RSS Feed

April, 2012

  1. London’s French Dips

    April 23, 2012 by Dini

    Dunkin’ a Sarnie…

    21st April 2012

     My first introduction to the ‘French Dip’ was at my recent visit to the Hawksmoor Spitalfields Bar. There, I tried a cheese oozing brioche bun filled with beef and  gravy or mustard, for dunking. This was a revelation and a definite ‘comfort eating’ addition, to add to my favourite treats.

    Short rib French dip

    Hawksmoor Short Rib French Dip

    Twitter enlightened me that Rosie (a Food Journalist) and her friend Andrew, were setting up a French Dip stall in Brixton Market, so I was keen to try out their version. Tempted by Rosie’s preparations, on her twitter feed, I knew it would be a good thing…

    Scotch Beef Joint

    Scotch Beef Joint - pic c/o @RosieFoodie

    The Scotch beef from Moen & Sons, was PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) standard,  it was tender due to the slow roasting from the day before. The buns had been baked by Kindred Bakery, the recipe developed especially for London French Dip. I’d say for this type of baguette bun, you need more than a double dip, so that the bun’s truly drenched. Andrew told me he was being conservative with dunking, as some may add mustard and didn’t want the bun to go soggy. I’m not a mustard fan, so went without, but  I did love but the accompanying pickled gherkin garnish, it was a tasty addition.

    Kindred Bakery Buns

    Kindred Bakery Buns

    I loved the Team’s hands-on attitude, from sign writing to cooking all from scratch. Their positivity didn’t dip, even with the adverse weather, however they did have a support team on hand. It was also cool that they found Brixton suppliers, ‘keeping it local’ as well as ‘real’.

    For a Stateside comparison, @Cupcake_Kelly recently posted about a Tennessee version at Sweet Celebration’s  – Their classic ‘Short French Dip’ is made with “Warm Angus roast beef and Swiss cheese served with hot au juice” priced at $8.49 whole or $5.49 half. I like the idea of a dunking bowl or gravy boat, not sure about the crisps side though!

    I guess a lot of the above is subjective, to individual’s taste and preferences … how much to dunk, what bread (French baguette or brioche bun), cheese or no cheese? The Hawksmoor offering is priced at £10, you of course have the bells and whistles of dining in a swish bar, a cocktail in hand and central heating. The London French Dip Team’s offering was well priced at £4, considering they used good quality meat and buns.

    London French Dip Sign

    London French Dip Sign

     

    You can follow London French Dip (@LondonFrenchDip) on Twitter for updates and their stall location, they hope to be at the Saturday market, on a monthly basis and are considering different roasting meats… so watch this space…

    Hawksmoor Spitalfields: 157 Commercial Street, London, E1 6BJ
    Telephone No: 020 7426 4856
    Reservations: spitalfieldsbar@thehawksmoor.com
    Website: http://thehawksmoor.com/spitalfieldsbar

     


  2. Wild Serai’s Malay St. Food

    April 12, 2012 by Dini

    Malaysian Brunch Feast

    9th April 2012

    My Easter Monday’s, are usually a lazy day, for recovering from Easter eggs’ excess and watching a James Bond or Ben Hur repeat on the telly. This year, I found myself making a trek to New Malden, in high winds and rain, all in the name of street food.  I knew Yolanda (our Wild Serai supperclub host) would pull out the stops, as she’d co-hosted a previous supperclub, with Goz (Plus-Six-Five), also a diner at the brunch.

    Wild Serai Table
    Wild Serai Table

    The table was set simply, with batik floral printed cloths and fresh flowers. Giant Keropok (shrimp crackers) were piled high on our tables, which I found irrestitable, a bit of a school girl error, to start filling up on such trifles, when so much was to follow…

    Shrimp crackers

    Shrimp crackers

    Sharif (Yolanda’s boyfriend) earnt his brownie points that day, as he barbecued our meat in the adverse weather conditions, for the starters. The chicken and beef skewers were tender and so much better having been charcoal barbecued, as opposed to just being griddled. The satay sauce was delicious, a crunchy consistency, balanced with freshness from red onion and cucumber chunks.

    Meat skewers

    Meat skewers

    Satay Sauce

    Satay Sauce

     

    The Mee Goreng Mamak, was executed really well. The noodles were plump and were coated well, in the spicy sauce, without any greasy residue. There was a lovely balance of seafood, with juicy tiger prawns, sliced fish balls and cake and decorated with fried onions.

