Month: July 2010

Bitesize: Serpentine Gallery Sleepover, Michelin Star Pop-Up at Cowes Week, Festival Brazil at the Southbank Centre and Ping!

Bitesize is back! Every 2 weeks, I will be publishing a selection of interesting things, almost all food and drink related that you may want to do. Serpentine Gallery Sleepover Professional insomniacs or those aspiring may want to check out the sleepover at the Serpentine Gallery. The Serpentine Gallery and the V&A will stage a unique overnight event of talks, films, experiments and a midnight feast in the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2010 designed by Jean Nouvel. Artists, architects and musicians amongst others will host activities throughout the night, exploring ideas of mapping sleep and the psychedelic qualities of insomnia. You might want to go, because jellymongers Bompass & Parr will be presenting Power Trifles trifles,  containing either calming remedies or powerful stimulants which may keep you up all night (they’re everywhere, right?!). There will also be a Bombay Sapphire Twilight Bar serving specially created night-cap cocktails. http://www.serpentinegallery.org/2010/06/park_nightssleep_overfriday_30.html Cowes Week Cowes Week is the one of the UK’s longest running sporting events (beginning in 1826) and one of the world’s best know sailing regattas. This year will see …

A Fine Brunch: Homemade Soda Farls, Morcilla & Eggs

I am quite lazy in the morning, but quite demanding of what is put in my mouth. I only want good bread, to scoop up the runny yolk from my Old Cotswold Legbar eggs, but don’t want to travel to get it. In my neck of the woods we have some great Jewish bakeries but Saturday is Sabbath and they are all closed. What to do? I don’t want to spend ages proving bread (even though I know I should). So, back to my humble roots I go, it’s time for soda farls. Fried Irish bread, especially for breakfast. That statement is not dismissive. Soda farls are terrific, and so easy to make. The same as making soda bread, bar the cooking process which is so quick. The farls are cut from the round of dough, and fried on each side for up to 8 minutes over a moderate heat, delivering crisp bronzed farls , perfect for tearing and dipping into your gorgeous egg yolk and scooping some morcilla. I defy you not to chomp …

Braised Gem Lettuce, Broad Beans, Peas & Ham with Quails Eggs

As I peered down at my green fingernails, I wondered if it was worth it. Of course it was. I love fresh broad beans and double podded (big pod and little skin removed) is the only way to go. So succulent and sweet, and with fresh peas, well, that’s summer sorted, right? Fresh peas I love too. Folk say they’re overrated and that they lose their natural sweetness a couple of hours after being picked. I love the texture and the sweetness you get with them, and there is a certain satisfaction to podding your own. How to make it substantial? Well, braised lettuce is a perfect partner, intensified, slippery and sweet. Some shredded spring onions, and smoked ham cut into strips. Sounds good? Well, let’s make it better by adding some perfectly boiled quails eggs. I love the precision of boiling quails eggs. Dropped into a gently boiling pan of water for exactly 2 minutes 45 seconds and cooled under running water, you will get a perfect soft quails egg every time. This dish …

Join in on the Tapas Revolution

From a brief meeting with Omar Allibhoy, I am convinced that he could start a religion. Such passion and charisma, and boy, can he cook! I would join it for sure. My interest was piqued as soon as I heard about his Tapas Revolution, and when I found out that it was a personal mission, not PR driven or commerce led (he’s not promoting his restaurant, or a book or anything like that), I had to know more. Omar and his friend Danny, both Spanish and passionate about honest home cooked food and both chefs, Omar trained by Ferran Adria at El Bulli is head chef at El Pirata de Tapas, Danny is the head chef at a school in Elephant & Castle. They are perplexed as to why people don’t cook tapas at home. We go to great lengths to make curries and pastas, but tapas rarely ventures beyond some fried chorizo for most. They want to change that, so they have plotted a T on the map of England, and are whizzing around it on their 50 …

A Very English Afternoon: Polo, Picnic, Afternoon Tea & Champagne at the Veuve Cliquot Gold Cup

Well, there’s not been many recipes here, has there? And sincere apologies for that. I try to keep things balanced on this blog, recipes, reviews, recommendations and travel but I’ve hardly been in lately, so recipes have slipped. Woryy not, I have two whole days pencilled in for cooking this weekend and I will be making marshmallow, tarts and lots of lunch/picnic stuff. There should be lots to look forward to in that regard soon. I’ve been taking advantage of the summer, there’s so much going on and we actually have nice weather too. Nice weather?! Who would have thought. I’m pink and smiling and thoroughly enjoying picnics in the parks, dinners al fresco, supper clubs and so many other things. It feels like London is bubbling over with exciting things and smiling people. Some cranks too, but I’ve come to ignore them. So, Polo? Eh? I know! Well, I’ve been in London 9 years and I have never been so I could not resist the invite. What is it all about anyway? Men on horses with sticks, chasing a …

