What’s Cooking Durham?

The Tab takes a trip around the unsuspecting Viaduct to see what students are up to in the kitchen

It was the last Thursday in November with sub-zero temperatures that we set out into the wilds of the Viaduct to see exactly what goes on in the student kitchen. Potential factories of E-coli and salmonella, such places have been known to kill through sheer dirtiness. It was also reported that a Manchester student was charged with attempted murder after stabbing the flatmate who never tidied the shared kitchen. The stakes were high.

Thankfully our surprise visits to random Durham students’ houses to check on their kitchens uncovered no such dangers. Instead we found some impressive dishes being rustled up, including roast partridge.

54 Hawthorne Terrace

What’s cooking? Standard Bolognese (which was repeated at five further houses during our evening).

Donal’s verdict: Cooking away in a relatively well-kept basement kitchen, the Castle kid gave his dish a modest six and by the look of things he may well have pitched correctly.

Spag Bol

53 Hawthorne Terrace

What’s cooking? A pyjama-clad second year was discovered cooking a speciality; “crappy eggs with toast”. She went on to mention her inability to consume pre-ground pepper even going as far to show us her brand new grinder from the Indoor Market.

Donal’s verdict: She managed to remedy the situation slightly when she got out her favourite butternut squash with red pepper and carrot soup, which looked a lot tastier. But all hope was lost after a quick look in the fridge brought us to a vomit-inducing, days-old jacket potato cum bean explosion. Not one for the faint hearted.

Unappetising leftover baked potato

51 Hawthorne Terrace

What’s cooking? An Aiden’s student getting started on a frozen chicken kiev and oven chips.

Donal’s verdict: This was the chef’s daily, and I really must emphasis daily here, meal. He proudly asserted it could be cooked in three ways and a puddle of gravy.


52 Hawthorne Terrace

What’s cooking? A couple of lads were getting started on their Stir-fry Collaborative.

Donal’s verdict: A colourful offering and a real team effort. The boys pioneered real labour division with several hopeful utterance of “do you want to stir for a bit mate?” during our visit.

47 Hawthorne Terrace

What’s cooking? We found the Hild Bede girls living here draped across their mattress/coach in the living room coming back down to Earth from the night before. The remnants of fresh pesto laden pizza slices, duck rolls, mozzarella and sundried tomatoes covered the floor.

Donal’s verdict: The girls were caught in an almost post-coital swoon after guzzling a veritable feast of picnic items from M&S.

45 Hawthorne Terrace

What’s cooking? A diverse range of culinary skills were on offer. There was a somewhat ropey rocket, cheese and salami sandwich being prepared on the coach. Claims of a tasty spaghetti Bolognese that had been conveniently finished just before we arrived were dubious to say the least.

Donal’s verdict: Perhaps the most off-piste effort goes to the resident who had a Terry’s Chocolate Orange for dinner.

the simple sandwich

35, 34 and 29 Hawthorne Terrace

What’s cooking? These houses boasted a plethora of delights from red lentil, chickpea and chilli soup to a cake being baked to a rather jolly soundtrack.

Donal’s verdict: Great range of food on offer but we did find this treat of a sink…

22 Hawthorne Terrace

What’s cooking? It was a meat feast as the lads had invited over some female friends to enjoy the twin delights of burgers and sausages topped up with a standard mash potato.

Donal’s verdict: With cupboards lined with large Nutella jars, the tenants were able to confirm the urban myth of picking up these Nutellas for 37 pence from the Big Tesco.

24 The Avenue (bottom two floors)

What’s cooking? Some real Eastern flair with sweet potato dhal, Thai green curry and a Moroccan tagine fit for a Berber king.

Donal’s verdict: On what could just be the best road in Durham, we were treated to an array of culinary delights.

26 The Avenue

What’s cooking? Roasted Chestnut and Butternut soup followed by a king prawn pasta, using fresh garlic, chili and ginger to season. Two fillet steaks lay untouched on the table and each oven hosted a different pie, to the left a chicken and leek pie and to the right a steak and kidney pie.

Donal’s verdict: After 24’s performance, we thought we might have reached the peak but stumbled onto something pretty special here that would change our minds forever. It was here we found four Cuth’s Boys hard at work preparing a smorgasbord of dishes. An impeccable effort from 26, who modestly affirmed “we’d caught them on a particularly good night”. Just a shame they didn’t invite us in for dinner, really.

34 and 38 The Avenue

What’s cooking? We managed to find a sausage casserole and stuffed peppers with a surge of basmati, pesto and fresh vegetables.

Donal’s verdict: Good, solid cooking in an almost worringly clean kitchen.

25 Crossgate

What’s cooking? A prawn Rogan Josh a la pot while the other inhabitant was preparing to rustle up an “eggy contraption” in five minutes. Should we be afraid?

Donal’s verdict: Two post-workout meals for two boxers.

44 Crossgate

What’s cooking? Walking through the front door we could smell the game in the air and, lo and behold, there it was in the dining room. A complete surprise visit, and staring at us was a roast partridge with Dauphinoise potatoes and a red wine jus.

Donal’s verdict: Your standard Thursday night in Durham? Of course it bloody is. 44 Crossgate we salute you.

Kudos and thanks go to everyone who allowed us in their kitchen, not a single refusal and some pretty good food. Whether it be down to geographical luck on their part or generally high standards, Cuth’s came out on top.

For all the rest of you, you never know if we might knock on your door next… so get cooking, Durham!