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May, 2012

  1. Bea’s @ Maltby Street

    May 26, 2012 by Dini

    Saturday Sugar Rush

    Bea’s is a ’boutique’ chain of cake, come sweet things eateries, with 3 outlets in London and Maltby St, serving up Saturday fayre. Cupcakes aren’t really my thing and even Bea’s didn’t capture my imagination, so I was looking for something different. Hence, when I heard Maltby St regulars not only regaling about St Johns doughnuts, but Bea’s breakfasts’ too, I was intrigued to find out more…

    Beas signage

    Housed in a railway bridge arch, close to London Bridge, it’s quite a unique location. On Saturday’s, Bea usually shares the space with Rachel McCormack (supremo of all things Catalan), lends the space on Sundays to @Roast_Sunday and has just started up Tuesday film nights.  Bea’s ethos for a small business is a noble one, ensuring good quality, locally sourced ingredients, waste food is composted and using energy efficient induction cooking methods. I especially like the fact, that she has a summer rooftop garden for a fresh and direct  supply of herbs and vegetables – nothing like growing your own!

    The Arch

    Having gorged on a delicious St Johns doughut, that sweet fix was only the beginning, as thankfully at 10.30am there was no queue at Bea’s. Our gaggle of food bloggers hit the benches to start a sumptuous breakfast banquet, of calories and delight. I guess one could say we took over the joint, with our over-zealous photography (via smart-phone, SLR’s and compact cameras) and re-arrangement of the benches to accomodate our table of twelve (by the end, as the ‘food-loving twitterverse’, started to join us). Sorry Bea, for creating a little bit of chaos, but at least we ate with happy hearts.
    A simple offering of breakfast classics were on the offing, so the six original diners, ordered one of each, so we could have a biteful and pass it on, trying everything and not wanting for anything. Sometimes, especially in a new restaurant, I suffer from pangs of food envy, but thankfully I’m always with someone who’ll allow me a bite and vice-versa. This option of filling the table and creating our own human lazy-susan, suited me to a tee.
    Breakfast dishes
    Our selection: American style pancakes (plain or with blueberries) – we opted for cream and a side of bacon, French toast with sides of caramelised banana and walnuts and macerated strawberries and eggs benedict. This was quite an order, but could be forgiven as eventually shared between eight of us!
    Pancakes & cream
    My favourite, was the simplest of all the plain pancakes, drizzled with copious amounts of maple syrup and with the cream and bacon. Real comfort eating, that hits the spot. I loved the accompanying sides with the French toast, great textural contrasts, but with such a generous wedge of brioche, I preffered the lighter and fluffier pancakes. I have to say the portion size is really generous (the split bill costing us £8 each including a drink), so the portion could easily be shared between two, if you don’t have a healthy appetite.
    If there’s ever a queue for the Arch or you haven’t the time to dine in, Bea has created her own empire at Maltby Street, around the corner you can find her husband Franz, running a delicious Austrian stall with regional cheeses and cooked treats.
    Cheese dumplings with sides

    On offer were cheese dumplings, with poatoes/salad – I sampled a dumpling and they were deliciously crispy on the exterior and oozing with a cheese filling. The strudel also looked divine, dusted in a plentiful amount of icing sugar, something to try for next time. I asked him if he’d be doing another Austrian supperclub, as he had done last year (as I’d heard such good things about it), alas no. However he did let slip that they’ve just bought a food truck, so he’ll be hitting Eat Street (Kings Cross), with his Austrian fayre – a great addition, to the mix.

    For the sweet toothed, theres’s also a cake stall, selling her signature cakes and treats. Always decadently merchandised to entice and ensure that you take home at least one item for later.
    After lazily exploring the rest of Maltby Street, we saw on twitter that Bea was trialling her new range of ice-lollies. So we made a four o’clock pitt-stop, to investigate. On offer were a range of sublime ice-cream and sorbet styles.
    Lolly galore
    Flavours included: coffee, Pimms & lemonade, ginger & raspberries and strawbeeries & cream. My favourite was probably the sweet ginger one, using a stem ginger syrup, it was powerfully zingy but mellowed out by the tart raspberries. I submitted my ice-lolly cart naming suggestions of “Torvill & Cream” and “Ice, Ice, Baby”, the week before on Bea’s twitter request, so we’ll see what she eventually names it!
    Quite a foodie extravaganza catered by Bea, Franz and Crew, and worthwhile trying, if you fancy relaxing with friends, for a simple brunch or tea-time treat.
     
    Timings: Saturdays 9/10am – until it’s all gone! (around 2pm ish)
    Address: Bea’s of Bloomsbury at Maltby Street Market, Arch 76, Druid Street, London, SE1 2HQ
    Website: http://www.beasofbloomsbury.com/maltbystreet

  2. Seventeen Notting Hill

    May 22, 2012 by Dini

    Sichuan Bloggers Dinner

    May 2012

    Chinese food is a cuisine that I know little about, having spent a week in Guangzhou and just two days in Beijing, my food adventures extended to finding out about Chefs’ love of ‘nose to tail’ especially in garnishes and visiting a snake restaurant, where the snakes’ heart and blood were prized over.  When Mark (the GM at Seventeen), a Sichuan-Chinese restaurant, in Notting Hill invited me to a bloggers dinner, I accepted but hoped that tripe and exotic meat were off the menu…

    17 Notting Hill

    My only knowledge of Sichuan, was of the peppercorns and of course their inclusion in five spice seasoning, one of my favourites. Therein, I knew it was going to be a ‘hot’ dinner…  I was welcomed into the basement of this Chinoserie decorated restaurant and a glass of sparkling wine to start off the proceedings. Pre-starter nibbles included boiled peanuts and pickled vegetables

    Pickled vegetables

    Seventeen Skewers Platter – had grilled lamb, that had been marinated in cumin and fiery Sichuan chilli

    Lamb skewers

    Sichuan style fish – This was a dish that involved poaching the soft grouper fish and then leaving to infuse in oil with a bountiful amount of red chillies

    Sichuan style fish

    We were asked if we’d like the chillies strained off, the usual presentation to table, but the daring table resisted and went in for the kill…

    You can see from the photo below, we didn’t even manage to make a dent on the chillies, as there was an immense amount of them.

