Chef’s Table

Food travels and inspiration for summer eating with Michelin-star chef James Close from The Raby Hunt

Spring the changes

A change of season gives us new things in the kitchen, a welcome blast of light in the mornings and the promise of some outdoor eating and relaxing times with a beer or two. It means you’re more likely to make the journey somewhere different to go and eat, so I’ve been thinking about new food destinations for the summer.

One of them is the beach at Tynemouth for food at Riley’s Fish Shack on the beach at King Edward’s Bay. It’s a quality little place. Prepare for queues but really there are few things as good at seafood on the beach and this is how to do it with style. One of my favourite pizza destinations is Cal’s Own which has relocated from Heaton to Holly Avenue West in Jesmond. A great destination for quality sourdough-crust, genuine Neapolitan pizzas from the mighty wood-fired oven. Flat White café in Durham was a great location for a pop-up food night with the flying taco people, Barrio Comida.

This little set-up puts the love into every little taco, tostada and tortilla. The taco fillings are authentic. The business owner headed here from California – his yearning for the tastes of home led to the launch of Barrio Comida to recreate such fillings as classic Al Pastor on their charcoal fired spit and Oaxacan classic Chicken Mole Poblano which is made from over 20 ingredients and takes a whole day to prepare. Salsas range from a bright and refreshing raw tomatillo to brick red sweet salsa Guajillo and everything in between. The Flat White pop-up also involved much cocktail-tasting alongside!

I plan a trip to York to the Le Couchon Avegule which has been getting a lot of attention from reviewers lately. Josh Overington is chef there – he worked with the restaurant’s former owner Michael O’Hare. Menus have a French accent with a lively interpretation of traditional, new and experimental. They’ve got a new wine bar down the road as well, so a timely hop on the train is planned. Elsewhere in the North East, Middlesbrough’s Orange Pip market launching at the end of May sounds like one to watch with its mix of music, culture and food; sounds like something a bit different sitting in the middle of an exciting artisan food development in Bedford St and Baker St.


Start the day

If you like a breakfast with some kick and are heading to London soon I can’t recommend Dishoom highly enough. There are four branches of the Indian café in the city – one near Kings Cross.

The Bacon naan roll is unreal. Bacon is from The Ginger Pig smoked streaky bacon, dry-cured for five days with rock salt and demerara sugar then cold-smoked over oak chips. The bacon butty is the stuff of dreams with loads of coriander – a Dishoom signature dish that is definitely worthy trying – a knockout at £5.50!


Food travels

fruitiere-entete-articleWe’ve been to Altapura, a 5-star hotel in Val Thorens, the highest resort in Europe which we love because you can ski right from the doors. We did some skiing and plenty of apres.

A favourite lunch destination on the slopes was La Fruitiere at La Folie Douce. It’s a place we had a fabulous lunch – the menu is rich in locally-produced foods and Savoyard specialities. We had a long lunch of slow-cooked lamb shoulder with roasted spring vegetables. We also had amazing Gillardeau oysters, considered to be the best of the French varieties. They are the best oysters outside of Lindisfarne!


Book it

A diary date at Raby Hunt will see us team up with Tom Cenchi from Duck & Waffle in London on 5 July. The dazzling rooftop restaurant is a favourite of mine and the evening will be a meeting of food minds with dishes from Raby Hunt and Duck & Waffle. Exciting work in progress.


Leaf love

Here at Raby Hunt we’re getting excited about radicchio of all things. We’ve got the wine equivalent – a red, rose and white – of this leafy plant on a new menu dish. The ‘white’, is a forced variety called 
Castle Franco, the ‘rose’ a Rosa di Simone and then there’s the conventional deep red raddichio which most people know. We serve it with squab – the radicchio is barbecued and served with a black olive 
jus and anchovy.


Good cheer

WineI spent Tyne-Wear derby day at St James’ Park and wine-tasted my way through the afternoon accompanied by good friends, a decent rib-eye steak and some brilliant bottles!

Pick of the crop was a fabulous Batard Montrachet grand cru. A good way to celebrate a so-so result!

Bib Gourmand with Harriett Close

IMG_0002So I have discovered something called 
a fondue on my skiing holiday. I had my first skiing lessons and felt like a very big girl indeed, the falling over is a lot of fun. Then when you have finished you get to hold a big stick with a lump of bread on the end and dip it into some kind of cheesy soup.

It’s very messy but yummy. Even better was a chocolate fondue – messier and yummier still. Snowy skiing and stick food is definitely my favourite new thing.

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