everythingeateneverythingeatenhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/diaryBirds and Bubbles, New York]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2015/08/09/Birds-and-Bubbles-New-Yorkhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2015/08/09/Birds-and-Bubbles-New-YorkSun, 09 Aug 2015 05:30:43 +0000
Back in New York and we are revisiting favourite restaurants before we move back to England in the fall. Last night it was Birds and Bubbles, opened at the end of last year by a childhood friend of my South Carolinan cousins. Sarah Simmons was named one of New York's 50 top chefs by Food & Wine magazine 2014 and founded culinary salon City Grit. She cooked 'Southern inspired' cuisine and on my first visit gave our table such a superb dish of lightly spicy, bouncy shrimp and creamy, corny grits I have been dreaming of it ever since.
Last night we also managed to snap up the wine cellar's last bottle of Pierre Gimonnet & Fils Cuis 1er Cru 2006 Blanc de Blanc, which was a treat in itself.
Our dinner was not faultless. In particular I was disappointed that the chicken didn't perfectly satisfy my craving for a greaseless, brittle-crisp batter and tender, meaty succulence. Nevertheless each dish filled me with Southern warmth and took me back to days of summer camp, shucking corn on the porch and fishing with my cousins. Despite being tweaked (it's hard to find a New York chef that sticks completely to tradition, given the consumer demand here for new experiences and 'something different'), this is food that is still hard to find, done well, outside of the Southern states. If we have time I'd like to go back again for the crawfish étouffée, chicken and rice, heirloom grits and excellent buttermilk biscuits.
This is what we ate this time:
Southern fattoush came as a smear of sweet roasted beetroot purée and a salad of lettuce, herbs, and radish slices, sprinkled with feta and dressed with buttermilk. Rather oddly there was only one, rather lonely looking za'atar brioche crouton in evidence.
Roasted multi-coloured and multi-textured baby carrots, set over thin slices of buttery avocado and a creamy benne (sesame) seed mayonnaise, scattered with radish slices, dill and aged gouda shavings. There was no sign of caraway shortbread mentioned on the menu.
Sara's legendary shrimp and grits. Barbecue spiced shrimp and cheddar grits, with mushrooms and Louisiana tasso ham. While her grits are undoubtedly some of the best I have tried - luxurious and full of flavour yet still yielding and light, on this occassion I felt they suffered for a slightly heavy hand with the cheddar cheese. The shrimp however were excellent, delicately seasoned with enough barbecue spice to give them a meaty lift, paired with crunchy, chewy nuggets of bacon and fried mushrooms, offset with spring onion. I thought I tasted brown butter and balsamic vinegar in the sauce, which married fried ingredients beautifully with shellfish and corn.
Half a buttermilk fried chicken. The chicken lacked the perfect, not oily, lacy thin yet crunchy crust I marvelled at when we went to Martha Lou's in Charleston, but the meat was juicy and flavourful - clearly from a well sourced animal. The batter was highly seasoned - piquant with pepper and spice.
For our sides we chose fava (broad) bean gratin with charred leeks, shiro miso, soy braised cremini mushrooms and buttermilk biscuit gremolata and a Vidallia onion soufflé that wasn't quite a soufflé and not quite a pudding. Of the two the fava beans were tastier...
But both were beaten by a bright and crunchy slaw consisting of kohlrabi, carrots, white cabbage and some punchy jalapeño, dressed with benne (sesame seeds) and (hoorah a slaw that hasn't been blanketed in mayo!) lime vinaigrette.
To make up for the healthy slaw we also thoroughly enjoyed another side of crisp-skinned potatos tossed in shallot aioli, capers and herbs.
Bird and Bubbles
100B Forsyth Street
New York
NY 10002
Tel:+1 646-368-9240
Alinea, Chicago]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2015/07/12/Alinea-Chicagohttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2015/07/12/Alinea-ChicagoSun, 12 Jul 2015 11:36:00 +0000
Last night we fulfilled a somewhat long-time aspiration and went to Alinea for dinner.
I remember when the restaurant opened ten years ago as I was living in New York then. Grant Achatz sent a seismic ripple of excitement through the food community with his unique take on fine dining. Since then his cuisine as continued to evolve, endlessly experimenting with new techniques and new ideas, reflecting the mind of an insatiably inquisitive chef. His kitchen looks more like a science lab than a catering space - very El Bulli. Here's an interesting New York Times blog post where he credits Ferran Adria with shaping the course of his career.
We had a wonderful time. The restaurant's front door opens rather disconcertingly into a dimly lit, narrow tunnel on a slight downward incline, with not a single member of staff in sight. Each uncertain step took us further away from the din of the outside world until very suddenly the tunnel opened out to our left and a smiling face welcomed us in. The atmosphere in our downstairs room was hushed, temple-of-fine-dining stuff. I felt nervous with anticipation. The decor verges on the austere with modern grey walls, a few vases, a few paintings and little else. In contract Achatz's food is pure, joyous, fun. There's a lot of picking things up with your fingers, slurping from straws stuck into fragrant broths, getting sticky candy stuck to your face and a lot of delighted laughing. At least there was for me anyway.
Not every dish worked perfectly on my opinion, but the whole experience was an otherworldly affair, full of eye-opening gastronomic whimsy, delicious new tastes and tantalising mysteries around how they were created. Exceptionally well-trained waiters proffered a few insights, and offered one or two more when pushed, but never gave the game away. I suppose a magician never reveals his secrets.
Getting a reservation was not easy. The restaurant's phone number goes through to a recorded message with no answerphone. Tables are not booked, they are ticketed. You buy your tasting meal dinner (there is only one option, although prices vary depending on date) upfront and there is no refund for returns or cancellation. Transferring or selling your ticket is your own responsibility.
When I first started looking into booking the website showed no ticket availability at all. A little more research delivered Alinea's Facebook page as a way to be notified when tickets come on sale. A bit more digging suggested that tickets for July would go on sale between 11-12 noon roughly on May 15th, possibly May 14th. At exactly 11am on both days my husband and I started refreshing the tickets page obsessively every few minutes, convinced that when the tickets came online they would disappear in a flash, much like tickets for Burning Man or Glastonbury. As it turned out our geeky behaviour wasn't entirely necessary although we were able to choose exactly what time we wanted to dine. The tickets popped up for sale at around 11.26am on May 15th and my husband bought two for $729.30, including 20% service charge but not including wine. We crowed with delight, puffed up with self praise on working out the system and winning. We deflated slightly a few days later when I checked the site again and there were still tickets available for the same July 11 Saturday night.
The main thing is - if you check Alinea's website on around the 15th of each month you should be able to book a ticket or two.
It also looks like the ticketing system has been updated recently and improved. A quick check just now showed plenty of tables available in September.
Enough about tickets. This is what we ate:
On arrival we found a bouquet of ginger, chilli, mint and lemongrass swaying gently above our table, suspended from a hook tied to an invisible thread. More about this later.
Peach bellini encased in a white chocolate and pink Murray river salt shell and topped with tiny basil leaves. A lovely idea but I found the cooled champagne inside stopped the chocolate from melting in my mouth, giving the cocoa butter a waxy texture when chewed.
Surf clam, sunchoke, cucumber and lilac. A clever presentation involving a glass plate with a blown bowl in the centre, filled with fennel, cucumber, lemon and ginger. Our waiter poured a littleneck clam broth into the well and then gave us metal straws to sip the infused soup.
Clockwise starting from the amber coloured jelly at the bottom: An intensely flavoured cube of saffron and clam jelly, a slightly dehydrated slice of Jerusalem artichoke, my least favourite mouthful of the meal, sprinkled with unsweetened vanilla sunflower seeds and tart droplets of lemon gel, a lilac custard with lilac and viola petals that was both sweet and mildly bitter, a (rather forgettable) cucumber sandwich with lemon butter and shavings of mild horseradish, fennel saffron purée and celery leaf, surf clam salad with cucumber dice.
The firm yet tender cubes of clam were delicious paired with anise flavours provided by what looked like fennel flowers and an unidentified little green berry or seedpod. The broth was also richly scented and heavenly tasting, but it was hard to find a thread through this dish as a whole - some kind of link to draw each element together. Perhaps it was just supposed to be a series of bites, but I would have expected there to be one.
Steelhead trout roe, English pea, olive oil, chamomile arrived in a bowl within a bowl that bubbled gently as scented plumes of dry ice vapour cascaded over its rim. The dish was made up of smoked trout eggs, surrounded by a dollop of honeydew melon sorbet, starchy pea purée, fudgy nitro-frozen olive oil crumbs and green jalapeño jelly, with no chilli heat! All topped off with a foamy puff of camomile air.
An almost post apocalyptic scene of wildflowers bursting through slabs of sweet and salty black truffle meringue 'concrete'...
Sprayed with carrot juice graffiti. Underneath we discovered asparagus spears, baby broad beans and purée with more truffle, pea shoots and chewy shards of dehydrated carrot. Overall the dish was too sweet for my taste, but beautifully presented.
Things kicked up a notch with deliciously charred roasted lilies (I didn't know lilies were so tasty!), aji amarillo, jackfruit and yellow tomatoes. Ginger foam gave the dish a Thai spin.
At this point our herbaceous chandelier was brought down and use to infuse a teapot of curried Darjeeling tea, made with roasted aubergine, ginger, garlic, shallots, coriander, cardamom, fenugreek and brown sugar.
The broth was then poured into a bowl with pickled Japanese aubergine, banana purée, roasted cocoa nibs and fried white and black mustard seeds, garnished with Fresno chilli, banana shallot, crisp slices of shitake mushroom, fried garlic ginger, mint, coriander and lime zest. The flavours here took me to Malaysia, but were a little too sweet again due to the banana and the eggplant too sour. An overabundance of mustard seeds gave the dish a bitter, gritty finish.
Back to Thailand again with a little custardy round of crab roe and rice, flavoured with green curry, topped with a cube of orange candied ginger and a segment of lemon.
This little mouthful was pure heaven - tamarind and young coconut milk caramel with a little ball of reduced nam prik num (fish sauce), a flake of sea salt and tiny pearls of citrusy finger (or caviar) lime. It was salty and sweet, sour and chewy all at once. I wanted to keep chewing and chewing. Definitely my favourite bite of the night.
Siam sunray on a pin was icy cold from being plated on an anti-griddle and had to be eaten immediately. The base contained ginger, lemongrass, Thai pepper and vodka. The second layer was coconut liqueur and the top was kaffir lime. Garnished with a sliver of kaffir lime leaf and a curl of Fresno pepper.
Percebes, smoke, seawater, ash pudding, served with seaweeds and samphire. These crazy goose barnacles look like dinosaur feet and taste out of this world. They are hands down my favourite seafood, and so, predictably, are incredibly expensive and hard to harvest. Unsurprisingly I loved this course.
It also came with 'sandwich' of roasted tororo kombu (pickled, softened kelp that is layered, pressed, and thinly shaved) on one side, ice fish cracker on the other and smoked foie gras in between.
Fatty cubes of lightly smoked yellowtail came speared on a pine twig with shishito pepper, pickled green bean and lime zest.
A charcoal brazier was lit, allowing us to cook our fish if we wished.
A shiso and celery juice palate cleanser.
Two charcoal logs from the fire turned out to be something quite different. A sharp knife revealed a slab of tender pork belly...
And a blackened parsnip.
Pork belly, parsnip, black trumpet, kombu. This was so inky black it was impossible to photograph. To accompany our meat and veg there was black garlic and roasted seaweed purée, soy sauce and cuttlefish jelly over miso and carrot purée. Kombu and black trumpet mushrooms also featured, but how I can't remember.
Moving along a little wax bowl arrived containing a chilled black truffle and potato cream. A tiny metal skewer piercing its rim offered up a warm ball of black truffle covered confit potato along with chive, butter and Parmesan dice.
Rabbit, morel, ramp, mastic was our final savoury course. There was rabbit loin, belly and mousse, crispy carrot 'bark', morel mushrooms (somewhere), wild garlic or ramp bulbs, sorrel leaves and an unravelled fiddlehead fern.
Our first sweet course, cheesecake, was a riot of colour and flavour that managed to convey its theme surprisingly well. There was a hibiscus pate de fruit, hibiscus jelly - frozen with liquid nitrogen, shattered and then defrosted, fresh, pickled and puréed blueberries, a sheet of raspberry cellophane, strawberry butter cream, sweet cream, powdered matcha and dehydrated vanilla meringue.
This was followed by a thin slice of sweet butterscotched Wisconsin bacon, as translucent as tracing paper, with apple thread, black pepper and thyme.
Then a helium filled apple taffy balloon tied with apple leather string. We literally inhaled this so quickly there was no time for a photo, just high pitched giggling at the end, so here's the official video.
Our final course was painted onto a silicone tablecloth by the head chef and centred around a ball of nitro-frozen coconut sorbet that he theatrically cracked into smithereens.
Starting from the bottom right and going up and then left: three 'paint' pots with rum and vanilla molasses, mango purée and allspice pudding, then kaffir lime candy, freeze dried pineapple and dragon fruit. Finally caramelised banana nougat, lychee sugar cubes and sour cherry balls. Passion fruit jelly and a chocolate tuile on the oval plate finished the fruity collection.
1723 N Halsted Street
IL 60614
Tel:+1 312-867-0110
Girl and the Goat, Chicago]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2015/07/10/Girl-and-the-Goat-Chicagohttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2015/07/10/Girl-and-the-Goat-ChicagoFri, 10 Jul 2015 19:55:00 +0000
In my mind I keep thinking this place is named Smoking Goat as I have been wanting to visit a restaurant with that name in London after reading a fantastic review. I read that Smoking Goat specialises in Thai style barbecue and the thought of skewers with highly spiced, deliciously charred meats sounds thrilling.
It was quite a surprise to find a restaurant in Chicago championing goat meat. This was my first visit to the Windy City but on trips to other cities I have found the American palate outside of New York to be, well, less adventurous. The fact that this year the James Beard Awards were held in Chicago should have been an indication that the city is now vying with the Big Apple for title of America's culinary capital, however reading is not believing.
We therefore arrived at Girl and the Goat with a certain amount of expectation, along with a certain amount of hunger, it being 9.30pm and having not had a bite to eat since lunch, prior to boarding our plane. We had hoped to be seated sooner than our booking of 10.30pm but no such luck. The place was heaving. The staff were tired. It had been heaving since it opened at 4.30pm most likely. As our exhausted waiter moaned later that evening, he had started at 3pm and last orders on a Friday are at midnight. That is a pretty brutal service schedule. Nor did it help our experience.
We were bordered on both sides by people who were hammered. The second party on our left even asked if they could try our chips. Well I suppose I should be thankful that they asked! We had finished eating and happily passed them over. To be honest I have no problem with sharing my food, its more the social faux pas of asking strangers if you can tuck into their dinner. Perhaps I should be less judgemental.
Overall there are some good ideas being served up, but the execution was sloppy, quality control was clearly out the window that night, and in some cases what the kitchen sent out was frankly cheeky. Plus the sommelier had scarpered for the night leaving us in the hands of our sweet but uttering unknowledgeable server. I was also disappointed to discover the championed goats are butchered very young as sucklings, before they have time to develop their characteristically gamey, musky flavour and so really could be mistaken for being lamb. I do think there are some interesting ideas here, but if you are going to be bold, be brave too and don't duck out and serve lamb-goat. And give your staff shorter shifts and the chance to actually impress your guests.
This is what we ate:
Who can't love a menu with its own separate Goats section?
Wood fired wildcat cove oysters with horseradish, bacon and preserved lemon. Thinking back to some wonderful buttery, smoky chargrilled oysters at Acme Oyster House in New Orleans we were seduced by this dish's name but it was misleading.
The oysters may have seen a wood oven, but only to be exposed to enough heat to die and allow easy opening, rather than absorb any wood smoke flavour. The meat was still rare to raw and its warmth was off-putting, suggestive of eating raw oysters that had not been kept on ice. At that temperature your oysters must be perfectly fresh and these did not taste like they were. The horseradish cream, bacon and preserved lemon with parsley dressing were forgettable.
A much better dish of paper thin rounds of raw goat carpaccio dressed with lightly applewood smoked golden trout roe, fried and raw capers, a few punchy slices of raw white onion, frisée and deep-fried parsnip crisps. We couldn't taste the advertised maple-olive dressing.
I loved the interplay of clean, raw meat with smoky, oily fish roe and piquant, crisp capers. There were so many parsnip crisps however their flavour dominated and overpowered the delicate goat meat, the first indication of the latter's youth at slaughter.
Roasted and pickled beetroot over avocado crème frâiche with green beans, marinated white anchovies, slivers of blanched lemon rind, frisée, shredded kale and olive oil fried panko crumbs. A lovely salad that we ended up taking home (to allow room to try more of the menu) and thoroughly enjoyed for breakfast the next day with some leftover blue cheese. The pickled beets reminded me of the ones I find as a stable on UK supermarket shelves. My only criticism is the sweet and sour slices of earthy vegetable needed a richer and more robust partner than the slightly bland avocado cream to make the dish more assertive. Or perhaps just more anchovies as had we not hunted them out they might not have been noticed at all.
Chips dusted in dehydrated ham powder with smoked tomato mayonnaise and cheddar beer dips. I loved that the ham powder was used to season the potatoes throughout, not just scattered over the top. The smoky, peppery, limey dip was a perfect match and the cheddar beer dip was exactly that.
Snail ravioli with wilted lettuce, deep-fried onions, little (sadly overcooked and dry) bacon dice and a genius tamarind and miso sauce. The pasta was cooked to a beautiful al dente but far too thick and once again the deep fried vegetable garnish overpowered the delicate protein, almost as though chef was trying to apologise for serving snails by hiding them. The sauce was a knockout of sweet-sour and savoury flavours, made even better by dragging ham-dusted chips through it.
Squid bruschetta was a recommendation from our waiter and we had to thank him for it. It was one of the night's unexpected winners. Ringlets of squid, cooked to bouncy but still soft tenderness in browned butter, cleverly paired with green tomato dice, micro basil and crisp wafer thin shards of goat bacon, served on a baguette baked with clam juice, fried in more brown butter and smeared with goat's milk ricotta. This was buttery, creamy, meaty and salty, lifted by the light acidity of unripe tomatoes and floral notes from baby basil. Brilliant.
