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Love food? Discover Obsession Food Festival at Northcote

Snacks, taken to a whole new level. Photo: Scott Rhodes
Snacks, taken to a whole new level. Photo: Scott Rhodes

This month our food writers, Richard Dash and Jamie Carter, share their new Obsession

Photography: Scott Rhodes

The chances are, if you’ve stopped turning the pages to read this article, you probably know or have heard about the Obsession Food Festival at Northcote Manor. For those who may not have heard about this gastronomic gathering, or would like to get a better understanding, we invite you to pour a cup of tea and get comfy while we tell you about our new Obsession.

Great British Life: Sponsors Stratstone fit right in with Obession at Northcote ManorSponsors Stratstone fit right in with Obession at Northcote Manor

An annual tradition at Northcote Manor, the luxury hotel with its own Michelin-starred restaurant just a short drive away in the Ribble Valley, Obsession Food Festival pays tribute to the very finest in food and wine. Since its inception in 2001, it has evolved into one of Europe's foremost foodie events, attracting guest chefs from around the globe. During this culinary celebration, each chef takes charge of the Northcote kitchen for one evening, creating a unique Obsession menu for the evening's attendees. The festival serves as a platform for outstanding chefs and a chance for food lovers and friends to come together and enjoy the best of the best. Many gastronomes consider Obsession to be the Glastonbury of the food world, with 18 world class chefs who have 24 Michelin stars between them. TWENTY-FOUR! There was a waiting list of 1000s, and we are humbly honoured and proud to give you a glimpse of our experience…

On arrival at Northcote, we were met with the most stunning display from the luxury car sponsor, Stratstone. This is the second year in a row that Stratstone has sponsored Obsession, and it’s very clear they know how to put on a show. Some guests had flown in specifically for the Obsession Food Festival so were chauffeur-driven to Northcote in Aston Martins and Porsches, others are taking advantage of test drives and Vehicle loans and Lisa Goodwin-Allen, Northcote’s own Michelin-starred chef, has even been loaned a DB12 Coupe for the entire duration of the event. I don’t know about you, but in our eyes, THAT is how you make an impact as an event sponsor. They’ve set the bar high for other sponsors, that’s for sure.

The guest chef for the evening we attended was Daniele Lippi. Daniele is the head chef at the two Michelin-star restaurant, Acquolina, located within five-star hotel, First Roma Arte, in Rome.

Great British Life: Daniele Lippi has two Michelin stars at his Rome restaurantDaniele Lippi has two Michelin stars at his Rome restaurant

On arrival, we met Kaye, marketing director and general superstar. Kaye very kindly made sure we had something fizzy in hand (Louis Roederer thank you very much) and introduced us to the other guests who would be on our table for the evening. Within minutes we felt very much at home. We found our tribe; people who love food, love to talk about food and will travel far and wide to experience it. Take our new friends Kate and Candace, who flew from New York for their fourth visit to Obsession. Candace sat to my left for the entire evening and endured my poor jokes and questions with true style.

Let’s move on to the food, shall we? We were served “snacks” to begin. Firstly, the word doesn’t do this level of food justice, but let’s not dwell on semantics. We enjoyed an Apple Sandwich, a delicious parcel of tuna tartare and mizuna lettuce with seaweed mayonnaise, wrapped in green apple that had been marinated in sugar; Burnette potato crisps with bacalao (dry salted cod); Romaine lettuce with pistachio hummus and Mollie radish, bejewelled with trout caviar. To finish off the Snacks we had a Yellow Turnip Ravioli, which had a sweet roasted carrot cream inside and was served in a cucumber seaweed broth.

Great British Life: Red prawn, served raw with thinly sliced persimmon, dill oil, sheep's kefir and oyster leafRed prawn, served raw with thinly sliced persimmon, dill oil, sheep's kefir and oyster leaf Between the snacks and our first course, we were introduced to garum. Garum is a fermented fish sauce that was used as a condiment in Ancient Greece and Rome. Daniele was starting to show some of his Roman influence and used Garum in his butter, making it salty, rich and moreish, perfect for slathering on our slightly charred sourdough.

Our first course was a Red Prawn, served raw with thinly sliced persimmon, dill oil, sheep's kefir and oyster leaf, quickly followed by Horse Mackerel. I feel like this is where we started to see Daniele’s playful and imaginative side come out. The mackerel had been glazed in an Italian teriyaki made with balsamic vinegar (of course). The mackerel skins were lightly torched and the dish had been topped with frozen sheets of fois gras. “I’ve never seen fois gras served in such an inventive way,” said Candace. Neither have I, and it really worked. This dish was accompanied by a seaweed and fish bone broth. After making your way through the sticky sweet mackerel dish this broth cuts through the noise to balance everything out.

Great British Life: Peaty risotto, with smoked whiskey and sea urchin and finished with a burned leek powderPeaty risotto, with smoked whiskey and sea urchin and finished with a burned leek powder More Italian influence for course three; Peaty Risotto. This creamy risotto was made with smoked whiskey and sea urchin and finished with a burned leek powder. An acquired taste for sure, but Daniele has never been one to shy away from risks - as executive and resident chef, Lisa Goodwin-Allen tells us at the end of the evening how impressed she was with the team’s precision and ability to take risks that others may not.

Onto the favourite dish of the evening; sirloin of lamb. Another new flavour profile for me, the lamb was served with a slow-cooked leek in butter, wild plum jam, celeriac purée, plum syrup and a deliciously deep and rich lamb sauce. Silence fell upon the room as we all tucked into this one. You know a dish is good when it stops you mid-sentence.

Great British Life: Sirloin of lamb with with slow-cooked leek in butter, wild plum jam, celeriac purée, plum syrup and lamb jusSirloin of lamb with with slow-cooked leek in butter, wild plum jam, celeriac purée, plum syrup and lamb jus Just when we thought Daniele’s imagination had taken a breather, we’re presented with dessert. candied lentils. Cautiously peering into my bowl of brown lentils, we took the plunge spoon first. “I could eat buckets of this!” “Mmmmm” “I was not expecting that!” - happy diners soon made their feelings known. My brown lentils sat atop a glorious lentil miso, white chocolate ganache, meringue, and hazelnut oil. Ahh, umami!

Like all good things in life, our meal had to come to an end. After a quick cup of tea, lots of hugs and goodbyes from our new friends we hit the road, promising each other that we’d make the time to come back as soon as we could. Thankfully, Northcote has 26 rooms for us to choose from on our next visit!

Next year is the 25th anniversary of Obsession and we already know it’s going to be special… see you there?

northcoteobsession.com

Find more of the best of local food and drink at lostincheshire.co.uk and on Instagram @lostincheshire



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