We need to talk about Josper

Josper! Whazzat? That’s how our conversation went yesterday afternoon, when the Josper (pronouced H-osper) was introduced to the conversation. I started to explain, retreated and promised that I would write about it today. A Spanish super hot charcoal oven, only 9 restaurants in the UK have one, and happily, I am well acquainted with three: Hawksmoor, L’Anima & most recently Chapters. You can see from the temperature dial at the top, how intensely hot these ovens get – up to 900 degrees. I stood next to one when the door was opened at 850 degrees, and the heat that erupted was so intense that I jumped backwards involunatarily. As you can see, I like to live on the smoky edge. Clearly, this isn’t a normal oven, and the quality of the food produced from it is far from normal too. Such intense heat and the charcoal coals produce fantastic charred perfectly rare Longhorn steaks at Hawksmoor, tender and smoky mackerel and juicy steaks at Chapters and smoky and tender bright orange mussels at L’Anima. And that’s just the …

The Complete History of Food from Bompass & Parr

So, you’ve read a few reviews of The Complete History of Food, I would wager, by now. That culinary dream team Bompass & Parr have once again captured our imaginations. They’ve somehow acquired an enormous abandoned house in Belvedere Square for a few days, and have transformed it into a mind bending, sometimes nerve wracking but always entertaining food & drink experience. At 15 minute intervals, small groups are ushered through the experiences in waves of anticipation. Greeted by a wizardly looking gentleman, an overview is given, then a cocktail prescribed. I was told that I was phlegmy (I do have a deep voice and I have been out a lot!), and was prescribed a corresponding cocktail to increase my yellow bile. I was feeling quite bilious as it happened but I kept schtum and made my way to the medieval pirate ship, constructed in the garden. We had to traverse a pool of live eels, via very narrow platforms. My nerves gave way, I am way too clumsy to attempt this, and they kindly let …

The Tio Pepe Tapas Trail: Barrica, Fino & Pinchito Tapas

London is an interesting city. Waves of enthusiasm seem to infect leading to trends in food and otherwise. Trends drive me crazy, food is food after all, and if it’s good it’s good. So what if I want to eat sun dried tomatoes and it’s not 1997?! I like ‘em. Sometimes they bring benefits though, and I am happy to succumb. One such trend is the interest in Spanish food and drink and the corresponding surge in quality tapas restaurants in London. Centrally this has seen the arrival of Barrica, Fino (relaunched last year) and Pinchito Tapas. Spanish style (perhaps Irish style too!),we embarked on a crawl of these three, taking advantage of the Tio Pepe Tapas Trail. Tio Pepe fino, one of my favourite summer drinks, was available free with any tapa over £4.50. What fun! We started at Barrica. My first time there, I was taken with the warmth of the traditional room with the sunny yellow walls. Lots of wood, a big counter, some tables and high stools. We opted for bar …

Bitesize: The Tio Pepe Tapas Trail, The Complete History of Food, The Cloudy Bay Shack & Guerrilla Gastronomy

Welcome to my first issue of Bitesize – a new piece on food & drink happenings somewhere near you. Expect to see it every two weeks or so. I’ve had frequent contact from readers exclaiming/lamenting a missed opportunity. Something great in food or drink that I’ve attended or gobbled up, and they’ve read about here but had missed the chance to go. A review is after the fact after all. Where can you find out about these things? Well, from now on, here. I hope you like it. The Cloudy Bay Shack in Parson’s Green, July 24th & 25th The Cloudy Bay Shack will appear briefly in Parson’s Green on Saturday, July 24th and Sunday, July 25th, open from 11am to 8pm. Tom Aikens has created a seasonal menu to match Cloudy Bay Wines. Choose from a menu of Summer specials from a ‘Dorset crab with chilli and ginger’ paired with Cloudy Bay Chardonnay to a Tom Aikens ‘seven-hour lamb’ paired with Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir. Picnickers can try one of the five tasting dishes …