Confit goat belly and chunks of poached lobster and crab on parsnip purée, doused with vanilla bourbon butter and garnished with shaved fennel and pea shoots. A land meets sea protein pairing which seems to be a menu favourite this year but often yields pleasing results. This was no exception, although the fact that crisped tender lamb belly could just as easily have been substituted was a real shame. I was longing to taste some goaty funk, as a contrast to the virginally sweet bites of shellfish. Vanilla was a great addition as it works so well with lobster and with parsnip.
A greedy plate of cheeses to finish. We had to send our first plate back, protesting over two portions of cheese being more rind than anything else. Check out the before and after photos below. Even then there was nothing to be done about the tragic condition of the cave aged tomme (left) that was so dry it looked and tasted desiccated. Dunbarton blue (middle) was slightly better but also nearing the end of its life. in contract the Aspen ash was creamy, gooey and delicious. I am guessing the latter is ordered most by a clientele that prefers mild cheeses. Perhaps we should have considered this before ordering.
Girl and the Goat
809 W Randolph Street
Chicago, IL 60607
Tel: (312) 492-6262
Bonham's, London]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2015/07/03/Bonhams-Londonhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2015/07/03/Bonhams-LondonFri, 03 Jul 2015 15:38:00 +0000
A friend sent me a review by Jay Rayner in The guardian, having noticed that it mentioned Fäviken and thinking it would be of interest. How right he was. We popped into Bonham's on a quiet Thursday lunchtime.
It struck me briefly as odd, visiting a restaurant in an auction house. The normal clientele presumably ought to be those going to bid and deciding to pop in for a spot of lunch. Not the usual place to find a chef of note. Indeed the room is a rather cold, small white box and the staff, while charming, seemed more used to dealing with auction house traffic than the curious food enthusiasts who have likely started booking tables as a result of Rayner's review. Nevertheless Tom Kemble's cooking deserves to be noticed.
The pricing is punchy (especially the main courses) for lunch, but almost every dish was extremely well executed, combining excellent ingredients with a light touch and New Nordic influences.
The only rather odd thing that happened was after being served the turbot we were told that the fish portion was smaller than normal owing to 'water loss during cooking' and £6 was duly removed from the bill. Looking back at the photo the dish was served with small pieces of fish here and there that didn't look intended, and the overall plating was off. Certainly not the end of the world but a sign that there is still room for improvement. I for one will be very much looking forward to the next time I can go back and er, just check things have done just that.
These deliciously crunchy squid ink tapioca crackers were a perfect partner for briny, bouncy trout roe mellowed with dill yoghurt.
Petals of buttery ripe avocado, topped with sorrel leaves enveloped meaty shards of juicy sweet Cornish crab meat. The genius here was the lift given to each bite by the tangy dill flower infused egg white foam. It was dense enough to sit between a marshmallow and a mousse, but light enough to disappear on the tongue, leaving behind a cloud of lemony, floral flavour.
This was my absolute favourite dish for its astounding level of depth and intriguing flavour combinations. The mustard ice cream tasted milder than a horseradish cream one might be served with traditional smoked eel preparations, but it was enough to bring the pairing to mind without clashing violently with the fresh summery flavour of the cold gazpacho. Little hidden nuggets of rich, soft eel were heavenly with the intense Daterrini tomato soup. Finally tiny little cucumber and red pepper dice added to the textural fun along with croutons and dill infused oil.
Flamed Cornish mackerel was smoky and succulent if not crisp skinned, with tartare that interestingly was warmed and sandwiched between wafer thin rounds of sweet pickled daikon, reminiscent of the Japanese tradition of marinating raw mackerel before serving it as sushi. Creamy sesame dressed romaine lettuce was lovely but the paprika dusted avocado seemed unnecessary.
Squab pigeon breast and crispy leg with baby beetroots, cherry and almond purée, endive and offal sauce. The riot of colours and style of presentation reminded me of a similar looking pigeon dish I ate at Tom Aikens many years ago, perhaps around 2001. Both comprised a classic pairing of juicy, gamey pigeon breasts with rich, almost chocolaty, offal sauce, earthy sweet beetroots and blood red cherries, the flavour of the latter supported by creamy white fresh almonds.
Cornish Turbot with charred cucumber, spinach, smoked Jersey Royals and beurre blanc. The log of charred cucumber reminded me of the little cucumber balls I ate at Noma that had been rolled in cucumber ash. Here the vegetable was also served ribboned and lightly pickled but it's hard to see as this 'way' had been smothered in the vibrant green beurre blanc.
Warmed Mara des Bois strawberries with lime meringue, lemon verbena and yoghurt sorbet. You can't really ever go wrong with a summertime dessert that combines strawberries with citrus, cream and crunch but this was a particularly good version. Mixing warmed, macerated strawberries with freshly cut ones allow you to enjoy the best of both.
Salted caramel chocolates provided a very Gordon Ramsay petit fours finish, along with mango macaroons.
7 Haunch of Venison Yard
London W1K 5ES
Tel: +44 20 7468 5868
L'Amorosa, London]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2015/06/30/LAmorosa-Londonhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2015/06/30/LAmorosa-LondonTue, 30 Jun 2015 17:26:00 +0000
A genius salad by the Andy Needham who opened Zafferano and has opted for a quieter life in the neighbourhood he lives in. We went for a lovely family dinner - the homemade pasta in particular was spectacular.
Watermalon, peas, pea shoots and ricotta salata in olive oil with the faintest hint of lemon.
278 King Street
London W6 9NH
Tel: +44 20 8563 0300
Olivomare, London]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2015/06/29/Olivomare-Londonhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2015/06/29/Olivomare-LondonMon, 29 Jun 2015 14:00:00 +0000
A quick light lunch at one of my favourite restaurants in London today, owing to providence booking a hotel four minutes away when organising my husband's business trip.
Since its opening and a rare full marks review by A. A. Gill I have visited Olivomare many times. Specialising in Scilian inspired seafood, I will order almost always anything featuring bottarga or ricci di mare (sea urchin). Today out of nostalgia this is exactly what I did, enjoying a little dish of freshly harvested sea urchin with toast and a salad of olive oil and lemon dressed celery and frisée lettuce, topped with ribbons of bottarga. The latter tasted almost like a marine toffee with its salty, toothsome texture.
In the past a Sardinian baby octopus stew my husband ordered was so full of savoury flavour I made a similar version using cuttlefish at home. Their lobster spaghetti is a celebration-worthy treat. If being in London is making you feel landlocked and you want a breath of sea air then pop in.
10 Lower Belgrave Street
London SW1W 0LJ
Tel: +44 20 7730 9022
Shuko, New York]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2015/06/26/Shuko-New-Yorkhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2015/06/26/Shuko-New-YorkFri, 26 Jun 2015 18:28:00 +0000
Today we have been married for five years. How the time flies!
To celebrate we went to Shuko last night. The Internet tells me a fifth anniversary is traditionally marked by gifts made from wood. When we were seated I smiled when I saw the countertop.
This was our second visit to Shuko. I have to admit we were underwhelmed by our first dinner several months ago, a shame given how much we loved Neta. Neta's former head chefs Nick and Jimmy left to become co-owners of this new venture so of course we went with high expectations. Perhaps we needed to give the team more time to get into their groove. Indeed booking a table these days requires a certain amount of forward planning and determination.
Being a celebration, we opted for the sushi kaiseki menu. Despite a shaky start and a disappointing toro and oscietra course (how can two of my favourite things be put together so badly?) overall things definitely appear to have improved. Our sushi in particular was extremely well executed. There remains a certain something however that nags me. Something about the experience that still puts it below our original Neta dinners. Perhaps it's a certain lack of generosity displayed in some of the courses, or aspects of the service. And there are the less than exceptional dishes we started with. My nit-picking aside, Shuko is a worthy way to spend an evening if the desire to indulge takes you.
We started off with warm mochi with shiso leaf, dengaku miso and pistachio.
Dungeness crab and hairy cucumber with chrysanthemum petals in ginger, soy, sake, dashi and rice vinegar. The crab meat didn't sing, as I would expect it to in the restaurant of this calibre.
Toro tartare, oscietra caviar and chives. The balance of flavours seemed off - the fish too strong tasting compared to the mild and soft membraned fish eggs. Overall to me the result was bland and unseasoned, with crunchy chives dominating. I wondered if salmon belly tartare would be a better match. Perhaps I should have smeared the whole lot over the finger of toasted Japanese milk bread it was served with, as another diner did, rather than nibble gingerly on each egg as I am wont to do when I get the chance to have caviar.
Slices of tender, fatty veal breast were the epitome of meaty, yielding flesh, dressed with an umami rich sauce and served with crushed baby broad beans, sautéed fiddlehead ferns and mint leaves. This was more like it...
A lovely mouthful of ocean trout with daikon and trout roe hidden underneath, topped with tempura flakes and shiso leaf, seasoned with Meyer lemon and miyoga Japanese ginger.
This heady combination of tastes, textures and aromatics comprised chunks of lobster and charred asparagus, bread and butter pickled slices of celeriac, a lemony artichoke sauce, micro chives and nutty shaved summer truffles.
Soft shell crab deep fried in potato starch, which gave a wonderfully crunchy result, perhaps even better than the rice flour and cornstarch combination we have been using at home up until now. Paired with mildly sweet and sharp pickled ramps and parsley pistou.
'Magic mushroom soup' was clear and savoury, a lovely palate cleanser ahead of sushi.
Good ol' fatty tuna.
Skipjack shima agi belly was phenomenal.
Meaty dorado.
Cobia with a sliver of red onion.
Firm fluke with salted seaweed, hiding a pokey amount of wasabi.
Striped bass with fiery yuzu kosho paste.
Sea bream with shiso leaf and a mild pickled ume plum paste.
A clean tasting, freshly dispatched scallop is always a pleasure.
Bouncy crisp and clean tasting kopashira orange clam muscle was new to me and extremely enjoyable.
A glistening piece of heavenly uni.
Deliciously meaty toro tuna sinew with a surprisingly hefty whack of chilli packed a punch.
Buttery maitake mushrooms on warm crispy rice was a great contrast of textures.
Another soft shell crab claw.
A little extra sushi thrown in by Jimmy when we noticed our obvious delight in trying new and unusual tastes - raw scallop roe cleverly split to reveal its creamy innards.
Spicy trout roll with crispy potato.
Lean maguro tuna, rather uniquely dressed with garlic juice
Pickled lotus root roll with shiso and ume plum, another well considered plate cleanser.
Fragrant, syrupy strawberry granita.
A happy anniversary apple crumble pie that was entirely unnecessary but a sweet gesture.
Hmmm lets have a look at the similarities and difference between what we ate at the end of November last year.
The same...
Same again...
Sort of the same...this was East Coast Petrossian caviar. And notice how much more there was.
We also had another similar dish - cured sea trout with trout roe, tempura crumbs, shiso, yuzu ponzu, young ginger and water chestnut but I can't find a photo of it.
Grilled Boston scallop, maitake mushroom, cauliflower, bacon, truffle vinaigrette, black truffle and mizuna. Very similar to the lobster dish - perhaps a seasonal variation. Delicious both times.
Tempura carrots, spring onions, lotus root and kokeyake chrysanthemum root. This was replaced with seasonal soft shelled crab.
Skirt steak, Brussels sprouts, fingerling potatoes. Remember the veal breast? An improvement for summer appetites.
Hello again lovely dashi with matsutake, shitake and shimeji mushrooms.
And now the sushi with plenty of familiar friends. Left to right: toro tuna, Spanish mackerel with miyoga Japanese gingers, skipjack and sea bream with ume plum.
Uni sea urchin, fluke with kombu seaweed, scallop with lime salt and akami lean bluefin tuna with kale, fried onion and miyoga.
Crispy rice with maitake, toro 'hanger steak' (i.e. sinew), shitake.
Lotus root roll with shiso leaf, ume and chrysanthemum petal, negi toro tuna roll.
Strawberry granita.
Looking back at my notes I've just realised that we were served an apple pie with burnt bay leaf ice cream on this occasion too! Happy anniversary my foot...
There's nothing at all wrong with having similar menus both times, and I certainly felt that many of the dishes on our most recent visit displayed more finesse. The sushi was definitely a step up. I can't help being annoyed though that the caviar serving size had been reduced and I do feel it affected the dish's overall composition. And that bloody apple pie...
47 E 12th Street
New York, NY 10003
Tel: (212) 228-6088
Pearl Oyster Bar, New York]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2015/06/25/Pearl-Oyster-Bar-New-Yorkhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2015/06/25/Pearl-Oyster-Bar-New-YorkThu, 25 Jun 2015 19:34:00 +0000
Pearl has been one of my all time favourite haunts ever since the first time I lived in New York over ten years ago. I can still remember my first visit. There was a long line out the door, but when you stepped in it felt like you had stepped out of the dirty dark streets of New York and into a cosy beachside restaurant in Maine. In my mind's I can see the olive green half wall wainscot wood panels, the fisherman lamps casting a warm glow, the grey veined marble counter top and smiles from the staff as they greeted each patient guest. In the back the kitchen was a bustle of activity with lobsters steaming on the grill and oysters being shucked at a nearby station.
The menu has always been short, supported by seasonal specials written up in chalk. I had never tasted a lobster roll before and marvelled at the generous heap of tender lobster that arrived, nestled in a mildly sweet white roll, redolent of the melted butter used to crisp its exterior. The bartender suggested a glass of, was it Pinot Blanc or Viognier? Either way it was perfect.
That year I was often at Pearl, perhaps when there was cause for celebration, or when the city felt a bit much. Sometimes with friends, sometimes alone and seated at the countertop, making friends. The food is always very good, sometimes exceptional, and beyond that somehow I always leave feeling like I have been away, now returned, on a trip to somewhere wonderful.
So here's my take on how to have dinner at Pearl.
I don't think I can ever visit and not have the salt-crusted shrimp. They are juicy, sweet and so beautifully fried you can eat the whole lot, shell and all, sprinkled with a little lemon and dipped in their fantastic tartar sauce.
I'm always a sucker for a plate of briny littleneck clams.
Last night we shared a whole roast pompano, stuffed to the brim with slices of garlic, tarragon, oregano and parsley and grilled to absolute perfection. It was all about the fatty, succulent meat still just clinging to the bone and crispy skinned heaven.
I would argue that Pearl's bouillabaisse is more of an intensely savoury fish and shellfish stock than the classic French soup but it's bloody good, as is the rouille toast. The enormous seared scallop, brown buttery skate wing, lobster claw and oodles of mussels and clams almost topple you over into a state of gastronomic bliss.
You always, always have to order the shoestring fries.
Last night Pearl's mythical blueberry crumble pie was on the menu and it didn't disappoint. Think of a buttery flaky crust, bursting with plump blueberries, crunchy caramelised crumble, and that dollop of creamy vanilla ice cream.
Pearl Oyster Bar
18 Cornelia Street
New York, NY 10014
Tel: (212) 691-8211
Smorgasburg, Williamsburg]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2015/06/22/Smorgasburg-Williamsburghttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2015/06/22/Smorgasburg-WilliamsburgMon, 22 Jun 2015 20:22:00 +0000
We have discovered the best day to visit Smorgasburg is when it is cloudy and rain seems imminent. There are fewer crowds and the whole experience involves less queuing and more space to wander around stalls and snack. Call me curmudgeonly but waiting over an hour for a basket of street food really doesn't seem like the most fun one can have on a weekend. On this trip we were even more rewarded by the Renegade Craft Fairpop up next door.
We kicked things off with a lovely Maine lobster roll from Red Hook Lobster Pound - cool sweet chunks of claw and tail meat in a light lemon mayonnaise, piled into a sweet roll that had been buttered and crisped on the outside.
Next up the folks at Bon Chovie were playing classic tunes (by guess who?) and served us anchovies deep-fried in Italian breadcrumbs with smoked paprika mayonnaise. The pickled red peppers paired brilliantly with the crisp, oily little fish.
Bloody Mary mix from McClure's pickles made using their brine was mouth-wateringly good the first time, then mouth puckering and briny the second. I think I drank two empty jars worth of pickle juice...
We marvelled at the hour-long queue for a ramen burger...
Keizo Shimamoto's ramen burger is advertised as the original and his methods for making the noodle 'buns' and his signature shoyu onion sauce are reported to be carefully guarded secrets. The only other ingredients are rocket leaves, American white cheese and spring onions.
We made a bad decision to try some truely awful, lukewarm, soggy battered cheese curds with truffled cheese whiz.
But made up for it with crispy fred shrimp...once we managed to get some salt from the lovely Bon Chovie people.
And finished lunch off with a couple of little cheesecakes.
90 Kent Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Mission Chinese Food, New York]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2015/06/19/Mission-Chinese-Food-New-Yorkhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2015/06/19/Mission-Chinese-Food-New-YorkFri, 19 Jun 2015 04:16:28 +0000
On my last few trips to San Francisco I'd always wanted to visit Mission Chinese but either couldn't find the time or gave up when we arrived to find a dishearteningly long queue out the door. Arriving in New York I'd heard that their first foray had closed due to Health Department issues but last winter they reopened in a new location.
New York and San Francisco seem to be a hotbed for chefs reinventing Eastern cuisine. It's not out-dated fusion, its new generation Westernised Asian. More ingredients - so many in fact its hard to read a menu and know what a dish will taste like. More housemade pickles, cross-border borrowed ingredients and brazen tongue in cheek messing around with them. The flavours are always bold and sometimes miss their mark. There's nothing subtle in the message, but it can be interesting, and when it succeeds, whether through humour, outlandishness or through skill and clever combination, it achieves something unique and genuinely innovative.
The decor at Mission Chinese is a clever blend of modern design and Chinese chintz. There are gold dragon and phoenix reliefs with glowing red eyes, cosy half moon booths and creased silver Mylar reflecting light into a downstairs bar complete with a light box menu from the former site. Our table is a palette of black, pink, purple, gold and white - classic Asian kitsch.
