Archive | July, 2011

Vintage at Southbank Centre

12 Jul

Vintage 5

Let me set the scene. My boyfriends family are huge advocates of vintage, whether that be music, fashion, design or films. I met my boyfriend in a field at Bestival in 2007 and I remember thinking that it was cool that his dad and little brother (who was 10 at the time) came for a couple of days. We went back to Bestival for the next couple of years and as we started to see the changes, the way that it was expanding so fast, we decided to give it a miss the following year.

It was the same year that my boyfriends parents had an idea. To encompass everything that they are passionate about and hold their very own festival. A relationship with Goodwood was established and the date was set – August 13th – 15th 2010. See my post on the event last year here.

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Anyone that went last year will know how fantastic it was. A high street in a field, post war silver service in The Torch Club, the BEST club venue in the form of The Warehouse and an array of live music to knock the socks off any other live music festival. It wasn’t an event just focusing on music, the weekend played host to the biggest vintage market in the world, a cinema curated by Stephen Woolley, live catwalk shows and lots more.

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This year, they have decided to link with the Southbank Centre and the 60th anniversary of the Festival of Britain celebrations. Can you think a more perfect fit? From 29th – 31st July, the Royal Festival Hall will be set dressed as you have never seen it before. Its six levels will be transformed into a multi-venue playground where, over 13 hours each day (from 12pm to 1am), pass holders can learn the dances of the decades, take in over 70 live performances, boogie along to the tunes of 150 DJs, enjoy exclusive catwalk shows and decade specific make-overs, sample Vintage food and cocktails, shop at one of world’s most exciting Vintage marketplaces, and get style hunted as Vintage at Southbank Centre calls out for people to glam up.

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And I’m here to tell you about the food aspect, of course. Ticket holders can immerse themselves in the tastes of days gone by with food to fit the music and fashion, and historically linked eating opportunities, not to mention some fantastic period cocktails from the bars. Take for example the North South Divide Pub where Northerners can treat themselves to beef stew and a pint of ale, while Southerners can enjoy pea soup and a glass of Pimms before taking part in outrageous games and sing-along in the specially created boozer. Sneak a ‘Bootleg’ cocktail in the hidden Shhh! 1920s Prohibition club… Be sure not to tell anyone though! Take a break from the afternoon tea dance to sip on a Gin Martini in The Torch club, or kick back and relax with an ‘Alabama Sidecar’ amidst a soundtrack of Tiki and Exotica in the Leisure Lounge. As nightfall descends it’s to time to hit the Style Studio dance floor… But there’s always time for a ‘Cosmo’ before the disco dancing commences. In The Warehouse its paper cups and lager from the tin served from a bar made of pallets; truly authentic. There will be themed and dare we say it, nostalgic nibbles in abundance – think Cheesy Wotsits, Skips and Pork Scratchings (those were the days). For a more substantial feed, head up to the Penthouse terrace where you will find bangers, baps and plenty of ketchup at the Great British summer BBQ.

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Skylon will also be getting involved in the Vintage fun. For the Vintage weekend only, the restaurant will be serving a specially created afternoon tea with Vintage inspired cocktails such as ‘Old Fashioned’ and ‘Colony’. Diners can listen to 1920s and 1930s live music and 78s on old Gramophones while they dine at dimly lamp lit tables. I cannot wait to bask in elegance as I sip my martini and nibble on dainty cakes.

If the food offering inside isn’t enough, all 19 restaurants that surround the Royal Festival Hall will be participating. Sip a ‘Papa Dobles’ Daiquiri, which was Ernest Hemingway’s usual tipple in Cuba at Las Iguanas (ticket holders can enjoy 2 for 1 cocktails), a ‘Vintage Bombay Punch’ at the Dishoom Chowpatty Beach Café or maybe you will opt for a 70s soul BBQ at Feng Sushi on the Festival Terrace. The kids can join in too at Yo Sushi, who will be holding hour-long Mini Ninja classes to teach children how to make sushi. 1950s British diner come posh transport caff, Canteen will be serving their renowned range of classic British dishes such as sausages and mash with onion gravy, fish and chips and Scotch eggs. Also on the menu will be a range of pies with seasonal ingredients, encased in delicious buttery pastry. But don’t forget to leave room to delve into a nostalgic British dessert. Options include a decadent treacle tart with clotted cream, crumble with custard, or homemade jelly and ice cream!

I’m writing this to get the food aspect of Vintage out there. Vintage is just as much about the food experience as the music, fashion etc… and I’d LOVE to see some of you there.

