of basically being rolled to the car after dinner. Andi Walker’s was perfect. It was light and airy and tasted like a little chocolate cloud (I am aware they do not exist – but let’s face it they should).

Overall the dining experience was wonderful. Very Berri PR are an incredible company to work with and possibly one of the most friendly PR companies I have ever worked with. One of the other huge benefits to the evening was meeting Claire from Club Forty. She is in the going sober club as well (although she has done a lot longer than me) and it was lovely to be on a table with someone as interesting and fun to talk to as her and her partner, as well as Zoe from Very Berri.

I’ll be booking up to go back here as soon as possible after my holiday in September, and if Chelmsford isn’t too far for you I would really recommend getting down there while And is still there. Be quick though – after the glowing reviews of the press event start appearing I am sure Andi will be getting quite booked up.

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