Month: November 2009

I v-ant… to eat… your food!

My, how time flies!  Afraid there’s not going to be any updates for a little while, as I’m off to Romania in about 2 hours. Stay tuned, though – I have drafts running in WordPress for:

  • Vinoteca, Farringdon for tapas
  • Hush, Mayfair for drinks and nibbles
  • The Water Poet, Spitalfields for Sunday lunch
  • Med Kitchen, Cambridge Circus for meh pre-theatre food
  • Boheme Kitchen and Bar, Soho for modern european
  • Eastside Inn, Farringdon for Thanksgiving
  • Basilico, Finchley Road for takeaway pizza
  • Ballan’s, Soho for zebra-printed wall hangings
  • Pizza East, Shoreditch for the best pizza I’ve ever had
  • Koba, Fitzrovia for yummy Korean**

And of course, I’m sure I’ll have some things to say about Romanian cuisine as well.

Normal posting will return in about a week! Ta.

**Looking at this list tells me I eat out way too much…

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Jellyboobs

The Blaggers Banquet has left everyone pretty much exhausted, and I am no exception.

I’ll post properly about it soon, but suffice to say it was an absolutely wicked time with some of the best food bloggers in the UK.

My crowning glory, however, was the invent of the hashtag #jellyboobs – a tribute to what I’m sure was a scrumptious dessert that looked way too much like, well… you know….

Recipe: Roasted Pumpkin and Prosciutto

roasted pumpkin

One of the things I loved at Polpo in Soho was the Roasted Pumpkin dish.  So much so, that I decided to try and make it at home.

I hesitate to call this a recipe because it was so easy, so just pretend I laboured for hours over it.

You’ll need:

  • 1 small pumpkin
  • Vegetable oil
  • Brown sugar
  • Kosher sea salt
  • Ground pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • 1 small shallot
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • A hard mature cheese (I used Manchego, which was a bit too mild. I think it would have been better with Parmesan or Pecorino)
  • A few slices of prosciutto
  • Some greens

Assembly is super easy.

First, peel and gut the pumpkin and cut into small wedges about a 1/2 inch thick. Place in a greased roasting pan with sliced shallot and diced garlic and toss everything in a mixture (to taste) of salt, pepper, sugar and cinnamon.

Roast at 250C for about 10 minutes, turn over sprinkle a pinch of brown sugar over and roast at 175C for about 20 minutes. Repeat that process, and roast for an additional 10 minutes.  While it shouldn’t be mushy, you should be able to cut through the pumpkin easily when it’s done.

Plate the pumpkin first and top with about 3 or 4 slices of room-temperature prosciutto. Top with greens and shaves of your preferred cheese.  A bit of cracked pepper on top, and you’re all set.

It’s seriously good eats, I have a lot of leftovers and I think the whole thing cost me about £6.

Tsuru – Southwark

London has a lot of sushi takeaway places. There’s Istu, Samarai, Wasabi and probably a few I’m missing. They’re all just ok (Itsu is my preferred), and as I’ve mentioned before, hit the spot for a quick lunch if you don’t want to pay £25+ per head for dinner.  Tsuru, however, is in a different league. Sure, it’s primarily takeaway, but the quality far surpasses any of the others I’ve been to.

I went here with a bunch of other Qypers for a sample of their menu and some lovely sake-based cocktails (apart from one with Japanese whisky) from Akashi-Tai Brewery.

tsuru qype sake menu

We started out with some Chicken Yakatori – a slightly sweet, slightly spicy starter:

tsuru chicken yakatori

Followed shortly by some amazing Agedashi Tofu, Prawn Tempura and Gyoza Dumplings:

I’m always impressed by tempura in restaurants. I’ve tried once to make it at home. It’s difficult. I leave it to the experts. Big thumbs up to the tofu as well. It was perfect not-too-soft consistency.

The only slight disappointment for me was the Chicken Katsu Curry.

Everyone raved about this dish, but for me the curry sauce was lacking a little punch. It was still good, but probably the only thing that night I wouldn’t order again.

There was of course some sushi, which definitely beat out all of its competitors in terms of presentation, taste and quality:

tsuru sushi

And the cocktails? Gorgeous.

People really don’t order enough sake. It’s most likely because they don’t know what to order, which – in all honesty – is fair enough. However, sake cocktails are completely accessible and a fantastic introduction to the flavour of sake itself.

We tried the Kappa Saketini, a martini made with shochu and Akashi-Tai honjozo ; the Nippon-Fashioned, a take on an Old Fashioned made with a Japanese whisky and clementines; the Tokiwa Honeytini (Tokiwa shochu with Drambuie and honey; and the Ume Hot Toddy – a warm drink with Umeshu plum sake, shochu, cloves and lemon slice. My favourite had to be the Tokiwa Honeytini.

Only problem is Tsuru is way too far out of my way (South Bank behind the Tate Modern)! I’m barely ever over there, so I fear that until they open up somewhere closer, I might not make it back for a while.  However, if you live/work over in that area, definitely check it out.

