Month: February 2010

Posh Lunch Club: Quo Vadis

Posh Lunch Club this week was slightly hampered. It was preceded by an intense mozarella session, a promised tasting, but in the end, a wolf in sheeps clothing. Instead of the expected tasting,we were presented with an online conference where over 20 countries indulged in lengthy cheese chatter while we watched in rows, asking questions like how the locals enjoyed mozarella in Madrid. Moldova, how about you? Do Moldovans enjoy mozarella? There’s no doubting it, from Madrid to Moldova, they love the mozarella. I do too, but I don’t need constant affirmation of the fact via a web conference. Eventually it ended and there was an opportunity to try some. Starved and slightly stressed following the monstrous and unexpected cheesey conference, I wolfed some down before running to Soho to meet Helen (World Foodie Guide) at Quo Vadis. Quo Vadis is owned by Sam and Eddie Hart, who also own the acclaimed Fino & Barrafina. They recently restored and reopened the Soho stalwart, a restaurant originally opened in 1926, it to its former glory. It …

A Guerilla Wine Tasting

Wine is one of my favourite things. A glass with a friend or over dinner is one of the most pleasant ways to spend an evening. A bold and spicy glass of red for winter, or a gorgeous sparkler for summer, for every season and occasion there’s a glass of wine. I’ve been exploring and learned a lot this last few years. It’s been one of the many pleasures I’ve indulged in since starting blogging. I have always had a healthy interest, but have been further investigating regions, vintages, grape varieties and it has been an enormous education. It seems a great shame that for most people, exposure is limited. People fear it’s scientific and that they will get it wrong. Perceived to be an elitist sport, they stick to the supermarket offerings, anxious that they will be exposed in a local wine shop as someone who doesn’t understand. I felt like this too once, until I realised that it is personal and subjective and the only way to learn and appreciate is to try. …

Chinese New Year: A Recipe For Jiaozi (Beijing Dumplings) and a Wine Match

Chinese New Year. Now that’s my kind of New Year. Celebrated for 2 weeks and centred on food, bright colours, parades packed with drama, and people having fun. I have always had an affection for it. Clearly, I have a strong sense of food occasion, the only bit that I don’t like is the whole tidying thing you have to do in advance. I am still waiting until I am wealthy enough to pay someone to do all of that stuff for me. As I am not Chinese I don’t adhere to that, I do enjoy the food though, and always indulge. I love Chinese food as a rule, not the shiny food glistening with cornstarch and gloop that you get in your local take away but real Chinese food from many corners of that huge country, food that is increasingly widely available in London. My particular favourite is Sichuan, spicy, numbing and hot, bursting with flavour, boldly embracing all kinds of offal and other bits coldly disregarded from Western tables. For this dish, I …

This Little Piggy Went to Pig Masterclass

This little piggy loves eating out, and doing all sorts of things relating to food, you may have noticed. I especially love new places and trying new things, learning new skills, watching someone and learning from them. So, as often as I can, I’ll get out there and try something or somewhere new. London is a big city with lots of options and it won’t surprise you that I’ve not been everywhere yet Far from it. So, when I received an invite from a restaurant on my hit list, Trinity, to attend a pig master class, where the head chef would do a butchery demonstration at the kitchen table, followed by a dinner matched with Trimbach wines from Alsace, I was thrilled. I love Alsatian wines, I first discovered my love for them at a Hugel tasting a couple of years ago. Trimbach were particularly interesting as they are a small house, family run for many generations. Just my cup of tea, or should I say glass of Gewurz. Trinity is a highly regarded restaurant …

Announcing Posh Lunch Club: First Stop, Arbutus

I want to do something new. I want to do something fun. A mini project that I will want to write about, an injection of passion, an objective. As you know, I like to be fed. So, I present to you: Posh Lunch Club. Posh Lunch Club is all about the set menus in great restaurants, wonderful food at bargain prices. There will be the occasional defection to the expensive side of the fence, The Fat Duck has got to be done, and there’s a few others that will creep in at high prices. Guest members are allowed, and most welcome. I do love the occasional solo lunch with a book, so will be sure to have a number of these. In the main though, this is about tripping about London as a gourmand, at surprising prices. It’s always possible to source a great bargain. Where to start? It had to be Arbutus, Anthony Demetre and Will Smith’s modern British restaurant in Soho. I’ve eaten there before, and thoroughly enjoyed it, but didn’t blog it. …

Blaggers’ Banquet: final total raised & thanks!

