Tuesday, 23 July 2013

T&Cake Almondbury - Odd Dinner

T and Cake Almondbury
I am a huge fan of T&Cake in Almondbury, Huddersfield. We had a fantastic lunch the first time we went, and it was even better on our return visit a few months later. Stephen and Tracy Jackson are living their dream. Stephen is an ex-Michelin starred chef and Tracy is a skilled baker; together they are a powerhouse of home comforts.
T and Cake Almondbury
Although Stephen swapped fine dining for cafe culture, he still has a keen interest which sees him sampling culinary delights all over the world. That's what the 'Odd Dinner' was all about. A collection of dishes inspired by his travels, and a chance to get all refined once more.

The first I heard of the 'Odd Dinner' was via Twitter. There was one table left. One. Less than five minutes later we were the proud owners of the last two seats in the house. The dinner itself comprised of ten courses plus wine for £100 per person.
T and Cake Odd Dinner - Menu
On arrival, we were greeted with a glass of bubbly which we sipped in the garden whilst we waited for the other guests to arrive. There was a rich cheesy aroma wafting from the kitchen and a rather calm looking chef chatting with diners. We were excited.

Snacks: cheese sablé - tomato tapenade madeleine - local beef, caper and lemon
These little nibbles were some of the best I have tried anywhere. Big flavours, generous portions and pleasing on the eye. My favourite by far was the beef; a stunning combination of sweet and sharp.
T and Cake Odd Dinner - Snacks
T and Cake Odd Dinner - Beef, Caper and Lemon
T and Cake Odd Dinner - Tomato with Tapenade Madeleine
'Bread and Butter' - Handmade Bakery sourdough - bayleaf butter
This vibrant green butter was a hit as soon as it was placed on our table. It smelled fantastic. Soft bread served with fresh, fragrant butter. Forever the connoisseur, my husband said that the buttered bread tasted like a good quality sausage roll! I have no idea why this was so, but he was indeed correct... 
T and Cake Odd Dinner - Bread and Butter
Endive - pain d'epice - pink grapefruit - bergamot - mint
This was a crisp, colourful salad with sweet pink grapefruit lurking beneath. When mixed together this was an explosion of clean flavours. The perfect successor to the heavier sourdough dish.
T and Cake Odd Dinner - Endive
Cauliflower panna cotta - fried hazelnut crumbs - lovage
As with the cauliflower panna cotta at the Wine Glass, I struggled a bit with this one. I'm not the world's biggest cauliflower fan so I am a little biased. Let me tell you what our fellow diners thought instead. My husband polished the lot, as did everyone on the table next to us. It was a big hit with the cauliflower fans!
T and Cake Odd Dinner - Cauliflower Panna Cotta
Sweetcorn - scallop - Lincolnshire smoked eel - belly pork - 'seaweed'
This wasn't a dish I was particularly looking forward to because I hate scallops. However, I like to give things a go, and I'm so glad I did. This is one of the best dishes I have eaten in some time. It was the perfect balance of texture and flavour, and looked pretty good too. The edges of the scallop were crisp, the sweetcorn tasted like a good cornbread with lashings of butter, the belly pork was flavourful with no hint of grease, but the star of the show was the smoked eel. Brilliant.
T and Cake Odd Dinner - Sweetcorn, scallops and eel
Potted wild rabbit - Holmfirth cider jelly - carrot confit - chervil
For those of you who know me well, you will already understand that rabbit is my culinary enemy number one. I have not, and will not ever eat rabbit. I kept them as pets until in my mid twenties, so I cannot stand the thought of eating them. I'll be honest, I made my husband eat this whilst I nipped for a walk. It's that bad. He informs me this was a wonderful dish. Eek. 
T and Cake Odd Dinner - Potted something...
Woodpigeon - potato and shallot tart - toasted croissant veloutĂ© - brassicas
This was the 'main' and a bit of a show stopper. Big chunks of pink pigeon served with a crisp tart on shredded brassicas. This was devilishly good. On completion, I feared I would never be able to eat ever again.
T and Cake Odd Dinner - Woodpigeon
Gjetost - bitter chocolate - Fleur de sel - olive oil
Gjetost is a whey cheese served warm. It has a rich caramel flavour, and is a little like solid dulce de leche with a savoury undertone. Its sweet edge was brought out by shavings of chocolate, whilst the savoury side was complimented by olive oil. A really unusual concoction which just worked.
T and Cake Odd Dinner - Gjetost
'T&Cake' - beurre noisette financier - milk ice cream - Earl Grey custard
Pretty as a picture. I loved this. The beurre noisette is a nod to the frosting on their signature 'Almondberry' cake and of course the tea was in the form of the stunning Earl Grey custard. I would have liked the financier to have echoed the almond from that beautiful cake, but that's just my preference.
T and Cake Odd Dinner - T&Cake
Olive oil jelly - muscovado cornets - truffle - canard
Just when you think you may combust, this appears. A stunning platter of mini sweet treats. My favourite had to be the muscovado cornets. Stick your Cornettos and your 99s, I'm all about this from now on.
T and Cake Odd Dinner - Petit fours
T and Cake Odd Dinner - Petit fours
The wine flowed generously throughout the night, some of which came from Stephen and Tracy's private collection. I think I ate that much food, I couldn't even tell I had been drinking! I had two glasses of champagne which is usually enough to see me go slightly off my rocker (there was once a rather unsavoury incident with some stairs in the Fat Duck).
T and Cake Odd Dinner - Drinks
Tracy declined my request of an intravenous shot of caffeine, so I opted for a regular coffee instead, whilst Paddy had a rather cute espresso. None of this eased our pain, for we were beyond help...
T and Cake Odd Dinner - Coffee
It was nice to see Stephen having fun with his guests, and everyone around us enjoying the food he had created. Although his day job now involves comfort food, this showed he's still got it when it comes to more refined dishes. Everything we ate still had that signature T&Cake stamp, from the wooden blocks to the fresh flower flourishes on the side.

Portions were generous, flavours were big and laughter was plentiful. Although we were in a restaurant, it felt very much like we had been invited into the Jacksons' home. Stephen's dad, brimming with pride put it best; 'he can cook, the lad!'

Previous posts:
T&Cake
T&Cake revisited

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