|Turning The Tables At Napa|
Emma Brophy takes on challenge of creating restaurant food at home
With so many restaurants suffering the consequences of diners' belt tightening, Napa’s Chef Patron Wayne Dixon has come up with the novel idea of getting his customers to save money by cooking their food themselves.
But he’s not planning on sharing his kitchens with the aspiring chefs of Chiswick; his idea is for us to cook his recipes for ourselves at home.
Alas, for me at least, that was not the end of his 'good ideas'.
To launch the restaurant’s new website, he asked me to test the first recipe of the month - Cider Braised Pork Belly with Colcannon - on my family and then compare it to one he prepared in the restaurant, the idea being that there wouldn’t be a huge difference if I followed his recipe to the letter.
Now I could fib and tell you that mine was a runaway success but I doubt £1 would keep the children quiet for long. However, I did genuinely enjoy the challenge not in the least because pork belly was something I'd never attempted to cook.
The recipe’s ingredients, all sourced locally, and instructions were clearly set out and easy to follow albeit I had my laptop on the kitchen table rather than the usual cookbook on a stand. The only thing that Wayne didn’t allow for was how to counsel a ten year old girl after she discovered I had put ‘bits’ in her mash potato (the offending items were actually shredded savoy cabbage and thinly sliced onion fried in butter with spring onions or scallions if we’re going to be truly authentic). My other two were satisfied with the explanation that Colcannon was a traditional Irish dish just like their Nana used to make for their daddy when he was a little boy (which reminds me I need to bribe their Nana too!).
For me, the thing that really stood out was the wonderful rich gravy produced from the braising process. It was quite simply delicious; nothing like I’d ever managed to make before. (Tip: I used the discarded vegetables and bits of left over pork belly fat and gravy to make stock for risotto).
Needless to say Wayne’s version, which I enjoyed immensely on Tuesday, effortlessly outclassed mine to the extent I was glad it was only me that got to taste both dishes! But outdoing amateur chefs isn’t the aim of putting Napa recipes online; it’s about enabling us to enjoy restaurant quality food in our own homes and with the price of babysitters these days, for me that can only be a good thing.
Napa’s recipe of the month - Cider Braised Pork Belly with Colcannon - can be found at www.naparestaurant.co.uk
December 5, 2008