Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Addis, Caledonian Road - Restaurant Review

 Another new cuisine for me. Ethiopian. I'm not sure what I was expecting - beans and rice maybe. At Addis, we were served by a Macy Gray lookalike, smiling but abrupt. We did take an awful long time to decide... My friends had been before and just remembered it all being good, so I was sure to be in for a tasty meal.
Ethiopian Red Wine

And I was. The Ethiopian wine was a must, just because. It was a light red and went well with all the dishes. We had an aubergine salad with tahini and yoghurt to start - Selata Aswad. If you're a fan of aubergine, this is another take on it. Creamy and savoury with a hint of sweetness.

For mains (and in Ethiopia they usually only serve main dishes), we ordered four. The most traditional dish is the Wot, a hot pepper and spice stew with the meat of your choice. I ordered the Doro Wot (Hot) and Macy Gray looked at me as if it were too hot for me, was I sure? I was. It wasn't. It was delicious. All dishes are served on a large Injera, which is a type of soft pancake. Each person has another rolled up on the side (and more if you require), and all the dishes are poured onto the centre. We had Awaze Tibs, a lamb dish, fried cubes of meat with Ethiopian peppers, onions and spices; Shiro Wot which is a chickpea sauce; and Fuul Musalah, a fava bean stew with feta. Each dish, all of them a 'stew', was unique, full of flavour and eaten with the fingers, by rolling up a piece of unleavened bread and scooping it up. Don't come to eat here if you are OCD.

Selata Aswad; Fuul Musalah; Doro Wot; Awaze Tibs; Shiro Wot
Only a couple of minute's walk from King's Cross station, my first foray into African cuisine certainly won't be my last. We didn't have time for dessert or coffee but apparently the ceremony surrounding the coffee is worth coming back for alone, as if the exceptional Ethiopian food wasn't enough. 

40-42 Caledonian Road
N1 9DT
Meal for two with wine ~£40

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Thursday, 6 August 2015

Ziferblat, Old Street - The Time Café (ZomatoMeetUp#2)

Time is money. In Ziferblat, you only pay for your time. A 10 minute walk down Old Street (keep going, you'll find it!), on the junction with Shoreditch High Street, you'll see a non-descript shopfront with a door to the flat upstairs. Get yourself buzzed in, take a clock and enjoy the relaxed homely feel of somebody's living room. You can work, you can chat, you can drink coffee. No menus or table service, you can avail yourself of whatever you find in the kitchen: tea (of many varieties), coffee, cereal, bring your own food and heat it up... There are board games, bookswaps, and even a piano. Can't be bothered to hoover? Host a book club or an informal meeting here instead of in your house.

With free Wi-fi and comfy chairs, endless tea, and biscuits, you could end up staying for longer than you mean to. At 5p per minute, your clock ticks but you don't notice. The lovely David will help you with whatever you need.

I was there for the Zomato Meet Up. A bunch of lovely food bloggers, who all write reviews on Zomato, as well as their own fabulous food blogs. All foodies, all singing from the same hymn sheet. We all brought a dish of our own to share, and devoured each other's. David made us tea, and Zomato's Alexandra and Sheepa made us feel like VIPs.



Malaysian Curry Puffs by Vi Vian
Vi Vian's Food Blog

Ricotta and Chocolate Bundt Cake by Federica
Whatever Gets You Through The Day

White Russian Cupcakes by ME!
Recipe from KatieCakes
I made 'em, I didn't invent them!

Salted Caramel Brownies by Sheepa
Food That Makes You Smile

Dairy-free Zebra cake- with Nutella!  by Naomi

Feta and Spring Onion Bouikos by Sheepa
Food That Makes You Smile

Roasted Vegetables and Couscous with Balsamic Dressing by Ellie
The Young Domestic Goddess

Vietnamese Mango Noodle Salad by May
Red Velvet London

Initially I was apprehensive about the absence of alcohol, but I came away at the end of the evening just as buzzed up and feeling as though I'd been drinking wine all evening. The chat, the food, and the common love of food and writing made it an event to cherish.