It is with great pride and pleasure that I announce the total fundraised by the Blaggers’ Banquet & Auction for Action Against Hunger – a whopping £9349.49. Many thanks to everyone who supported us and donated food, drink, prizes and miscellaneous essentials. Special thanks go to Hawksmoor for being our inaugural hosts. The Blaggers’ Banquet could never have happened without our sterling team of volunteers, those on the night and those who worked tirelessly building it, blagging and running the auction. Many hands make light work, unless you’re dealing with paypal and ebay who caused us endless problems, so particular thanks go to Kavey, Sig, Linda, Susie and Ailbhe who toiled tirelessly. We learned a lot and look forward to doing it again. Watch this space for details on our Food Lovers Sports Day for Action Against Hunger (official name tbc!).

For What Ails You: Lemon, Ginger & Honey Tea

I’ve been ill again. I don’t ever remember a time in my life where I have had such a succession of bugs and annoyances. This time, the visitor was a most unwelcome norovirus, commonly known as the winter vomiting bug. I am sure there are much better ways of describing it, it is the most vicious, invasive, overwhelming bug that I have had the misfortune to be slayed by. It brought me around to thinking about the food that we eat when we are sick, to get better. Everyone has their particular favourites, some offer comfort from childhood, most are family remedies. Often they make no sense at all. Almost everyone seems to turn to fizzy drinks when ill. Even me. And I won’t touch them when I am not ill, unless they are partnering a spirit. The sugar is good, and some like ginger ale have ginger, but isn’t it better to go straight to source and make a fresh ginger tea? Now, I know it sounds laborious, and when your sick, struggling to …

Girls Just Want to Have Steak! [Girls Steak Club at Hawksmoor, London]

Girls like steak, of course we do. We also like lots of other things perceived to be manly territory, so when Hawksmoor suggested Girls Steak Club, how could we not but jump at it. I’ve blogged about Hawksmoor before, I really like it there, and it was our venue for our inaugural Blaggers’ Banquet. It’s got great steak, is buzzy and vibrant, and there’s great cocktails and a nice wine list. Service is friendly and informal. It promised to be good. Now, it was controversial, the boys were not pleased, and organised their own night to counteract it, Blokes Eat Beef at Goodman Steakhouse, which looked great, they even enticed my favourite Irish salmon smoker Frank Hederman. However, it’s not a competition (or is it?), and much as I don’t think a proliferation of single gender events is wise, Girls Steak Club was a great night, with luscious food, delectable wine, friendly fun company, and lots of banter. Secured in the private room, behind a thick velvet curtain, we were treated to top notch cocktails. …

In the kitchen at L’Anima with Francesco Mazzei: Linguine Vongole

I was very excited, and also a little hot and bothered. I had to be in Liverpool St at 5pm, but I didn’t finish work until 5.30pm, and I work an hour away. Eish! What to do?! Thankfully, Francesco and his team were patient and flexible, and unfazed when I burst through the door, earlier than I thought possible, but later than arranged, red and frizzy and ready for vongole. Vongole? What’s that? It’s one of the best Italian culinary offerings, and when nestled with linguine, a real treat. Fresh and lively, salty and sweet, fruity and toothsome, you can’t beat it. I’ve cooked this at home, but not for a while. It’s one of those things that has to be done right, great vongole from an even better fishmonger, great pasta and some time. That’s all. Like anything else, there are ways to do it to do it and to do it right you need to adhere to the rules, but really it’s not that complicated, and once you know the steps, it’s utterly …

January in food and frolics: the roundup

It seemed like January was never-ending, truly a bottomless pit of rushing to work while skidding on ice and low heavy skies. Skies that were so heavy, I felt like chicken licken, and wanted to roar to the world “The sky is falling in!”. But then, it was gone. Gone! Just like that. And suddenly it was February. How can that be? To stay so long, then leave so quickly. My sense of time is distorted, and now what do I do that I no longer have January to blame for everything? As much as I proclaimed the misery of it all, the heart wrenching, grey boredom that January cruelly bestows on me, there were some culinary moments that may make my best of 2010. Some really fun and utterly delicious adventures. An evening where I was demolished not by January, but by vodka and my own lack of sense, some time in the kitchen with Francesco Mazzei, a Bisol cookoff, a very good pie crafted by my own fair hands, and a new way …