20.4.17

GOODE AND WRIGHT, PORTOBELLO

As a fan of eating out, there's nothing better than finding a gem of a restaurant on your doorstep. I've passed Goode and Wright so many times, thinking that I should check it out, and finally did with Emily a couple of weeks ago when she invited to review it, much to our delight. G&W is a French inspired bistro/wine bar serving excellent food, and really good, great value cocktails (starting at £6.50). The room is wood paneled and narrow, and perfect for whiling away the hours over sharing plates of delicious food and drinks with friends.

The food menu at Goode and Wright is pretty much my idea of heaven. Split into nibbles, veg, fish and meat we chose a couple of dishes from each section, starting with ceviche, tiger's milk and grapefruit. I don't think I'll ever get bored of ceviche, especially when it's this good. I've tried so many different combinations, but it's the citrus that always comes out on top for me. 


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12.4.17

BROCKMANS CURED SALMON

On receiving a bottle of Brockmans gin to use in a recipe, I knew exactly what I’d make with it when I smelt the heavy floral scent of berries and zings of citrus coming from the bottle. I’ve never smelt or tasted a gin quite like it. It’s such a delicious and powerful standalone drink that it’s one of few gins I like neat. Therefore I didn’t want to add too much to my recipe to take away from all the flavours in the spirit. As a big fan of curing fish I wanted to go to this, and added a little beetroot to give an earthiness to compliment the gin's botanicals, which very unusually include blueberries and blackberries. What better to go with these purple fruits than a purple vegetable to cure a piece of salmon...

It’s such a simple recipe, though it does need to be made a few days in advance so bear that in mind when you make it. If you haven’t cured fish before then try it – the process “cooks” the fish so you end with salmon that’s of a similar texture to smoked salmon, and utterly delicious as it’s absorbed the flavours of the gin and the beetroot.

1kg salmon loin
2 beetroot
70g granulated sugar
70g table salt
120ml Brockmans gin
Zest of 1 lemon

Chop the beetroot into chunks and put in the blender with the sugar, salt, gin and lemon. Whizz up until you have a paste. Smother the paste all over the salmon loin then wrap the salmon in three layers of cling film. Pop the salmon in a tray in the fridge and put another tray on top, weighed down with something heavy (tins of beans are good!) Turn the loin of salmon over twice a day, for 2-3 days. When ready, rinse the salmon under cold water then pat dry with kitchen towel. Thinly slice and serve on blinis as canapes, or with salmon mousse and pickled vegetables, with bread, for a lovely starter. 



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11.4.17

FORZA WIN, PECKHAM

A few weeks ago I ventured to Peckham, for maybe the first time in over ten years, since I lived nearby in Camberwell! A friend who's moving to Cuba was having a get together so we headed to Forza Win - billed as an Italian restaurant in a Peckham warehouse - after a few pre dinner cocktails on a double decker bar/bus next door first. Forza Win was brilliant. The night we went was "pop up restaurant" format - everyone sat and ate together. No menu choices, just huge sharing platters of delicious food, unless you had dietary requirements, in which case you got your own plate of food. It's all about local, seasonal, top quality Italian food. Simple and delicious.

My photos are awful - I was having far too much fun with my mates to take decent pics, but I wanted to tell you about the food in case you haven't heard of Forza Win and you're looking for a fab night out of food and fun. While our group were sat at the end of one of the long tables, we soon started chatting to the diners on our other side as soon as the plates of antipasti were brought out for all to share. Excellent sourdough, duck ham and whipped white beans full of garlic started us off while we ordered very reasonably priced wines (£20 and up) from the waiters for the table. 

The nibbles were followed by food proper - huge plates of linguini primavera - al dente pasta with sorrel and spring greens. Main course was nettle risotto topped with grilled lamb neck fillet and served with asparagus and grilled baby gem. Our table looked and tasted like Spring in Italy. My vague attempts at recreating the lamb and risotto at home yielded nothing like the tasty dishes we had at FW.


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5.4.17

THE HOLY BIRDS, SPITALFIELDS

I feel like a lot of my eating out in London recently has revolved around specific types of meat. A few weeks ago I was at The Holy Birds, who specialise in poultry and game birds, and last week I went to SMITHS of Smithfield, in Cannon Street for a night of steak options. Both of which were actually pretty good, despite my initial doubts about eating out in The City.

The Holy Birds is a super retro restaurant in between Liverpool Street Station and Brick Lane, just south of Spitalfields market. We headed there from TT Liquor (blog on that to follow) and settled down with some delicious cocktails - a rum punch for him and an excellent whisky sour for me. The cocktail list at The Holy Birds is long, all encompassing and really good value - £9.50 for the very punchy punch, and the same for my whisky fizz.


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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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