Recipe: Judion Bean & Chorizo Stew
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Recipe: Judion Bean & Chorizo Stew (or Hello Autumn!)

Recipe: Judion Bean & Chorizo Stew

Recipe: Judion Bean & Chorizo Stew

Did someone declare it chorizo month? Was it actually me? I fear it was, and my fridge is full of the stuff. I bought lots of gorgeous cooking chorizo to bring home to my siblings a few weeks ago and in my rush to the airport forgot to bring it (sorry, if you are reading this, but it tasted really good, ahem).

My office / pantry / chaotic-room-full-of-stuff has lots of randomness purchased in London’s aladdin caves and brought home from my travels. So does my room. So does the kitchen. Every crack and cupboard is rammed full of something or other. Opening a cupboard door may result in an injury or it may provoke a gentle surprise when I am hit in the head by something fabulous that I forgot was in there. My task right now is to sort the whole mess out, which makes for great cooking.

Some of this mess right now is beans. Bags of them. Little ones, big ones, black ones, purple ones, speckled ones, white ones of all shapes and sizes. I love beans. All kinds. Spanish markets have a fantastic selection, and I went a bit crazy at the market in Seville loading my suitcase with all shapes and sizes. I am still making my way through them. Joyfully.

For this recipe, I pulled out my bag of Judion beans. Ta-da! Enormous and creamy, the skins are thick and the taste rich (for a bean). Beans are best cooked from dried, I find tinned and most jar ones soggy and limp. Why suffocate them for so long and kill the joy? It doesn’t take much effort to soak and boil them. They are best cooked not long after you have purchased them too, as they get quite tough as they age. These cooked quite quickly after an overnight soak, which is a testament to the quality of the produce at the market in Seville, as it is sometime since I bought them.

Cooking chorizo is soft and luscious. Spiked with paprika and creamy with fat, it goes with everything, but with these gargantuan white beans they are perfection. Have a look for some in your local deli, and failing that, you can buy cooking chorizo online from Brindisa (you can buy the judion beans there too). It is one of my favourite ones.

This is a great dish for this time of year and can be made in advance and served later for friends. It tastes better later too, so if you are organised, this is even more of a winner.

Recipe: Judion Bean & Chorizo Stew
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Morito, Exmouth Market, London
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London: Seafood Festival at Morito

Morito, Exmouth Market, London

Morito, Exmouth Market, London

London is a very big city. That is not news but it frequently annoys me. It is the best and worst thing about London. I love that I can pop across to the other side of London and have a whole new and interesting experience. I also hate that I have to do that. I am a bit spoiled by it, I think we all are.

Morito Seafood Festival Menu

Morito Seafood Festival Menu

I used to live in the North East of London, so popping to Morito for tapas and a swift sherry was always easy. I have written about Morito before, if you are new and unaware of it, Morito is the smaller sibling of Moro, and is just next door. Now that I am down sarf, popping to Moro is a little trickier. It needs to be planned, and you know I hate to plan anything (as much of a key skill that is for any sociable Londoner). However, Morito’s annual seafood festival is a must, so I made sure I didn’t miss it.

Fino at Morito

Fino at Morito

Morito’s Seafood Festival runs only until October 6th. Lots of dishes that aren’t on the regular menu are available, and suggested sherry matches too. This year the menu isn’t set (as it was last year) so you can go a bit meaty too and I suggest that you do. The chicharrones de cádiz are unmissable (tender melting pork belly spiked with cumin and lemon) and the lamb chops are excellent too (I didn’t have the lamb chops this time but I have many others). The prices are very good, and you will want to order a lot. Do that too. I would suggest booking a table too (at lunchtime only – dinner is first come first served), as it is popular and always busy.

Gilda - pincho of anchovy, olive and guindilla chilli

Gilda – pincho of anchovy, olive and guindilla chilli – spiky and rich. Perfect appetiser.

Ceviche - wild sea bass ceviche with seaweed, dill, sesame and cucumber

Ceviche – wild sea bass ceviche with seaweed, dill, sesame and cucumber – the cucumber acted as a delicate relish and the seaweed emphasises the taste of the sea and freshness of the fish

Octopus with Potatoes

Pulpo a la Gallega – Octopus with Potatoes – slow cooked tender octopus with spiced potatoes

Montadito de cangrejo - toast with crab and oloroso sherry

Montadito de cangrejo – toast with crab and oloroso sherry – the oloroso added a layer of richness

Puntillitas - deep fried baby squid

Puntillitas – deep fried baby squid – perfect tiny octopus – loved this

Tortilla

Tortilla – one of the best in London

Quail eggs with cumin and sea salt

Quail eggs with cumin and sea salt

Chicharrones de cádiz – pork belly, cumin & lemon

Chicharrones de cádiz – pork belly, cumin & lemon – a must have – yielding fatty pork belly with a spiked cumin & lemon crust

Morito, 32 Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QE

http://www.morito.co.uk/ 

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Posh Lunch Club at Pizarro

Pizarro, Samsung S4 - 26

To refresh your memories and to introduce new readers, Posh Lunch Club is all about finding the best fine lunches at bargain prices. So set menus, and all that jazz. Mainly in London but also anywhere that I might find myself. Which is a lot of places, at times. I have a long list to hit in London, and will be focussing on that for the next few months.