Thank you Zomato, and Ziferblat for hosting.

All photos by Sheepa.

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Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Kaspar's at the Savoy - Hot Table review for Fabric Magazine

This month's issue of Fabric Magazine is out and on page 49 there is a Hot Table feature. Written by yours truly:

Hot Table: Kaspar's at the Savoy

Amazing food. Amazing feeling!

Here's some shots of the food I had:

Seafood Starters: Salmon tartar, oysters in apple and celery with caviar, lobster bisque, scallops on squash puree, tuna sashimi, and smoked haddock in watercress soup with a poached quails egg.

Slow roasted lamb with chorizo risotto
Sea Trout with asparagus and Jacqueline sauce
Red Mullet on fennel puree with dessicated olives

After Eight and Balsamic Eton Mess
Big thanks to Fabric for sending me along.

Fabric Magazine
Fabric on Facebook

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Tayyabs, Whitechapel - Restaurant Review

'The Lamb Chops,' he said. 'The best lamb chops ever.' Well, yes. They were... really, really, really good. I wouldn't usually go for Indian and order lamb chops. But at Tayyabs, you must. They're delicious. With some secret Indian ingredient, they are succulent and spicy and you just have to forget your Western manners and gnaw every bit of the meat off the bone.

Located on Fieldgate Street in Whitechapel, this traditional Punjabi restaurant is a destination restaurant. Off the beaten track from tourists, the place is packed with businessmen, city boys and, most importantly, lots of 'locals' - Asian families. The staff are brusque and efficient, they have no time to be friendly and chatty, too busy dealing with hundreds of customers. After only a few minutes of queuing, we were seated and had ordered, and everything arrived as it was ready. 

    A great range of starters. The absence of onion bhajis had me wondering how to compare and contrast with all my other favourite Indian restaurants, but this meant I got to try five different starters, and I could have kept eating them all night. Chicken Tikka, lamb chops (of course), paneer Tikka, Samosas and Pakoras. Some of the mains arrived before the paneer, but we didn't mind, we were hungry.  

Spicy pappadoms, chicken Tikka, lamb chops.
The main course selection was relatively limited, consisting of karahi dishes, different meat versions of this traditional Punjabi cooking method, so chicken, chicken keema, lamb (gosht), and Dhaal. But somehow they were all distinctive and all tasted delicious. A range of sides, vegetable dishes and sizzling dishes also caused much head-turning and 'mmmm, wish we'd ordered that too.' I loved the dishes they were served on, black shallow Balti-type dishes. Luckily for them, they didn't fit in my handbag... 

Main courses
 The food at Tayyabs is fresh and delicately spiced, and seems to be as authentic as any Indian food I've tried in London. You can tell it's a family run business, who care about the food, and are just focusing on getting their food out to their customers who are all clamouring to eat it. Bring your own alcohol (and openers!) if you wish, as Tayyabs serve only soft drinks and complimentary water by the bottle.

Fennel mixture, to aid digestion. And retain the flavour in your mouth for the rest of the evening.

Excuse my rubbish photos, I was far too eager to eat...

83-89 Fieldgate Street
London E1 1JU
Tel: 020 7247 9543 /020 7247 6400 /020 7247 8521 

Dinner for four, no alcohol: ~£65

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Friday, 24 July 2015

Disco Ball Birthday Cake

 My littlest one turned 9 last week. Every year I say it, and I'll say it again, where on earth does the time go? This year's party was a garden/pool/disco for 14 girls. I know, what was I thinking... practically teenagers, they are. Crikey, I'm not sure I'm ready for this!
Disco Ball Cake
But this cake was reasonably easy. I made a 9" Victoria sponge, filled with vanilla buttercream. No strawberry jam, as strawberries tend to flare up my daughter's eczema. This layer was covered in raspberry pink fondant (which you would think would have a similar effect, but not so far). The disco ball I made by making a giant cupcake Victoria sponge, slicing and carving into a vague spherical shape, and then covering initially in silver fondant. Then I cut out millions of squares of white fondant, and stuck them on, starting with the middle line, and working my way around. On top I put a star shape to fit the last bit. Then I painted all this with silver colouring (similar to my Porsche cake) and sprinkled over plenty of edible glitter. The 9, the little stars and the lettering were hand cut and painted similarly.

