Beyond fish and chips: An intro to British food

Posted at 01/20/14 8:19 PM

Prawn cocktail. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

MANILA – British chef Warren Brown recently prepared a feast inspired by his motherland – and it does not include the ubiquitous fish and chips.

Brown, who currently works as the executive chef of EDSA Shangri-La hotel in Mandaluyong City, hopes to give Filipinos an introduction to the cuisine he grew up with through “The Great British Feast,” a tie-up between the hotel and the British Embassy Manila.

While he admits that a plate of fish and chips is serious British comfort food, Brown stressed that Britain has a lot more to offer than the popular pub grub.

“I know everybody here says fish and chips. People know fish and chips but the prawn cocktail also celebrates the fact that like you (Philippines), we’re surrounded by ocean,” Brown said.

“We have good Scottish scallops also, and we have good crabs. We have great sirloin from the north. So what we have really depends on the area where you are, depending on the region where you go to,” he added.

During the launch of “The Great British Feast,” Brown intentionally did not add fish and chips to the menu to highlight other traditional items on the British dining table.

The meal started with a classic prawn cocktail served with brown bread. The fresh prawns went well with the tangy cocktail sauce, with the dish setting the stage for the main course.

Next came a thick slab of Scottish sirloin and the crisp yet fluffy Yorkshire pudding, a quintessential accompaniment to a British roast. The sauce, infused with Newcastle ale, successfully cuts through the bold flavors of the meat.

Roasted Scottish sirloin with Newcastle brown sauce, cheddar mash. roasted potatoes, buttered cabbage, peas and carrots and Yorkshire pudding. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

“We just flavored the jus with a little ale just to give you that little bit of a twist,” Brown explained.

The rest of the side dishes were served family-style -- there were roasted potatoes, buttered cabbage, peas and carrots and a cheddar mash, which Brown said are all British food staples.

The cheddar mash gained the most attention, and rightfully so – the dish screams comfort food with the perfect marriage of starch and cheese.

Cheddar mash. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

“The cabbage, cheddar mash, peas and carrots, you could always find these in every table in the UK,” Brown said. “As I remember growing up with my mother, cabbage was there every day.”

For dessert, Brown opted to recreate a British afternoon tea affair, serving three tiers of sweet treats.

At the top is the classic strawberries and cream followed by teatime treats served with the sinful and buttery Devon clotted cream.

Top to bottom: strawberries and cream, treats and clotted cream, Eton mess. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

At the base of the three-tiered tea stand is what Brown referred to as the Eton Mess, which contains a mixture of strawberries, cream and pieces of meringue.

“It’s actually a famous dessert that came from the college of Eton. It’s actually made by the students,” Brown explained.

Perhaps the best dessert that Brown served that afternoon was his take on the Victoria sandwich, a simple sponge cake with raspberry, jam and cream. The cake was incredibly light, with the filling having just the right amount of sweetness.

Victoria Sandwich. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

“[If you live in the UK and] your mother would give you an afternoon tea, she would bake this,” Brown said.

While he assured patrons at EDSA Shangri-La’s HEAT restaurant that fish and chips will still be served during “The Great British Feast,” which will run until February 9, Brown hopes that they will still take the time to try the other British items he has prepared so they will get a glimpse of his motherland’s culture.

“Our food is diverse with the countries that we have, but it’s very simple, just going to the basic flavors,” he said.

HEAT, EDSA Shangri-La
1 Garden Way, Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City
Open daily from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
For more information about “The Great British Feast,” call (02) 633-8888 local 2777.