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Groaning tables at Paddy's Wigwam

Neil McQuillian and 270 others pig out on nine fat courses

Written by . Published on April 30th 2012.

Groaning tables at Paddy's Wigwam

FOR their fifth annual celebration of the British food scene, catering company Pickled Walnut returned to the Metropolitan Cathedral crypt, scene of a successful 2011 event.

It was a fitting choice of venue – just as this cavernous space hints at the magnitude of Lutyens’ original design, so the evening’s nine-course tasting menu gave a heart-warming glimpse of UK gastronomic goodness.

“It’s basically a thank you to all of the customers, suppliers and venues who work with us,” said Managing Director Jamie Anderson who, with Mark Kershaw, set up Pickled Walnut as a Crosby café-deli in 2006.

With the company focus shifted to catering, and attendance up to 270 from 160 last year, ‘A Taste of the North’ was as much a professional showcase as an expression of gratitude.

Scoffing stuffScoffing stuff

A selection of council luminaries deigned to dine in the underworld for the evening, whilst many of the other guests came “from the events industry, the biggest source of turnover for this business,” according to Anderson. Our tablemates included young entrepreneurs from the world of lighting, marquees and modelling.

The first course was taken as a “champagne-and-canapés” reception, though there was nothing French about these offerings, from the excellent Ridgeview sparkling wine to potted Fairfax Meadow duck.

Once at table – each guest’s place marked by an eight glass line-up – out came shot glasses of devilled crab soup (alongside devilishly good Bodegas Santa Ana wine), before a more substantial third course: wooden boards topped with moist chicken terrine, beans and parsnip crisps. 

Next, our hosts gave us the posh fish finger treatment, crafted from the wares of Wards Fish, Birkenhead. That it was accompanied by a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc named “Penny Lane” was testament to the wine suppliers’ (Morgenrot and Enotria) attention to detail.

The final savoury course brought an atmosphere of medieval feasting into Paddy’s Wigwam, with a showy procession of hogs’ heads on platters. The roast pork (served with black pudding, and healthier sides from Bettaveg) was some of the finest we have tasted.


The meal (and our bellies) rounded off with Earl Grey tea panna cotta, a sculptural confection of meringue and cream named “The Liverpool One”, cheeses, and petits fours from The Chocolate Cellar. A bottle of mead from Lyme Bay Winery, the final drink offered, was sufficiently robust to make its presence felt after three hours and nine courses.

As for Pickled Walnut’s plans for the rest of 2012, Anderson and Kershaw plan to rocket from the crypt and spread their message further afield, pushing into Cheshire and Greater Manchester, and they will also launch a new venture – PW Fresh – which targets the office trade.

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Andy MeliaMay 1st 2012.

That pig doesn't seem to be enjoying himself

Curly WeeMay 1st 2012.

He's hogging the centre of the table though.

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