The rest of my photos are here.

Tsuru on Urbanspoon

Blaggers’ Banquet Blogger Charity Event for Action Against Hunger

blaggers banquet
I thought my serving days were over. I always told myself that after Pacific Rim, I would never work in a restaurant again. And, so far I’ve been right. But now – for one night only – I will be returning to the front of house and back to my roots by bartending at the first-ever Blaggers Banquet.

Here’s a bit more about the event:

On November 15th, London’s Food & Drink Bloggers will be taking over Hawksmoor, the revered steakhouse in Liverpool St, for the Blaggers’ Banquet.

Tickets are available on ebay: http://bit.ly/19WuSA

A first for Londoners – the Blaggers’ Banquet will be an exciting 5 course dinner with matched drinks, created entirely by food and drink bloggers, and using only food and drink that they have blagged. All proceeds will go to Action Against Hunger.

Bloggers will be the cooks and the sommeliers, front of house and the prep folk, the kitchen porters and the cleaner uppers. We’ll staff the bar, make the cocktails and make the coffee, and best of all diners can review us when we are done.

The menu will feature Chapel Down sparkling wine on arrival, Wagyu Beef and sustainable yellow kingfish among others. There will be music on arrival and canapés. Vegetarians and people with dietary restrictions will be catered for.

There will also be a blaggers’ auction, where we will be auctioning exciting items we’ve blagged. This auction will be two-fold: a portion of it on the night, and the rest in the weeks following.

Tickets are on sale now on Ebay in pairs for £150 and one table of 5 for £375. Five pairs of tickets will be auctioned starting from £75.

So please come on down to the Hawksmoor on 15 November at 6pm, give to charity and see if I’ve still got the skills behind the bar…

Beer + Cocktails = Beertails?

I’ve been going to quite a few more drinks events lately.  A few weeks ago, it was a wine tasting at Bibendum, this past Monday I went to a sake cocktail sampling at Tsuru with Qype and on the 10th, Elements 8 is hosting A Rum Do for the second year in a row (the first one was legendary).  This past weekend, however, was mostly spent mixing at home. With beer.

Beer is not huge for women in the UK, and honestly it’s not something I really go for either.  There a few that I like, but if I’m out in a restaurant or at the shop, I almost always go for wine. If I’m at a bar, it’s either wine or cocktails.  Beer just doesn’t even make it into my thought process.

However, there is a small, but growing movement out there that’s bent on changing that perception. With beertails – traditional cocktails made with beer.  Last week I received a beer cocktail starter kit* that included 2 bottles of Blue Moon (an American wheat beer), 2 bottles of Coors Light (a VERY American beer whose typical drinkers like this sort of thing), 2 bottles of Kasteel Cru (a beer made from Champagne yeast), a bunch of little airplane-sized liquor bottles and a recipe sheet.

I tried three concoctions: an Amber Mojito, a Kru Woo and something I named Lady Marmalade

An Amber Mojito is essentially a mojito, but mixed with Coors Light instead of soda water.

Coors light amber mojito

I made a huge mess making this. HUGE. Mint carnage, burned  simple syrup, beer head spilled all over the countertops.  It was a nightmarish process for one drink.  I simply do not have the mad skills to make a mojito at home. That said, I could see how the beer could work as a mojito base. It tasted like a mojito, but with an extra kick.  I wondered if it would make sense to use Corona though?

A Kru Woo is Kasteel Cru with peach scnapps and cranberry juice.

Kasteel Cru Kru Woo

The Kasteel is much more like Champagne, but with a slightly beery taste. Honestly, I preferred it by itself without all the girly accessories. Still very good.

The Lady Marmalade.  I completely made this one up. It’s just Blue Moon with Cointreau floated on top.

Blue Moon Cointreau

Blue Moon is a wheat beer. And wheat beers go well with citrus flavours (Bell’s Oberon, anyone?). So I figured Blue Moon would go just swimmingly with orange liquor in it. I was right! It was delish. Much more a summer drink. I would be very happy to drink it again.

The verdict?

If there’s anything I’ve learned from this experiment is that you have to be careful with beer cocktails.  Essentially with every cocktail, you’re taking out the only non-alcoholic part of the recipe (soda water, diet coke, whatever) and replacing it with beer.  And what’s the second half of that rhyme, ‘Beer before liquor….’? It could get messy.

I can see a future for beer cocktails, but convincing the masses isn’t going to be easy.  I bet it’s the kind of drink that you wouldn’t necessarily order if you didn’t know what you were getting, but if a friend ordered one and you tried it – you’d probably end up getting one yourself too. I’m going to keep an eye out, but I haven’t seen anywhere in London that does them. If you know of a place, leave a comment, and I’ll check it out because lord knows I’m never ever making a beer mojito again.

*I received the beer cocktail set to try for free from the lovely Laura on behalf of Coors, but was not paid for this post in any way. Any reviews I ever do on this blog are entirely my own views – good or bad.