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January, 2012

  1. Dabbous’ Opening Sitting

    January 21, 2012 by Dini

    Choc and virgin olive oil ganache, basil moss, sheep milk ice cream

    Room for Four Desserts?

    20th January 2012

    With no reservations or even an inkling of the offering, I walked to Dabbous with a friend, to check out the bar. We weren’t even sure if it was open, I had seen some preview tweets, from the previous night, but on the off-chance we thought we’d give it a try. It was around 2pm and is it turned out, it was Dabbous’ first day of opening and first sitting. So naturally I spied @theskinnybib in ‘1st day blogging’ residence, I waved and the went downstairs with my friend for a drink.

    Dabbous basement bar

    Dabbous basement bar

     The interiors, were pretty stripped back, going for the stark industrial feeling… exposed walls, steel girders, pretty sexy wood finishes and furniture. I especially liked these seats, like 1930’s areoplane seats.

    Dabbous downstairs

    Dabbous downstairs

    Sat at the bar, quite boringly, we opted for soft drinks and decided to come back to peruse the cocktail menu on another occassion, when word had spread and we weren’t the only one’s propping it up.

    My friend had to dash back to work, but I snuck back to ‘theskinnybib’ and joined him as he moved onto the desserts in his Tasting menu. I ordered different dessert options, so that we could see a good cross section and taste each other’s selections.

    Cucumber and perilla in a chilled lemon verbana infusion

    Cucumber and perilla in a chilled lemon verbana infusion

    Barley flour soaked in red tea, Tahitian vanillla cream

    Barley flour soaked in red tea, Tahitian vanillla cream

    Fig Leaf Ice Cream (with edible twig)

    Fig Leaf Ice Cream (with edible twig)

    Choc and virgin olive oil ganache, basil moss, sheep milk ice cream

    Choc and virgin olive oil ganache, basil moss, sheep milk ice cream

    The portions were dainty ‘small plate’ sized, but executed lovingly on big pieces of slate or platter plates, not really conducive to sharing or multiple dishes for the small dining tables. The dishes were beautifully presented, absolute pieces of art and obviously attention to detail reaped (by the Exec Chef – Ollie), having had past residences at Le Manoir and Texture. The Waiter told us that the Chef wanted diners to be able to appreciate dishes at all prices from £4-£14 all created with the same attention to detail, great ingredients and presentation.

    Not knowing anything of the venue, I asked our waiter of what Dabbous was and it’s meaning… I hadn’t realised it was the Chef’s surname, even more surprising, was that he was British! Chef was promptly ushered out, by the Waiter. He was very humble and relaxed considering it was his first ‘proper’ day on the job with ‘paying customers’. I say paying with inverted comma’s as their BT line was down, so I had to leave my card details for payment. He apologised for this and told us that this day had taken a long time coming and was his dream coming true. He even enlightened us on his geese supply via TFL every morning via his producer’s wife on her daily commute in, from Essex. Quite charmed and relieved to hear our ingredients had a low carbon footprint, we finished up.

    I’ve marked this venue with a fine dining tick, as although I think the bar is great for casual drinks and definately dates, upstairs is a more refined offering. All in all, it was a pleasant afternoon. The service was charming (a few snags, but it was the first day and they’ll hopefully be ironed out). I love the interiors, obviously the stunning dish compilation and thought put into them.

    To view theskinnybib’s post, click here

    Address: 39 Whitfield St, WIT 2SF
    Website: http://www.dabbous.co.uk/
     
     

    Dabbous on Urbanspoon


  2. Street Kitchen in Finsbury Sq

    January 20, 2012 by Dini

    Street Food for City Slickers

    20th January 2012

    In the heart of Finsbury Square, lucky ‘City Slickers’ are treated to a daily offering of ‘British classics’ served from an AirStream van. The creative mind’s behind the venture are: Jun Tanaka and Mark Jankel. Both from fine dining backgrounds, the chefs are putting their experience of sourcing from organic providers and passion of cooking into an innovative concept.

    It was Friday lunch-time and as the drizzle fell, I found myself patiently queuing amongst city suits for the steaming hot food. I opted for a winter broth, delicately flavoured with herbs (£4.50). It came accompanied with a perfectly formed, round brioche roll, which sweetly sat on the container lid.

    For dessert I was treated to a complimentary crumble (usually £3.50), with layers of crunchy crumble, delicious vanilla mousse (Riverford) and a tart Crimson Crunch apple (Mole End) compote. This was heavenly and enough to lift a girl’s spirits, in the rain. On a sunnier day, I’d have stopped and tried another dish and enjoyed the ‘men in suits’. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be, for those lucky enough to work in the area, instead of spending £5 in your homogenous sandwich or fast-food chain, why not try something different? This is simple alternative, providing healthy and freshly prepared meals, that come in at the same price as a ‘meal deal’ elsewhere.