I love Posh Lunch Club because it makes London restaurants so accessible. I really believe that you don’t need to have a lot of money to eat well, either at home or out on the town. When I first moved to London and existed on a pittance, I took advantage of the amazing ingredients available to me and taught myself to cook more, as I couldn’t eat out that much. Now I can, but I still relish a bargainous and delicious discovery.

Posh Lunch Club isn’t a real club. I have had requests to join but sometimes there is only one member – just me on an indulgent solo lunch – more usually it involves one other, and sometimes, many more. The membership lasts for as long as lunch, and that is that. The real idea is for you to use this as a guide for your own posh lunches. I will show you the best and most delicious places to spend your hard earned cash.

Let us begin.

Pizarro, Samsung S4 - 01

My first Posh Lunch Club of 2013 was at Pizarro. One of my favourite restaurants, they have started doing a brilliantly priced Menu del Dia (as is typical in Spain) for £20 for 3 courses or £17 for 2. I have a confession, even though I normally stick to the menu, when in Pizarro I can’t resist going off piste and bumping things up a bit. I adore the jamon there (with a glass of fino, natch) and the cod fritters are very hard to resist. So we started with those.

Pizarro, Samsung S4 - 15

The cod fritters are crisp with a fabulously light & fluffy center. The jamon is nutty, rich and melts in the mouth. I can taste it now as I type. The jamon that is served at José (Jamón Ibérico Manuel Maldonado) is sold at £1000 per leg retail elsewhere, so it is a bargain, even at £20 a plate.

Pizarro, Samsung S4 - 05

On to the starters. There are three choices, but I can’t look beyond chorizo, even if I have no idea what Trinxat is (Trinxat, chorizo was on the menu). It turns out to be a refined sibling of bubble and squeak with tiny diced chorizo, fried and crisp on top and on the side with some crisp greens. The cake itself was just holding together and when I touched it, it seemed to sigh and fall apart.

Pizarro, Samsung S4 - 09

For my main course, I went for the pork chops with jersey royal and apple. The pork chop was very large and with a big coating of fat. The pork itself was delicious but the fat was divine. I left none behind. It lay on some apple puree, not over sweet and still perky. The jersey royals played a small supporting role with a herb dressing. My friend had mackerel plancha, which was super fresh as mackerel should be (but often isn’t).

Pizarro, Samsung S4 - 07

And this is where we stopped. No more food, and I finished with a coffee. But were I stronger, more greedy (or less greedy at the start), I would have had the Santiago tart. Really, I would.

A perfect breath of new life for Posh Lunch Club and about time I reviewed Pizarro. A wonderful restaurant, all heart and great food, those two courses cost only £17. There is a great sherry & wine list too.

It gets very busy, but there is almost always a seat at the bar. I have spent many a Saturday there. Enjoy it.

Pizarro, 194 Bermondsey St, London Borough of Southwark, London SE1

I am still experimenting with video. Here is a little one of Pizarro. A little shaky, but not bad for a phone at all. Imagine you are on a train as you watch it ;) (I think a little tripod for it would be very useful, I will perfect it!).

 

With thanks to Carphone Warehouse, who supplied the Samsung S4 which I used to take all photos in this post, and the video. Not bad, is it?! 

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Ola José! José Pizarro’s New Sherry Bar Hits Bermondsey

José Pizarro

At long last, José Pizarro, former head chef at Brindisa Group, has opened his sherry bar in Bermondsey. It’s as good as I hoped it would be, terrific food & wines are served at really decent prices in a lovely cosy room. Better than that, Josés warm personality is evident throughout, it’s really friendly and welcoming. Warm wood counters grace large windows, it’s predominantly standing room here, but that adds to the bustling vibe.

The wine list has been put together by Tim Atkin MW and Jo Ahearne MW, and features a terrific house cava by Babot at £6 a glass. I also really enjoyed a glass of Verdejo from (2010 Cuatro Rayas), a fresh and lively sauvignon blanc from Rueda at £6.50 a glass. There is of course the sherry which has its own comprehensive list. I have yet to explore this properly but will definitely be going back there to sample.

What of the food? There wasn’t a dud dish when I visited. My favourites were the divine croquetas, perfect tortilla, pisto with fried duck egg, albondigas iberico with spicy tomato sauce, gazpacho that tastes like it has come straight from Andalucia, and hake with allioli. Tapas prices range from £3.50 to £7. There are no reservations so just turn up.

