Archive | September, 2010

Dishoom, Covent Garden

19 Sep

Dishoom on Urbanspoon
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Until 3 years ago, I always tried to steer clear of Indian food. I had a very bad take away experience when I was a child, which left me scarred and it wasn’t until I moved to London that I realised that there was more to Indian food than my local take away that we used to get every Friday evening.

My favourite curry house is one near where I live in Wembley called Karahi King. I have yet to write a review of it but you can see a great one here. I banged on about it enough to entice Carly and her boyfriend, The Peanut Gallery to travel all the way out here.

Apart from Moti Mahal, which is fantastic but slightly too expensive to warrant regular visits, I haven’t had the pleasure of a well priced decent Indian meal in Central London, until last week. The new restaurant on the block is Dishoom, which bases itself on a traditional Bombay cafe. Their menu runs throughout the day with breakfast items such as ‘Fruit Roomali’ (light roti, fruit, marscapone and honey) and ‘Bacon Naan Roll’ (Smoked back bacon, homemade chilli jam in fresh naan bread). Their lunch and evening menu is extensive with a range of foods including Roomali Rolls (hot grills, rolled in a freshly made light roti with herbs, leaves and chutney), Shorba (light spiced soups), Salads, Small plates, Grills, Biryani, Daal and of course, desserts.

I wanted to try the whole menu but knowing this was not possible, we ordered a few things to share. The lamb chops on another table looked irresistible so they were chosen along with the paneer special of the day and the house black daal. We also ordered some of the cafe crisps to tide us over.

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The lamb chops were tender and had a great spicy crust, the pomegranate adding a lovely sweet crunchy adition. The daal was different to any I have had before, it had an almost tomato taste to it and lentil bits, which gave it a lovely texture. The paneer balls were exceptional and left me wanting more. The dishes are small and designed to share – I would recommend sharing so that you can try a range of the dishes on offer.

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I really liked the brasserie setting, the room is dark, noisy and atmospheric. The open plan kitchen is a nice addition – you can see and hear the chefs hard at work. I saw a couple looking out over the restaurant with an almost proud look on their faces as people scoffed down their creations. We were sat inches away from a table on either side of us but our initial worries of being able to hear conversations going on next to us were quickly disregarded.

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The bill came to £40 including service for food and drinks for two, which I thought was great value. I wouldn’t go so far to say it’s as good as my local curry house… but locals are always special aren’t they?!

Dishoom
12 Upper St Martin’s Lane, WC2H 9FB
020 7420 9320

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Ginger and White, Hampstead

13 Sep

Australians are taking over London, yaaaaaaaay! Well, I’d actually like to think so purely based on the fact that they are bringing their incredible cafe culture to London. Please sirs, we want some more!

I’m talking about Ginger and White in leafy Hampstead. I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better day last Sunday. I woke up at 9, hopped in the car and drove to Hampstead. Nestled down a quiet countryesque lane next to houses built for our shorter predecessors, Ginger and White boasts a cute range of breakfast, brunch, teas and coffee. I’m not a coffee drinker myself but I adore looking at a silky smooth flat White.

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The first thing you notice as you walk through the door is the vast amount (or maybe it looks vast as the counter is teeny) of home baked cakes, breakfast muffins and pastries. All housed in front of shelves stocked with kilner jars full of pulses and spices and delightful pastel tea sets.

Ginger and White cakes

Venture further inside and you’ll find a large communal table (above which a large picture of the British flag resides – ironic as every waiter/waitress is Australian), window seats and sofas toward back of the room, which offer a more secluded newspaper reading setting.

The menus hang from the wall on wooden clipboards and you can’t help but notice the chalk board wall reading ‘Keep cups £8.50 – first coffee free’ nice idea, especially if you are a resident nearby (I WISH!)

So what did we order? The sausage sarnie (substituted brown sauce for red) and the ham and cheese croissant. My boyfriend did proclaim that ‘it’s only a sausage sandwich’ when I started snapping away and I agreed but a bloody good looking one at that.

GInger and White Bacon sarnie

My mouth waters now thinking of the buttery ham and cheese croissant – afraid there’s no pic of this as my boyfriend devoured most of it before I’d even finished the photo of the sausage sarnie.

To finish (yes, you can have dessert at breakfast time too) I had a slab of banana cake with a dollop of buttercream and a banana chip on top. I thought that the banana chip was a nice touch.

Ginger and White banana bread

The condiments that come with the toast on offer were all laid out on the tables along with the obligatory jar of Marmite. It was pointed out that maybe this should have been Vegemite!

There are also gluten free options and kiddie options (mini cupcakes) – they know it’s yummy mummy ville.

Finish with a pot of tea and a walk around Hampstead Heath and there you have the recipe for the perfect ‘lazy’ Sunday.