    I’m told on their twitter feed, to look out for new adventures soon, so follow them on @streetkitchen to find out more
     
    Street Kitchen in Finsbury Square: Monday – Friday, 11:30am – 14:30pm
    Website: http://streetkitchen.co.uk

  3. PittCueCo takes on Newburgh St

    January 19, 2012 by Dini

    PittCueCo's Pulled Pork & Burnt End Mash

    Flying Visit to Pitt Cue

     18th January 2012

    I discovered PittCueCo under the Hungerford Bridge, on London’s Southbank, in the ‘Summer of 2011’. This turned into a summer long love affair, namely with their pulled pork and illustrated in my last post (click here)…

    So it didn’t take long for the wafts of the BBQ fayre to send twitter foodies into fever-point. I left it a few days and visited off-peak, to get a queue free seat and fast service. The new PittCueCo, is in Newburgh Street, just off the bustle of Carnaby Street.

    An intimate venue, with 30 seats, a little like Spuntino in the manner that there’s informal seating at the bar and more downstairs. I braced myself for the Foodie avalanche, Tourists who had luckily stumbled upon it and Media Dahling Soho-ites dining there. On entering, I was greeted by the ever charming Jamie (a partner) and offered a ceremonial ‘Pickleback’, I declined as it just isn’t my cup of tea… Thankfully, I pitched the timing just right, post-work drinks and dining hadn’t commenced yet, so I took a stool downstairs. I spied Tom (the other partner) cooking away in the Kitchen, so said a quick hello. It’s quite different, having been familiar with seeing them both in action in the old truck, now seeing them in their Front and Back of House roles.

    The menu, is a succinct selection of unctuously delicious ‘comfort’ food. I was glad to see my favourites on the menu (pulled pork, brisket and slaw). When opting for a mains and a side the pair come in at £9 – 9.50, not bad considering you get (mains, side, house pickles and a piece of toasted sourdough). The ‘Special’ tonight was a ‘House Sausage’, I decided to try this and the dessert offering on another occasion, when I had more time. One pretty special new side dish, was the ‘Burnt End Mash’. It was a beautifully smooth and buttery mashed potato, with tender ends of the beef brisket laden on top.

    The food is served up in rectangular tin dishes and jars, a cross between old school camping kit and Little House on the Prairie (sweet). I did  notice there were two filled bun options (for pulled pork or brisket). When I asked to order them, I was told they were take-away only… boo I say, as I would have been keen. I did pick this up with Jamie on leaving and he said they were available at the bar, well… to loyal customers ;

    Alas next time, I know to sit upstairs for the buns, to peruse the great selection of bourbon’s & rye’s displayed on the back-bar and just have a good time. This isn’t food for a flying visit (my schoolgirl error), it’s food to be relished, saluted with a PickleBack and obviously followed up with a dessert.

    Alas, there are no bookings, so either go off-peak, or as word spreads, prepare to queue…

    Address: 1 Newburgh St, Soho, W1F 7RB
    Website: http://www.pittcue.co.uk/

    Pitt Cue Co on Urbanspoon


  4. The Ship – Wandsworth’s Gem

    January 15, 2012 by Dini

    Riverside Blogger’s Lunch

    14th January 2012

    As a Blogger’s Lunch, I knew I was going to toss the towel in on the eating front, out with January de-toxing and shifting the ‘dolce’ muffin top. Having been to a Ship Bloggers event before, I knew that the tables would be groaning with traditional ‘pub grub’ with a gastro twist. Yes, The Ship is a Youngs pub and probably more renowned (at least, amongst my friends) for pitchers of Pimms & Lemonade on a Bank Holiday Monday. So I’ll let you into a little secret, it’s got a great food offering, full on roasts on a Sunday and BBQ’s in the summer and not to mention some fun events. They recently hosted the #ScotchEggChallenge, whereby contestants (Prof. Chefs and Amateurs) entered their efforts to be judged and the winner, awarded a glorious trophy. I’m so glad The Ship’s own Scotch egg made an appearance, here’s a peek of some beauties…

    The Ship's Scotch Egg

    The Ship's Scotch Egg

    Alas, that was then and today was a different affair, for more like an eating contest for bloggers with the greatest appetites, as you can see with the menu (kindly supplied by @Mcmoop and @gaildogget).