    Leftover chillies

    Sichuan Beef shank – This was served cold, a mouth quelching contrast to the heat of the previous dish. It was also a stand-out dish as the meat was so tender and soft, that I think the Chef may have used a velveting technique, in the preparation

    Beef shank

    Chongqing Chicken – This was another cold dish, but fiery in it’s concoction of dried red chillies, Sichuan peppercorns and sesame seeds. I wasn’t a fan of this, as it was a little greasy and not sure how I felt about it’s temperature, I’m okay with a cold salad, but not so with ‘curry’ type dishes

    Chongqing Chicken

    Wok fried Gai Lan – I loved the heady quantity of garlic laced through this dish, certainly enough to keep the vampires away but taste buds in check

    Wok fried Gai Lan

    Twice cooked pork – suitably fatty from using pork belly, the pork had a good contrast against crunchy vegetables and soft chillies

    Twice cooked pork

    Dry fried green beans with minced pork – another stand-out dish and reminded me of the Laon dish, Laab, a great side dish to perk up rice with

    Green beans with minced pork

    There has been a common thread  with all the mains and side dishes to this point and that is – CHILLIES, this restaurant certainly challenges the Scoville scale barometer, but done in an artful way. I’m not going to lie, it’s hot, I didn’t suffer from heart-burn, but did need a good cool down and certainlly made my heart race a little faster…

    For the cooling down period, a helping hand was given with a dessert of Mango pudding, just like a soft set mousse

    Mango dessert

    Next up were mochi balls (I know traditionally Japanese, but looking at their dessert menu, there’s usually only western dishes, so this was a trial) – glutinous rice balls stuffed with a sweet black seasame filling and rolled in crushed peanuts. I’ve tried these once, before at Feng Sushi and preferred these ones because of the contrast of the crunchy exterior to the soft centre

    Mochi balls

    Finally came Chinese tea, served in a dainty pot and cups. This was well indeed to soothe and aid digestion for the night

    Chinese tea

    This is a Chinese restaurant that offers a mix of the typical dishes a westerner would expect and want as well as authentic dishes that would appeal to a native (such as tripe and the several abalone dishes – or perhaps that is catering to the Notting Hill set?). It ticks boxes and the prices seem reasonable (for Notting Hill) at £38 for a set dinner menu.

    Thanks to our host Mark and Chefs on the night, for the entertaining evening and complimentary meal

    I really want to find out more about the cuisine and dishes, so I’ve got a feeling that I’ll be perusing Fuchsia Dunlop’s blog and reading her memoir: Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper!

     

    Website: http://seventeen-london.com/

    Address: Seventeen, 17 Notting Hill Gate, London, W11 3JQ
    Telephone no: 0207 985 0006

     

    Seventeen on Urbanspoon


  3. Street Feast

    May 16, 2012 by Dini

    Street Feast – In the beginning…

    May 2012

    Nestling around the corner from Brick Lane lies the Scalter street carpark, and the host venue for the inaugural ’Street Feast’.  London’s appetite for street food fayre is at full throng with markets and pop-ups springing up across the capital. A few favourites from already popular markets have formed the collective for this Friday night shindig.

    Here’s a video of some of the highlights:

    (thanks to Street Feast / Yin & Yang’s for the use of their youtube video)

    What sets this market apart from the others, is that it’s a night-time affair with a fully licensed bar and dining room aptly named ‘The Carwash’, because it usually is one!

    It’s a little rough round the edges but the table service and vibe more than compensates for the surroundings.

    My first visit’s street feast picks were:

    The Rib Man – moreish and tender pork ribs, falling off the bone and smothered in a choice of BBQ or Holy F*uck hot sauce

     

    Mama’s Jerk Station – Spicy chicken with a cooling mix of salad and a jazzed up tropical mayo

     

    Homeslice – Fresh wood-fire baked thin crust pizza’s with simple but delicious toppings, such as chorizo, rocket and parmesan

    Which means next time I need to make a beeline to check out …

    Big Apple Hot Dogs, Hardcore Prawn and  The Bowler – I tasted the hotdogs before and know it’s a great offering and read review on the others, so curious to try out… I’m sure the vendors will come and go as the weeks go on, but it’s good to see how they mix things up and create wacky executions of their classics like the HomeSlice – RibMan mash-up pizza (as seen at Eat Street) and Beas of Bloomsbury’ deep fried brownies (as seen at Stock MKT).

    I don’t recommend that you dart there for 5pm before the crowds as the vendors will probably be still be setting up and getting going. Give them a chance to set up by having a post work drink then come over, I have a feeling the street feast party vibe kicked in post 9pm, judging by tweets that night…

    Street Feast is usually held on Friday nights
    Website: http://www.streetfeastlondon.com/  – for updates on venues
    twitter: @StreetFeastLDN