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Ski guiding in Meribel France with British ski instructors
Ski guiding in Meribel France with British ski instructors
Ski guiding in Meribel France with British ski instructors
Ski guiding in Meribel France with British ski instructors

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Confessions of a lunch instructor-Part 1, the summer

Posted on
October 23, 2013

It was one of my own ski clients who uttered the little axiom "you get the ski instructor you deserve." I'm sure this works the other way around too; ski instructors end up with the clients they deserve. Luckily for me, i seem to have ended up with all the foodies and rugby nuts who've ever clicked on a pair of skis.

First coined many years ago by my dear friend and colleague Robin Cane, the moniker "the lunch instructor" now seems to have stuck and even entered the lexicon in Méribel. Before I ever knew Robin as a ski instructor, we'd already worked together as musicians and shared many a meal on tour. One of the great attractions of being a touring musician is getting to travel to far-away, interesting places. And for me, that has always meant trying to find the best local food.

I'm oftern asked which are my favourite places that i've ever visited. I would have to say that I think my answer to that question is always coloured by my gastronomic experience in each place. Of all the countries that i've visited, if i had to only pick only one whose food I would have to eat for the rest of my life, it would have to be Spain. I just love the variety in Spanish food; wonderful fish, fantasic roast meats and such versatility in their use of vegetables. If i had to pick just one City to visit for a culinary experience in Spain, it'd be San Sebastian. The people there seem to be obsessed with food and i believe there are more Michelin stars there per-capita than anywhere else on earth! Apart from that, I love Italian food and Australia too was really outstanding for eating. 

Of the individual restaurants in which i have eaten, top meal of all time was probably in Thomas Keller's Per Se Restaurant in New York. This is the sister restaurant to his famous French Laundry in the Napa Valley in California. It only offers three tasting menus of nine courses each and no changes allowed! Definitely a place for serious foodies but the inventiveness and technical execution of the dishes was out of this world.

Other highlights have included Brasserie Bofinger in Paris (the seafood platter there is amazing) and the two Michelin-starred Restaurant Ron Blaauw in Amsterdam, though i have to confess an interest there as Ron is also one of my ski clients. 

This summer i've continued the culinary adventure.  I've just returned from a short trip to Pisa where i enjoyed a wonderful meal in the Osteria de Cavalieri, centered around the wild "porcini" mushrooms that really only become available at this time of year. A few weeks earlier, again continuing the theme of seasonal eating, i enjoyed a superb meal of roast Nidderdale grouse at the Yorke Arms in the Yorkshire Dales. If you saw Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon's lastest TV show "The Trip," this was one of the restaurants they sampled on their eating odyssey around the north of England. 

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                             Roast Nidderdale grouse with puréed celeriac, game chips and wild berry coulis

As i write this blog i'm in Belfast, and i have to say that one of the most impressive meals i've had in recent times has been at a new restaurant here called OX. It's a joint venture between local chef Stephen Toman and his business partner and restaurant manager Alain Kerloc'h. Stephen has worked at many famous restaurants abroad such as the three-starred Taillevent in Paris and Noma in Copenhagen (which until this year was acclaimed as the best restaurant in the world). Alain looks after the front of house with wonderful gallic flamboyancy and is also in charge of the well-chosen wine list. The ethos at OX is to showcase the best of local produce and when combined with cooking of this caliber, the results are spectacular. Prices are unbelievably reasonable. Reviews have been fantastic and people have been travelling from all over the country to try out this new star in the restaurant firmament.  Check it out at www.oxbelfast.com 

I shall continue the culinary theme in my next blog, exploring the restaurant scene in the Three Valleys. Until then i'll leave you with a little picture of my latest favourite appetiser inspired by my favourite cookery writer Simon Hopkinson and made by my own fair hand. 

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Anchovy soldiers with a dusting of cayenne, served with a classic Negroni cocktail (gin, campari and sweet vermouth). Michael.

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