    The Ship Menu

    The Ship Menu

    We were given a selection of dishes (starters, mains, sides and desserts) to share amongst ourselves… but an ample amount considering we had 14 dishes!

    ***

    Starters 

    Red Onion Soup, Cheese Crôute

    Red Onion Soup, Cheese Crôute

     

    Foie Gras and Chicken Liver Parfait, Rum Soaked Baby Figs, Toasted Brioche

    Foie Gras and Chicken Liver Parfait, Rum Soaked Baby Figs, Toasted Brioche

    Scallops with Fennel Pure, Crisped Fennel, Garlic Chives

    Scallops with Fennel Pure, Crisped Fennel, Garlic Chives

    Grilled Lamb Cutlets with Spiced Tomato & Yoghurt Dressing

    Grilled Lamb Cutlets with Spiced Tomato & Yoghurt Dressing

     

    Black Sticks Blue and Mushroom Torte with Truffle Rosti Creamed Spinach

    Black Sticks Blue and Mushroom Torte with Truffle Rosti Creamed Spinach

    ***

    Mains

    Seared Guinea Fowl with Truffled Mash, Sprouting Broccoli and Wild Mushroom Jus

    Seared Guinea Fowl with Truffled Mash, Sprouting Broccoli and Wild Mushroom Jus

    Chargrilled Beef Burger with Cheese, Pickled Cucumber

    Chargrilled Beef Burger with Cheese, Pickled Cucumber

    Goat’s Cheese Gratin, Jerusalem Artichoke, Chestnut Mushroom & Spinach Fricassée

    Goat’s Cheese Gratin, Jerusalem Artichoke, Chestnut Mushroom & Spinach Fricassée

    Seared Plaice, Parma Ham, Poached Leeks, Samphire & Champagne Sauce

    Seared Plaice, Parma Ham, Poached Leeks, Samphire & Champagne Sauce

    Braised Pork and Cider Pastry Pie with Mustard Glazed Carrots

    Braised Pork and Cider Pastry Pie with Mustard Glazed Carrots

    ***

    Desserts

    Chocolate Fondant with Ice Cream

    Chocolate Fondant with Ice Cream

    Panacotta with Coffee Short Bread & Poached Fruit

    Panacotta with Coffee Short Bread & Poached Fruit

    Treacle Tart with Stem Ginger Ice Cream

    Treacle Tart with Stem Ginger Ice Cream

    ***

    Cheese Board: Brie, Lincs Poacher & Black Sticks Blue

    Cheese Board: Brie, Lincs Poacher & Black Sticks Blue

    ***

    My dishes of the day were the: Grilled Lamb, Seared Plaice and the Chocolate Fondant

    For £20, for such a variety of dishes, an aperitif, wine and the best hospitality from @Mcmoop (Oisin -Licensee, Kitchen and Serving Staff, this is no ordinary Youngs Pub. It will be always be a destination pub for weekends and holidays, I just hope that drinkers get a chance to sample the food fayre too. By all means, this was an extravagent subsidised offering c/o The Ship, but the dishes are all fairly priced, with a Carved Buffet at £19.95 and A la Carte Mains from £12-£15. They are so confident about their Jam Roly Poly, they often invite Michael Winner (via twitter) to try it… one day I’m sure he’ll succumb… (his loss and my gain and until then, perhaps around my waistline first!)

    Website: http://www.theship.co.uk/
    Address: 41 Jew’s Row, Wandsworth, SW18 1TB
    Tel no: 020 8870 9667

  5. Japanese Supper with The London Foodie

    January 8, 2012 by Dini

    Japanese Umami Feast

    5th January 2012

    Fresh from his travels in Tokyo, TheLondonFoodie (Luiz) hosted the first of his Japanese Home Supperclubs, to showcase recipes from his travels and from recently published ‘Hashi Cooking’ by Reiko Hashimoto. This was the second Supperclub I attended, that Luiz had hosted, the first being the inaugural Grazing Asia event.

    Reiko's Hashi Cook Book

    Reiko's Hashi Cook Book

    There were no spaces left as a dining guest, but keen to increase my knowledge of this genre of cusine and take part in the event, I volunteered as a Kitchen Assistant for the evening. For diners, this supperclub was £35 per person (BYO), pretty good value considering the calibre and variety of ingredients used.

    Welcomed with a glass of wine, by Luiz and Dr. G (Luiz’s partner), I was made at home and what a beautiful home it was. I was particularly impressed with their pantry, divine cooking accoutrements and serviceware.

