Month: October 2012

Review: Hawksmoor Air St

Wandering up the stairs of Hawksmoor Air St, having already covetted the wonderful turquoise green leather sofa and chairs in the foyer, I was struck by the beauty and elegance of the enormous art deco style light fitting gracing the ceiling above the stairs. I grinned. I had been lost for a bit, wandering in and out of streets, up and down roads, down blind alleys. I have lived in London 11 years but am still frequently lost. Then I get frustrated and impatient with it and make terrible decisions and go wildly off course. Even with maps on my phone. I don’t know how. I was swiftly calmed on arrival at the new Hawksmoor on Air St, simply just off Regent St. How did I get so lost? I love what they have done here. A gorgeous, large and still intimate room (there are 230 covers). Calm and wooden, part James Bond / part Gotham City. Large semi circle stained glass windows blur the red London buses and the traffic outside. Bang in central …

Fernando de Castilla Sherry Tasting Matched with José Pizarro’s Food

Pizarro, sherry tasting, matched food. Well that didn’t require much thinking about. Was I in town? Yes. Well, of course I would go. José Pizarro has started running wine tastings featuring specified producers and/or regions of their excellent wine & sherry list. Last week was the first and featured Fernando de Castilla, one of the smaller and most admired boutique bodegas of Jerez. Five wines were matched with five dishes for a maximum of 20 people on one long table. The cost was £25. José hosted along with Bea from Boutinot Wines (Fernando de Castilla wine importers). Bea took us through the wine, and José took us through the food. Some fabulously geeky facts accompanied all. I was in my element. So, firstly, some sherry facts. So many people think Dot Cotton, when in fact they should be thinking Hackney Hipsta. Well, maybe not quite, but sherry is a fabulous drink and it is such good value for money too. They range from bone dry to syrupy sweet and can be rich and complex or …

Recipe: Sea Salt & Paprika Kale Chips

Kale chips. You are starting to worry now aren’t you? You are remembering that I have recently been to the west coast of Canada (British Columbia), and now you are worried that I have gone all – well, west coast – on you? Don’t worry, I haven’t. You can still expect to see lots of pork belly, Iberico lard, and all lovely, tasty, and yes, fatty things here. For, we are embracing of all things food. And that includes kale chips. Kale chips! What am I talking about? Raw food people love them. They dehydrate kale for hours so that they are left with crispy dry kale. I don’t have a dehydrator so I came up with a way of doing these in the oven. They are a fabulous (and quick) sulphurous little snack. To make these crispy treats, I dress a single layer of kale with a generous splash of extra virgin olive oil. I then sprinkle them with sea salt and smoked Spanish paprika and roast them in a hot oven until crisp. …

Announcing: New Bacon & Christmas Gift Making Classes

Well, that is a mouthful, but I am excited! I have a gorgeous new and central venue for my cooking classes, the kitchen in the beautiful Hampstead Theatre, a stones throw from Swiss Cottage on the Jubilee Line. It is a large industrial kitchen with plenty of space for us to mooch around and cook in. I will be running the classes over 3 Saturdays, with Christmas Gift Making Classes in the morning, and Bacon Masterclasses in the afternoon (which actually could be described as a very bacon-y Christmas gift class too). All classes will be for 3 hours and there will be a maximum of 14 students per class. As always, the classes are hands on and everyone does everything. So that you can go home confident that you can recreate everything again. The dates are: Saturday 24th Nov, Saturday 1st Dec, Saturday 8th Dec Christmas Gift Making Class Morning, 10am – 1pm, £75 A hands on cooking class teaching students how to make lovely Christmas food gifts, from scratch, including: Vanilla Marshmallow – …

Delicious Sundays: Stuff a Munchkin (with Chorizo, Cream & Kale)

I know two things about munchkins. One is that they were the tiny people in the Wizard of Oz that I loved so very much when I watched that film over and over again as a child. The other is that it is a cynical marketing name for a tiny pumpkin in the supermarkets right now. I have been sucked in. I love them, both the name and the tiny gorgeous orange pumpkins. Parcels of sweetness that partner so well with savoury and spice. So pretty too. I like to stuff and roast them, many different ways, one simple way I will share with you right now. The beauty of roasting a pumpkin with things in – both large and very small – is that they are, well, self saucing. As they roast, the firm pumpkin wall softens and becomes part of the stuffing, making a gorgeous pumpkin stew or soup, with very little effort at all. Kale and chorizo are the very best of friends. Two gruff culinary partners, one boasts of the earth …