We loved the pastrami and dinosaur bone-like lamb rib tips, the black kale with its overwhelming ume plum punch not so much. The potsticker dumplings that arrived 'on the house' suffered from slightly too thick pastry that hadn't cooked through so were dry and tough. The cooking is adventurous and breaks with tradition - for that it deserves to be tried. There are ideas here that could be developed and dishes I'll be thinking about stealing aspects of. I'd also like to go back and try everything on the menu so that I at least know what they taste like.
Miyozakura junmai sake in a panda jar - genius!
Mild rice vinegar pickled cucumbers with white poppy seeds in Sichuan peppercorn oil, misozuke carrots, green radish and turnips with bonito and seaweed, and black vinegar braised peanuts, spring onions and garlic cloves with slivers of pickled ginger.
Scrambled egg, coriander and tapioca pearl potsticker dumplings with vinegary chilli sauce. The fried lacy crust was very fun, if costly for the dumpling wrappers being properly cooked.
Tongue tingling, lip searingly spicy Chongqing chicken wings and puffed dehydrated beef tripe (definitely one to try at home), covered with chilli flakes and 'Xinjiang spices'. We tasted coriander and something very savoury, possibly onion and garlic powders, in between having our taste buds annihilated by chilli and numbing peppercorns. Not unpleasantly, mind.
House made pastrami, smoked for 12 hours before being cubed and blanched in hot oil, then charred in a hot wok with same sized chunks of celery, red onion, red pepper and cooked potato, dried Tianjin chillies, chilli flakes and peanuts. The pastrami had either been brined with sugar or marinated; giving the meaty cubes a mildly sweet, caramelised crust that contrasted beautifully with the tender, fatty meat underneath. Paired with the smoky sweet peppers, soft onions, crisp potatoes and raw crunch of celery it was a winning combination.
Black kale sautéed with (too many) umeboshi plums, pickled (too thin) slices of lotus root and topped with thin slices of plum. While the idea here was good the dish packed far too much of a wallop to be the vegetable side we were hoping for.
Show stopping salt and pepper battered lamb rib tips - enormous hunks of falling-off-the-bone crisped meat, complete with gelatinous bits of skin and fat. Served with sweet bread and butter pickles, rice paddy leaves, labneh and warm pita bread.
Mission Chinese Food
171 E Broadway
New York, NY 10002
Sushi Candy]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2015/06/18/Sushi-Candyhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2015/06/18/Sushi-CandyThu, 18 Jun 2015 21:37:23 +0000
Rooting through the curiosity sweet section in Handsome Dan's East Village shop recently I found something that could only have been made by the Japanese and could possibly be my favourite toy/craft project/foodstuff Ever. That includes my entire childhood of handicraft kits and an adulthood of making Lego VW campervan and Mini cars. Where was this when I was 10?
I love sushi, especially ikura (salmon roe) sushi. I also love gummy sweets. And I love making things.
Hello Japanese gummy candy sushi making kit!
It has been a wonderful afternoon.
Popin Cookin
Uncle Boons, New York]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2015/06/16/Uncle-Boons-New-Yorkhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2015/06/16/Uncle-Boons-New-YorkTue, 16 Jun 2015 18:20:28 +0000
Firstly, the photos are dreadful.
We went early on Sunday evening, congratulating ourselves for arriving so soon after Uncle Boons opened that we were able to be seated without a wait. The basement is Dark though. So gloomy it quickly banished memories of the hot summer sun outside. Perhaps this is why we didn't have to wait. It was hard enough to see our food clearly, let alone photograph it without flash. Thankfully, having totally over-ordered so that we could try as many dishes as possible I was able to spend yesterday morning mulling over the contents of our takeout boxes in daylight.
I had been excited when I first read through the menu. It is another one of those intriguing mash ups of Southeast Asian cusine meets America, with plenty of Thai names and not so Thai sounding ingredients and combinations.
As is often the case with such boundary breaking cooking, some dishes worked and others didn't. Moreover while they were fun and could be tasty I felt it a shame that most suffered from an over generous hand with the sugar. The lean towards sweet tasting food seems to be unavoidable here in the States. Perhaps I should start saying I am 'sugar intolerant' to see if chefs are able to accommodate this as well as they manage to deal with the gluten, dairy and other intolerances that seem to abound in this city.
Grilled marinated baby octopus with green chilli nam phrik. These had been pre-cooked before being given a final quick char, which was a shame. The meat of such young, tender cephalopods couldn't really stand up to double cooking and while I had hoped for bouncy beasts with smoky, charred tentacles these instead lost heat quickly after being served, becoming cold and unappetisingly soft from overcooking.
Whiskey and chilli glazed pig's ears, dusted with cumin and coriander powder. These had the soft chew of having been slowly braised before being crisped in a deep fryer.
Green mango salad with cubes of rather incongruous ripe avocado, chewy shards of dried squid and dried shrimp, plenty of peanuts and red onion. Overall the salad was too sweet for my taste and lacked the chilli heat and clean, sharp vinegar tang I hope to find in authentic Thai dressings. I also couldn't work out why occasional mouthfuls tasted of toothpaste! This was not because of the mint leaves, it was another flavour entirely.
Beautifully deep fried sweetbreads with light, creamy interiors. Served with a lovely salad of crispy rice noodles, fried egg, dried shrimp, bean sprouts, red onion and a few more peanuts than was really necessary. Again sadly let down by an overly sweet tamarind dressing but otherwise tasty.
Snails in green curry with fried garlic, served with roti. This was very good, although its always hard for any snail dish to take on its garlic butter and parsley cousin and win.
A panko crumbed, braised rabbit leg that was crisp, then delicate and yielding, served in a mild tom yum style broth with red veined mustard leaves and shelled broad beans. I thought I spied sungiku leaves too but couldn't be sure. These aromatic chrysanthemum leaves are a new favourite at home. The beans struck me as a little out of place but otherwise the dish was thoroughly enjoyable.
The winner of the evening - a lovely fatty pork jowl, charred and sliced across the grain. It came topped with asparagus, pink pickled watermelon radish, mint and basil, shot through with garlic, both sweet roasted cloves and nutty fried slices. A pokey lemon and bird's eye chilli nam phrik was a excellent dipping sauce for the unctuous pieces of smoky pork.
Uncle Boons
7 Spring Street
New York, NY 10012
Tel: 646 370-6650
Limani, New York]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2015/06/11/Limani-New-Yorkhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2015/06/11/Limani-New-YorkThu, 11 Jun 2015 20:50:22 +0000
We popped into Limani last night for a quick bite before seeing Belle and Sebastian play in the vast Radio City Music Hall next door. Recently my husband has been hankering to check out Estiatorio Milos, despite its apparently steep pricing, so when we learned that Limani was opened last November by a manager with 16 years of experience at Milos and the kitchen is headed up by M.J. Alam, formerly executive chef there, we thought it might be interesting to visit.
At first glance the place is huge, able to seat up to 200 guests. Its clean, largely white interior evokes a marine theme with blue bottles of olive oil on each table, blue LED lighting, silver fish on the walls and black netting hanging from the ceiling. The slightly chintzy furnishings were, in my other half's words, the "sign of an authentic Greek restaurant".
There was an impressive looking display of seafood next to the open kitchen, featuring local catches and Mediterranean imports. We spied tempting looking wild carabineiros prawns with vibrant red shells, some as large as lobsters. On closer inspection however many of the fish looked less than fresh, with dull, pale grey pupils rather than the bright, dark eyes found on those that have been freshly caught, so we put out trust in our waiter and asked him what he recommended.
Wanting to try something classically Greek we opted to share a starter of kolokithi when told it was one of Limani's signature dishes. We also added two carabineiri and a balada, apparently a uniquely Mediterranean fish, known to be particularly tasty.
Kolokithi struck me as a Greek version of chips and dip - paper thin slices of courgette and aubergine fried in a filigree of batter before being stacked around a creamy, citrusy tzatziki that was heady with garlic. Cubes of crispy, stretchy kefalograviera cheese added to the fun, tasting not unlike that American Italian favourite - deep fried mozzarella sticks.
Without question the prices here are high, setting the bar for our expectations as a result. So it was disappointing when the filleted fish that followed was lukewarm, overcooked and retained an unforgivable number of bones. Worse yet our prawns were mushy with disintegrated flesh. No matter how delicious the lovely roe in the heads was, at over $80 a pound we wondered if they were having a laugh at our expense.
We complained of course, and after being gruffly questioned by Chef we were served another carabineiros. This time it was a shining example of perfect execution - firm and meaty, charred and sweet. The sight of the crustacean's alarmingly gory looking juices didn't stop us from using our fingers to prise every last morsel from the shell.
They took the fish off the bill and we left happy, impressed by how our concerns had been addressed, but wondering if our experience had been the exception.
Limani Restaurant
45 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10111
Tel: 212 858 9200
email: info@limani.com
Roberta's, Brooklyn]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2015/06/07/Robertas-Brooklynhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2015/06/07/Robertas-BrooklynSun, 07 Jun 2015 19:15:00 +0000
Sunday lunch at Roberta's in Bushwick. While some might argue it doesn't hold the contentious crown for the best pizza in New York, the combination of outdoor seating, fantastic cocktails, great music and an ever changing menu of consistently well executed dishes means that it's a summertime favourite of ours. During the winter even longer queues form for a table in the bustling interior, where chefs knock out wood fired pizzas in 90 seconds and diners watch the folks at Heritage radio broadcasting live from a glass fronted recording studio.
Sitting outside in the sunshine means sacrificing the opportunity to order from the full menu, but there's still plenty to satisfy hungover hunger pangs.
We ordered takeout pizza from next door and sipped spicy Bloody Marys and Hemlock Apple cider fromAaron Burr Cidery, perched in the outdoor bar's patio until a table and the chance to order from the shorter menu became available.
The Axl Rosenberg - tomato and mozzarella base, topped with soppressata, shitake mushrooms, garlic and jalapeno chilli.
The Beastmaster - tomato and mozzarella with gorgonzola, nuggets of fennel seed spiced pork sausage, red onions, capers and green jalapeno.
Currently my favourite salad - shards of crisp romaine tossed with candied walnuts and chopped mint, dressed in a creamy Caesar-ish dressing with salty pecorino Romano.
Smoky barbecued pork ribs in a honey and apple cider vinegar sauce, flavoured with shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven spice powder) and garnished with lime zest.
261 Moore Street
Brooklyn, NY 11206
Tel: 718 417-1118
Blue Hill at Stone Barns, New York]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2015/06/07/Blue-Hill-at-Stone-Barns-New-Yorkhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2015/06/07/Blue-Hill-at-Stone-Barns-New-YorkSun, 07 Jun 2015 19:15:00 +0000
On a sunny Saturday afternoon we headed up to Tarrytown by train and a short cab ride later found ourselves in a working farm setting like no other.
Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture is an extraordinary place, and on "a mission to create a healthy and sustainable food system that benefits us all.".
They don't use pesticides, herbicides or chemical additives to grow a huge variety of fruits, vegetables and herbs. They do use crop rotation, composting and other local ecosystem friendly techniques. We saw chicken coops on verdant green slopes, adorable turkey poults and ducklings cheeping in airy barns, feisty geese (part of a potential natural foie gras experiment we were later told) and pigs being fattened in conditions that looked less farmyard and more holiday home. Out in the fields there were sheep chewing frenetically on grass as high as they were, completely oblivious to our presence and watched over by a resplendent Labrador that reminded me of a friend's maremanno dog in Italy.
As we continued on our walk we entered a beautiful wood, all high boughs and dappled sunlight. Spotting glimpses of a lake and hearing running water we realised we had left the farm's lands and entered Rockafeller State Park Reserve. It was time to turn back and have dinner.
Dan Barber's Blue Hill at Stone Barns has no Michelin stars, unlike his New York Blue Hill restaurant. But this may be more due to the Guide setting limits on only grading restaurants within the city's limits. Certainly his mission to bring the principles of good farming directly to a delicious table and to take food sustainability to a new level are inspiring and reminded me that I need to read his latest, much lauded book The Third Plate.
Nothing goes to waste. Even animal bones (we saw skulls and marrow bones) are heated under high pressure and converted into charcoal for the grill.
Grillworks Argentine grill. One day...
We started our early dinner with cocktails outside, bathed in late afternoon sun and looking over some of the farm's vegetable fields. Vodka, rhubarb syrup, cappatelli amaro and cider was an instant hit, sparking discussion on how we could make something similar at home.
Mexican horchata with mezcal, triple sec, beer syrup, milk made from malted wheat soaked overnight with almonds and rice and various spices including nutmeg and cinnamon.
There was no menu. Instead we were given little booklets describing the farm's growing, foraging, animal and other activities each month, along with field maps.
Dinner came in flurries of small plates. First came a split baby courgette with sunflower seed powder and grilled peanut oil which tasted unsurprisingly sweet and nutty. Next we were presented with vegetables from the farm - tiny turnips, a rather tough glacial radish, bok choy and a succulent leaf (ficoides?). And then...
Young kohlrabi, one of my new favourite vegetables, on mildly peppery nasturtium and earthily sweet beetroot purées.
Served with rhubarb fizz...
Tiny spiced grissini style 'needles' in a haystack.
A deliciously meaty miniature sugar snap pea with diced speck and pickled garlic scapes.
Rapeseed(?) flowers and foraged fiddlehead ferns. Having gorged on them recently after finding them in very reasonable priced at Wholefoods Union Square of all places, we both felt the delicate flavour of the fern sprouts was sadly lost, overwhelmed by the sesame and poppy sesame cracker.
Multiseed cracker, reminding us of Faviken's brilliant flax seed crackers but studded with every seed imaginable, possibly a few grains too.
One of our favourites, of course - 'pigcorn' seasoned with fennel pollen. The rinds were so airy and puffed one even popped on contact with my tongue.
Sweet brioche pea burger.
Foraged lamb's quarters and bronze fennel served with a charred vegetable mayonnaise, aleppo pepper and blackened wheat. We couldn't 'find' any sorrel despite its name being mentioned.
A clever 'ham sandwich'. We instinctively split the vegetable cracker in half to hold soft folds of fatty ham, cut with sharp English mustard.
Chewy crispy cocoa caramel wafer with peppery, livery pork pâté.
Tomatoes we plucked from the vine and dragged through peppered goat's cheese and milk wheat honey. These were lovely but hard to eat, if only because I was frantically trying to get as much cheese and honey on each tomato as possible and they kept slipping off!
Lovely looking slices of marbled coppa, well cured and seasoned, but let down by parts so dry they had the consistency of thin leather rather than supple flesh.
Charred cucumber paired beautifully with butterfish cream, made from the ground skin and bones of 'trash fish' as our chef server called it, calling to mind summer sandwiches filled with oil-rich mackerel and crisp cucumber slices. The wilted squash leaf tasted lovely on its own but seemed unnecessary to the dish as a whole.
Farmer's cheese full of creamy curds, so fresh you could almost taste the grass and herbs the cow had fed on before she was milked, paired with a sweet and sour strawberry relish and rocket leaves.
Goose eggs with asparagus, cheddar and bacon. Crunchy little asparagus dice mixed with soft cool egg, enriched with cheese and bacon. A more luxurious form of egg mayonnaise perhaps, but the addition of lemon juice jarred against the other ingredients.
An unusual and successful combination of spring peas and cubes of springy squid with preserved egg yolk, topped with a gossamer thin sheet of translucent lardo.
Donka shitake mushrooms baked in compost tasted dry and chewy. The slightly intensified flavour they gained from being semi-dried in their compost oven was no match for the Chinese dried shitake mushrooms from Hong Kong I grew up on.
Bok choy and flowering Chinese broccoli (gai lan) stems with grated preserved tuna heart. I found the sweet-saltiness of the tuna a little strange - a saltier cure would have been better suited to the meat's marine roots.
Whole wheat sweet brioche loaf, with green leaf and raisin 'marmalade'. The loaf was made from Barber wheat, a new breed created by the chef and Dr Stephen Jones of Washington State University with the aim of prioritising flavour and grown at Stone Barns.
Fresh ricotta was a thing of beauty - creamy, grassy, served in a dish with holes to allow the uncoagulated whey to drain away. Which I promptly drank as I love its lightly acidic, milky taste.
Deep fried soft shell crab with black bean purée in a celeriac 'burrito', with black sesame and a fairly mild 'rejected pepper' (from another experimental farm project) hot sauce. The celeriac tortilla was a fun idea but its strong flavour overwhelmed the crab.
And then we went for a wander, to the loveliest shed I have ever seen.
It might have been one of the most romantic restaurant settings we have experienced, despite the fact our waiter, the sommelier and then a chef were all hovering nearby. They soon left, allowing us a moment of quiet to enjoy our hen of the woods pizza with pea shoots...
and egg mimosa. We were also given a blind tasting of two red wines to help decide our next selection.
Sharing our shed was a vegan compost heap...
that cooked our mushrooms sous vide at 160˚F.
The compost heap also heats a water bath opposite, where our egg was cooked.
On returning to the restaurant we received another bread course. It was a lovely loaf but on top of the Barber wheat it seemed less like a dish and more like a move to fill us up. A number of recent restaurant trips have featured similar bread courses - have there been concerns about unsatisfied appetites?
Soft folds of speck with sherry vinegar and sautéed porcini
Our main course - beautiful pieces of pink, succulent Berkshire pork, a rich, dark round of blood sausage and chewy creamy malted grains. A perfect dish, really.
We moved swiftly into desserts, which then seemed to be over rather quickly. I can't put my finger on it but I felt like something had been missed out, or some hidden message that would conclude the meal hadn't been relayed. My husband claims I would have been fine if I had been given cheese, but then he tends to think that is what I consider my solution for a variety of problems in life. Instead we had strawberries and blackcurrant - leaf and ice cream.
A rhubarb and whole grain pastry.
S'mores Ferrero Roche - puffy brûléed marshmallow and gooey chocolate inside a biscuity wafery shell.
And ended with spruce, berries and grains, a healthy rice crispy and spruce chocolate.
It was a truly memorable day, and night. The highest form of farm to table, and beyond that I am still thinking about each dish and where it came from.