    Japanese Bowls

    Japanese Bowls

    Looking at all of the plates and bowls lined up, at a guess I’d say there were over a 100 for the 20 dining guests. I knew from this, that a serious feat was about to be performed by Luiz. Having started at 7am, Luiz was supper organised with a timed plan (which we almost stuck to) and had already done a lot of the mise en place. This was essential, as we were catering for 20 hungry diners and had a 6 course feast to be served pre-midnight…

    Luiz preparing the Sushi

    Luiz preparing the Sushi

    ***

    Sushi selection

    Dainty hand-rolled sushi with sea-bream, mackerel and asparagus. The diners were treated to an accompanying aperitif of Gordon’s Gin & Tonic, which set off the night, with a lemon-twist (I told Dr. G, that lime might make a nice change for next time).

    Sushi selection

    Sushi selection

    ***

    Salmon Sashimi ‘South American way’

    Delicate strips of tuna sashimi drizzled with a marinade and served with a sour-cream, wasabi avocado salad.

    Salmon Sashimi South American way

    Salmon Sashimi South American way

    ***

    Spicy Pork with Seafood Nabe

    Spicy Pork & Seafood Nabe

    Spicy Pork & Seafood Nabe (pre-cooking)

    Typically, a one pot dish of seafood and vegetables, that cooks at the table in a claypot. I last tried this is in Laos, so it was great to see it in action again, it adds such drama and fun to the occassion. After the diners has wrestled over the seafood picks, we added some udon noodles, so they could slurp up the remaining cooking juices, which had a good spicy kick.

    Spicy Pork and Seafood Nabe

    Spicy Pork and Seafood Nabe (cooking)

    ***

    Beef Fillet Tataki with creamy sesame dressing

    Luiz seared the fillets then allowed them to marinade and then delicately sliced and positioned over brined onions. For a supperclub, it was quite a luxury to have fillet. This was possible thanks to The Well Hung Meat Co who donated the meat and generously offered the diners 50% off their first orders.

    Beef Fillet Tataki with creamy sesame dressing
    Beef Fillet Tataki with creamy sesame dressing

    ***

    Takikomi Gohan

    A mixed rice, bejewelled with 5 ingredients, this was a chicken and vegetable based one, dressed with mange tout chiffonade.

    Green beans and Kamaboko with Spicy Mayo

    Crunchy beans with a sliced fish cake (Kamaboko) garnish and wok-dressed in a zingy mayonnaise. I really like the contrast of textures, with the crunchy beans, creamy dressing and almost sponge-like fish cake slices.

    Green beans, Kamaboko and Spicy Mayo

    Green beans, Kamaboko and Spicy Mayo

    Tamagoyaki

    A beautifully rolled omlette, sweetened with sugar, seasoned with dashi and chives for pretty colouring. This was a real masterpiece, so when it was sliced, almost like a swiss roll, you could see the many delicate layers. Grated mooli and soy sauce were placed on the side.

    Tamagoyaki

    Tamagoyaki

    Aubergine Dengaku

    My favourite of the side dishes, using delicious aubergines. Luiz used the thin variety of aubergine, for faster cooking and also because they soaked up the Nasu Dengaku glaze (with white miso, mirin and sugar) more. They had a gratinated crust made with melted mozzarella and were garnished as with the green beans, with crunchy seasame seeds.

    Aubergine Dengaku

    Aubergine Dengaku

    Deep fried Tofu and Spinach Miso Soup

     A bubbling bowl of soup, that was great for cleansing at the end of the night.

    Tofu & Spinach Miso Soup

    Tofu & Spinach Miso Soup

    ***

    Ice Cream Trio with Madeleine

     The scent of zingy lemon rind madeleines drifted through the room, kindly whisked up and baked fresh by Dr. G.

    Dr. G in Madeleine making mode

    Dr. G in Madeleine making mode

    This was a light and simple accompaniment to the smooth and creamy trio. The flavours were heavenly: Green Tea, Red Bean and Black Seasame. I’ve tried the flavours in various muses as created by Teanamu (when I’ve visited his Tea-House), however the last, was a new one. Luiz created it by making a praline with the black seasame seeds and then adding the brittle to the ice-cream mix, before churning.

    Ice Cream Trio with Madeleine

    Ice Cream Trio with Madeleine

    ***

    I’ll hold my hand up and admit, the evening was ‘hard-work’ not all making up G&T’s and tasting for seasoning (unfortunately!). Alas, now I know that Luiz being a perfectionist, wouldn’t let a mere amateur like myself, scrimp on beautiful plating up or the taste of his dishes going out. Next time, I know I’m best suited on the receiving end and do what I do best… Eating. I wish I had been a fly-on-the wall whilst Luiz had done his mise en place, so that I could pick up tips or learn the recipes. The saving grace was the fact I could always refer to Reiko’s book (a signed copy) and Luiz promised to email his recipes too. This was a Japanese comfort eating at it’s best, really good hearty food, that hit the spot. However, in the kitchen, the execution was somewhat more intricate than usual comfort food and expertly executed by Luiz.

