29.3.17

HOT X BBQ - GOOD FRIDAY

In case you haven't already seen it splashed all over my social media, I wanted to share details of the most amazing pop up I'm doing with a very good friend of mine on Good Friday. Lucy and I have signed up to climb Kilimanjaro in August, to raise money for young adult cancer support charity Trekstock, so we thought we'd put on a huge pop up restaurant, with all proceeds going to the charity fundraising pot. 

On Friday 14th April Neil Rankin, from one of my favourite restaurants, Temper, and Hardeep Singh Kohli, one of our favourite comedians, are joining us to put on this epic Good Friday feast. We're serving up a feast of BBQ'd Indian lamb (from Daphnes Original Welsh Lamb) dishes, BBQd cauliflower curries, veggies, chutneys, homemade breads, and lots lots more. For pudding there'll be zingy lemon tarts and wonderful rhubarb stewed in cocchi rossa, followed by cheeses and chocolates made with Diplomatico rum. Tickets are tiered in price and all include drinks - there's a saintly non alcoholic option for £45, then all-in packages at different prices depending on how much and what you'd like to drink, going all the way up to a open bar ticket for £100 which includes champagne, high end wine and cocktails, and food, of course! We're doing pre and post dinner cocktails using some of favourite spirit brands, and wines with the meal include gorgeous roses from Vins de Provence. Every guest will also receive an Easter themed goody bag from our lovely friends at Farmdrop

Our HOT X BBQ is taking place in the gorgeous Brunswick Studios in Queen's Park, where we've got enough space to host 100 guests for dinner, with welcome drinks on their stunning outdoor terrace. 

And if all that's not enough to tempt you down, then how about our wonderful auction prizes.... Hardeep will be hosting the evening for us and auctioning off some "money can't buy (except at our HOT X BBQ pop up) prizes. We've got a pair of tickets to the London premiere of Alien Covenant with Michael Fassbender; artwork by cult artist Stedhead; film club for two at either The Soho Hotel, Charlotte Street Hotel or Covent Garden Hotel which includes a movie and either a three course dinner, brunch, lunch or afternoon tea; dinner for two at Temper, Soho; a pair of tickets to the hugely popular Literary Hour pop up restaurant; a hamper of oils and olives from Filippo Berio; a case of wine and £100 voucher from our friends at Honest Grapes; a lovely package of cured meats, cheeses and preserves, and lots more. 

Tickets are available here - we really hope you can come and join us for what is bound to be one of the best pop up restaurants in London this year!



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23.3.17

PICTURE, FITZROVIA

Emily and I have pretty similar food tastes so it's normally a good bet that I'll like restaurants that she does. She's been going on about Picture for some time, so when we needed an early evening feeding before the bar awards recently we hopped on to Bookatable where you can get five courses and a cocktail for £35, which is pretty decent for the quality of cooking.

We settled in to a mostly empty restaurant (that filled up throughout our meal) and enjoyed our welcome cocktail while we checked through the fixed menu to ensure there was nothing on there we didn't eat. Emily switched out a beetroot dish but other than that we were good to go. Warm bread and venison bites (which were a whole £1 each extra and worth every penny and more) kept up going til food proper started.


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9.3.17

A(NOTHER) WEEKEND IN PARIS

Paris - one of my favourite cities in the world. Last weekend I was back there for the third time in just over a year. This time I went with my mum, and we had the loveliest, whirlwind 36 hours (or less!) there. After an early start for one of the first Eurostar trains we headed straight to the airbnb studio I'd booked. Unfortunately our host had gone AWOL so we settled in at a local patisserie for coffees and freshly squeezed orange juice, before giving up on the airbnb host, leaving our bags with a very friendly man at his independent wine shop and setting off for a stroll around Le Marais, ducking in and out of galleries, gorgeous sun dappled squares and shops galore. I'd reserved a table at Amarante, which Lucy and I adored when we went this time last year, so meandered towards Bastille for lunch. Amarante is a tiny bistro on an otherwise residential road to the east of Bastille. But don't fooled by its random location - it's dishing up some of the best food in Paris and is 100% worth a visit. Mum and I went for the fixed lunch menu which is a steal at 19 euros for 2 courses, or 22 euros for 3. Our starters of tarama for me and liver pate for mum were perfect, followed by sublime ox cheek, greens and the jus of dreams; and fish and confit leeks for mum. I can't see myself ever visiting Paris and not eating at Amarante, and I suggest you do the same! Make sure you book though.