Recipe: Courgette and Truffle Carbonara

I have a really bad habit of going food shopping on a whim and being charmed by the glistening ingredients which I can’t resist. I pop them in my trolley gleefully, only to review when I go home and wonder, so how does all of this fit together, and when exactly amd I going to get time to eat it all? Eating it all is never really a worry, although it has worrying effects of late. It does prompt some creative cooking, driven by what I am in the mood for, and what I have nabbed en route home. I was faced with one such dilemna last night. All I knew is that I wanted to eat something rich, comforting and light, and it had to contain some pasta. Not just any pasta, I was eyeing up my box of Pastificio dei Campi linguine, the grand cru pasta (as declared in Italian food magazine Gambero Rosso) from Gragnano which I have been covetting. I never need an excuse to eat pasta, I love the stuff …

Alvin Leung Masterclass Part 3: The Rest! English Breakfast, Foie Gras with Pat Chun & Sugar Spheres

What a lot of fun this series of posts has been. A trip down the culinary rabbit hole and an inspiration (for me at least, but I hope for you too). I am rounding up this three parter with the other gorgeous dishes covered in the masterclass: Alvin Leung’s Extreme Chinese take on the English Breakfast, Pat Chun Vinegar with Foie Gras, Tomatoes & Ginger Parfait and Sugar Spheres crafted with our own hands. Extreme Chinese English Breakfast? Alvin extracted the flavours and ideas and put together an indulgent and very glamorous take on the greasy spoon breakfast. Lotus seeds (like chickpeas but nuttier) with bacon, a sweet carrot puree which perfectly substituted ketchup but with more vibrancy, strips of sous vide duck and mustard foam. Extreme Chinese English Breakfast? Yes, please! Pat Chun Vinegar was a new ingredient to me. A sweetened vinegar unique to Hong Kong, it’s used in a traditional post-natal dish of Pork Knuckles & Ginger Stew, made from pork knuckles, eggs, ginger and sweetened vinegar. It is eaten both as …

Alvin Leung Masterclass Part 2: Xiao Long Bao

Following on from yesterdays post: Alvin Leung Masterclass Part 1: Dead Garden, here’s Part 2 on Xiao Long Bao. Nosey as I am, during the Dead Garden presentation, I spotted what looked like a bath of small egg yolks. Hmmm. I wondered what they were! Egg yolks! First instinct but incorrect, closer inspection revealed that they were too orangey brown and a funny shape, not perfectly round. I wondered some more about what they were. Patience is a virtue but it ain’t one of mine. So I watched attentively, and impatiently waited for the reveal. At last it came, they were Xiao Long Bao. Xiao Long Bao?! They can’t be. Xiao Long Bao are dumplings with minced pork and onion and soup inside. One of my favourite Chinese foods, they require precision and delicacy, for if you burst them whilest transporting them to your mouth, you will lose all of the lovely stock. I’ve done it and can assure you that it’s devestating. Well, as devestating as an eating exerience can be. The build up, …

Alvin Leung Masterclass Part 1: Dead Garden

Culinary mastermind Alvin Leung, nicknamed the Demon Chef, recently returned to London from Hong Kong to promote Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival later this year. I was thrilled that he had returned so soon, and that there would be an opportunity for a hands on masterclass at L’atelier des Chefs. Alvin Leung is quite a character (as I discovered at Identita!), in fact character does not do him justice. Born in the UK, raised in Toronto, Canada and starting his career as an engineer, he travelled the world trying the food in The Fat Duck and El Bulli among others, before embarking on his professional culinary career. Self taught, his restaurant Bo Innovation has gained two michelin stars. Quite an achievement, he is the only self taught chef, apart from Heston Blumenthal, to have attained this. The last time I saw him he really got my culinary brain ticking. I was inspired to go explore and use the techniques and ingredients that he had used. What would he have in store for us today, …

Posh Lunch Club: Summer Special at Bob Bob Ricard

It’s been a little while since I’ve done Posh Lunch Club, there’s one post from Nuno Mendes Viajante still waiting in the wings, but otherwise travel and busy-ness has prevented my weektime posh lunch trips. I’ve had a few things to celebrate recently, this blog turned three (2 months ago!), I had a birthday, and summer has finally come, so I thought I should mark these with an extra special Posh Lunch Club. Who needs an excuse anyway, right? Normally just two dine for Posh Lunch, but this time we stretched to ten, and booked the Owners Salon at luscious Bob Bob Ricard. Edible in every respect, it’s so gorgeous to look at, I want to lick the wallpaper, Willy Wonka style. Except in the bathroom, even though it is possibly the most gorgeous part of this restaurant, truly it is. Home of the Rhubarb Gin & Tonic, some terrific Russian food and well executed traditional and comfort foods (Roasts, Chicken Kiev, Cheeseburger), they are also famed for their very shallow wine markups offering fine …