Din-dins

THE ULTIMATE CHRISTMAS DINNER: BY TOP BRUM CHEFS

Brum restaurants kicked the backside out of the British culinary scene throughout 2014, bringing in awards and accolades like other cities weren't even trying. Fitting then that our final feature of the year involves three of the very best Birmingham-based chefs teaming up to create the ultimate Christmas feast. It's your duty to cook at least one dish on the big day. We'll see your lovely faces in the New Year...
TO START: BRIXHAM CRAB AND SALMON CAKES WITH CRANBERRY SALAD
By David Colcombe, Opus

Christmas Day often involves serious volumes of meat so your starter is the perfect time to go for something light. I’ll be cooking up one of my favourites this year – salmon fishcakes. With goose as the main course, fishcakes can ensure that you offset the forthcoming richness with a quick and easy to prepare alternative. Served with cranberry amongst the salad, the dish has a festive feel to it, but if you want it to be a real showstopper then do make sure you take extra care with your garnish. You can also make the cakes to varying sizes, in fact I'd recommend it, so that those who would rather a smaller start to proceedings can opt for a lesser portion. Oh, and a helpful tip: Make sure you serve them warm, but not hot as they will dry out quickly. Here's the recipe. Serve it with something that is not too acidic or citrus-heavy, but is dry, a little fruity and still rounded, like a new world Pinot Gris or a Spanish or Portuguese Verdejo.
TO FOLLOW: SLOW HONEY-ROAST GOOSE
By Brad Carter, Carters of Moseley

It's all about goose for mains. It's pricier than turkey, of course, but mains at Christmas isn't time to scrimp. Also it's almost impossible to find a bad quality goose, but it's very easy to buy a bad turkey. We should eat much more goose in the UK at Christmas because it's what we always had until the Americans brought turkey over here. It's a fantastic bird that should be associated with Christmas way more. Now, you’re slow-cooking this goose, but don't put it in overnight, because that will be way too long. I cook it with cloves and Szechuan pepper, there's cranberry in there, all very Christmassy and it has a lovely Chinese feel to it too. Add in the honey and it all goes beautifully with the gamey meat. Trust me, it works. If you have a meat probe put it in the breast of the bird and if you're at between 58°C and 60°C, it's done. It'll be blushing pink, but nicely cooked. Here's the full recipe. You'll notice I insist you drain the fat. Please do that, it's very important, and use it to cook your root vegetables. That'll save you about £6 on a pot of fat. Serve the bird with roast potatoes and parsnips. A splodge of maple syrup and slight sprinkle of marjoram on the parsnips in the last five minutes of cooking will really bring them to life. 
DESSERT: CHRISTMAS PUDDING SOUFFLE
By Adam Stokes of Adam's

I have to cook this each Christmas without fail. Every year I try to get out of it, but unfortunately a special request always comes in from the in-laws and the wife. The beauty of this dish is that it's so light. How often are you stuffed by the time you get to dessert and Christmas pudding sounds terrifyingly heavy? Not with this. All the flavour, none of the heft. Now, most people are scared off by the word soufflé, but this one is pretty much foolproof, just don't drink too much beforehand! There aren't many ingredients and you can prepare the base the day before and really concentrate on getting the egg whites right (i.e. whipped into firm peaks), lining your pots and making sure the oven is hot. Those three are the key to it. There's no smoke and mirrors here, your soufflé will rise if you focus on those pointers. The recipe's hereEat with a fruity dessert wine like an Alvear Pedro Ximenez 1927, then retire to the living room for Home Alone, hands down the best Christmas movie ever made. 

PROVIDE: PROVIDING THE GOODS


We first saw the Polaroid 600 Land Camera at the beginning of December, and, quite apart from wondering what in the hell the sea range would look like, we’ve been dropping hints to the guy with the mighty beard ever since. Available from £45 (condition depending), get down to Provide at the Custard Factory immediately and probably repeatedly if you would like a 600 to feature in your Christmas 2014, as this model with built in electronic flash has a tendency of selling out on the day it arrives. If a seventies stalwart is more your thing, try the Supercolor Autofocus SX-70 (£150). Revered among instant photography enthusiasts, the SX-70 is known for ace image quality and its invention is widely credited with revolutionising the polaroid market. So now you know.

MOVIE CHOICE:
DUMB & DUMBER TO


This (very) belated sequel to the beloved Nineties fool-em-up was torn apart by critics on its release in the US, but hey – it was never going to trouble Inherent Vice for space in their moleskins, was it? While Dumb and Dumber To may not match the timely magic of the original, there are still enough belly laughs to justify a second trip to the well. That said, a plotline regarding the infatuation of 52-year-old Jim Carrey with a character in her early twenties, while redeemed by a late twist, is almost enough to derail the whole enterprise with its sheer ickiness – but the gameness of Carrey and returning co-star Jeff Daniels to humiliate themselves ever further just about lets them get away with it. There’ll be far worse ways to switch off the brain over the holidays. Trailer
Venue: Rod Roj, 25-27 Smallbrook Queensway, B5 4HE; rodroj.co.uk 
Choice: Adana Kebab (£5.99) Chooser: Manager

We know what you're thinking. Great photo, right? Years of practice. Now then, anyone who's spent a decade living in North London will know two things: 1. Never spend a decade living in North London and 2. Turkish food is sensational. Alas, Birmingham is deeply lacking in this imperative of culinary departments so we were silly-excited about trying Rod Roj (terrible name) on Smallbrook Queensway. The verdict? Good. Not incredible, but good. The adana kebab is the great leveller in Turkish food and it was packed with flavour, a perfect punch of chilli and the naughty hit of fat you'll allow yourself thrice (well, six times) a year. Alas, the accompanying extras were weak with the Turkish bread being a supersonic let down and the rice lacking any relevant role. We'll go back, but it's not the answer to our deep-rooted Turkish restaurant concerns.
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"I am going to church, Watson. I believe such attendance was a prominent element of the Christmas season before the giving of gifts and the consumption of certain fowl became de rigueur?" - Sherlock Holmes
WORDS: Katy DrohanAndrew LowryTom Cullen 
SUB-EDITING: PJ Ellis

ADDRESS: I CHOOSE Birmingham, Office 211, 43 Temple Row, Birmingham, B2 5LS

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