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1.3.17

PANCAKE PIZZA RECIPE

I'm fully aware that pancake day was yesterday, but this recipe's too good not to share, and I don't think pancakes should be confined to just one day of the year anyway. A quick, cheap and easy recipe to make, they're ideal for a fridge/cupboard raid supper. Sweet or savoury, they work well with a whole host of fillings and toppings. I decided to make a pizza out of mine yesterday - they're a lot lighter than a regular pizza and you can top them with whatever you fancy. Plus, having spent the weekend in France I had a fridge full of cheese that I needed to start work on!

Pancake pizzas for two:

For the pancakes (makes 4)
50g plain flour (I used spelt flour)
1 egg
150ml whole milk
Knob of butter and drizzle of oil

For the toppings
Grated cheese (comte, cheddar, emmental), or torn up soft cheese (goat's cheese, mozarella)
Cooked meat - salami, sausage, pulled pork
Any vegetables - spinach, tomatoes, artichokes etc

Whisk together the flour, egg and milk until you have a smooth, light batter. Leave in the fridge for 30 minutes before cooking. When ready, heat a pan with a small knob of butter and drizzle of oil, then wipe most of the fat away before pouring a quarter of the pancake mix in, swirling round the pan til it's evenly coated and cooking until the pancake comes away from pan. Flip the pancake and cook on the other side til golden. Repeat until you've used up all the batter.

Put each pancake on a baking tray and top with whatever you fancy. I went for spicy sausage and Comte from Paris. Slide under a hot grill and cook until the cheese has melted. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve with a salad if you want extra greens, or a second pancake pizza if you don't!


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27.2.17

WESTBOURNE GROVE PUBS x 2

One of my favourite things about where I live is the proximity to SO many good eateries. Within a 15 minute walk there are really excellent pubs, restaurants, bars, brasseries and local pit stops for food from all around the world. Two of those pubs that were recommended over and over are The Oak and The Cow, which are less than 100m apart from each other. I've now eaten at both and will definitely be heading back regularly. 

The Oak is from the same people who run an old favourite of mine, The Bird in Hand in Shepherds Bush, though I hadn't realised this until we were given menus at The Oak and I recognised the format and font.... in fact, having just checked their website I see it's their flagship restaurant. Food is modern European sharing plates and wood fired pizzas. We shared a few of the nibbles and starters, including parma ham croquettes and vegetable antipasti before devouring a sumptuous wild boar ragu. It's no booking at The Oak but you can wait upstairs in the cocktail lounge bar to enjoy a drink until there's a table free. 


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23.2.17

KERB, CAMDEN

For some unfathomable reason I hadn't been to street food market KERB in Camden until only a couple of weeks ago. Looking to rectify this, we took a leisurely Saturday stroll along the canal from my flat all the way to Camden in search of some deliciousness. 

KERB is now in five locations, Camden being the most recent opening, where there are 34 street food stalls that trade 12-5pm Monday to Friday, and 11am-6pm Saturday and Sunday. Stalls selling food in Camden include Ghetto Grillz (NYC bagel melts), Kimchinary (Swedish-Mex-Korean...!), Hanoi Kitchen (noodles), La Churreria (churros), Ink (szechuan squid strips with pastel mayos), Luardos (burritos), The Mac Factory (gourmet mac and cheese), and lots, lots more!