Trine Hahnemann’s Scandinavian Christmas

Christmas came early for me this year, with Trine Hahnemann’s Scandinavian Christmas to celebrate the launch of her book of the same name at Food at 52 in London. The food was wonderful. Lightly cured cod with slow baked celeriac started us off. The main course was a terrific roast pork (with lots of crackling), caramel potatoes (new to me but I am hooked) and lots of gravy. Red cabbage and a lovely kale and pomegranate salad were served on the side. Dessert was rice pudding but not as we know it, lovely crunchy rice bathed in lots of whipped cream with cherries served on top. Fabulous. All of the recipes are in Trine’s new book, Scandinavian Christmas. It is absolutely gorgeous, and I think we will be cooking from it for our Christmas dinner this year. If you are new to Trine’s work, I heartily recommend her two previous books The Scandinavian Cookbook and The Nordic Diet. Trine is an inspired and creative cook, and her books are full of deliciousness. Next February I …

Recipe: Fried Spanish Queen Olives Stuffed with Sobrasada, Homemade Ricotta and Sage

Are you ready? For a molten hot slightly spiced delight? With spiced sweet sausage and gorgeous bright green olives? Stuffed with homemade ricotta, some punchy sweet spicy sobrasada and some earthy sage? I think you are ready. These are good. This recipe is based loosely on Ascolane Olives, stuffed olives from the Ascole region in Italy, and usually stuffed with the likes of pork, veal, lard and parmesan. Spuntino in London do a lovely version with anchovies, parmesan and sage. In fact there is a lovely recipe for these in the Polpo Cookbook (a lovely book, and one I would heartily recommend for Italian food fans). Mine are different. From my previous post you will have seen that I was in Spain last week, with the Olives from Spain folks. We visited olive groves in the sunshine and tasted many varieties from the large queen olives to the very small. That, combined with a trip to the market in Sevilla the next day was exciting and inspiring. Ideas flooded as I hopped from stall to …

The pointlessness of my list and some photos from Seville

I have a list. Really, I do and I try to stick to it. But I just hate sticking to lists. I love grabbing my biro and adding to it. It is stupidly long. Everything is in the wrong order, but who cares, right? I don’t. Perhaps, I should. But caring about lists is just not my bag, baby. I love clambering up and down my list, reviewing, striking things off because I am bored of just the idea of it. I find it difficult sometimes to get things done. I do always get there in the end though. I definitely indulge my whims far too much. I have been cooking all day and have so many recipes to share with you. My favourite would have to be big green olives from Spain stuffed with homemade ricotta, sobrasada (spreadable spicy sausage from Mallorca) and sage, breadcrumbed and then deep fried to form little olive bullets. The filling is like spicy creamy molten lava. It will shock, burn and make you smile. And you will go …

Lazy Grazy Brunch: Eggs in Tomatoes, Iberico Ham, Chorizo & Black Lentils

I love to travel. I am at my most content when on a train or ferry, calm and relaxed and heading somewhere new with no strains on my time. I enjoy plane journeys for this reason too. It is a rare pleasure to be inaccessible. A short period of invisibility is good for the soul. Times like this are when I come up with most of my ideas, informed with experiences past and anticipated ones of the future, notebook and pen at the ready. As much as I love being away, I also love to come home. Towards the end of a trip, if I have been away for a bit, I start to need it. Time in my kitchen, lazy days in my pyjamas, indulgent weekend brunches, endless coffees over the weekend papers and in the evening a glass of wine (or two). I especially love the evenings in Autumn, closing in early with a crisp chill. So, even though I have just left the heat of summer behind in Sevilla and British Columbia, …