Head to www.vintageatsouthbankcentre.co.uk or www.vintagebyhemingway.co.uk for further information and tickets, priced at £60 per day.

Ticket holders can book meals at Skylon by emailing skylonreservations@danddlondon.com

Tortilla burrito master class

11 Jul

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to a burrito master class at Tortilla, a chain of Mexican burrito restaurants in London. I wasn’t feeling too well a couple of days leading up to the event and I had been to the doctors that morning and was told I had a kidney infection. Lovely. Still, I went partly because I didn’t want to let anyone down and partly because I love a good burrito.

We arrived at the Market Place branch just off Oxford Street and joined the group waiting downstairs. The evening started with a talk from the founder Brandon Stephens and the Brazillian head chef Bruno Pires. I was really happy to see that Brandon is obviously an avid burrito fan and his enthusiasm really won me over.

After the talk, they brought a load of ingredients for guacamole and we had a go at making our own. All of the ingredients were there for us to use – avocado, green chillies, garlic, coriander, lime, tomatoes, salt and pepper and we could use as many or little of the ingredients as we wished. Jack went for the minimalist approach – he mashed the avocado to a pulp, added chillies, garlic and coriander, plus salt and black pepper. I went for lots of everything. I quite often have coriander cravings so I piled it in, along with a lot of tomatoes (another one of my favourite foods). I added a tonne of garlic, chillies and lime and then a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Brandon was very impressed with Jacks and I was told that mine was very spicy – just how I like it!

We were then shown upstairs to the counter where we made our own burritos, two people at a time. I chose the large burrito but know just how horrible I have felt in the past after eating a burrito the size of a football so I didn’t pack it too full. I added half grilled chicken, half braised pork, romaine lettuce, pinto beans, black beans, lime and coriander rice, monterey jack cheese, guacoamole, salsa roja and sour cream. We were shown how to roll it correctly and then placed it in a warmer so that we could all eat together at the end.

Burritos have a bad reputation for being bad for the waistline but that reputation has come from America where they deep fry everything and even boil the rice in oil. Oof. At Tortilla, healthy food and cooking methods are employed but without compromising on taste. The pork is quality assured and reared outside, the chicken is barn reared and their lime and coriander rice is steamed. The guacamole is utterly delicious (they wouldn’t give their recipe away) and I thoroughly enjoyed my burrito.

For now they only run the master classes for bloggers but I would think that they would do well if they offered the experience to the public. It’s not somewhere that I would go for a proper dinner but I would definitely choose Tortilla over Pret or Eat as an on the go lunch or quick lunchtime pit stop.

Other fantastic burritos in London that I have had were from Daddy Donkey and Benitos Hat. There are others that I have tried but haven’t been so fond of but Tortilla is up there with the greats.

I’d definitely recommend visiting Tortilla if you’re around the area of their five locations, Oxford Circus, Islington, Southwark, Leadenhall Market, Canary Wharf or Hammersmith.

At roughly £5.95 for a large burrito, Tortilla is good value, well sourced, tasty Mexican grub.

Tortilla
6 Market Place
London
W1W 8AH
0207 637 2800

Tortilla -Market Place on Urbanspoon

The Big Chopper winner

11 Jul

Congratulations to Denise Baker-McClearn from the Moel Faban Secret Supper Club who is the winner of a brand new shiny Big Chopper board. If you ever visit her supper club (and I hear it’s VERY good), make sure that she’s using it to prepare your grub!

For those of you that are still interested in getting your hands on one for your kitchen, the guys at The Big Chopper have agreed a special offer.

If you go to their website (www.thebigchopper.co.uk) and buy a Big Chopper or Big Pink One you’ll get a bread or fish board worth £9.99 absolutely free! Simply add a Big Chopper and your choice of bread or fish board to your shopping cart, then use the promotional code CHOPPERDQ9BWDFE during the checkout process to receive your chosen board for free!

The Zetter Townhouse

8 Jul

I really like Clerkenwell. If I could (and realistically I can’t) choose where I bought my first property, Clerkenwell would be high up the list. I don’t think you’d hear too many people saying that but I would for the following reasons. It is one of the only areas of London that you can get a feel for ye olde London with the cobbled streets, pokey alleyways and age old buildings whilst being amidst some excellent modern architecture. And over the last few years there have been some truly fantastic restaurants popping up. Many are situated around the historic Smithfield meat Market, where they source their meat, which guarantees good quality. I became familiar with the area after my dad took me to Smiths of Smithfield for my 18th birthday. My boyfriend and I then ran a club night for a year, appropriately titled ‘Beef Boogie On’ at a pub underneath the meat Market. Clerkenwell is famous for St John, Hix Oyster & Chop House, Vinoteca, The Modern Pantry and Fabric nightclub, where I have spent many an evening on the tiles.