We did the classic thing of walking round the whole market and ending up back where we started - Arepazo Bros, to get an arepa (a patty made from ground maize dough) filled with shredded beef, melted cheese, LOTS of garlic sauce and pico de gallo with some fried plantain on the side. I've had a few versions of this Venezuelan dish before but this was definitely the winner. Soft, rich meat dripping with pokey garlic sauce and melty cheese. We'll definitely be going back for more of these.



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22.2.17

MY POP UP RESTAURANTS

It feels like it's been ages since I posted anything on here about my pop up restaurants! Last year I held regular pop ups at Angie's Little Food Shop in Chiswick, where I also did a Thanksgiving dinner with Tiki Chris, and I did takeovers at various other venues including 68 and Boston in Soho, Bart's in Chelsea, The Andaz Hotel in Liverpool Street, The Flying Boat Club on Tresco in the Isles of Scilly and Bert and May's warehouse in Hackney. On top of these I did tons of private events - birthday parties, weddings, hen dos and private dinner parties, and I did canapes and cocktails for lots of fun press events for River Island, hosted by lovelies including Pandora Sykes, Glamour mag's editor Jo Elvin and some fab fashion Instagram stars. 

As well as this, and my full time job and writing this blog, I also moved house. Having spent the last six years in West/South West London, I've moved to W9, which I'm absolutely loving. So it only seemed sensible to move my pop ups too! My pop ups will continue as they always have - an evening every four weeks or so of British seasonal produce made into a five course meal with a welcome cocktail. Next up is one of my personal favourites, rhubarb, which is the star of the show next Saturday, 4th March at a gorgeous venue in Queen's Park which I'm taking over for the evening. There's a few tickets still available so snap them up fast if you want to join us for the evening. If there's anything on the menu that you don't like or can't eat just mention in the comments when booking and I'll make an alternative for you. Groups, pairs, couples and solo diners are all welcome, as always. The full menu for the evening is:

Rhubarb Barentz (a wonderful jasmine scented gin) fizz welcome cocktail

Smoked eel and ham hock terrine with rhubarb salsa, pastry puff rolls

Duck and black pudding bon bon with rhubarb coulis, warm cauliflower and radicchio salad, chargrilled spring onions, cauliflower puree

Trio of rhubarb desserts - Individual rhubarb and pistachio cakes, rhubarb and lemon bars, rhubarb sorbet

British cheeseboard

Homemade chocolates


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9.2.17

CHICKEN "RAMEN" RECIPE

I'm a huge fan of ramen and really appreciate the time and effort that goes into making a proper bone broth in my favourite places that serve it in London and Kyoto - the broth takes 24 hours to make in the best restaurants, but sometimes when you get home from work and only decide what to eat en route home you need a cheat's way to speed things up. I whipped up this ramen in 40 minutes or so for friends and family last week and it went down so well that I wanted to share it here. It's not authentic, and probably shouldn't even be called ramen, but it was delicious, so here's my version. I was inspired to make this having spent an evening watching a wonderful new mini series called Hot Off the Wok with Lee Kum Kee - which you can catch here.

Serves 4

4 chicken thighs, bone in
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sriracha
1 tbsp Lee Kum Kee sesame oil
1 bobble of ginger (I didn't have any fresh ginger so used a couple of the mini packs ginger I'd kept from my Sushi Shop delivery recently!)
Water

4 free range eggs

Good quality chicken stock
2 tbsp miso paste, dissolved in a little hot water to make a liquid paste. I used red miso paste but you can use whatever you have/can buy 
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sriracha
Ramen noodles - I used 2 portions of these. You cook them straight from frozen, so they're handy to keep in the freezer for when you need them
12 mushrooms
1 chinese cabbage or pak choi 

Coriander
Chopped spring onions
Roasted sesame seeds

Start with the chicken. Marinate the thighs for up to 24 hours in the soy, sriracha, sesame oil and ginger. The best way to do this is adding it all to a zip lock freezer bag and popping it in the fridge. Once marinated tip the marinade and chicken into a large saucepan and fill with water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 40 minutes, scooping off any scum that forms on the top. Remove the chicken, keeping the liquid. Leave the chicken to cool slightly then shred the meat.