GInger and White tea set

4 Perrins Court
London NW3 1QS
020 7431 9098

Ginger and White on Urbanspoon

Vintage at Goodwood

5 Sep

For those of you who know me, you’ll know that my boyfriend is a part of the team that set up and worked on Vintage at Goodwood. So from the word go I knew all of the goings on behind the scenes. It was an exciting year in the lead up to the first event.

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Throughout the year I learned that there would be an arena for each different era, from the 1940’s to 1980’s. I also learned that there would be a pop up high street, the first of it’s kind and 200 + market stalls selling the finest Vintage clothing. This was to be the largest vintage market in the world! The attention to detail was fascinating – as I sat observing a meeting for all of the curators in our kitchen a couple of months before, I realised that this event could possibly be the best I’ll ever experience.

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The idea, for someone like me who loves Vintage but not one specific era is great because it allowed me to meander around the site from arena to arena and enjoy all of the different music and activities that were on offer. One of my favourite happenings over the Vintage weekend was the Chap Olympiad, which is an annual London based event hosted by The Chap Magazine and (one of my favourite water holes) Bourne & Hollingsworth. It has been running from 2005 and is Britain’s more eccentric sporting event. The ‘olympics’ saw contestants dressed in suitable attire play games such as cucumber discus throw, three legged trouser limbo and bicycle umbrella jousting. We loved the look of it so much that we went on both Saturday and Sunday to sit as spectators. Due to our attire on the Sunday, we were scouted and asked to take part in the games. I was delighted and jumped out of my seat.

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First up was the three legged trouser limbo. What is this I hear you ask?! Two chaps hold a cane and the two contestants have to climb into the rather large trousers with three legs, pop the braces over your shoulders and make your way under the cane however you wish. We decided to do a reverse limbo… the crowd ooooh’d and ahhhhh’d and erupted into raucous applause when we made it under the limbo pole unscathed. I didn’t make it out of the bicycle umbrella joust unscathed however – we were off and before we could even poke either of our umbrellas at each others copy of The Daily Telegraph, we were on the floor. The commentary post collision was hilarious – apparently Jack and I were “inseparable once more, all differences set aside, in a tangle of rusted iron”. It hurt – a lot and I had the bruise the size of a football on my backside a week after to prove it!

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There are far more tales to tell of the first ever Vintage at Goodwood but I am aware that if you are reading this, you probably are doing so because of the food aspect so here I go. There was a great food offering from a 70’s curry house on the high street (supplied by Lloyd Grossman sauces and Tilda rice) to Sourced Market, Fortnum and Mason, a Kenwood theatre, Tanqueray cocktail bar, Festival of Britain pub and Gizzi’s rock n’ roll tea party in the ‘Let it Rock’ arena. Even the outside caterings were carefully curated but my favourite by far was the 1940s inspired Tanqueray Torch Club.

Never before have festival goers witnessed silver service whilst being able to take in fine, authentic 1940’s entertainment. And all the while watching people jiving. We dined on the Sunday evening and our entertainment was in the form of a burlesque dancer called Gwendoline Lamour and all girl dance troupe the Beaux Bells. Stepping into the Torch Club, I was transported back in time – I never would have thought that I was actually sat in a field in the middle of the South Downs!

All food offerings at Vintage were curated by Valentina Harris and my oh my did she do a good job. I didn’t expect the meal to taste so fantastic – after all, I was at a festival and the best I’ve ever had before was from a little ‘Just Falafs’ truck at Bestival a couple of years ago.

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I shared poached egg with asparagus and hollandaise sauce and pork terrine with Jack for starter, followed by Lamb hotpot. The lamb was beautifully tender and the potatoes to die for. I haven’t had a better hot pot. Unfortunately, due to large portion sizes, there was no room for dessert but I thought they looked amazing. I went into the Torch Club a number of times and it was constantly full. The idea of having fine dining at it’s best and entertainment at a festival is spot on. It gives you a rest from standing all day and a chance to eat fantastic food, a chance that you don’t get at other festivals.

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There is tonnes more to say but I’m afraid I would be writing all evening so I’ll do my best to show you my thoughts with pictures.

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Andalucian tapas and sherry at Casa Brindisa

3 Sep

Brindisa is one of those places in London that i’ve heard so much about but despite all of the glowing reviews and compliments, I have never made it – until last night that is.

I embarked on my journey to South Kensington last night with high hopes – I was about to attend a Sherry and Andalucian tapas tasting evening at Casa Brindisa.

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One of my favourite cuisines is Spanish, probably due to the amount of time I spent in Spain when I was a child. Maybe not an awful lot in comparison to the more well seasoned traveller but nonetheless it gave my pallet and taste buds a firm grounding.