Jongro BBQ, New York]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2015/06/06/Jongro-BBQ-New-Yorkhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2015/06/06/Jongro-BBQ-New-YorkSat, 06 Jun 2015 18:54:00 +0000
Last night when we emerged from Lost Lectures, staged in a vast Brooklyn warehouse, it was almost 11.30. Our minds were satiated from an evening of fascinating, culturally diverse talks, but our stomachs growled from a shortage of food available at the event. The four s'mores cubes I had nibbled on did little to make a dent in my appetite. Where does any self respecting New Yorker head for late night eats? Koreatown.
West 32nd street between Broadway and 5th is a bustling collection of Korean supermarkets, bars and restaurants, along with street food carts and K-pop shops. Jongro sits tucked away on the second floor of an unassuming building, with a distinct lack of charm in its lobby and fluorescent lit lift. So when the doors opened it was a surprise to find ourselves in Jongro's dimly lit, spacious interior. The cavernous room is decorated in traditional Korean style with tables nestled under corrugated rooftops, supported by wooden eaves and pillars beams. Elsewhere we found cosy booths and wooden benches. Vintage ads and framed slogans hang from the ceiling while retro posters line the walls.
The background music features 90's K-pop hits, adding to the air of casual fun. Young men with immaculately groomed hair move swiftly from table to table, explaining the menu with smiles and gently guiding guests towards ordering platters of freshly cut, unmarinated beef. 'Always fresh, never frozen' is the slogan on the menu and Jongro prides itself on serving excellent quality beef raised on unprocessed feed without antibiotics, delivered up to five times a week. They also pride themselves on pricing that undercuts the competition outside by as much as 30%.
Since launching in 2010 the franchise has a cult following in South Korea and is planning a swift roll out in the US. This Manhattan site opened last summer and a second followed in Flushing in March. Bookings are only taken for large party private rooms and on weekends long queues can form with a waitlist managed by text.
Led by our waiter we chose two platters of unmarinated beef, kimchi stew, kimchi pancake and spicy rice cake - plenty of food for five and accompanied by a flurry of banchan (small side dishes) along with a clay bowl filled with pillowy egg custard. In hindsight we could have left out the pancake and rice cakes, dishes that did not compare with the quality of the superb meat.
Three seasonings for beef - a savoury house sauce that hinted of sesame, soy and beef juices, fine grained salt and a salty sweet doenjang soybean paste. Kimchi and sweet sliced onions marinated in a teriyaki style sauce, delicious when grilled. We loved wrapping slices of rare beef in lettuce leaves with a little caramelised onion and a dab of doenjang.
Pajori - shredded spring onions and blanched soy bean sprouts dressed in spicy gochujang (hot pepper paste) were crunchy and spicy yet refreshing. Another delicious addition to our lettuce leaf and beef wraps.
Onions softened in a sweet soy based marinade, spiked with slices of green jalapeno.
Bubbling egg custard simmered with stock and spring onions to a wobbly, silken consistency. This was reminiscent of a Cantonese childhood favourite of mine, a comforting dish of eggs similarly combined with stock but gently steamed and garnished with spring onions, sesame oil and soy sauce.
Soft glutinous rice cakes in thin ssamjang (or was it gochujang?) broth. I would have preferred a thicker sauce and chewier nuggets.
Kimchi pancake with spring onions was fluffy and crisp. I suspect it was made with sweet potato and flour but couldn't be sure.
Prime beef kalbi (centre cut short ribs), rib eye, slices of thin skirt and rolls of brisket.
The double whammy of freshly cut, beautifully marbled beef.
All our beef was expertly grilled by waiters who deftly moved pieces around the hot plate and piled them up before tapping their tongs and disappearing to the refrain "Ok. Eat."
Finally, the highlight of the night - kalbi slices grilled directly over the charcoal burner.
The kimchi stew came home with us, to serve as a spicy breakfast reminder of our midnight feast.
22 W 32nd St 2nd Fl
New York
Tel: 212 473-2233
Hakubai in The Kitano, New York]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2015/06/04/Hakubai-in-The-Kitano-New-Yorkhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2015/06/04/Hakubai-in-The-Kitano-New-YorkThu, 04 Jun 2015 18:57:21 +0000
Last night I was treated to dinner by friends who are staying with us. They visit often to see clients in New York and we have a tradition of going out for Japanese, something this city excels in. Hakubai specialises in Kaiseki cuisine, a traditional form of fine dining that uses seasonal ingredients to create artfully composed dishes. It has roots in Zen Buddhism. Think delicacy, detail and dedication.
There are private tatami rooms available but we sat at a 'Western style' table in the main dining room. The room is simply decorated with plenty of bamboo screens and neutral tones. We were tended to by ladies in elegant kimonos who were the epitome of polite service. While the ambiance tends towards the quiet and serene it was nevertheless charming and hospitable.
Rather than the full-blown Omakase Kaiseki we opted for the Summer Speciality Okonomi Kaiseki - kinder to the wallet and we hoped it would be a reflection of the season's bounty. We had a lovely evening as three hours zipped by while we caught up with old friends and enthused over each artfully composed dish. We left feeling nourished without being overly fed, having enjoyed a well balanced and beautifully presented series of courses.
I have tried sesame tofu before but edamame was new. Its earthy beaniness contrasted with the sea urchin's rich, marine flavour. Wasabi and a soy sauce dashi warded off the potential for the dish to be bland and it served as a lovely, light palate cleanser.
A selection of simmered dishes, all cold. The whole table unanimously adored the soft, lightly seasoned aubergine, set off by mild ginger heat. Next most favoured was the clean flavour of the blanched greens, paired with chewy fried tofu skin and little nutty balls of puffed rice. A shot of rather slimy seaweed in sweet vinegar proved to be more palate-challenging, while Japanese yam softened in a broth with yuzu was a welcome comfort. The prawn was overcooked for my taste, something I often find with the Japanese style of serving cold seafood.
Clear duck and black pepper broth with aromatic shreds of daikon, carrot and lemon rind, wakame and coriander(?) tied in an adorable knot.
Pristine sashimi - bouncy fresh kanpachi amberjack, firm, sweet red snapper and melting toro sandwiching a slice of lean maguro tuna.
The next two dishes arrived together. Scallops (again overcooked for my tastes) and courgette in a teriyaki sauce that we slurped out of the bowl when our well-mannered waitress wasn't looking.
Miso marinated grilled silver cod. You really can't go wrong with this treatment of fatty fish. Despite its ubiquitous presence on Japanese menus, good and bad, it is almost always reliably delicious.
Another favourite of the night. Ripe tomato slices dressed with miso (red or white I wonder?), rice vinegar, soy sauce and sesame oil, garnished with minced sweet onion, shiso leaf, sesame seeds and shichimi pepper. This is one I would love to make at home. The savoury unami of tomato, soy and miso, set off by vinegar and aromatised by shiso is such a winning combination.
Half of us chose steak and the other chose sushi. Neither party lost. Particularly notable was the porcelain drawer our teriyaki lacquered steak arrived in - it might have been considered a tad twee anywhere else but considering our surroundings it seemed somehow in keeping.
Clockwise from top left - toro, sea bream, sakiyagi(?) a type of Japanese mackerel, sublimely fresh scallop, excellent tamago egg, ikura, perfect uni, anago sea eel and sweet prawn.
Green tea ice cream in all its tannic, creamy glory, chewy soybean dusted yam mochi dipped in brown sugar syrup and a less memorable rooibus tea and milk jelly, topped with cream and rum.
The Kitano New York, 66 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10016
Tel: 212 885-7111
Ivan Ramen, New York]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2015/06/03/Ivan-Ramen-New-Yorkhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2015/06/03/Ivan-Ramen-New-YorkWed, 03 Jun 2015 18:01:09 +0000
Ivan Orkin is a Jewish New Yorker who fell in love with Japan and conquered their ramen world. He has been an intriguing source of inspiration to me since moving to New York last year. His brightly coloured instagram feed is lovely to follow, full of tempting dishes and smiling faces. I saw him answer questions on a panel once, where his warmth and enthusiasm were immediately likeable. And he gives me hope because despite his success he didn't become a chef at the age of sixteen, having known his calling since birth. He went to Tokyo after college, trained as a chef in the US, went back to Tokyo and his career took shape over time. Since he opened his restaurant in May last year I have been wanting to visit and last night we finally did.
Unlike his Tokyo and Chelsea Market ramen shops where noodles dominate and a few rice bowls feature, at Ivan Ramen there is also a short menu of dishes that read like reinterpreted Western plates. For instance 'Tofu Coney Island', which our waitress described as Ivan's take on the Coney Island hot dog, but vegetarian. Having not seen similar sounding dishes before we ordered as many as we could.
Pickled daikon XO reminded me I've been wanting to try making my own OX sauce. The shredded sweet pickled daikon paired wonderfully well with its oily, fried OX topping. The latter was milder and crunchier than store bought versions from Hong Kong, tasting less of seafood and more of sesame and garlic.
Kyuri pickles. The Persian cucumbers cleverly smashed and sliced to absorb more of its piquant spicy, salty and sour marinade.
Scallop crudo with pickled shiso, ikura and ponzu. This was a special. Having been spoiled by sparkling fresh scallops in Hokkaido at the beginning of the year these just weren't able to compare. Likewise the salmon roe tasted quite bland, unlike the soy sauce and dashi seasoned ikura I brought home from my trip.
Mushrooms casino. Genius. Thinly sliced oyster mushrooms reminiscent of al dente pappardelle, both in appearance and mouthfeel, topped with breadcrumbs, bacon and tiny clams and grilled. The slippery mushrooms, nutty bacon and chewy clams lifted with a showering of spring onion. We wished our crumbs could have been crunchier and the dish overall less drenched in oil, but it was delicious.
Ivan Ramen "Caprese". The only duff note in our opinion. The shio koji marinated tofu had none of the saltiness I was expecting, tasting bland with a firm texture that reminded me more of hippy food than Asian cuisine. The combination of bonito flakes, brunello tomatoes and shaved sweet onions was a good one but lacked acidity and lift. The deep fried steamed buns too soaked in oil to warrant eating more than one. This was sent off to be doggy bagged in favour of trying another starter.
Thank goodness we didn't miss ordering the Braised Beef Tongue. Soft strips of tongue, seared and served in a marmite-y beef broth, with a smear of nose fizzingly hot Japanese mustard, not unlike Colman's English. Fab.
Finally triple pork triple garlic mazeman. Less soupy ramen and more unctuous roasted garlic and piggy tonkotsu glazed chewy whole wheat noodles. Shards of bacon, slivers of sweet garlic, shredded spring onions and a slab of soft roasted pork. You get the picture.
Rather than dessert I had a delightfully pink Prickly Panda cocktail made with prickly pear, mint and ginger puree that was sweet and refreshing.
Thank you Ivan.
Ivan Ramen 25 Clinton St New York, NY Tel: 646 678-3859
Cosme, New York]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2015/05/31/Cosme-New-Yorkhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2015/05/31/Cosme-New-YorkSun, 31 May 2015 23:12:25 +0000
We have been to Cosme three times now and each time I leave I find myself lost in thought, mulling over one dish or another, trying to digest the alien assault of new flavours and ingredients on my senses.
It is rare that a menu reads like a mystery, or that a dish renders me clueless as to its ingredients or preparation. The fact that this is always the case at Cosme means that to me its secrets are as tantalising as a sidelong wink from an attractive man.
They opened for brunch on Sundays three weeks ago, so I was able to book a table as word hasn't quite got out yet.
Bloody Maria - light, herby and smoky, with a chilli crusted jicama stirrer.
Watermelon and mezcal.
Pineapple, cinnamon and rum.
Little cubes of crisp nopal cactus that tasted like aloe, with a citrus acidity, dressed in a herb pesto and paired with green leaves, baby tomatillos, sharp sorrel sprouts and a rich white ayocote bean purée, or Mexican hummous, as my husband described it.
Blue corn quesadilla with a squeaky white cheese and epazote herb filling.
Sliced raw razor clams in their shells, dressed with celery leaves, carrot, avocado and Mexican lime.
Arctic char tostado with creamy avocado, crystalline heat from translucent slices of green jalapeno, chervil and briny trout roe.
Lobster and tortilla broth with chunks of sweet lobster, sour cream, crunchy blue tortilla strips and chewy deep fried chochoyotas - tortilla balls.
Duck enmoladas with chichilo mole made from pasilla and another, apparently very expensive chilli I didn't catch the name of (chilwaquele?).
Kale tamal, wrapped in banana leaf and topped with spring onion laced ricotta.
Lime, ginger, mezcal and dragonfruit sorbet
Raicilla - also know as mezcal depending on where in Mexico it was made. This particularly phenomenal one was smoky, sweet and salty at the same time.
35 E 21st Street
New York, NY 10010
Tel: 212 913-9659
Oriental Dragon, London]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2013/06/17/Oriental-Dragon-Londonhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2013/06/17/Oriental-Dragon-LondonMon, 17 Jun 2013 15:28:00 +0000
From the outside, this little restaurant looks just like its casual Chinese neighbours - there is no design-led interior, brand consultancy styled menu or PR hype. There isn't even a website. There is your standard Cantonese menu with its roll call of salt and pepper squid, crispy seaweed, prawn toasts and so on. But there is also another menu, accompanied by photographs, with a range of regional dishes that one would never have found offered in the past.
Here you will find Sichuan specialities, full of chilli fire and numbing spice, Shandong dishes that emphasise seafood and more adventurous Cantonese classics like jellyfish and duck tongues. Much loved noodle dishes from Taiwan and Beijing make an appearance, as do charred cumin spiked skewers from Xinjiang and there is plenty of offal, whether sizzling hot or garlicky cool.
This is amazing. It is exciting to see regional Chinese cuisine becoming so commonplace in London that the need for new restaurants to shout about it appears to have passed. It is simply part of what is expected now in the London food scene. Regional Chinese cuisine has arrived, it is not a fad, it is here to stay. And that makes me very happy indeed.
We enjoyed a very good dinner. Despite over ordering on such a grand scale that our table became a source of amusement for our waiters, the three of us managed to ensure that there wasn't even a sliver of tongue left for me to take home in a doggy box. While this is not supposed to be refined cuisine, there was a skilled level of knife-work evident, along with excellent wok control - nothing was greasy. Contrasting flavours were well balanced and married with vibrant, distinctive sauces. There are many more dishes I would like to go back and try.
Here's what we ate.
Sliced cucumber and jellyfish salad. I love jellyfish. I love how the translucent, elastic-like bands suggest rubbery texture but snap between your teeth after a little bounce and then crunch. I love the pairing of slippery jellyfish with shards of vinegar-softened cucumber and nuggets of garlic. This refreshing mouthful will awaken your palate, cool fiery taste buds and give you breath that will knock a vampire dead at sixty paces.
Undoubtedly the star of dinner because this was the best razor clam dish I have ever tasted. The clams were beautifully sliced and perfectly cooked to form delicate curls lightly slicked with sauce. These were combined with crunchy wood ear mushrooms, crisp green peppers, sliced spring onions and fresh and dried chillies that delivered varying levels of heat from mild and fresh to deep and smoky. The whole plate was additively moreish and sparkled with bright flavours and different textures.
Tofu with preserved egg and spring onion. This dish has been praised by critics recently and is definitely delicious but it is so easy to prepare it is hard for me to see it as worthy of praise for the chef's skill. All you need is silken tofu (the ones in the refrigerated cabinets are best), century eggs and spring onions from a Chinese supermarket - slice, chop and arrange then dress with soy sauce with a bit of sugar, chilli oil and a little sesame oil. That is pretty much it. Delicious yes, but other dishes were much more impressive.
Pork lungs in chilli sauce. The Chinese on the menu identified this dish by its more familiar name - man and wife offal slices. This is one of my favourite Sichuan dishes of all time, traditionally made from slices of spiced beef offal such as heart, tongues and stomach dressed with soy sauce, chilli oil and numbing Sichuan peppers, garnished with toasted peanuts, Chinese celery, spring onions and sesame. Whether this was a similar version with just pork offal or a mix of pork and beef I cannot be sure, but it was the same winning combination of soft, spiced meat and fiercely flavoured dressing that I adore.
Chinese traditional BBQ skewers - cumin studded beef, bouncy chicken gizzards and tender pig's kidney, charred and intensely tasty.
Steamed spiced pig tongue with garlic and soy sauce. Soft slices of tongue accompanied by a healthy amount of chopped garlic made milder by marinating in the light and dark soy sauces used to dress the dish.
Stir fried sliced pig stomach with hot pepper. We expected slices of pig tripe that were fiery hot with chilli and were surprised to be served a dish with no heat at all and slices of tripe so elegantly cut they resembled oyster mushrooms. Even more delightful was the discovery that these lightly sauced, tender meaty leaves had no trace of offaly funk whatsoever, just a wonderfully soft texture and lovely, delicate flavour.
We also had braised aubergine in brown sauce, stir fried Chinese pea sprouts with garlic and salt and pepper deep fried squid. What a feast.
The bill, with a brilliant lack of any itemisation!
Oriental Dragon
100 Cleveland Street,
London, UK W1T 6NU
Tel: 020 7387 7878
The Shiori, London]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2013/06/13/The-Shiori-Londonhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2013/06/13/The-Shiori-LondonThu, 13 Jun 2013 09:00:00 +0000
I love The Shiori. I love its quiet, tiny interior. The two cosy tatami matted booths are my favourite place to sit. Chef patron Takashi Tagaki's quiet but intense pace of work is fascinating to watch. And his wife Hitomi's friendly and at times entertainingly kooky approach to guests is a nice counterpoint to his silent concentration. The service is laid back - don't expect to arrive, eat in a hurry and leave quickly. This is the kind of evening that should not be rushed. The delicacy of the flavours and the beautiful balancing of textures and tastes deserve to be enjoyed slowly and thoughtfully. To me it is a wonderfully romantic evening, a perfect way to spend time together and enjoy something exceptional.
We have been twice to far, the first time in May...