José, 104 Bermondsey St, London, SE1 3UB

http://www.josepizarro.com/news/660

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Ham Class at Brindisa, Borough Market

Me: “I can’t meet you tonight, I am off to ham school”

Friend: “Ham School?!”

Me: “Yes, ham school! I can’t wait, it’s at Brindisa in Borough Market. You know how much I love that shop.”

Friend: “I’m jealous! Ham school was always my favourite class in school too ;)”

This style of intrepid food exploring I sometimes find myself engaged in confuses and perplexes my friends. They find it highly amusing that I am so engaged with the world of food. But even the most cynical, were somewhat startled by the concept of ham school, and more tellingly they wanted to go.

What was ham school? I was invited by Brindisa to participate in their first ham class, where they would educate me about four different hams, their different origins, both porcine and geographical, the different diets, and complex disparages in flavour and quality that these produce. We were also going to be taught how to slice ham from the leg of an iberico pig, and we would get to take the ham home. Finally there would be manzanilla.

A perfect evening. Perfect in all ways but one, timing. It was on a Thursday, market day, where I am usually busy up till 9pm in Covent Garden tidying away the stall. However, I couldn’t refuse, so I advised that I may be late but that I would get there as early as I could.

I’ve long been a fan of Brindisa. When I lived in Ireland, a few years ago now, I was looking for Judion beans, those enormous Spanish butter beans, and discovered that they stocked them there. I made it my business to go there on my next trip to London, and prompty fell in love. With their chorizo, of course.

After I moved to London, I became an extremely regular visitor, particularly to their Exmouth Market shop, which was near where I worked for a number of years. They did a marvellous chickpea and chorizo stew which I have tried to emulate at home and which I had from their shop at least weekly, along with their delicious and wholesome salads, sandwiches which put most sandwiches to shame, and of course the delicious Spanish cheeses. Sometimes I would treat myself to a bottle of their delicious Albarino, usually an indicator of a bad day at work, a visiting friend, or a trip to Ireland. I worked in publishing you see, and therefore was far from rich. Sadly that shop has since closed, but there is still the shop in Borough Market. Unfortunately, rules dictate that hot food cannot be served in the shop, so there’s no stew, but there are plenty of treats to buy to bring home and indulge in. Then there is also the ham. I was about to learn a lot about that.

The shop is located under one of the railway bridges, with big gates looking on to the market on one side and the street on the other. We were gathered around a large rustic kitchen table, with a plate of ham and sherry in front of us, looking at a large map of Spain. Zac Fingal-Rock Innes, the master carver, and Alberto Ambler, the Assistant Manager, guided us through the map, telling us in fascinating detail, where the differences in taste, and sometimes quality originate for each ham. We learned about the different breeds, and each one we discussed we then tasted and described. It was fascinating, like a wine tasting, but with ham. The class was informal and passionate, the loved their subject area and it was infectious. I found myself wanting to learn more. And to eat more.

The hams were delicious. We tried four, the final (and most expensive of course) was my favourite, and at £15 per 100g, it will be a treat, and a much appreciated one. Joselito Gran Reserva Bellota from Guijuelo, Salamanca, an Ibérico pig and therefore acorn fed, cured for 3-4 years. I could talk forever about these hams, and the pigs but I see I am already approaching 700 words, so I’ll get on with it. Just this one bit, the more expensive the ham, it seems the fussier the pig. These pigs will travel huge distances to eat the right acorn. Brilliant! I love that attention to detail, and the fussiness. I respect them for that.

The hams were by now tasted  and notes taken, had some delicious manzanilla. It was time to learn how to carve the ham. I was looking forward to this, I’ve always wanted to be shown how to do it. I took my place by the ham and proceeded to cut under the guidance of Zac. It didn’t seem too bad at all. In fact, it seemed fine. I was no expert, but I was finding it relatively straightforward, how could this be? Zac asked if I had done it before as I seemed like a natural, which I definitely had not. I mentioned in jest that I had done anatomy (and therefore human dissection) in my university years, which it turns out Zac had too. So, maybe that was it? My knife skills (ack! forgive me) translated from the lab to the kitchen.

Ham sliced and packaged up, it was time to go home with a little bag of ham treats, including some fat to render and have with potatoes or similar. I had a great time and would highly recommend it. Thanks to Celia for arranging the invite and to the lovely people at Brinidisa for arranging such a wonderful evening. Lovely people, lots of knowledge, and lots of tasty ham. The classes will be running from November for £65. Given the quality of the hams, the knowledge of the staff and the uniqueness of the experience, it’s a great value evening.

Brindisa at Borough Market
The Floral Hall
Stoney Street
Borough Market
London SE1 9AF

Tel & Fax: 020 7407 1036
Email: shop@brindisa.com