    Luiz has kindly invited me back to learn the recipes and sample all the dishes at leisure, so I’m very much looking forward to that experience.

    To find out more about Luiz’s supper’s or cooking club’s:
    Luiz’s twitter: @thelondonfoodie
    Luiz’s website: http://www.thelondonfoodie.co.uk/
    Reiko’s Hashi Cooking: http://www.hashicooking.co.uk/

  6. Chaya Teahouse Afternoon Tea

    January 1, 2012 by Dini

    Sabi set tea

    High Tea with Teanamu

    Numerous visits in 2011

    I heard about the Teanamu Chaya Tea house via twitter. This was a lucky find, because I found a lovely tea house that offers me serenity and escapism at the weekends and because the host and owner (Pei Wang) is utterly charming. Pei, I’ll term as a ‘Tea Master’ is Singaporean of origin, but has travelled extensively around Asia in the quest to learn more about Tea. Everytime I visit the teahouse, I always come away learning new facts or just simply listening to his tales of wonder. I also take delight in taking a peek at the many tea’s he collects, such as vintage Pu Erh’s .

    The tea house is full of dainty tea sets, teapots and water vessels of all varieties. Pei holds both Tea Appreciation classes and Cooking classes here, to share and impart his worldly knowledge. He trained at the Cordon Bleu cookery school, so he uses his skills and knowledge from his travels to create unique, fusion sweet and savoury tea treats.

    I tend to go around lunchtime and order the Wabi Tea Set (which includes a tea selection, x2 savoury items and x3 items from the sweets selection, for £13). This set, is filling and ticks all the boxes for Lunch or an Afternoon Tea. It does get busy, now that word has spread, so best to book in advance. This also gives Pei notice, as to how many to cater for. Everything is made fresh for the weekend and he purposefully creates vegetarian dishes (so that he can cater to all, however is flexible to cater for allergies/intolerences too).

    ***

    Some of my Savoury Favourites:

    • Lo mai fan with braised shitake mushroom and aduki beans, wrapped in lotus leaves. (Steaming parcels that I love tearing open with Korean chopsticks, unveiling the glutinous rice and juicy legumes.)
    • ‘Cheong Fun’ rolls with Vegetarian Char Siew (Slightly tricky to handle with chopsticks but a lovely dish using Quorn, with a kick from the red chilli garnish).
    • Homemade Oolong noodles with piquant Hunan style sauce, vegetarian dumplings and pickles (Silky noodles coated in the spicy sauce, with tangy pickles)

     

    ***

    Some of my Sweet Favourites:

    • Chocolate fudge with goji berries (rich and truffle like in consistency, with a tangy burst from the berries)
    • Lychee Oolong tea sorbet with jelly (this is very sweet from the tea infusion, but the iciness of the smooth sorbet makes it sublime)
    • The rose petal jam served with clotted cream and scones (is outstanding, with an original twist to use rose petals)
    • My ultimate favourite, are the matcha macarons with yuzu buttercream (perfectly executed macarons that are light with a sumptuously oozing filling)

     

    ***

     

    Alas, I’ve neglected to mention the star of the show, the ‘Tea’ (well apart from Pei, of course). Selections can be made from the menu, using descriptor cards or you can be guided by Pei. Options include Tisanes, Chinese and Taiwanese teas (you definately won’t be able to order a ‘Builder’s Brew’ here). I always end my set, with an additional bespoke Tisane called ‘8 Treasures’. Pei customises the recipe of this depending on the season and how you may be feeling (for instance whether you’re looking to be energised or relaxed). It’s a beautiful mix of floral and fruity ingredients that changes flavour, on every infusion.

    8 Treasures infusing

    8 Treasures infusing

     

    I think I’ve made it obvious, I really love this place. It’s a different take on high tea, not a staid formal tea that may be offered in a 4/5* hotel, but an enchanting and inspiring tea from the Orient. Perhaps, it is because I’m captivated by the whole drama of the tea ceremony, the nuances to be abided by. I somehow feel like I am transported to another place and not in London at all. Pei is a consummate host and guide into the world of tea and I am so pleased to have discovered his teahouse.

     
      
    Teanamu Chaya Teahouse: Coach House, 14a St Luke’s Road, W11 1DP
    Telephone number: 020 7243 0374
    Website: http://www.teanamu.com/