    Mee Goreng Mamak

    Mee Goreng Mamak

    Next up was the Penang Rojak. I visited Penang (Malaysia), a few years ago and it is known as a ‘Hawker’s Paradise’. I tried the Rojak there as I was told it was a speciality of the area. I recalled that there was a variety of fresh and deep fried items that could be selected (like a pick-a-mix) and the thick treacle like, sticky sauce was ladled on, hence it’s translation ‘mixture’. Wild Serai’s version was a heady mix of pineapple, turnip (which was not my favourite, a little hard), deep-fried tofu (deliciously porous, soaking up the sauce) and fresh cucumber. This was a lighter sweet and sour sauce, using prawn paste and tamarind. The plate was garnished with nuts and rice-crackers.

    Penang Rojak

    Penang Rojak

    Roti Jala, was a new dish on me, I’m more akin to Roti Canai (a cross between a paratha and roti) for soaking up my curry sauce. Roti Jala was a thin and latticed pancake. The Jala referring to a ladle with five holes, thereby creating the patterned pancake.  The roti was accompanied with a tender Malay lamb curry, which had been tenderly cooked on the bone. It was medium in chilli heat, cooked in coconut milk, making it rich and creamy.

    Roti Jala & Lamb Curry

    Roti Jala & Lamb Curry

    Nasi Lemak and at (60 sen) referring to the Malaysian price you can pick this street food breakfast staple up for. Normally sold on road-sides parcelled up beautifully in banana leaf pyramids. From afar, the street carts selling them look like topiary displays. Likewise, our plates were ‘cleaned’ by the placing of a fresh banana leaf, to eat from. Dainty, heart scooped coconut rice piles were decorated with boiled quails eggs, ikan bilis in Grandma’s special sauce and Nyonya fried chicken. I am such a fan of ikan bilis (dried anchovies), that I love it in anything, whether it be curry, sambals, omlettes and even salad garnishes. This was real soul food, again the textures were so wonderful together, even something as simple as the fried chicken, had been marinated for 48 hours in curry leaves, shrimp paste, lemongrass and blue ginger, making it really crispy and tasty.

    Nasi Lemak 60 sen

    Nasi Lemak 60 sen

    Dessert came in the form of an adapted version of Ais Kacang. Beautiful shaved ice, drizzled with evaporated milk, rose and palm sugar syrup, sweet corn kernels, tapioca pearls, red beans, sea coconuts (a cross in texture and taste between rambuttan and lychee) and jelly (mango and honey-dew melon).

    Ais Kacang

    Ais Kacang

    Every stir, uncovered new assortment of sweet jewels, bursting with flavour, I absolutely loved the combinations.

    Ais Kacang stirred

    Ais Kacang stirred

    A much needed caffeine pick-me up came with Teh tarik (pulled tea), still frothy from being poured at height between two metal tumblers or jugs. Sweet, Malaysian tea, made with black tea and a combination of evaporated and condensed milk.

    Pulled Tea

    Pulled Tea

    Not that I needed it, as I was so full of food and contentment, by this point. However, how could I resist just one small banana fritter?  This for me, was a true hark back to my childhood, as it was a typical tea-time treat that my Mother would make, using up any over-ripened bananas.

    Banana fritters

    Banana fritters

    I hugely enjoyed the Wild Serai Seafood Feast and this was indeed a great contender to it, showcasing some great street food. For the vast quantity and selection dishes, £25 is a bargain. Yes, ok in Malaysia this street food is a pittance in £ terms, however this pricing needs to be compared to a ‘dining out’ experience in London and it fares extremely well on value, execution and consideration of diners.

    New Malden, normally famed for it’s ‘Little Korea’ (a collection of Korean take-aways, eateries and supermarkets), handy for stocking up, getting your fill of Kimchee or taking a peek as I did through the windows. Alas, I was full on my return to the station, but a little Sushi lady vendor (I know, Japanese not Korean – before you say it), right in the station’s entrance, caught me eye. With a steely look, she meant business and I’m sure could take on any trouble with her sushi roll-mat. Something, for another visit, but how I’ll be able to resist the beckon of Wild Serai’s Malaysian food, I’m not sure…

    To find out about more Wild Serai events check on the  Read more about Malaysian Street Food Brunch on Edible Experiences site or sign up to their mailing list here.


  3. Eat Scandi

    April 6, 2012 by Dini

    Gravadlax

    The ‘Scandilicious’ Way

     

    Signe Johansen, otherwise known as ‘Scandilicious’ on twitter and her eponymous first cookbook, hosted a Scandinavian Smörgåsbord feast, fit for the most ardent of carb-lovers. Held at the spacious Holloway apartment of @chuchibum (Hannah, co-host), once the guests started eating, we simply didn’t stop being spoilt with treats, constantly flowing from the kitchen. This was the first brunch held in March, I didn’t mind this, as Signe’s excellent baking reputation proceeded her and she rolled out a stellar performance.