So the point of the evening: to introduce a range of press and bloggers to the new supper clubs held at the venue plus the Andalucian menu that will run through the month of September.

The venue itself, sweet and atmospheric with a bar area, tapas area, ham carving counter and a room at the bottom, which lets you look into the kitchen.

Peter McCombie, Master of Wine was on hand to teach us the difference between 10 sherry’s and how each and every one of them complemented the food that was served to us throughout the evening. Unfortunately I’m not overly fond of sherry, although I did try each one that was served to me. Some were potent, others sweet. I made a note of my favourite of the evening – Oloroso Abocado Alameda. Peter caught my attention, especially when he said ‘when you taste the sherry, tell me whatever you taste because you won’t be wrong. I might argue with you but you won’t be wrong.’ I didn’t hear any arguments throughout the evening.

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My favourite facts that I learned:

• There is no umami present in Sherry. Heston Blumenthal tested this out. There is however something called AKP, meaning that it enhances the taste of foods. e.g. It makes crab taste crabbier
• There is an argument that if you can afford not to filter the wine, it will leave more to the taste
• There is also an argument that sherry can be aged once opened. Some say it ruins it if it is kept for too long as once it is open it will change. You can easily keep a good bottle of sherry open for a week or two but a lot of people think that ageing should take place in the barrel rather than the bottle
• The ‘Napoleon’ in ‘Amontillado Seco ‘Sacromonte’, Validivia is the French word. Apparently in English, this used to be called ‘Wellington’ but Peter is not sure that this still exists

I enjoyed seeing everyone getting fired up, especially Monika, founder of Brindisa who I saw taking in the smells.

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During the tasting, we found out that she has a real passion for capers as she willed us all to try the hand picked capers that had been laid out for us on the table along with fine olives. There are a few foods that don’t satisfy my taste buds and two of those things are, unfortunately, capers and olives. Nonetheless, not wanting to seem rude, partly due to Monkia’s genuine passion, I popped one in my mouth and chewed. I was pleasantly surprised – not enough to say I would eat them all of the time but they were indeed less salty than cultivated capers. They are around three times the price of the capers that you would find in a supermarket and are only in season from June until September.

Now on to the food. Last night was full of surprises – firstly, I didn’t turn my nose up at a single one of the sherry’s that was served to me. It is no secret that I am not a big drinker, nor do I know much about alcohol. The only drinks I’ll ever have are white wine (Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough please), Vodka with fresh Lime and Soda Water and Pear Cider. Recently I tried a Tanqueray cocktail at Vintage at Goodwood and it was rather tasty but apart from that, I stay well away from other spirits.

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Secondly – the Remojon (orange and cod carpaccio salad, with artichoke) turned out to be my favourite savoury dish. The flavour combination was something that I have never experienced before. The saltiness of the cod, mixed with the texture of fresh artichoke, sweetness from the orange and the crunch from the red onion, pure heaven!

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Thirdly – you can make exceptional fritters without eggs! The Tortillita de gamba (prawn tortilla) was the perfect example of this. The chef came over to our table to give us a bit of an education. The only ingredients used in this were prawns, red onion, garlic, flour. They are then fried in no doubt lots of oil.

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Each dish that we were served had something special about it and I was left wanting more each time, especially when it came around to the pudding. A Tocinillo de cielo (heavenly flan dish) was placed in front of me and my first thought was that it looked like a beautiful crème caramel that my mum used to make when I was younger. I didn’t fully appreciate the almost sour taste of the sauce back in those days when all I used to eat were flying saucers and red fizzy laces (I’m not joking and I still eat them now) but one mouthful of the flan last night and I was astonished – i’m not a kid anymore! I finished it too quickly, as did the two girls sat beside me. We all ‘mmmmm’d’ and repeated more than once that what we had just eaten was bloomin’ delicious. There was a spare plate sat in the middle of our table, which we graciously finished – we couldn’t let it go to waste could we?!

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When leaving, I was thanked by Monika for coming along and I told her I’d be back, if not for the Spanish Flan alone! I’ll definitely keep my word and next time try the Soho branch, Tierra Brindisa.

From the website:

For the last twenty years, Brindisa, an adventurous food importer, has sourced some of the finest foods from Spain. These are available to professional buyers across the country and also at the Brindisa shop at Borough market. With the opening of Tapas Brindisa in 2004, Monika Linton, who founded Brindisa in 1988, realised a long awaited dream: that of working with the creative flair of our team of chefs, to create our own place to serve Brindisa ingredients. Casa Brindisa enjoys the same heritage of fine producers behind its foods and a modern outlook on tapas cooking from the kitchen.

Find out more about the classes here.

Casa Brindisa
7-9 Exhibition Road
London
SW7 2HE
Tel 020 7590 0008

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