Late afternoon light and we are the first arrivals
The short menu
Sparkling sake with wild strawberries - the heady aroma of fruit combined with sake lacking the acidity of sparkling wine, creating a hint of vanilla in the aftertaste
Taro potato stems with sesame vinegar - delicate translucent shoots almost reminiscent of white asparagus
Simmered bracken wrapped in yuba skin with aromatic sancho pepper leaf - a little leaf but packing a punch in flavour
Clear soup with sea bass, shreds of smokey grilled aubergine, soft simmered broad beans and watershield - a extraordinary plant with a jelly-like coating
Sashimi plate, clockwise from left - horse mackerel, sea bream, tuna with sweet potato and seaweed sauce and sweet shrimp
Taro with crushed rice cracker, stuffed with prawns, shitake mushrooms and ginkgo nuts - dense squidgy pastry with savoury stuffing
Fried then lightly pickled snapper
Nigri from left to right - toro with wasabi stem, salmon with seasoned seaweed, turbot with Japanese spices and yellowtail with spring onion
More nigri - Japanese scallop with black truffle, Crystal Bay prawn with shiso leaf paste and lightly seared squid with ginger
Yuzu sorbet - deliciously refreshing
And a second time in June...
The long menu!
Japanese kamiage yuba with wasabi and seaweed
Potato somen noodles with grated ginger, ginger shoot, spring onion and oscietra caviar
Clear soup with red mullet, okura (a sticky leaf in a star shape) and that entertainingly crazy watershield again
Sashimi, clockwise from top left - a type of clam, lobster, sea bream, seared squid, a seared fish I can't remember and mackerel
Lemon sole kawari-age - deep fried in a delicate rice cracker crumb batter
Slow simmered aubergine with peas and diced duck breast - the aubergine tasted rich and savoury thanks to its meaty sauce, and retained its structure despite being meltingly soft
Palate cleansing baby peach jelly
Nigri sushi - fatty tuna with wasabi stem, yellow tail with spring onion and a white fish I forget...
More nigri - excellent scallop with wasabi and black truffle and sweet shrimp similarly dressed
And finally - rare, red beef fillet nigri - bloody delicious
Tomewan - simmered crab soup
I am already looking forward to our next visit.
The Shiori
45 Moscow Road
London W2 4AH
Tel: 020 7221 9790
San Sebastian pinxtos and more]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2013/04/01/San-Sebastian-pinxtos-and-morehttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2013/04/01/San-Sebastian-pinxtos-and-moreMon, 01 Apr 2013 22:35:00 +0000
Here's a rundown of the best San Sebastian pintxos bars I have visited in San Sebastian and the pintxos I didn't want to forget. Perhaps it can be a some inspiration for anyone who finds themselves in San Sebastian and hungry.
'El Listo' was started in 2008 and originally based on a list given to me by Elena, chef/patron of the 3 Michelin starred Arzak. We visited all of her suggestions, tried the recommended pintxos and made a few new discoveries of our own. Having just returned from my second trip to this Basque food Mecca I thought it would be churlish not to post an update.
Zona parte vieja (old town)
Ganbara (2013)
San Jeronimo 19
Tel: 943-422575
The txangurro tart (crab tart) is reputedly the main star, although we preferred the one at Bernardo Etxea. I loved the simply cooked cod’s roe, served cold and garnished with onions and parsley. We also had a lovely racione (a larger portion than a pintxo) of clams with baby artichokes that were stewed into soft submission and flavoured with clam juice.
La Viña (2013)
31 de Agosto 3
Tel: 943-427495
You have to come to La Viña and have one thing, at the very least, if you eat no other pintxos at all during your visit to San Sebastian. And that is the canutillo de queso. It is a cone made from brik pastry, filled with cream cheese and one anchovy fillet. It is cheesy, creamy, fishy, oily and crisp. It is also unexpectedly delectable. Like a delightfully savoury ice cream. If you are adventurous then try the patitas de cordero – lamb’s feet. These are quite special but not to everyone’s taste. The torta de queso is wonderful - sweet cream cheese custardy curds just bound together into a cake.
La Cuchara de San Telmo (2013)
31 de Agosto 28 trasera (junto a la entrada lateral de San Telmo)
Tel: 943-420840
This was one of our favourite bars on our first visit. We had mollejas (veal sweetbreads), foie gras, pulpo, txiperron (baby squid), oreja (pig’s ear)…in fact everything we ordered from the short menu was delicious.
On returning in 2013 the carrillera (ox cheek), foie gras a la plancha and risotto with goat’s cheese were still wonderful, but the service was less impressive.
Txepetxa (2013) – known for excellent anchovies
Pescaderia 5
Tel: 943-422227
The anchovies come with a wide selection of unusual partners. You can find anchovies topped with sea urchin (erizo del mar), spider crab, salmon, trout roe or even blueberry jam. In season fresh anchovies caught off the coast are hand filleted and then marinated in vinegar for 24 hours before being served. These are prized for being larger and tastier than their imported counterparts. In 2013 we tried ‘antxoas mundiala’ or ‘anchovies of the world’, not on the menu and a concoction of anchovy fillet with crab mayo and sea urchin eggs (huevas des erizo del mar). Another classic is a Gilda (pronounced Hilda) – named after the movie Gilda starring Rita Hayworth. This pintxos combines an anchovy fillet with a stoned green olive and a guindillo pepper on a toothpick.
La Fuego Negro (2013) – known for pintxos modernos (modern tapas)
31 de Agosto 31
Tel: 550-135373
Another top contender for the best pintxos in ’08. 2008 highlights included pancetta Iberico con ajo, txangurro (crab), avocado ice cream, aniseed ice cream – amazing together. Makobe con txips ( mini hamburger with chips), txupitos (like veloute amuse) salmurejo (salmon custard) con brote (onion sprouts), flore (flowers), anchovies, pickled garlic cloves, roasted cherry tomatoes.
On our 2013 return we had a glass of mussels in tomato sauce with béchamel foam and pork scratchings, along with a dish of lamb’s tongue (lengua) and red wine pickled onions (below).
Bar Martinez (2008) - recommended: pintxos frios (cold tapas)
31 de Agosto 13
Tel: 943-424965
Bacalao and salmon on toast. Stuffed peppers, anchovy, egg and jamon, boquerones with red pepper and onion sweet sour relish, anchovy, tuna, gherkin and pickled green chilli.
Goiz Argi (2013)
Fermin Calbeton 4
Tel: 943 425204
Brochetta de gambas – prawn, bacon and spicy sweet sour salsa – incredible, one of the best pintxos. Morcilla, , txangurro a la calenta – hot little dish of crab, polpo. Only disappointment was the chiperrones.
Bernardo Etxea (2013)
Puerto 7
Tel: 943 422055
One of our favourite destinations for a long seafood lunch. Especially for hot boiled percebes (120 euros per kilo! or €30 a racione), or dinosaur feet/goose barnacles. Other delights included native oysters, langoustines, almejas (clams) – all available either raw or cooked and both options were delicious…but relatively expensive compared to standard pintxos. Otherwise there was -
Tartaleta txangurro – blind baked shortcrust tarts with a rich, almost burnt, buttery taste, filled with a warm mixture of white and brown crabmeat, nothing else. This was elegantly simple yet luxurious at the same time. One of the highlights.
Jamon de Jabugo – thin slices of classic Iberico ham
Kokotxas en salsa – Hake throats in a white gelatinous sauce flecked with parsley.
Pulpo a la Gallega – Slices of soft octopus with paprika
Cigalas a la plancha – Enormous langostines, split open lengthways and quickly cooked under the grill with a smear of butter.
Chipirones a la plancha – These should have been tiny little squids but were larger than expected in late March/early April, perhaps due to the season.
La Cepa (2013)
31 de Agosto 7
Tel: 943 426394
Reputedly Ferran Adria’s favourite bar.
Jamon de Jabugo – wonderful Iberico ham and hongos a la plantxa – wild ceps grilled and served with an egg yolk.
Borda Berri (2013)
Fermin Calbeton 12
Tel: 943 425638
Translated as ‘New Hut’. This bar was a new discovery in 2013. Apparently owned by one half of the pair who opened La Cuchara de San Telmo following an acrimonious split. The food was fantastic – everything we tried was impressive. Highlights included:
Risotto de idiazabal – the ‘risotto’ was in fact orzo pasta, glazed with the local idiazabal cheese. It was wonderfully creamy and rich.
Kebab de costilla de cerdo – pork ribs, slow cooked to tender meaty shreds
Carrillera de tenera al vino tinto – ox cheek, again forkably soft and savoury sauced.
Atari Gastroteka (2013)
Calle Mayor, 18 Nagusia (Calle 31 de Agosto)
Tel: 943 440792
Foie artesano – Warm foie gras, banana cream and slices of caramalised apple.
A slate with flakes of cooked bonito (tuna), anchovy fillets and spicy pickled guindillo peppers.
Bar Tamboril (2013)
Arrandegui 2
Tel: 943 423507
Txampis Tamboril - fat button mushrooms stewed in their own juices, with garlic and olive oil and served with a piece of baguette to mop up the sauce. Also recommended are the gambas a la gabardina.
In new town – Zona Gros
Alona Berri (2008)
C. Bermingham 24
Tel: 943 290818
Interesting ‘modern’ tapas – unusual combinations, and friendly service. Not the cheapest but worth it.
Erizo de mar (sea urchin – served hot and in the shell)
Chipiron en equilibrio de mar
Entecote atun – tuna with sesame ‘salt’ and honey
Txirristra – mackerel
Bar Bergara (2008)
C/ General Arteche 8
943 275026
Bacalao a la Vizcaina is a speciality, lots of pastry and tarts, not bad, but we preferred Alona…
In Centro
Hikamika (2008) – Pinchos in general
C/ Etxaide
Tel: 943 431335
This was recommended on Elena’s list, but we have yet to try it….
Restaurants I went to and loved
Rekondo (2013)
Fantastic traditional Basque cuisine and a culinary classic for locals. Also boasts one of the oldest and most extensive wine cellars in Spain.
Arzak (2008 and 2013)
Three Michelin starred gastronomic powerhouse.
Azurmendi (2013)
Three Michelin stars and a kitchen garden thrown in.
Mugaritz (2008)
Two Michelin stars and wildly innovative - much loved by chefs.
To try next time
Astelehena - The pan seared foie gras is supposed to be amazing.
Zeruko - very inventive
Akelarre - Three Michelin stars
Martín Berasategui - Three stars too
Zuberoa - One star
Miramón Arbelaitz - One star
Kokotxa - One star
Mirador de Ulía - One star
Alameda de Hondarribia - One star
Aldanondo - Traditional Basque cuisine
Juanito Kojua - Traditional Basque also
The Basque cider houses located in the villages of Hernani and Astigarraga
Elkano in nearby Getaria (recommended by a friend as the best seafood ever tasted in his life, the turbot and camarones in particular)
A few Spanish/Basque translations
Lumagorri – a classic Basque dish
Canelon - cannelloni
Carrillera - cheek
Cochinita - suckling pig
Hongos - ceps
Ternera - veal
Kallos - pig stomach
Kabra - goat
Carri-kabra. – goat’s cheese and beef cheek
Idiazabal - local sheep’s milk cheese
Arandanos - berries
Bocarta - local fish
Oneggin – cheers (like Salute!)
Guindillas – thin curly green peppers, usually pickled and slightly spicy
Vieira - scallop
Molleja – veal sweetbreads
Morro de ternera – veal lips
Puerro - leek
Azurmendi, Bizkaia Spain]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2013/03/31/Azurmendi-Bizkaia-Spainhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2013/03/31/Azurmendi-Bizkaia-SpainSun, 31 Mar 2013 15:02:00 +0000
It should be kept in mind that we visited Azurmendi after an incredibly indulgent four day extravaganza of eating that began with Arzak, took in Rekondo and featured innumerable pintxos bars, alongside other wonderful restaurants, snack bars and market stalls. At the time I think I came close to feeling like I might never need to eat again, despite rationally knowing that one day, far in the future, I might.
Thinking back, remembering the flavours and looking at the photos, Eneko Atxa's cuisine was truly lovely. True, there were some, perhaps more Spanish (or Basque?), notes that were less well received by our table. And there were rather over dramatic presentation skills from the maître d'. But the tasting menu was well balanced, thoughtfully put together and skilfully executed. Overall it was impressive.
We opted for the shorter of the two tasting menus available but added in a little lobster course from the longer menu. In my opinion it was too much for lunch, particularly after the four days prior. I would however love to return another time, sacrifice the wonderful views and go for dinner.
Here's what we ate.
The Erroak menu with everything but the lobster.
Glass fronted restaurant entrance, maximising gloriously expansive views over the lush green valley below.
The kitchen garden, which turned out to be more for show than function but was lovely nonetheless.
The light and airy interior, with privacy for tables cleverly created using printed pull down screens.
Foie gras parfait with crushed peanut coating, homemade idiazabal cheese with basil flowers, purple onion skin infusion - little amuse-bouche starters served in picnic boxes in the garden reception before we sat down at our table. The onion infusion was wonderfully intense - like the perfect onion soup.
Egg cooked inside out and truffled. This was a mouthful of pure heaven. Each yolk was carefully separated from the white, before having a portion of yolk removed and replaced with truffle essence heated to 75 degrees Celsius. The hot essence partly cooked the yolk so that when topped with shaved black truffle the whole tasted sublime.
Confit lobster wrapped in Iberian ham with spring onion emulsion and with essential herbs from the garden. Deliciously soft poached lobster paired with meaty Spanish ham. An excellent little mouthful.
Raw oyster dotted with salicornia seaweed, slippery tremella mushrooms cooked in seawater and salty-crisp anemone seaweed tempura...
...with natural aromas from the sea.
The Garden. The 'soil' was earthy dehydrated beetroot coating a mousse-like emulsion of olive oil and tomato that was rich, very salty and quite sharp-sour tasting. When eaten in combination with the other ingredients it set off the vegetables nicely, but on its own I found it too heavy and intense. Ultimately the richness of this dish dampened my appetite for the remaining courses, leaving me annoyed that I hadn't left some on the plate instead. Other vegetables featured were little cherry tomatoes roasted with Provençal herbs, mini potatoes buried in the 'soil', planted tiny cauliflower, peas and pea shoots, Savoy cabbage and a thin curl of courgette.
Cod tripes and garlic soup - tempura fish maw (fish swim bladder - popular in Chinese cuisine) and thin slivers of fried leek in a garlic soup. The flavourful soup had a gelatinous texture that seems to be favoured by Basque folk for soups and sauces but was less popular with us. Personally I am not keen on battered foods that are served in liquid as the inevitable oily stodgy mass overcomes other delicate flavours in the dish, and I find it unpleasant to eat.
'Betizu' cow tail raviolis, wrapped in cornbread and legume broth. This was soft shreds of deeply flavourful beef with crisp oily fried bread and a marmite-like thickened broth - a treat for those who love the savoury side of life. The cubes themselves were small, barely bigger than a die, making each little mouthful a delight. One of my favourite courses.
Homemade black pudding, red bean stock, cabbage and lightly spiced flowers. Another favourite course. The black pudding was similar to a richly spiced boudin noir, rolled in more dehydrated beetroot and perched on the edge of a pool of earthy red bean purée, surrounded by crunchy bits of fried leek, cabbage and garlic. The flowers had been steeped somehow in a bottle with sugar and chilli for three days to give them a fragrant chilli note.
Gently smoked red mullet, crunchy mushroom broth. The little parcel of toasted bread contains mushroom purée. This dish featured yet another gelatinous sauce (not pictured) made from red mullet, which I found unpalatable. The fish itself was very firm, too firm for my taste and quite dry. I enjoyed the raw shaved mushrooms as a partner to the mullet.
Confit baby pig, breadcrumbs, vegetable acorns and meadow aromas. The suckling pig was beautifully tender and lovely paired with a lime avocado 'acorn' and breadcrumbs cooked in pork stock and fat. The scientifically crackled piece of pork skin or chicharrón was light and airy but lacked the piggy joy of a properly fried rind and the actual crackling was chewy by comparison.
A very long, not particularly necessary, story about a chestnut tree...
Well hello there...
...with chestnuts in it of course. Despite my snarkiness, these were really very delicious. A milk chocolate chestnut shell with chestnut cream inside, nestled on a bed of 'ash' made from dehydrated chestnut skins.
Coffee pudding, rum and farmhouse milk. The coffee part was a flavoured tocino de cielo - like a denser, more fudge-like crème caramel and right up my street in pudding town. There was rum ice cream, unpasteurised milk foam and a cube of the same milk but dehydrated. Sweet and custard-gooey, cold and boozy, light and foamy - what's not to like?
Petit fours - apple purée sandwiched in salty and sweet nougat-like crisp, a kind of rice flour biscuit with popped rice and nuts, and the winner - a silvered passion fruit filled ball of chocolate.
We came, we dined, we left a lot of glasses.
Legina Auzoa, S/N. Salida 25 del (Exit 25 in Txorierri Corridor)
Corredor del Txorierri,
48195 Larrabetzu,
Bizkaia, Spain
Tel: 944 55 88 66
Arzak, San Sebastian Spain]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2013/03/29/Arzak-San-Sebastian-Spainhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2013/03/29/Arzak-San-Sebastian-SpainFri, 29 Mar 2013 21:29:00 +0000
We came, we ate, we raved about Arzak. Four years on and we returned.
This time the dishes were very different. The trademark egg course remained, but the style of the cuisine seemed to have moved on. A touch of Danish/Noma influence perhaps? Overall I'm not sure if it's a case of gastronomic nostalgia always winning out, but we felt our first visit had greater momentous impact.
We sat at the Chef's Table this time, under rainbow shards of coloured glass and facing the brightly lit main pass. Elena and her father Juan Mari Arzak both came to say 'hello' but were otherwise rarely seen, leaving explanations of each course in the hands of a waitress whose heavily accented English was often difficult to understand.
The language barrier weighed heavily on my appreciation of dinner, as it was often impossible to understand exactly what we were eating nor to appreciate the flavours and technical skills woven into each dish. While some dishes stood alone in being delicious, others were lost on us.