Newer establishments include Bistro du Vin and North Road. But the newest takes the form of a hotel and bar, The Zetter Townhouse. It is the newest sibling of The Zetter, which is situated a stones throw in front. I was invited to try the cocktails and bar food so thought I’d take my boyfriend for a treat on his birthday. I had seen pictures and snuck a glance from the toilet window at The Modern Pantry so knew to expect quirky decor and lots of taxidermy. I wasn’t disappointed upon entering. The furniture is all mismatched and one chair had a back made of an old potato sack. You could barely see the rich red wall paper behind the paintings and picture frames that lined the whole wall. Old books grace the bookcases and the staff wear excellent old work wear uniforms. I was surprised that the bar wasn’t busier for a Wednesday evening, especially in a very office oriented area. But the bar is dark and cosy and perhaps more suited to a cold evening.

We browsed the cocktail menu and chose the Twinkle and Les Fleurs du Mal to start us off. The Twinkle was a very delicate cocktail made with Wyborowa vodka, elderflower cordial & Perrie Jouet champagne.

The Les Fleurs du Mal tasted too much of absinthe for my liking. I find it a very over powering flavour and as I really don’t like aniseed, it’s not for me. It did look pretty though.

I expected the cocktails to be great as Tony Conigliaro from 69 Colebrook Row heads up the bar. I knew that they wouldn’t be run of the mill rubbish and they weren’t. All house cocktails are priced at £8.50, which I think it pretty reasonable for the quality and the surroundings.

After finishing our drinks, we were then moved to a table better equipped for eating and shown the bar menu. At this point I wasn’t expecting what we ordered to be great – I rarely have good bar food. But we chose quite a few dishes and hoped for the best. After all, the menu didn’t look like your usual bar menu. The dishes were also quite reasonably priced – between £4 – £10 each.

The squid was delicious – very tender and not a hint of chewiness, something I find inexcusable. Whitebait was just good old delicious whitebait but lacked a dollop of mayonnaise. We borrowed some from the deep fried olives stuffed with anchovies, which were also delicious. I’ve never heard of deep frying olives before but with the saltiness of the anchovies it really worked.

The road beans & lovage pesto risotto had a great texture but neither of us like celery and we couldn’t get past this taste – so this dish wasn’t a resounding success for us.

We ordered another two cocktails during the meal, The Flintlock and the Koln Martini. Both were practically pure alcohol, delicious but very strong. We sipped and then decided that we had been defeated. Drinking at The Zetter Townhouse is just as much about the experience as the drinks – they go to great lengths to retain authenticity. The waitress brought a little tincture bottle to the table, squeezed the pipette and squeezed a drop into The Flintlock. There is probably no need for this but it added to the experience and I enjoyed it.

We polished off most of the dishes and I have to say that I was very impressed with the quality of food, it is definitely restaurant standard. It’s not the place to go if you’re expecting a big meal to yourself as all of the plates are small but sharing small plates is something that I really enjoy. I never used to though, oh no. I used to think that restaurants used small plates as an excuse to charge the same price for a smaller portion. But those were the days where La Tasca was popular and generally proper restaurants hadn’t caught on. But if the food is to a high standard, I’m happy.

We were extremely full but still managed to fit in pudding. The only options were the ‘cake of the day’, which was a pineapple upside down cake, and a plate of chocolate truffles. But despite the savoury dishes being fantastic, I was pretty disappointed with the cake. It was dry, cold and had a pretty random dollop of crème fraiche on the side. I didn’t polish it off, which is unusual for me. But then are people really expecting great desserts in a bar? My boyfriend is allergic to pineapple so opted for the chocolate truffles, which were very delicious and probably the better option. I would have thought that the standard would be consistent throughout. I imagine those into their desserts have been a bit disappointed. But the dodgy dessert would definitely not deter me from going back for more cocktails and grub. Don’t shout at me for wishing the (somewhat nonexistent) summer away but I look forward to a few cosy drunken winter evenings at The Zetter Townhouse.

The Zetter Townhouse
49-50 St. Johns Square
London
EC1V 4JJ

020 7324 4545

The Zetter Townhouse on Urbanspoon

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