I felt really excited to be invited to a bloggers event such early days into the launch of Northern Niche. I’ve actually been to The Curing House twice before for dinner which I loved and I was keen to find out if they had managed to maintain the consistency of great food and good service several months in.
If you didn’t know already The Curing House is part of the new foodie’s paradise in Middlesbrough in a street that has been totally transformed called ‘Bedford Street.’ Declan wrote an introduction to the street that you can read here.
The scene was set with high expectation. There were just five of us invited as the owners wanted their first ever blogging event to be kept quite intimate so we could all get to know each other and so that they could share their ethos with us. How apt that this was my first and it was there’s, too!
Charcuterie is their thing and so it was only fitting that they would entice us to try a selection. On the menu you can choose from a full or half plate made up of the finest choice meats from Italy, France, Spain and the UK. They decided we would benefit from a mixture to really get a feel for what it all means and tastes like. From Italy we sampled the Finocchiona, a Tuscan salami seasoned with fennel pollen which is handpicked by the producer’s mother. That’s provenance for you. From Spain we sampled the Iberico Bellato Chorizo made from acorn fed Iberican pigs bred and fattened up in Andulusia. This was actually my favourite. The British offer was called Coppa which is cured and hair dried pork collar. The free range pigs used are aged until they are about twice the size of their commercial counterparts which means they get to live about three times longer. Jesus du Pays Basque was the meat from South West France which is described as rare breed salami matured for up to four months in rum and black peppercorns. This was quite scrumptious, too. Parthered with olives and the chef’s own recipe sour dough bread it truly was a sensory sensation. The only thing missing was the accompaniment of a good, full bodied glass of red — but I was driving!
I have really never eaten so many meats all in one sitting but it truly was a meaty experience. I would definitely revisit with Mr NN one evening just for this alone.
We were then allowed to choose whatever we wanted for the main course. Along with the chatter it took us all an age to decide because the menu really draws you in. You want it all! I settled on ‘Beef Skirt Steak, Salt Baked Beetroot, Oxtail and Chorizo Suet Pudding with Cavolo Nero & Beer Onion Jus’
The reason I finally settled on this was because I love my mum’s suet dumpling and was keen to see if they could better it and I had fallen hook line and sinker for the chorizo in the Charcurterie Plate and wanted the chance to have more.
We all chose something different and at the point at which the mains arrived the chatter stopped and immediately turned to hmmm’s and aaahh’s. The suet was feather light and the beef felt like velvet on my tongue. We all tucked in heartily. The only criticism and this is a tiny one, was that I felt it could’ve done with slightly more jus. Our main dishes also arrived with sides of their beef dripping chips which are some of the best I think I’ve ever tasted. Truly, truly lush.
Next up was a cheese plate. Now I’m no cheese expert and it isn’t something I would normally go for. When friends choose the cheese option when out for dinner instead of a pudding I’m like “Nooooo — what are you doing?” So, again this was going to be a new experience for me.
Peter, one of the owners talked us through what is very clearly a well thought out cheese larder. We sampled:
Langres- a uniquely shaped cheese with a delve in its centre wich is designed to hold Champagne — wow!!
Cornish Blue – a sweet, firm, blue cheese from Cornwall.
Comte Androet – a Gruyere made to a traditional method which was very fruity to taste.
Brebis Fermier – made from sheep’s milk and unpasteurised. The small, family producer only makes 30 wheels of it each week – so highly sought after.
Barkham Blue – creamy with a rustic rind streaked through with blue veins.
Whilst I can’t say I am a convert I can be certain if you are a Turophile then you would probably be in heaven.
We were then asked by our very attentive waiter if we would like to try a dessert and we were the typical … “oh no – we are so full — oh go on then!”
On my previous visits both times I had gone for the Sticky Figgy Pudding with Toffee Caramel, Candy Pecan and Vanilla Seed Ice Cream. I decided to break the mould but encouraged one of the other blogging gals, Ellie, to give it a try. I know she wasn’t disappointed.
This time I went for Lemon Curd Tart with San Pellegrino Sorbet and Confit Orange.
As I am writing this I want it again. It was both tart and sweet at the same time. What I wasn’t expecting was the melt in the mouth meringue topping. Combine that with the San Pellegrino orange sorbet and it was certainly a taste bud sensation. Perfect if you are full but can’t leave without a dessert. Always me. I remember having to leave a mouthful … begrudingly.
The only downside to a perfect meal is that they couldn’t offer me a cappuccino only a filter coffee. Now, before any Italians potentially reading this, grab me and shake me exclaiming, ‘Cappuccino is ONLY for breakfast time’ , please, let me have my thing. I don’t think I’m alone in my ‘strange’ habit so an investment in a coffee machine would be a safe bet.
I’m pleased to say that I believe The Curing House has some of the finest food and service standards in Teesside. One of the bloggers I met there came down from Newcastle because she said there just isn’t anything like it even up there. Fancy that? Good ol’ Boro! … and the place was rockin’ and every table was full which is an achievement for anywhere on a Tuesday evening.
Well done to Peter and Sarah for creating something really rather special!
Oh and before I forget … what is now my obligatory ‘Northern Niche Loo Shot.’ As you know I think you can tell a lot about a place by this.
Disclosure: Thankyou to The Curing House for inviting me to their event. Other than that they had no idea what I was going to write.