A Trip Down Memory Lane at Dingle Food Festival

There are so many stories that I could tell you about Dingle. I could tell about the first dinner that I cooked for over 22 people at the tender age of 22. 22 mainly random people, randomly decided, in a youth hostel in Dingle. My friend Emma and I made Mexican food using what we could get. We didn’t do too bad a job. More importantly, we had a great time. It was a significant moment and one that was instrumental in getting me here. I could tell you about the time that same summer when we went to beautiful Slea Head nearby, and a local fisherman whose boat had just come back in, offered me a huge crab and a pike. I quickly readied myself and we carried the enormous fish & crab in a blue plastic bag and tried unsuccessfully to hitch a lift the 10 miles or so back. One family from Northern Ireland stopped their car to enquire as to what was in the bag, and wished us luck. When they passed …

I’m Cooking & Teaching Bacon Class at Dingle Food & Wine Festival

Another morning and I am on the move again. This time I am on my way to Ireland for the Dingle Food & Wine Festival. I have been tweeting about it furiously but it really is about time I told you non twitterers in Ireland that I would be there. Forgive the late notice, I have been swamped. I start as one of the judges for Blas na hÉireann today. I am doing a cooking demo tomorrow with Sig of Scandilicious (at 2pm and free) followed by a book signing at the local book shop. I am teaching one of my bacon classes on Sunday afternoon at 2.30pm. Stripped down to fit into an hour but we will still cover lots (and at a bargain price of €10). Jack & Tim of McCarthy’s of Kanturk will be doing a workshop at 1pm on Hands on Curing your Bacon the Traditional Way, if you want to go bacon crazy. There is also lots of other great things on including a taste trail, farmers food market and …

British Columbia, Canada, in Pictures [Part 3]

Yesterday, I wrote a post extolling the virtues of a little sleep. This morning, or rather this afternoon, following far too little sleep and an overnight flight from Victoria via Vancouver, I am a shell. Restless legs are my permanent accomplice. I don’t even have the mind to cook. I need to sleep. But not yet, I want to write first. The past 9 days in British Columbia flew by and I am left with such a positive impression. What I saw was food with such integrity, and people preparing it and serving it who really cared. They care about the provenance of their ingredients, not just because it is trendy, but because it is good. They care about sustainability both in fishing and agriculture / viticulture. The cooking and execution, in the main was great too. These pictures are from Tuesday, when I visited terrific Whole Beast Meats who use the whole pig carcass and make lots of charcuterie, bacons etc. I then travelled to Salt Spring Island in the Gulf Islands between the …

British Columbia, Canada, in Pictures [Part 2]

Good morning folks! Doesn’t some sleep make the biggest difference? I felt at the end of my tether last night. I woke up thinking “oh my god, won’t that guy just stop talking about that toaster?!”. In my dream someone was talking incessantly about one. Only I quickly realised that the guy was on TV and had thus invaded my sleepy head. I fell asleep with the TV on. I am off this morning to Salt Spring Island with Island Time Tours (who I also travelled with yesterday). A wonderful day lies ahead. For now, and for you, the second part of my photo post. I decided to make it three as I had too many to squeeze in here. So, come back tomorrow for the finale.

British Columbia, Canada, in Pictures [Part 1]

I have so many things that I wanted to write about, and I had planned to today. After a day of visiting vineyards and then an evening editing photos I am all out of energy. Rather than write something dull and uninteresting and lacking any passion, I thought I would share some of my photos from the trip with you instead. There are some I really love, and not all would actually fit in with any post I might write. I have taken hundreds. This is the first of two posts. Enjoy, and I will be back soon with the next photo post and then some lovely detail. When I am a little more awake and have the energy to enjoy it. Because one thing is for sure, if I don’t enjoy writing it, you won’t enjoy reading it. Niamh

redfish

Eating Victoria: Red Fish Blue Fish

I have been in British Colombia a week now, and it has been wonderful. It has also been very busy. I have spent the last week in Vancouver doing the urban thing, in Richmond exploring Asian food, the Okanagan visiting wineries and tasting lots of (delicious) wines, and for the coming three days I am on Vancouver Island, based in Victoria. Pretty busy. So I took today, my first day in Victoria, in my stride, visiting the museum (highly recommended for the First Nations gallery alone), and wandering about, poking my head in here and there, taking turns that would take me somewhere I didn’t know, and in general following my nose. Exactly how I like to travel. My nose brought me to Red Fish, Blue Fish. A local and modern interpretation of the humble fish and chip shop, in a shipping container by the harbour. A few people had mentioned it on twitter, so I had a look. The menu was everything I have come to expect of one on the West Coast. Vibrant, …