Review: Obsession 17

Gourmet delights and some serious girl power – Sophie Ritchie discovers a night of gastronomic heaven at Northcote’s Obsession 17. 

Launched by Northcote’s chef patron Nigel Haworth as a ‘celebration of great food, wine and a meeting of friends, old and new,’ Obsession has established itself as one of Europe’s most premier nights of edible indulgence. Having just finished its 17th year, extraordinary chefs from across the globe travelled to the award-winning Lancashire hotel to produce a unique menu for one night across the course of 17 separate evenings.

With previous years featuring the talent of three Michelin star chef Hideaki Matuso, Simon Rogan and Angela Hartnett (to name just a mere few) I was thoroughly excited to sample the awaiting cuisine as I made my speedy journey with Virgin Trains from the cityscape of Euston to the more scenic landscape of Preston.

For each night, Haworth seeks chefs who are obsessed with working with the very best ingredients and aim to challenge themselves to be as creative as possible in the kitchen. I was fortunate enough to be visiting the hotel on Girls Night – an evening featuring four of the UK’s most talented female chefs – Northcote’s Executive Head Chef Lisa Goodwin-Allen, Group Operations Director for Marcus Wareing Restaurants, Chantelle Nicholson, Claire Clark MBE and Anna Hansen MBE. All hugely successful in their own right, the quartet’s dishes were nothing short of sublime.

The food 

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Served in Northcote’s lavish restaurant, the first two courses of the night were fish-focused – starting with Anna Hansen’s slow-cooked octopus with smoked ricotta, liquorice macadamias and seaweed crisp bread.

Presented beautifully like edible art scattered across the plate, this was followed by Chantelle Nicholson’s cod delight – which was paired perfectly with caramelised celeriac, chorizo and smoked mascarpone – a combination which left me wanting seconds.

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To follow, we feasted on another of Chantelle’s dishes – this time in the form of Fois Gras with ginger and malt almond. With an intriguing combination of savoury flavour, it made a wonderfully rich contrast to the previous courses.

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For mains, guests were treated to Lisa Goodwin-Allen’s Duke of Berkshire barbecued pork ribeye. Served with sumptuous baked potato, sorrel and yuzu (and paired with a heavenly Pinot Noir from Newton Johnson Family Vineyards) the dish was both tender and packed with lusciously meaty flavour – with each bite of pork almost melting in my mouth.

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For a theatrical twist, Lisa Goodwin-Allen’s “Before Nine” peppermint crisp proved a wonderful mid-meal surprise – a chocolatey treat presented with dry ice to create a mystical and enchanting bite.

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This was rounded off nicely with a refreshing final dessert conjured by Claire Clark. Described as a ‘pebble’ of coconut yoghurt, we were treated to an exquisitely arranged plate of creamy coconut, yolk-like passion fruit and mango. Light, delicate and utterly delicious, it was an ideal choice to juxtapose against the feast our bellies were now bursting from.

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What was most evident throughout the night however was not just the unique and vibrant creations before us – but the sense of true camaraderie and close friendship between the chefs. Despite all cooking together in an extremely busy kitchen, it was clear the girls were a team – and a truly strong one at that.

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The hotel
There’s no doubt about it – if you’re a foodie, this is a must-visit destination. Think of Northcote as a culinary retreat – offering classic style, a relaxed atmosphere and endless dining opportunities.

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An independent 26 bedroomed country hotel found amid the scenic pasture of Lancashire’s Ribble Valley, Northcote has been welcoming guests through its doors since 1995. Awarded the prestigious AA Hotel of the Year for England 2016, guests staying in the main house can expect old-fashioned style that still retains a sense of elegance and a focus on quality. Whilst service here is slick, there’s still an air of friendliness – despite the hotel’s impressive grandeur.

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Northcote’s rooms are split between two wings – with 18 rooms found in the main manor house and an additional eight located in the newer Garden Lodge. If you’re seeking an authentic countryside escape, the older rooms are ideal – and offer traditional decor with welcoming touches.  Every room in the Manor House exudes its own highly individual character – using a combination of  rich soft-furnishings, plush fabrics and highly distinctive furniture.

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For those who’ve been inspired by their visit to the hotel’s Michelin star restaurant, Northcote also offers a cookery school. Renowned for being one of the finest places to hone cookery skills in the UK, guests can partake in a variety of full and half day courses – learning everything from Sous Vide techniques to perfecting the ideal BBQ.

Northcote
Bookings: Rooms start from £260 per night including breakfast. To make a reservation, click here.
Where: Northcote Road, Langho, Blackburn BB6 8BE

Virgin Trains
For those looking to book, a single Standard Class fare is available from £22 and a single First Class fare is available from £42. The journey time between London and Preston is 2hrs 8mins. Please note, tickets can be purchased up to six months in advance of travel. Click here for more.

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