Slow cooked cheeks, silky rich stews and fabulous fritters
“Horrible people don’t make good food,” claimed Peter Kinsella, at the launch of Lunya’s new winter menu this week. He would know, as he and his wife Elaine travel all over Catalonia and Spain, several times per year, to meet growers, makers, farmers and suppliers in order to discover interesting new products and ingredients to bring back to the kitchens and delicatessens at their three venues in Liverpool and Manchester.
Lunya’s wine list is 130 strong (one of the biggest outside of Spain)
Peter could tell you all about where the very special Spanish anchovies come from and how they are prepared. He can reveal the story behind every fat almond or fruity olive oil, aged ham or silky artisan chocolate they offer. This is a man in love with Spanish cuisine and his enthusiasm is quite infectious.
Thoughts of Catalan cuisine inevitably lead to sunny al fresco lunches or warm evenings spent grazing on the terrace, but warming winter dishes are also speciality of the area. Think slow cooked cuts of meat, silky rich stews made with pulses and smoky paprika, fresh vegetables enhanced with roasted nuts and smooth red pepper sauces.
Catalan winter warmers have now arrived in Liverpool thanks to Lunya’s new collection of winter dishes, a number of which are actually plant based. A perfect dish to balance any stodgier comfort food is roasted Tenderstem broccoli with harissa, hazelnuts and maple syrup, which goes really well with another new wintry veg dish of crispy zahtar dusted parsnips with sweetly sharp pomegranate molasses and chestnuts.
Lunya offers plenty of delicious fish and seafood dishes to help get you through the colder months – in fact Peter told us that they get through a staggering quarter of a ton of calamari per week across their restaurants in Barton Arcade, Manchester; Hanover Street, Liverpool One and Lunyalita, their newest venue in Liverpool’s Albert Dock. They’ve been flexing their mussels for the winter menu in the form of Mejillones – plump mussels straight from the Menai Straits basking in a broth made with cider and tomatoes. All that needs is a bowl of Spanish bread for dipping.
For something a little heavier on the carbs, try seabass sliders; fillets of fresh fish deep-fried in beer batter on mini brioche buns with home-made tartare sauce and rocket. There’s a similar sort of thing available for veggies; deep fried earthy aubergine slices drizzled with tart saffron yoghurt and chopped guindilla chilli peppers.
Another veggie winter dish with mass appeal is cauliflower buñuelos – a Catalan fritter similar in style to an Indian pakora, but with a different palette of spices to work with. Here roasted florets of cauliflower are deep fried in a cumin batter, served with mojo picón sauce – a speciality of the Canary Islands.
If you fancy something a bit meaty – and a bit cheeky, you’ll find some hearty belly fillers here. Estofado is a classic Catalan slow cooked ox cheek and gravy dish, cooked for hours until soft and almost gelatinous, served with carrot and rosemary puree. This is a perfect dish for pairing alongside a good Spanish wine, bearing in mind that Lunya’s wine list is 130 strong (one of the biggest outside of Spain) with many bottles coming from some of the smaller independently-owned vineyards discovered by Peter on his travels.
There’s also Carrilladas, Ibérico pig’s cheeks, slow cooked in a PX infused sauce infused with deep, rich, raisin-like PX sherry served with Trinxat – the Catalonian version of Bubble & Squeak. A new meat dish from the plancha (or grill) is slices of lamb neck fillet served on a bed of comforting navarran lentils, slow braised in a red wine and herb broth.
All the new winter dishes are available on Lunya’s main menu for diners who love great food and drink, in a relaxed atmosphere, and fancy enjoying all the comforts of Catalonia without leaving their home town.
Find out more here.
Lunya, 55 Hanover Street, Liverpool One, Liverpool, L1 3DN Tel: 0151 706 9770
Lunyalita, Britannia Pavilion, Royal Albert Dock, Liverpool, L3 4AD – Tel: 0151 317 7199