On my first visit to Arzak the dishes seemed complicated at first, with foams and pastes and other forms of kitchen wizardry very much in evidence. But in fact simplicity won out as the tastes and compositions were classic, easy to understand and often locally inspired. We could relate to what was on our plates. This key aspect of our dining experience was sadly missing this time.
Dinner was still enjoyable, certainly, but disappointingly not the tongue tingling sensation I remembered from my first experience. Perhaps three time's a charm?
Beans, bacon and chestnut. I tasted black beans and the thin crisp of iberico fat floating on top. Chestnuts added a subtle sweetness.
Anchovy and strawberry. Served on a slick of fruity balsamic flavoured something. Fragrant, salty sweet and delicious.
Red codfish. On a spiral of crisp pastry, with onion seeds I think? Some kind of emulsified sauce. Salty fish really. With crispy bits.
Kabrarroka pudding with kataifi. Local fish mousse wrapped in fine kataifi hairs and deep fried.
Chorizo with tonic. A purée of chorizo wrapped in a thin slice of mango and bathed in tonic water. Rather recycled presentation, but a lovely little mouthful.
Cromlech, manioc and huitlacoche. Y'What? Okay a cromlech is apparently Welsh for a megalithic or large stone structure. Manioc is better known as cassava, which formed the casing of our mini megalith and was apparently 'hydrated with huitlacoche', a corn fungus used in Mexican cuisine that has a smoky, earthy flavour. Having never tasted this before I couldn't identify it. I did taste the strands of sweet caramalised onions inside the cassava casing and the smooth foie gras paste, but none of the green tea mentioned on the menu.
Hemp, mustard and lobster. With crisp hemp bread and mustard vinaigrette. Lovely lobes of butter poached lobster, paired with sorrel leaves hiding an English mustard emulsion, crunchy hemp seeds baked into a sweet salty crisp and lobster stock clothes pegs. We weren't sure about the relevance of the latter! The dish also came with a refreshing little salad of micro leaves with tapioca pearls, hemp seeds and pink slices of grapefruit.
Oysters with a sea crust. The alternative to lobster. These were browned on one side giving them a half cooked texture and served with paprika fronds. The whole effect was rather too salty.
Ovo-lacto. Egg with a semi crispy shell and baobab, served with lactic leaves and curds. Again y'what? So as far as we could decipher, the egg was low temperature poached and coated in breadcrumbs. The greyish crisps were dehydrated milk, served with a bubble of liquid gorgonzola, a slice of idiazabal cheese marinated in port and an 'oca de lada' leaf. There was no trasnlation for the latter, sourced from Koppert Cress, who import the leaf from Thailand under their own brand name. According to Arzak with was to prevent anyone from identifying it. Stranger and stranger.
Monkfish green witch. Or monkfish served in a green balloon.
Following removal of the rice cracker balloon. The monkfish was beautifully cooked - soft and juicy, meaty without any rubbery bounce. Served with cloves of confit garlic and a parsley seaweed sauce.
Alternatively, there was white sole served white seaweed and a green sea vegetable sauce. The firm and flavourful sole fillets became the highlight of dinner for those who had it.
The Kobe's beer. Another hard to understand wordplay description. What looked like a large lollipop or a cutlet of some sort turned out to be a patty of minced Kobe beef, sourced locally from the first generation of Wagyu cattle bred from a herd imported from Japan. It was cooked medium rare and served with a liquorice bark 'bone', beetroot onions, pomegranate seeds, parmesan crisp and a mildly bitter beer sauce. I found the minced meat to be tender and tasty, but nothing extraordinary. It surprised me to find that the main dish was effectively a burger filling.
Served alongside the Kobe beef, a dish of sweet leek cake and deep fried leaves. Again, nice but not really much of note.
Playing marbles with chocolate. Chocolate marbles with amaranth and oregano sauce. The chocolate balls contained liquid in their centres. I have always liked puffed amaranth, which looks like tiny baby pieces of popcorn, but the chocolate tasted a bit strange, I suppose this was the oregano influence.
The alternative to chocolate marbles - Roots, fruits and seeds. A thin layer of white chocolate flavoured with parsley filled with black chocolate emulsified with kuzu (a starch used by the Japanese as a thickener) and lime flavour, served with Frangelico and Aperol balls.
Golden footprint and ladybird. Caramalised fruits served under black sesame bread (the footprint), pepper and liquorice ladybird filled with vanilla yoghurt pannacotta and olive oil cristal. Caramel crumbs. Served alongside was an Indian gooseberry ice cream.
Cinnamon Curls
The alternative to the ladybird dish - Black apple. Sautéed apple finished with an aspect of truffle and apricot. Served alongside a basil sorbet with sweet seeds.
Chocolate ironmongery petit fours.
Av Alcalde Elósegui, 273
20015 San Sebastián-Donostia
Guipúzcoa, Spain
Tel: 943 27 84 65
Lobster dinner]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2013/02/14/Lobster-dinnerhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2013/02/14/Lobster-dinnerThu, 14 Feb 2013 21:46:00 +0000
Nine minutes in boiling water salted so it tastes like seawater (roughly 35g per litre). Happy Valentine's Day!
Bo London]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2013/02/04/Bo-Londonhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2013/02/04/Bo-LondonMon, 04 Feb 2013 21:43:00 +0000
A bunch of us went to check out Bo London last week.
This is Alvin Leung's foray into the London market following his success in Hong Kong with Bo Innovation - two Michelin starred and 52nd in Restaurant Magazine's 'World's 50 Best Restaurants' listings. In Hong Kong, Alvin Leung as styled himself as a 'Demon Chef', general rock and roller and master of what he calls 'Xtreme Chinese' cuisine. Certainly he may be one of the first to more successfully break down the fundamentals of Chinese cuisine and attempt to build something more modern and different, without the result appearing to be a trite form of cultural cut and paste. But as with all fusion it seems to me that it is hard to judge what true culinary symbiosis should look and taste like. Visually, Leung's cuisine resembles Western fine dining more than Asian banquet, but his dishes use Chinese flavours and are evocative of classic dishes and traditions. His methods appear to employ Asian and Western techniques, although I doubt you would see a wok in his kitchen, and more likely a sous vide machine and a dehumidifier.
Having been, and eaten, and thought, Alvin Leung's food is indeed very good. Pricey. But good. It seems to me he is trying to do two things - in Hong Kong he is trying to dare the conservative Chinese palate to accept new twists on a cuisine that is steeped in history and tradition. And in the West he is trying to demonstrate that a chef serving Chinese cuisine can move beyond Lazy Susans and monkey's brains and into the same space occupied by globally recognised masters such as Ferran Adrià, Thomas Keller and Alain Ducasse. Its a big challenge, and I'll be interested to see if he can achieve it.
We went for the Ode to Great Britain menu, despite some hard selling to opt for the 14 course Chef's Menu, priced at £138 and described as being more representative of his cooking at Hong Kong's Bo Innovation. Comparing the Hong Kong and London menus I found roughly seven dishes that definitely appeared on at least one menu in both cities, but since the 12 course Ode to Great Britain contained three of these, along with some newly developed dishes, it sounded more interesting. And cheaper.
Definitely looked like a dead English winter garden. And a nod to Rene Redzepi's dish at Noma of vegetables planted in malt soil. It was unexpectedly delicious - morel mushroom 'soil' over a foamy, light-as-air avocado and lime purée, littered with dried green onion (a very common Chinese veg) stalks and planted with dehydrated enoki mushrooms. Considering how mildly flavoured enoki are I was surprised to find them were very tasty dried. The savoury tang of dried mushrooms worked well with the lime and green onion flavours.
How could this not be my favourite dish? More Oscietra caviar than I have seen all year, and delicately piled on top of a sandalwood smoked, soft yolked quail's egg, nestled in fried taro like a luxury dim sum. Salty, eggy, smokey and crisp.
Raw mackerel, hint of sesame and salty sour ponzu foam. A lovely bite, though I missed the rose note mentioned in the menu. On the Hong Kong version it's called 'parfum de Hong Kong' - a play on Hong Kong not exactly smelling of roses?
Oops. A very fine take on classic xiao long bao - the steamed buns that contain a liquid soup as well as filling. These were meaty with kidneys and steak, balanced with ginger and fishy reformed herring's roe.
Tomato - part one. Peeled and poached in sweet Chinese Pat Chun vinegar. Sweet and sour, soft and savoury.
Part two of 'Tomato' - a peeled soft cherry tomato encased in Chinese puff-like pastry, which exploded in your mouth in the same way a ripe summer's tomato does. A shame that tomatoes are not currently at their best, as in season no doubt its flavour would be even more satisfyingly intense.
And finally (for tomatoes anyway), tomato marshmallow - a puff of tomato air.
Juicy langoustine, chewy salted yolk, cauliflower-crunch and mild English mustard spike. An unusual composition and faultless.
A surprise extra course, introduced as a dish in development, with our thoughts welcomed. The salmon was too salty but otherwise delicious, cured in salted kumquat and served with firm yet bouncy wasabi noodles
Hawthorn bubble tea, with passion fruit purée, tapioca pearls and dramatic LED uplighting - lights, camera...
Pigeon breast, rich and meaty, with tortellini-esque dumplings labelled as Chinese jiaozi but very different in shape. These were quite stodgy and less impressive than the beautifully cooked pigeon and its accompanying broth.
A far more elaborate toad in the hole than its original. The Chinese yorkie was a type of Chinese style fried batter which while wonderful in its own environment did not match up to the traditional Yorkshire pud. I enjoyed seeing lotus seed, leaf and root all appear together on a plate, but my Western friends did not appreciate the significance. While the dish was delicious it was hard to see any resemblance to classic Toad in the Hole, or any Chinese equivalent.
Beans on toast as you have never seen them before.
One of the four little dim sum we finished with - a classic glutinous rice ball with black sesame filling.
My favourite little finish - white chocolate with preserved mandarin filling - a really clever take on a classic Chinese preserved snack. Not everyone liked this, I think the flavour of the filling probably seems quite weird if you haven't tried it before.
Fäviken, Åre Sweden]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2013/01/11/F%C3%A4viken-%C3%85re-Swedenhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2013/01/11/F%C3%A4viken-%C3%85re-SwedenFri, 11 Jan 2013 17:56:00 +0000
Pronounced 'Fair-VI-ken', last night was an experience that put Magnus Nilsson and his exceptional approach to ingredients into our group of top four favourite restaurants. Fäviken sits alongside longside Noma, El Bulli and Arzak.
After an eye-opening evening, Magnus came to chat, charming his guests table by table. It was the icing on the cake to find him so gentle and personable. He happily explained his methods for each dish when asked, and we had an interesting discussion that included comparing his Swedish ättika vinegar with British non-brewed condiment for fish and chips and how he makes the skin on his squeaky fresh curd cheese.
Magnus' approach to his food seems to me to be similar in some ways to Fergus Henderson's of St John. Most notably in its adherence to a set of self defined fundamental principles. All his ingredients must be sourced locally and available at that time in the season. This resulted in a scarcity of vegetables in our dinner, and any that did appear were generally pickled, fermented or preserved in some other way. And his dishes are not there to appeal to the masses, but instead to give the diner an experience of what lives and grows on the Fäviken estate and to eating, Magnus Nilsson style.
This is what we ate.
To start, a succession of little savoury treats while we reclined in the downstairs lounge.
Thin, transparent crackers with flax seeds and a blue shell mussel emulsion for dipping.Warm teacup with whey and a square of freshly made cheese (left to form a skin for about half an hour) and powdered lavender.Fresh, unseasoned wild trout roe in dried pigs blood croustade with sea salt flakes.A lollipop of pig's head meat dipped in sourdough batter, deep fried and topped with a slice of fermented gooseberry and pine salt.Reindeer 'cloud' lichen dusted with dried trout roe and icelandic lichen with dried egg, served with a mild garlic cream.Thin slices of cured wild goose.
Then we were invited upstairs to the dining room, decorated with hanging sides of cured pork and bunches of dried flower.
Scallop au natural, cooked in its shell over birch coals, cleaned and served in its own juices on moss and juniper wood.Hot plate seared langoustine with 'burnt cream' - cream cooked down until it caramalised and thickened.King crab leg poached in butter and burnt onion infused 'ättika' vinegar, with lobes of burnt shallots and an emulsion made from burnt onion, egg and king crab stock.Cod brushed with honey and pan seared and a quartered preserved carrot, cooked in whey, both served with spruce oil and ättica vinegar jelly.Raw blue shell mussel dusted in powdered birch leaf, with raw Brussels sprouts and toasted sunflower seed emulsion.Pea flour tart with sea urchin, sea urchin cream and pickled Rowan berries.Porridge with fresh and toasted local seeds and grains, a lump of salted butter, fermented root vegetables, dried chives, beef broth and chive oil.Cow femur marrow roasted and sawed open in the dining room, served mixed with raw ox heart and grated turnip, to be topped on toast and sprinkled with green lovage salt.Seared beef (hung for a month and then aged for four more months), shaved raw vegetables - beetroot, carrot and turnip and soft, shredded sour onions.
Blueberry ice, lingon berries preserved in water served with sour cream and sugar.Egg yolk preserved in sugar on pine bark flour cake, with meadowsweet ice cream (churned by our table) and preserving liquor.Raspberry jam, whisked duck's egg and milk sorbet.
To finish we returned downstairs to drink herbal tea or coffee, and nibble sweets from a wooden box.
Paper twists of raspberry sorbet, freshly baked cake, meadowsweet candy, a salty sweet tart of sticky birch sap with shavings of cured reindeer, sunflower nougat, smoked toffee, pickled gooseberries, pine resin, tar liquorice and dried blackberries.
Dinner menu for January 10th, 2013
Welcoming fire pits on arrival, along with Johan and Sara, who braved minus 10 degree temperatures in only a cardigan.
The downstairs lounge.
An alchemist's dream of pickled and dried ingredients behind the bar, and a reindeer fur coat.
Slightly salty-sour and very moreish, the dip reminded me of unsmoked taramaslata, or the fish roe pastes the Swedish seem to be fond of.
Surprisingly unseasoned except for the sea salt flakes, so you tasted more of the 'fishiness' of the roe, in contrast to the deeply earthy dried pigs blood mixed into the pastry casing.
Warm and comforting, with a thin skin that burst to release the creamy curds inside. Couldn't taste the lavender myself.
One of the highlights. Fried outside, slightly sour, gooey batter and then soft, fatty meat, gooseberry tang and a floral pine finish. You could eat bowls of these.
This was pretty weird. I liked the texture of the cloud lichen, but the flatter Icelandic lichen tasted bitter and I couldn't taste the dehydrated egg yolk
Very dark, strong tasting, blood-rich meat. Reminded me of the elk we have tried.
Upstairs dining room.
Beautiful presentation.
So simple - perfectly cooked and sweet, with salty, smoky cooking juices.
Incredibly seawater juicy and soft. The 'almost burnt' cream was a subtle but well conceived foil for the meat.
Another juicy piece of shellfish, this time buttery and mildly sour, paired with tastes of charred onion. The ättika vinegar used here is apparently historically a uniquely Swedish product - similar to acetic vinegar but made from wood. Ferociously strong, here it was infused with burnt onion and became the dark brown sour note, blended with melted butter.
The combination of soft, flaky cod, sour slightly chewy carrot and sharp ättika jelly was sensational, all rounded off with the clean, floral taste of the spruce oil.
Interesting...raw shellfish, green, leafy powder, almost cloying sunflower seed paste and raw sprout crunch. Wasn't entirely sure what to make of this - tasty yes, but I wouldn't go for a main course sized portion.
Despite sea urchin being one of my favourite things, this was challenging. Not sea urchin in the Japanese super clean, super sweet sense, but in the Mediterranean earthy, tastes of the sea, slightly bitter sense, with floury almost sandy pastry and sharp pickled rowan berries.
Absolutely heavenly, another highlight. Different textures of toasted, crunchy, chewy seeds and soft oat porridge, a very light beef stock and the chives only adding a mild note due to being dried.
Oops I forgot to take a photo of the raw ox heart with bone marrow. The heart was an interesting texture, surprisingly tender with little bounce. I liked the celery-ish lovage salt. Here is Magnus having at the ox leg bone with a hacksaw.
The white, silky sour onions underneath the discs of raw root vegetables were an unusual accompaniment to the beef - looking almost like horseradish cream but tasting sour and fermented instead. The beef was deeply meaty. We realised why it tastes so intense when Sara told us it had been matured for 5 months in total.
Who wouldn't like blueberry sorbet?
A taste from Magnus' childhood - his grandmother would give him thick sour cream with lingon berries preserved in water. A lovely, delicate sweet.
This tasted overall of liquorice and honey, chewy-sweetish yolk and crunchy crumbs.
Churning the sour milk sorbet.
The whisked duck egg seemed too rich to me, but I find duck eggs almost too...much so this is a personal thing. Sour sweet raspberry jam and cool milk ice. The whole thing reminded me of a cold savarin, sort of.
What a lovely box of treats. The reindeer and birch resin tarts were sensational. We all liked the paper wrapped raspberry sorbets, toffees, nougat wrapped in leaves, sour gooseberries, dried blackberries and golden meadowsweet candies. The tar liquorice was for those liquorice lovers out there and the pine resin that looked like an inviting square of chocolate? Very good for your teeth and breath apparently. Think everlasting Christmas tree chewing gum.
What a dinner!
Magnus has also recently published his cookbook - Fäviken
Fäviken Magasinet
Fäviken 216
830 05 Järpen
Tel: 0647-401 77
Fax: 0647-401 47
email: info@favikenmagasinet.se
Singapore Street Food, and a splurge]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2012/12/13/Singapore-Street-Food-and-a-splurgehttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2012/12/13/Singapore-Street-Food-and-a-splurgeThu, 13 Dec 2012 17:43:00 +0000
Five days in Singapore turned out to be a lively multicultural street food extravaganza. We tried snacks from China, Malaysia, India and elsewhere, along with those that were uniquely Singaporean.