    The table was dressed with single flower heads and rhubarb stems in vases. I especially liked the cute jug, inscribed with  ‘modestly small jug’ and the wall hanging ‘keep calm and keep kissing’. All comforting touches, in addition to our hosts’ warm welcomes and hospitality, to put diners at ease.

    Bloody Mary

    Bloody Mary

    On arrival, we were treated to an aperitif of a ‘Scandi’ Bloody Mary (I opted for the boozy variety, made with Aquavit, tomato juice and spiced up with horseradish and dill). The table was decorated with savoury muffins, deliciously soft and moreish.

    Jarlsberg & Fennel Muffin

    Jarlsberg & Fennel Muffin

    This was washed down with the rather virtuous ‘Green Goddess’, a cucumber, mint, ginger and apple juice concoction. A pretty zingy and cleansing combination.

    Green Goddess

    Green Goddess

    Next arrived, homemade yoghurt with sweet n’ crispy rye granola.

    I couldn’t resist but add Signe’s Queen’s compote (a blueberry and raspberry jammy mix) making a ribboned swirl.

    Queen's Compote

    Queen's Compote

    This was a medley of textures and taste, soured yoghurt, crunchy nuggets of sweetened granola and sticky compote.

    Having the choice between cardamom and cinnamon and cardamom buns, my favourite were the latter. I thought the combined spices worked well together. These were delicious by themselves or smothered in the Queen’s compote.

    Cinnamon & Cardamom buns

    Cinnamon & Cardamom Buns

    Next up, was another refreshment, a divine smoothie made with: raspberry, vanilla, ginger, blended with peanut butter. This was so delicious, fruity with a creamy, nutty edge from the peanut butter.

    Smoothie

    Smoothie

    To the main event: Gravadlax. Juicy morsels of sliced salmon, dressed with dill, in a sweet and salty cure.

    Gravadlax & Celariac

    Gravadlax & Celariac

    Signe served the salmon with baked celeriac crowns, with a Halen Mon smoked sea salt crust. This was a completely new way of eating celeriac for me, I’d have never have thought of salting and eating the crust. The celariac was quite starchy, so great to have the silky contrast of salmon and hardened salt crust of it’s skin.

    There were also Peter’s Yard sourdough crispbreads, laiden in beautiful biscuit tins, to drape salmon on. Being resourecful, even the circular discs of the crispbreads were utilised, dressed with dill and a dash of Norwegian Kaviar (creamed, smoked cod roe).

    Norwegian Kaviar on crispbread

    Norwegian Kaviar on crispbread

    More vibrant colours were added to the mix, with an end-of-winter salad, featuring golden and purple beetroot, dressed in a delicious vinegarette, using Womersley Foods’ raspberry vinegar.

    End-Of-Winter Salad

    End-Of-Winter Salad

    All was not over, out rolled some freshly made oatmeal bread, soft and just beckoned to be smothered in butter.

    Oatmeal bread

    Oatmeal bread

    This came in handy to dunk into my baked eggs, seasoned with allspice and Abba anchovies.

    Split Baked Eggs & Buttered Bread

    Split Baked Eggs & Buttered Bread

    Next up were some Norwegian vanilla & sour cream waffles, this was served with poached rhubard in blood orange syrup. Very sweetly heart shaped waffles, that were light as a feather and contrasted with the tart and sticky rhubarb.

    Waffle & Rhubarb Compote

    Waffle & Rhubarb Compote

    Our penultimate item, was a freshly fried cardamom doughnut, a light and billowy fried treat. This was washed down with a choice of coffee from Square Mile or Tea’s from RareTea Company.

    As a surprise finale, Signe presented us with some brownies (the recipe from her forthcoming book, Scandilicious Baking). They were velvety soft, rich with dark chocolate and a gooey centre.

    Brownies

    Brownies

     

    I can’t say enough to say how good this brunch was. Reminding me of familiar Scandi favourites as well as a few new twists that I can try at home. Signe has a few more brunches and dinners pencilled in and there are some baking classes in the pipeline too. Thanks to both Signe & Hannah, they were devoted to producing a stunning array of delicious food and drink and were consummate hosts.

    If you’re going to go along, I recommend skipping breakfast or lunch, you’re going to need all the belly space you can make. I’m a carb-aholic, so loved the different buns and breads but with the generosity of food provided needed a caffeine kick at the end to get me moving again from my food-coma and definately didn’t need dinner!

    For details on these, please check out Signe’s Scandilicious blog: www.signejohansen.com