Bring another saucepan of water to boil and add the eggs. Cook for 6 minutes then run under cold water and peel.

Top up the chicken broth with some chicken stock, miso, soy sauce and sriracha. Bring to the boil and add the noodles, finely sliced cabbage and sliced mushrooms. Cook for 2-3 minutes.

Divided the shredded chicken between four bowls. Scoop out a big spoonful of noodles and vegetables and put them on top of the chicken. Fill the bowls up with the broth and top with a halved egg, coriander and spring onions and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. 



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8.2.17

RECENT EATS (III)

Another month, another selection of restaurants that for one reason or another - I think mostly that I didn't find any of them to be destination restaurants, ie they're fine and good if you're in the area but I wouldn't necessarily travel far to eat there again - aren't getting their own post but worthy of a mention all the same.

KILN, SOHO

Having been to neither Kiln, nor it's bigger sister Smoking Goat, Rhea and I rectified half of that situation with a trip to the former on Friday. Kiln is in the middle of Soho and like so many of the good ones, there's no reservations. So I whizzed down there straight from work and got our names on the list, then met the girls at Bar Swift where I'd booked a table for our unavoidable wait. Luckily Kiln run a "text you when your table's ready" system so we relaxed and caught up over martinis til we got the text to say there were seats for us at the restaurant. I think it was around an hour and a bit wait, and I'd put our names on the list at Kiln at ten past six. 

Kiln is a thai grill, seafood and claypots cooking restaurant which is lively and buzzing. There's counter seating upstairs where we sat and bigger tables downstairs. Go in a small group and then a) you have to wait as long and b) you'll get the counter seats which is where all the magic happens. We worked our way through a big portion of the menu and sizzled our tongues along the way. Highlights for me were the aged lamb and cumin skewer, and smoked sausage with turmeric, as well as the grilled Tamworth pork loin. Clay pot baked glass noodles with pork belly and brown crab meat was lacking in both meat and fish for me, and Rhea's made up version of the monkfish curry didn't really hit the spot, but then we shouldn't have swerved from the menu like that! Our bill was around £70 a head so not overly cheap, though with SO many excellent places open and opening in London I'm not sure I'll be rushing back to Kiln often. 


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3.2.17

A WEEKEND in PROVENCE

Our weekend in Provence with Olivence revolved mostly around food - after all, we were there to try all the wonderful olive products that are made in the region. This also included two wonderful meals in two of Marseille's top restaurants where we ate meals that had been designed to showcase the wonderful olive oils we'd sampled at the different mills and groves.

First up was a meal at Les Trois Forts, which is several storeys up at the top of the Sofitel hotel, with the most incredible views out over the old port of Marseille. Though this gorgeous sunset was actually looking out towards Les Trois Forts from our walk round the Christmas market before dinner.



We were seated at a huge round table right in the middle of the restaurant and started our specially designed meal with a perfectly poached egg (which I think had been cooked in a water bath at 63 degrees), on top of wild mushrooms and a green herb sauce made with the fruite noir olive oil. 



Our main course was the star for me - expertly cooked fillets of mullet on a creamy, rich risotto a la Provence with a bouillabaisse foam that was so tasty. Drizzled with olive oil this dish was right up there. As was the huge trolley of cheese that got rolled round afterwards for us to choose from. Though having chosen cheese I missed out on the olive oil themed pudding, but we all know how I feel about puddings!





Les Trois Forts was wonderful but the real highlight of the trip was the next day when we headed to Michelin starred Une Table, Au Sud where we had a cookery lesson with France's youngest starred chef, Ludovic Turac before sampling his creations at lunch in his restaurant. We prepped some of our lunch with Ludovic then watched him make his "aioli" - a piece of squid ink and olive bread topped with cod brandade and ribbons of vegetables - such a simple dish elevated to Michelin standards. 