'Uniquely' Singaporean - that's a strange one. A tiny collection of islands on the southern tip of Malaysia, Singapore seemed to me to be a smorgasbord of cultures. For such a small country it boasts four national languages - English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil. And each of these have themselves been morphed into a new, singularly Singaporean form. The place is a multi-lingual mind bender - my daily conversations with everyone from taxi drivers to market stall holders veered wildly from sing-song English to accented Cantonese to modified Mandarin. Trying to understand the locals while not falling into various linguistic potholes created by localised slang and tonal differences was challenging, but also fun in a 'hey look at me, I'm speaking three languages at once!' kind of way.
The food unsurprisingly reflected this crazy blend of cultures. I was bowled over by the huge variety of 'hawker stalls' and how much locals know and love to share with others their favourite places and dishes. Here's some examples.
Baby oyster omelette at Singapore Food Trail, Singapore Flyer. This just seemed a bit greasy, bit sea-salty, and a bit eggy. Not the best start.
Carrot cake, made from daikon, chopped and fried in an omelette, unlike the cakes studded with Chinese sausage and spring onion eaten in Chinese dim sum restaurants. I prefer my more familiar dim sum version, but this was interesting to try.
Fried oysters stall at Singapore Food Trail.
Bak Kut Teh - a herbal soup with soft pork ribs and soft, slow cooked garlic. Almost ginseng-like in flavour, although it's not one of the ingredients. A lovely, soothing broth that feels like it's good for you.
The Bak Kut Teh soup stall, also at Singapore Flyer
Geyland Serai wet market - so clean!!
Not a bit of mess anywhere.
The famous Sinar Pagi Nasi Padang stall at Geyland Serai market, which always has a queue.
Sotong Hitam - Squid stewed in a black ink sauce - soft, spicy, rich and full of deep chilli undertones. One of the best things I ate that week. Really moreish and comforting.
The full Indonesian - nasi padang - rice with my choice of fried beef lungs (paru belado), quails eggs in sambal, young tapioca leaves in coconut milk, fried chicken (arum bumbo) topped with fried chicken floss, pickles (atchar) and of course plenty of chilli sauce.
Turtle soup at the Old Airport Road food centre, an enormous, buzzing hive of hungry visitors and frenetic stall chefs. Considered to be a tonic or healing soup, it uses the gelatinous 'skin' under the shell, the legs and the innards. Despite my initial doubts, having never tried turtle before, I was intrigued to find that what I have heard - that turtle is incredibly tasty, seems to be true. The soup was really, seriously delicious. The flavour was complex and almost spicy in its herbal-ness. Again I thought of ginseng, but according to the stallholder there is nothing else in the soup except turtle, red dates and goji berries. If this is true then the taste of turtle is something I would love to learn more about...will have to try some other versions.
Delicious, lightly sweetened beancurd from Lao Ban Soya Bean Curd, which has been so successful they now have four or five outlets and a website. Their beancurd has a lovely, delicate texture. It is not quite the same as Chinese 'flower' bean curd, with its ginger and rock sugar syrup dressing, but it was very refreshing and a welcome palate cleanser.
The ladies at Freshly Made Chee Cheong Fun in action.
Scallop and prawn cheong fun - not bad. The steamed rice rolls are notoriously different to cook as they can easily overcook. The rolls should be steamed until they are soft and slippery, while each layer is still distinct - so you could unravel the roll if you wanted to. Steamed a moment more and they will overcook, melting into a stodgy mush.
Big prawn noodle soup from Whitley Road Big Prawn Noodle - impressively rich and aromatic prawn broth, with bouncy firm noodles - deeply satisfying.
Sliced pig's intestines and trotters from Blanco Court Food Centre, in an offaly gravy and served with a chilli and tamarind sauce for dipping. The sauce made the dish, balancing soft earthy textures with hot spicy tastes.
Roast duck, barbecued pork (char siu) and roast pork belly at Chinatown Complex. The char siu was especially tasty - soft meat, sweet honeyed glaze and chewy charred edges.
Fish slice and fish ball soup with minced pork. The fish balls were handmade - not bad, if more suited to Asian palates and their love of textures.
Satay street outside Lau Pa Sat. The indoor food stalls are busy by day serving central business district workers, where the building is located. Outside the charcoal grills fire up after dark and Singaporeans crowd in to drink beer and dunk meat into peanut and chilli sauces.
Lau Pa Sat - deserted at night.
Charcoal grilled prawns, chicken and beef - smoky, sweet and moreish.
Erm, not exactly street food! A farewell dinner at Waku Ghin - Australian chef Wakuda Tetsuya's Singaporean outpost and an extravagant treat. This dish features two of my all time favourite things in the world (and some deep sea raw sweet shrimp) - sea urchin and Oscietra caviar. Oh. Wow.
Fresh wasabi root grated on shark's skin. Now I want to own a shark skin grater. Oh dear.
And finally, two little rolls of fatty Wagyu beef, seared on the outside, served with wasabi and lightly deep fried garlic chips.
Bye bye Singapore - what an incredible, fascinating trip.
King Island, Australia]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2012/11/28/King-Island-Australiahttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2012/11/28/King-Island-AustraliaWed, 28 Nov 2012 23:58:00 +0000
I am sitting on the steps from a terrace leading down a grassy slope towards the white sand of Yellow Rock beach, mere metres away. The pale turquoise blue of the cloudless sky is glorious but no match even for the deep blue and light sapphire hues of the sea beneath it.
Earlier this morning a wallaby mooched pass the same spot where I am sitting, leaning forward on its short forepaws to nibble the grass, allowing the joey in her poach to grab a few blades at the same time, before doing a gentle hop forwards on her powerful hind legs.
In just a week I feel I have stepped back in time to a place where community life is still a vital part of living, and where the wild is still on almost equal footing with the cultivated.
King Island is a tiny island off the coast of Australia. It is a short 35 minute flight from Melbourne, the nearest city on the island, yet it feels like a different place entirely.
Arriving at a friend’s house, my first sight was a colony of honeybees that had taken up residence on one of the posts on her terrace! Concerned for her eight month old baby, it was decided a new home must be found. Rather than look for ways to banish them, she called on local beekeeper and producer of King Island Raw Honey, Dick Stansfield, who popped in the next morning to guide the bees into a temporary hive box and resituate them. If all goes well, my friends will have their own source of honey in a few months. Before departing, Dick also left us a bucket of his own honey.
This first experience of King Island left me with two impressions: One, nothing is wasted – from the wind or solar generated electricity and bottled gas to compostable or recyclable waste, every potential resource is precious when it is limited as it is here on the island. Two, the generosity of spirit on King Island knows no bounds.
Listening to my hosts it seems like their ability to settle into their new life on King Island has been made possible and indeed pleasurable by the friendliness and warmth of its locals. From friendly gifts of just caught fish, rock lobster and abalone, to much needed deliveries of firewood, gas, advice and general well wishing, King Island’s residents seem more concerned about the wellbeing of the community than of the individual self. It was surprising and truly inspiring to experience. It is no longer surprising to me that they wish to make a new life there, offering retreats for bird watchers (the pristine landscape is a haven for vast varieties of bird species), food lovers, and generally disenchanted modern day dwellers.
In my short week’s stay, I met Paul and Cynthia Daniel, who supply most of the island with delicious biodynamic grown fruits and vegetables, Caroline Kininmonth, artist-in-residence, who built the Boathouse, a restaurant with everything, including outstanding harbour views, cutlery, tableware and beautiful surroundings, except the food (BYO please!), and Andrew and Diane Blake, also artists, whose son took me diving. Each person I met made an effort with me that I have yet to encounter elsewhere.
Paul took me on a tour of his vegetable and fruit fields, teaching me how to grow tomatoes, pick carrots and beetroots and abide by a biodynamic philosophy in order to grow produce that is unrivalled in taste and health benefits. Together we picked bucket after bucket of carrots, slender as lady’s fingers and sweet as sugar, crisp lettuces, purple beetroots, sweet potatoes and pumpkins. Afterwards I was taken out on a boat and shown how to catch rock lobsters with our bare hands and spear sweep fish. All our efforts were brought to together that evening when everyone gathered to enjoy a dinner celebrating the best of land and sea, gathered that day. It also happened to be Thanksgiving, albeit an American tradition but still a fitting coincidence.
The next day the boys went fishing, while the girls marvelled at a wonderful home and garden another friend has created from, in her own words, “just sand and the house where it stands”. Looking over a verdant grass lawn, planted avocado, peach, fig, nectarine, lemon and lime trees, raised vegetable beds and a tomato conservatory, it is hard to believe she is only in her early 30’s and has lived there for just a few years. Inside her home, repurposed and redecorated furnishings would put any store touting ‘shabby chic’ decor to shame.
The boys returned with a truly magnificent cod which we roasted immediately - the freshest fish I have ever eaten.
The highlight of my weeklong trip, besides the beautiful hikes and astonishing scenery, has to be going to collect abalone. Clad in a hooded wetsuit and shoes to ward off the chill of the Bass Strait sea, I was taught how to look for green lip, black lip and tiger lip abalone in rocky shallows off the island. King Island is a major exporter of abalone, mostly to eager Chinese buyers. In Hong Kong restaurants a single abalone can cost upwards of USD100, but here these delicacies are free and plentiful. All you need is a little local knowledge, a sharp knife and an understanding of sustainable harvesting regulations.
Back home Diane showed me how to slice raw abalone into paper thin slivers and dress them with lemon juice, soy sauce and wasabi. We tenderised thicker slices with a mallet and lightly fried them lightly coated in breadcrumbs. Both were unforgettably delicious.
After dinner we took the ‘ute’ (Australian for pickup truck) out to see the local wildlife. Wallabies grazed in the scrub and ring-eyed possums waddled past, swinging their hips to some mysterious wild rhythm.
Back in London, my visit to King Island left me wishing for a simpler way of living, for a return to a time where neighbours trusted and helped each other. I do not think it is something that can be reintroduced to the Big Smoke like a kind of endangered species, so perhaps the only solution is to go back to the island, as soon as possible.
Tapas Brindisa London Bridge, London]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2012/01/10/Tapas-Brindisa-London-Bridge-Londonhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2012/01/10/Tapas-Brindisa-London-Bridge-LondonTue, 10 Jan 2012 22:38:00 +0000
You could do worse than pop into Brindisa London Bridge for a quick lunch. Even without Pisarro in the kitchen the quality is still good. A lovely dish of baby artichokes sautéed with onions, nuggets of crisp Serrano ham and topped with a black olive tapenade and chopped chives was a deliciously treat on an otherwise mundane Tuesday.
Tapas Brindisa London Bridge
18-20 Southwark Street
London SE1 1TJ
Tel: 020 7357 8880 office@tapasbrindisa.com
St John Restaurant, London]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2012/01/05/St-John-Restaurant-Londonhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2012/01/05/St-John-Restaurant-LondonThu, 05 Jan 2012 22:26:00 +0000
It's cold, windy, grey and miserable. So I'm having fried tripe with homemade ketchup for lunch.
Long live St John Restaurant.
Crabshakk, Glasgow]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2011/11/29/Crabshakk-Glasgowhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2011/11/29/Crabshakk-GlasgowTue, 29 Nov 2011 22:22:00 +0000
On a blustery November evening splattered with hard pellets of rain, heaven is a place called Crabshakk.
Arriving windswept and forlorn, all thoughts of the unrelenting Northern chill were banished with the arrival of bisque.
I was told that lobster, langoustine and crab shells are slow roasted to produce a caramel-like marine marmite that is the basis of this deep, ruddy brown soup, enriched with tomatoes and vegetable stock. Wafer thin slices of crisp baguette also arrived alongside a pot of garlicky aioli, for dunking and floating. And like treasure at the bottom of the ocean the sweetest nuggets of lobster meat lay waiting to be unearthed. It was a cockle warming revival after a long cold day, and a magnificent start to dinner.
Next came delicate little white and brown meat crab cakes spiked with a little chilli and parsley, bound with mayonnaise and a sprinkling of panko crumbs, which seemed to disappear to form the crisp pan fried crust.
Finally, a dish of scallops and their roe, seared and served bubbling in a bath of anchovy butter with lemon and bread to dress and mop.
If you are ever in Glasgow any day except Monday (all good restaurants have to close sometime) try to go.
1114 Argyle Street, Finneston
Glasgow G3 8TD
Tel: 0141 334 6127
Pretty purslane]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2011/07/03/Pretty-purslanehttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2011/07/03/Pretty-purslaneSun, 03 Jul 2011 13:02:00 +0000
On a recent trip to Borough Market I came across an old friend I haven’t seen since my New York days, where many happy hours were spent wandering around Union Square Greenmarket, marvelling at the abundance of colourful, locally grown produce - Purslane. A healthy bundle was selling for half the price of a handful of basil. It was my best purchase of the day.
I've often wondered why purslane is not more widely available here; in London it rarely appears on restaurant menus, despite the current trend for unusual leaves and foraged foods. Yet the plant is jam packed with vitamins and minerals, as well as a surprisingly high amount of Omega 3 fatty acids, more than any other leafy vegetable. Move over mackerel? Well not quite - oily fish have four times as much of the same fatty acids - but still impressive.
Common purslane was once a regular feature of medieval kitchen gardens, The earliest known salad recipe, written around 1390, calls for purslane, along with parsley, sage, onions, borage, fennel, cress and rosemary. These days it can still be found growing wild in the British Isles, although according to forager Miles Irving it may be relatively scarce due to a dislike of frost. In the right conditions, a cosy vegetable garden for instance, it grows like a weed. You can eat every bit of it - stalks, flowers, leaves and seeds.
Its emerald leaves are reminiscent of lambs lettuce, but these are juicy, almost fleshy, rather than paper thin. Their succulence might seem almost slimy to some, but this disappears when dressed with oil and the overall result is a rich mouthfeel. The taste reminds me of a cross between spinach, sorrel and aloe vera. It is juicy and crunchy, with a light, cleansing astringency.
I like to serve purslane simply tossed in a lively, fruity olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. It's great with lamb, fish or tomatoes, off the top of my head. We tossed a few handfuls into a hot pan sizzling with olive oil, garlic, chilli and just cooked prawns and it was delicious - half raw, half wilted and tart enough to replace the lemon juice we would normally squeeze over.
Keep an eye out for purslane for sale, either in a market or nursery near you.
Trattoria Montalbino, Tuscany]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2010/08/21/Trattoria-Montalbino-Tuscanyhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2010/08/21/Trattoria-Montalbino-TuscanySat, 21 Aug 2010 21:16:00 +0000
Here's a few photos of a lavish summer truffle lunch today...
Trattoria Montalbino
Via Trecento 72
50025 Montalbino
48 hours in Vancouver]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2010/07/08/48-hours-in-Vancouverhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2010/07/08/48-hours-in-VancouverThu, 08 Jul 2010 18:03:00 +0000
Sitting in the peaceful quiet of Pearson Island, breathing in pine scented air, it's remarkably hard to remember the sights, sounds and tastes of Vancouver city, where I was just a few days ago. So before the memory fades forever from my hole-riddled mind, here's a few notes from a city that certainly deserves several more gastronomic trips.
Given the brevity of my visit we set ourselves a tight schedule - first on the list, lots of local seafood, both raw as sashimi, and cooked, a little bit. Next? Well, it has to be Chinese, Cantonese style and finally, my host's favourite spot in town.
First stop was Miko Sushi, recommended by a local friend for good quality, traditional sashimi without emptying your wallet in the process. Miko also offers a large selection of appetizers, many from the robata grill. One of our group pronounced his grilled ox tongue to be the best he had ever tasted, for successfully delivering skewers of juicy, springy textured meat, lacquered with sweet-salty sauce and charred around the edges. Robata grilled chicken gizzards were almost as good, but definitely came second place.
We asked for locally sourced fish sashimi. Highlights included frilly fronds of mirugai (giant geoduck clam) that tasted sweet and buttery, generous slices of pale albacore tuna with a rosy blush and fat ivory slabs of toro, ready to melt on the tongue. Sockeye salmon was an almost violent orange-red colour compared to the ghostly tuna, and displayed none of the white fat seams characteristic of most salmon. It made sense that the taste was less rich, more delicate and quite gamey.
The next morning began with a late breakfast of Japanese hot dogs...yes really. The Japadog street cart is reputedly the closest thing to the real deal, outside of Japan. We shared a Terimayo, which is smothered with teriyaki sauce, Japanese mayonnaise, seaweed shreds and fried onions. Instead of the familiar sweet-hot taste found in the US original, this was more porky juices, mild mayo-savoury tang and briny finish, altogether pretty good. Add some tamago egg and you have the Japanese version of an English breakfast bap!
Go fish is little more than a shack, perched on False Creek fisherman's wharf, so near to the sea you could throw your chips in. A collaboration between Fisherman's Wharf and chef Gord Martin, the aim is to raise delicious awareness of local fish.
Wild with excitement, we ordered battered halibut and chips, white spot prawns in sweet and sour coconut sauce and tacones, soft tortilla cones stuffed with coriander, salsa, chipolte cream, 'Pacific Rim' coleslaw (white and red cabbage, sesame and pumpkin seeds, lightly dressed with sesame mayo) and tender albacore or just cooked oysters.
As our order arrived, so did the rain. Fleeing from the unsheltered plastic tables and chairs we took cover under a friendly car boot door. My favourite memory of the whole trip is sitting in the back of the car with my legs dangling over the edge, biting into chips so hot they burnt my fingers, peeling fat rosy prawns and munching tacones dripping with fruity Valentina hot sauce.
There was time before dinner for a quick aperitivo at Rodney's Oyster House, where I savoured a long awaited reunion with my beloved Kumamoto oysters and met some new bivalve buddies - plump, sweet Summer Breeze, the darlings of Vancouver Island, and crisp, briny Village Bays from East Toronto. These were washed down with a lemony 'Zydeco Stew Caesar', apparently Canadian for a Bloody Mary, made with clamato juice and garnished with a prawn.
If this is as appetitively exhausting to read as it is to write then I apologise!
Entering the Golden Ocean Seafood Restaurant was like walking into any decent family restaurant in Hong Kong, all chintzy decor, large round tables and Cantonese cacophony. The food was also just as good. Some say that San Francisco may have lost its edge, leaving Vancouver to be crowned the new capital of Chinese cuisine outside of Hong Kong. We ate roasted duck with glazed skin the colour of mahogany, delicate double boiled tilapia (zi4 yu3) soup, juicy pork and water chestnut patties and a quivering dish of steamed tofu, prawns and oyster mushrooms.
