So last week I headed up to London to Leith’s Cookery School to check out Asda’s new Extra Special Christmas range. There’s a new train service which goes straight from my local station to Shepherd’s Bush. You literally step out onto the very threshold of Westfield Shopping Centre. I nearly died happy right there and then. It was actually really lovely to be in London and I enjoyed all the hustly bustly and twinkly lights. And then it started to rain and I was quite pleased to find my taxi driver and get to Leith’s.
It’s an amazing place. All sparkly stainless steel, stark white and wood. It looks really clean and professional – I SO fancy doing a course there (not the £18,000 Diploma in Food and Wine, you understand, just one of the smaller ones!). First of all we had a glass of champers and listened to lovely Camilla, Managing Director of Leith’s (you might have seen her in the new adverts for the Extra Special Christmas range) tell us why Leith’s decided to team up with Asda to develop the range. I have to say, I was really impressed. Basically she said that everyone needs a cheap supermarket, especially at the moment, but that doesn’t mean that we all can’t indulge a little at Christmas:
“We have a shared passion with Asda that good food should be accessible to everyone, whatever their budget. We believe, like Asda, that good quality ingredients are at the heart of great cooking which is why we’ve chosen to collaborate with Asda Extra Special for our first ever supermarket partnership. We’ve been really impressed with the quality of Asda’s Extra Special food and wine and we’ve had great fun creating some wonderful Christmas recipes and tips using the delicious ingredients which really will help make this festive season extra special for everyone.”
She also said, and I totally agree, that there’s a snobbery about food that – now, more than ever – shouldn’t exist. What better than good food, simply made?
I was quite surprised to learn that we’d actually be in the kitchen cooking. It was enormous fun – and such a privilege to be cooking in a real working kitchen. They set us working in teams of four on a menu using lots of the Asda Extra Special ingredients (do email me if you want any of the recipes):
Hot smoked salmon pate crostini
Goat’s cheese, walnut and honey crostini
Cocktail sausages four ways (sweet chilli, mango chutney and greek yoghurt, harissa, honey and mustard)
Warm seasonal salad of butternut squash, tenderstem broccoli and feta
Venison rack with parsnip and creme fraiche mash
Brussels sprouts and chorizo
I was really impressed with the ingredients. The whole rack of venison was all trimmed and ready to cook – you can crust it with breadcrumbs, rosemary, mustard and thyme, etc, or just roast is as is, and it serves 8. Absolutely amazing. And some of the cheeses were out of this world as well. Here’s some photos from the evening. I know I’ve said it before but honestly, food bloggers are just the nicest people. I met up with Katie, Kavey and Helen again after meeting them before at Jimmy’s Farm, and Sarah from Maison Cupcake too. We’re planning a boozy blogger’s lunch in L0ndon. Wehay!
Oh and the best news of all? I’ve got a mahoosive hamper of the Asda Extra Special range to give away, including brandy-soaked rich fruit cake, smoked Scottish salmon and vintage Champagne as a competition prize. Just comment to enter (sorry, forgot that bit!) x
Competition finishes midnight Friday 9th December 2011. No cash alternatives. The judge’s decision is final.
THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED. THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR ENTRIES. CONGRATULATIONS TO SARAH BROADHURST WHO WON THE HAMPER