Lunch opened with smoked mackerel pate on crispbread and a puff pastry roll stuffed with tapenade, which was warm and light and fluffy and superb. 



We'd made the parmesan tuille for the starter which came with vegetables and citrus zest in olive oil and melted in the mouth. 



Mains was bream wrapped in vine leaves with fennel and bisque foam. It was so good - zesty and really light, and cooking the fish in the vine leaf was such a great way to keep all the juiciness in. 



Dessert was a pretty plate of pineapple in various forms, with candied black olives, but far too sweet for me.



The food at Une Table, Au Sud is innovative and absolutely delicious. They do a lunchtime menu of three courses for 32euros, which is incredible value, so if you're in Marseille it's definitely worth checking out. 

Huge thank you to Olivence, all the wonderful olive oil producers and restaurants we ate at for such a great weekend. 





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2.2.17

A DOG'S DINNER with GRUB CLUB

Food and dogs are two of the things in life that can put an instant smile on my face. Combine the two and I can't think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon, especially when it's with the lovely Grub Club team who invited me to Patio in the Park to do just that a couple of weekends ago. One of Grub Club's top chefs, Michelin trained Pratap of That Hungry Chef, had teamed up with dog walking company Tailster to put on a feast for both two and four legged guests. It was such a fun afternoon, and not nearly as chaotic as 20 humans plus 12 dogs who'd never met each other might've been! 




We started with bubbles for humans and dog beer (yup, that's a thing) for the dogs outside the venue, while we heard a few dog handling tips from a dog training expert. The dogs then had their starter of bone broth with vegetables before we all moved inside (humans and dogs) so us two leggeds could get stuck in to the delicious menu Pratap had prepared.


Our food kicked off with steamed wild mushroom and fermented rice cake, curried celeriac puree, hen's egg and toasted coconut. A wonderful start to the meal, and perfect for Sunday lunch as it was like a dreamy brunchy egg dish that I would happily eat every Sunday morning. Chat round the table turned to all things furry and waggy and it was so cute having the very well behaved dogs chilling in the venue with us. 


From a perfect brunch dish, to a perfect Sunday lunch dish for mains, Pratap's venison braised with rum, chocolate and spices, turmeric and thyme mash and savoy cabbage was divine. Soft, slow cooked meat full of rich flavours on a bed of punchy mash and one of my favourite green veggies. 


After our mains it was outside so the dogs could have theirs - a canine venison kebab shaped into a bone, they wolfed it down. 


We headed back inside for our final course of spiced pumpkin and honey cake with vanilla cream, pecans and maple and sage dressing, which was pudding, so therefore not for me, but mine was the only not clean plate, so a huge success by the looks of things!


I'm not sure if/when Grub Club are doing another doggy pop up but they've always got plenty of fun and unique dining experiences of their site across London, so do check them out. 



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1.2.17

COCKTAILS with CHRISTABEL'S

If you want to perfect your cocktail making skills over an evening full of fun and glitter I've got just the place for you to go. Christabel started off running pop up restaurants and soon realised that drinks were where the real fun was so now runs, among other things, bespoke cocktail making evenings at her beautiful flat.

Before Christmas I spent at Christabel's trying my hand at a few cocktails. It was a brilliant evening - we laughed, ate canapes, shook our shakers and drank delicious drinks. 

There are a few cocktail workshops coming up soon - one on Valentine's Day evening (what a GREAT idea for a Valentine's date!) where you can make the Flirt and Zinger cocktails, which you'll then pimp up with glitter, sequins, rose petals, super special ice cubes and stirrers, while nibbling on canapes. Then Christabel is teaming up with one of my favourite vodka brands, Black Cow - who make their vodka from milk, to do some Mad Hatter Mar-tea-ni masterclasses

Christabel's workshops sell out really fast so book now to avoid missing out - you really don't want to miss these. 



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