With one lunch left, it was hy host's noodle mecca or a plane straight back to London. On first glance, Shaolin Noodle House looks like any other shabby cheap Chinese, except all the tables are full and frequently there is a queue. Separated from diners by glass panels, Beijing chefs twirl and pull fresh noodles, plopping them into boiling water and tossing others into bowls to be dressed with soup and sauce.
To make my friend's favourite noodle dish (zha1 jiang4 shou3 la1 mein4), freshly made noodles are essential for their chewy bite. These are topped with little nuggets of chopped pork shoulder in a musky yellow bean sauce and a pile of raw cucumber shreds. You can toss the whole lot together and eat it as it is, or add lashings of black vinegar, chilli oil and/or minced garlic (if you're feeling really strong).
We could have just ordered noodles and been satisfied, but as there was a large menu and a girl with a mission, we also ate translucent hot and sour potato slivers, Chinese cabbage shreds dressed in white vinegar, cool sweet potato starch noodles with sesame paste and black vinegar and fried spring onion pancakes.
Then we left for Langdale ferry.
This is by no means a list of the best places to eat, but on a budget it was pretty good. Vancouver magazine's Restaurants section was a useful resource. It seems to offer a fairly comprehensive list of restaurants, and also gives out annual awards.
Miko Sushi
1335 Robson
Vancouver, BC V6E 1C5, Canada
(604) 681-0339
899 Burrard St
(604) 642-0712
Go Fish Ocean Emporium
1505 West 1st Avenue (at False Creek Fisherman's Wharf) (604)730-5040
Rodney's Oyster House
Suite 405 1228 Hamilton St
(604) 609-0080
Golden Ocean Seafood Restaurant
2046 41st Ave W (604) 263-8606
Shaolin Noodle House
548 W Broadway
(604) 873-1618
Gentlemen Gourmets of London]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2010/03/04/Gentlemen-Gourmets-of-Londonhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2010/03/04/Gentlemen-Gourmets-of-LondonThu, 04 Mar 2010 21:57:00 +0000
My husband-to-be is in the newspaper today! This was written after an evening with Charles Campion, a photographer and lots of boys at our house a few Fridays ago.
Gentlemen, take your places for a domestic feast
Charles Campion
I first met the Gentlemen Gourmets of London when researching my latest book, Eat Up! Britons are unfairly pigeon-holed as bad cooks but actually good home cooking is alive and well. Over 18 months, I travelled the country, dining in the homes of strangers — civilians all, no professional chefs.
The Gentlemen Gourmets, or GGoL, are an excellent example of the breed: good amateur cooks who are fascinated by and passionate about cooking. Every two months, they hold dinners at each other's houses. The head chef, creator of the previous winning dish, chooses the theme for the next meal and nominates five members, who cook a course each. At the end everyone votes for their favourite course and, with due ceremony, the grubby chef's jacket passes to the victor.
TV programmes like Come Dine With Me may have established the concept of the dinner party as a competitive sport but the GGoL are much more to do with jollity than fancy presentation. On the evening I am their guest, previous winner James Montgomery has chosen a Six Nations-themed menu.
“The first GGoL evening was held a couple of years ago and we got it hopelessly wrong,” says Montgomery. “Everyone served large helpings of filling food and we were all stuffed long before pudding.” Ronan Cantwell adds: “More often than not the pudding course wins simply because everyone likes a good pud. That gives crowd-pleasers like a decent chocolate cake an unfair advantage.” So saying, Cantwell has chosen a classic crowd-pleaser — an Irish rack of lamb — for his winning bid.
Adam Smith kicks off with ribollita, cavolo nero, good stock, cannellini and borlotti beans, tomatoes, carrot, a whiff of chilli; a lot of thyme is poured into an earthenware dish lined with wholemeal bread. This is a hearty Italian dish with adroit seasoning and good flavours.
Slightly soggy puff pastry over an almost redeemable rich mixture of leeks and bacon was a suitably squelchy starter from Ed Elias. The topping on Montgomery's English fish pie was inspired — a potato and celeriac mash with Parmesan. Cantwell's Irish lamb is perfectly cooked — pink and tender with crisp golden skin.]
The accompanying jus, however, was salty due to over-reduction. Jonas Andersen's meticulous interpretation of crêpes suzette involved a sauce of orange juice and Grand Marnier plus some nibbed roast almonds.
I voted for the ribollita but once again pudding won and Andersen accepted the winner's jacket. All the GGoL are able to cook, but what lifts their dishes out of the dreary dinner-party category is that they season food properly, so even the less successful dishes were a delight to eat. As Cantwell puts it: “Dishes that look nice do better but there is never any prissy stuff here.”
Eat Up! Seeking out the Best of British Home Cooking is published today by Kyle Cathie (£16.99).
See the original article here.
Jin Kichi, London]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2010/02/26/Jin-Kichi-Londonhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2010/02/26/Jin-Kichi-LondonFri, 26 Feb 2010 21:42:00 +0000
We just got back from Jin Kichi in Hampstead.
Tosaka, ogonori and wakame seaweed, in dainty piles, garnished with two thin slices of lemon.
The clean, simple tasting dressing? White sesame seeds, ground to a paste, combined with rice vinegar, light soy sauce, salt, sugar, a little mirin, a bit of white miso and all important dashi.
Grilled skewers of ox tongue. Chewy, bouncy, succulently fat squares of beefy tongue, with edges charred just enough to give a crisp edge before biting into rich unctuousness. Food porn eat your heart out.
Fat, melting slabs of fatty toro (tuna).
Chewy, 'al dente' buckwheat soba noodles, served on a bamboo mat and eaten after being dunked in a savoury dashi and mirin based sauce, spiked with wasabi, spring onion and grated daikon radish.
The owner hails from Hokkaido. All the staff were lovely.
Jin Kichi
73 Heath Street
London NW3 6UG
Tel: 020 7794 6158
Noma, Copenhagenhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2009/11/23/Noma-Copenhagenhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2009/11/23/Noma-CopenhagenMon, 23 Nov 2009 21:33:00 +0000
We started with a flurry of little treats.
A few biscuits topped with lardo and dried, tart blackcurrant powder.
A sandwich of thin toasted rye bread and crisp chicken skin with a smoked cheese and broad bean filling.
A pot filled with 'soil' (crumbled malt flour and beer toasted hazelnuts) and planted with baby radishes and turnips
And finally wavy slices of toast feathered with tiny herbs and flowers and dusted with dried apple cider vinegar powder.
That was just the beginning.
The 12 course dinner that followed was a spectacular celebration of pristine ingredients and unique preparations.
The most memorable dishes included:
Lobes of sweet, rich sea urchin harvested from icy Norwegian waters, scattered with frozen powdered dill and cream and spotted with balls of cucumber coated in cucumber ash.
Beef tartare, scraped from the fillet with a sharp knife, studded with grated horseradish and rye bread crumbs, topped with sharp wood sorrel leaves, to be picked up with fingers and dragged across powdered juniper berries and a tarragon herb cream.
And caramlised batons of salsify, cloaked in milk skin, nestled in inky black truffle sauce and topped with shaved truffles from Gotland.
Along with Arzak and El Bulli, definitely one of the best dinners we have been lucky enough to have so far.
Strandgade 93
1401 Copenhagen K
Tel: +45 3296 3297
e-mail: noma@noma.dk
Steff's Place, Copenhagen]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2009/11/22/Steffs-Place-Copenhagenhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2009/11/22/Steffs-Place-CopenhagenSun, 22 Nov 2009 21:30:00 +0000
Where else in the world can you land and before you even set foot on local soil...
Order a hot dog, with all the trimmings. And a beer.
Welcome to Steff's Place, in Copenhagen airport's baggage reclaim hall.
These hot dogs were awesome after a tedious, delayed flight. The frankfurters are grilled until the skins blister and char a bit. Then the sausages are stuffed into buns that taste of nothing, so as not to interfere with the lashings of mustard, ketchup, sauerkraut and crunchy fried onion bits. We washed them down with a pint of pilsner, whilst idly keeping an eye on the carousel.
My mum loves hot dogs. A gaggle of well-groomed Danish ladies tucking in next to us looked like they love hot dogs. The kids and their dads in the queue behind us looked like they loved their hot dogs too.
Every airport baggage reclaim should have a hot dog stand.
Porcine perfection, Italy]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2009/06/24/Porcine-perfection-Italyhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2009/06/24/Porcine-perfection-ItalyWed, 24 Jun 2009 21:49:00 +0000
My friend’s birthday at Villa Paterno was a true celebration of all things pig. The spit roasted Cinta Senese adolescent in the photos was the offspring of two Cinta Senese pigs serendipitously found wandering around the garden a few years ago.
This ancient breed of Sienese pig, native only to the Chianti region since at least the 14th century, is identifiable in life by white forelegs and shoulders (cinta is Italian for 'belt' in reference to this distinct stripe of white skin) and in death by an extremely high proportion of fat to meat.
Reared semi-wild on a diet consisting mainly of grass, chestnuts and acorns, both flesh and fat are highly prized, being rich, fragrant and highly flavourful. The Cinta Senese almost became extinct when farmers shunned the high production costs involved and opted to raise modern breeds of white pigs, seen as more economical and suited to today's market demand. Thankfully a few dedicated breeders in the Sienese Mountains refused to give up, and a recent revival of interest in Cinta pork has helped to prevent this unique breed from disappearing altogether.
Today there are roughly eighty Cinta breeders in Tuscany. With creatures this special it feels all the more important to ensure that not a single part of the animal is wasted.
Our little pig was spit roasted slowly over charcoal. Great chunks of fatty, tender meat and crisp blackened skin were piled onto wide shallow dishes and served with raw marinated courgettes, melted courgettes and courgette parmigiana, thanks to a garden glut of guess what?
Being me, I noticed that the head, split in two, was left untouched in favour of less intimidating cuts and pounced, like a cat. First the brains were scooped out and eaten with a sprinkle of salt. They tasted like an unctuous, creamy, mild pâté. Two halves of a tongue swiftly followed suit. Finally a pair of cheeks, soft and porky, smeared with a whisper of sweet and sour chutney. It was a heaven-sent dinner.
The next day leftovers were boiled into a meaty broth, rendered for lard, crisped back to the last slivers of crackling and shredded for a cold lunchtime salad with sliced red onion, fennel, tomatoes and lettuce, combined with a lemony mustard vinaigrette to help cut through the fat embalmed meat. Any further remainders were given to Clare and Matilda, white, fluffy Maremmano dogs who's ancestry dates back to the same period as the Cintas.
In my mind it doesn't take much to recall the musky sweet scent of Cinta fat. We cooled it to a creamy white consistency and used it for days later, in wild boar cacciatora, to baste a roasting chicken, and for spreading over toasted Tuscan bread, rubbed with garlic and sprinkled with salt.
Back in Tuscany]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2009/05/23/Back-in-Tuscanyhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2009/05/23/Back-in-TuscanySat, 23 May 2009 20:00:00 +0000
Corzano e Paterno seems almost like a different world from the one I visited in March. The plants have burst into flower and the vegetable garden is an explosion of green and already producing courgettes and mange tout, having finished offering up a bumper crop of sweet baby broad beans. It is sunny with blue skies every day, with hot, lazy days and cooler, balmy nights.
Last week New Zealand shearers came and gave all the Sardinian milk sheep a haircut.
Norfolk nourishmenthttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2009/05/05/Norfolk-nourishmenthttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2009/05/05/Norfolk-nourishmentTue, 05 May 2009 18:42:00 +0000
Happy Bank Holiday weekend! Just back from a blissful weekend in Norfolk staying with friends who are wonderful hosts.
I ventured off the coast of England in a sailboat for the first time. We rocked gently in the sunshine and ate soft boiled eggs with pastel blue shells, laid by their Legbar chickens. This was followed by freshly picked Norfolk crab, dressed with lemon juice and homemade garlic mayonnaise.
Other eating highlights included a whole roast goose, rich with sweet goose fat, and a barbequed leg of lamb, marinated in garlic, lemon, parsley and olive oil for a day and charred until crisp on the outside but still juicy and a blushing rosy colour on the inside.
We ate asparagus from a neighbouring farm, Wiveton Hall, picked an hour before. I have never tried such fresh asapargus and as many food writers have proclaimed before me, it really was even more delicious for being just out of the ground. The stems were as sweet as sugar, in stark contrast to the earthy, spicy chilli oil and sharp lime crème fraîche sauces we drizzled on them.
Walking along the dramatic Norfolk cliff tops and then back along the Coast road, we stumbled on Jenny's crab shack, serving up cold crab and lobster with no seasoning whatsoever. No salt, no pepper, not even any lemon. It was incredible - sweet but undeniably from the salty sea.
Wiveton Hall
Norfolk NR25 7TE
Tel: 01263 740525
Jenny's Crab Shack
On the A149 Coast Road from Sheringham to Weybourne
Tel: 07818 608 439
Launceston Place, Londonhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2009/04/23/Launceston-Place-Londonhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2009/04/23/Launceston-Place-LondonThu, 23 Apr 2009 18:32:00 +0000
Launceston Place is my idea of the perfect neighbourhood restaurant, as well as being a culinary destination worth travelling for. If you live in London then I would urge you to go. Headchef Tristan, formerly of Petrus under Marcus Wareing, is incredibly talented and never ceases to surprise and delight with his own take on Modern British cuisine. Paired with friendly, relaxed service under Hadi Aknin's watchful eye the result is a leisurely dining experience that leaves one sated and soothed.
We took advantage of the very reasonable set lunch offer, £18 for three courses, I had duck salad with rillettes, pickled vegetables and wild herbs, braised beef chop with confit tomatoes and basil and a sticky, caramelised apple tarte Tatin that I could develop a very serious addiction for.
Launceston Place
1a Launceston Place
London W8 5RL
Tel: 020 7937 6912
Kiku, Londonhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2009/04/23/Kiku-Londonhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2009/04/23/Kiku-LondonThu, 23 Apr 2009 18:29:00 +0000
My husband is going to away tomorrow so as a pre-weekend treat we went to Kiku. Kiku is my longstanding favourite Japanese restaurant. No fuss, no frills, squeaky fresh sashimi and sushi.
Our favourite sushi has no name I know of. Its a gunkan, topped with sweet ikura (salmon roe) and a quail egg yolk. Ro doesn't even like eggs much. Its gooey, yolky, seaweedy squidge heaven. Brilliant.
There is a gunkan with tobiko (flying fish roe) and quail egg yolk that is called uzura no tamago. If anyone knows the name of the ikura version I'd love to know!
Osteria di Passignoano, Florence Italy]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2009/03/21/Osteria-di-Passignoano-Florence-Italyhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2009/03/21/Osteria-di-Passignoano-Florence-ItalySat, 21 Mar 2009 16:19:00 +0000
The Osteria is in the Antinori family owned Abbey - Badia a Passignano. Opened in 2000 with Marcello Crini at the helm and Matia Barciulli in the kitchen, the restaurant earned its first Michelin star last year. Its ethos is to showcase classic Tuscan cuisine, ideally complemented with Antinori wines.
Dinner was very good. Some dishes did not quite hit the mark, in particular it was a shame that the pasta lacked the delicate, silken quality that one would expect. As well as accolades, the pressure that is often associated with Michelin Guide awards can become an unhealthy influence on restaurants, for guests and staff alike. There is a long, hard road marked out for those wishing to rise through the ranks to achieve the celebrated three star status, but the stigma associated with losing just one star can be detrimental to a future success.
Le Nostre “Frattaglie”
Panino al Lampredotto
Animelle Croccanti
Millefoglie di Lingua e Verza
Our Interpretation of Offal
Lampredotto Sandwich
Crunchy Sweetbreads
Millefeuille of Tongue and Savoy Cabbage
Taglierini al Profumo di Timo, Colatura di Acciughe, Briciole di Pane e Crema di Cavolfiore
Thyme Flavoured Taglierini, Anchovy Essence,
Breadcrumbs and Cauliflower Cream
Agnello di Latte:
Il coscio Stufato con Crema di Sedano Rapa
Il Carré in Crosta di Erbette con Flan di Asparagi
Milk Fed Lamb:
Stewed Gigot with Celeriac Cream
Herb Crusted Rack with Asparagus Flan
Goccia di Gelato di Lamponi
e Vin Brulé in Gelo su Succo di Ribes
Raspberry Ice Cream Tear
and Frozen Mulled Wine on Redcurrant Juice
Osteria di Passignano
Via Passignano 33
Loc. Badia a Passignano 50028
Tavarnelle Val di Pesa (FI)
Tel./Fax +39 055 8071278
Trattoria Mario, Florence Italy]]>https://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2009/03/19/Trattoria-Mario-Florence-Italyhttps://www.everythingeaten.com/single-post/2009/03/19/Trattoria-Mario-Florence-ItalyThu, 19 Mar 2009 12:09:00 +0000
Florence for lunch at Trattoria Mario. Its a tiny room with less than 10 tables covered in green checkered laminated cloth. We had excellent trippa fiorentina, tender soft tripe in a meaty tomato sauce with the consistency of silk, spiked with pepper. Bollito misto wasn't bad either, slices of boiled tongue and beef, parsley and olive oil sauce, piquant pickles to add sparkle.
The bill, including a carafe of red wine, salad and water came to just 20 euros.
Signs on the wall separating us from the chefs read as follows:
Qui si mangia insieme a quegl'altri dal 1953
Communal eating since 1953
L'osso della bistecca si ciucca con la mani
Eat your steak-bone by hand
La bistecca si coce come ci pare!!!
The steak is cooked however the hell we want!!!
Noi i'brodo coi dado un si fa!!!
Stock cubes have no place here!!!
Noi i'congelatore un ci s'ha!! Qui non s'adopra la panna!!
We don't have a freezer!! We don't use cream!!
Trattoria Mario
Via Rosina 2r angolo Piazza del Mercato Centrale 50123, Firenze, Italia
Tel: 055 – 218550