Happy Birthday Little One.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

A Naked Wedding Cake

Thank you to Roya and Dan for giving me the honour of making their wedding cake.
A challenge for sure. The first wedding cake I've ever attempted. Without a doubt, if the bride had wanted a perfect smooth shiny symmetrical cake, it would have been a no from me. But Roya's vision was for a naked cake, piled with fresh fruit and filled with fresh cream. 'I could do that,' I said. 'Would you?' she said. 'oh... okay then!'

So here it is. Four layers of cake. A 12" chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream, topped with pecan nuts and blueberries, a nod to the American groom. A 10" Victoria sponge filled with strawberry jam and fresh whipped cream, topped with strawberries and raspberries. A 7" lemon drizzle cake filled with lemon buttercream. On top, a heart-shaped Persian love cake filled with fresh saffron and rosewater cream, sprinkled with chopped pistachios and rose petals. The bride's family are Iranian.

A little bit of edible glitter, a few Persian cupcakes and rosemary strewn around, and a hand made topper by Suzie, and I think they liked it...

All photos by Ian Rolfe Photography.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Chinese Unchopped - A Class with Jeremy Pang

Back to the School of Wok! I love it. I've learned such a lot there, from Jeremy et al., and Chinese food has been revolutionised for me. Who knew it would be just a few core techniques, key ingredients and lots and lots of chopping...?

Head Chef Jeremy Pang is an up-and-coming TV chef, running an award winning Oriental Cookery School, and now, author of Chinese Unchopped, authentic Chinese recipes, broken down into simple techniques.

 To go with the new book (which Jez has signed for me!) the School are putting on classes with Jeremy where he takes us through the crab claw (keeping your fingers out of harm's way whilst chopping and slicing), the Wok Clock (placing all your ingredients in clockwise order in preparation for the stir fry part), and wok tossing (cooking the fresh ingredients in lightning quick time).

Essentially, Chinese cooking is 90% prep, 10 % cooking. With ingredients like soy sauce (light and dark), sesame oil, spring onions and the infamous Chinese Five Spice (that's star anise, cinnamon, clove, fennel seeds, and one other spice (or five), which could be anything from chilli, garlic, ginger to Sichuan pepper, or all of them!), authentic dishes can be cooked up with all the essentials, the cleaver, the wok, the slicing and dicing. Then the braising, the stir-frying, deep-frying and the roasting. Oh yes, those Peking ducks you see hanging in the window of Chinatown, double cooked - fried and roasted.

Chinese Unchopped: The Wok Clock
On the menu in this class are shiitake and Chinese chive dumplings, Sichuan braised aubergine, and black bean beef in beer. We begin by learning the secret of holding and handling a cleaver. Yes, a big choppy chopper Chinese cleaver you see in all the movies. I handled one of those. They are amazing. Sooooo sharp... Jez taught us how to hold the cleaver - relax those shoulders - and with the other hand, the crab claw, where the knuckles rest against the cleaver in such a way that you can never, ever, chop anything other than the ingredients!

Dumplings. An enigma? Now, with Jeremy's guidance, some dexterity and a really flavourful filling, deep fried gyozas are handmade. Some of the class showed more skill than others when it came to folding, but once cooked, those dumplings were delicious.

Cooking with the wok, we learned that the oil must be smoking hot, and to manoeuvre your ingredients so that you control the temperature. And you need to be quick. After all that prep, this is the crucial part. 
Shiitake Dumplings, Jeremy in action rolling dumpling pastry, using the Wok Clock, and Black Bean Beef with Beer.

Jez is an excellent teacher. He talks like he writes. He writes like he talks, From chatting to him and then following his guidance in the class, taking the Chinese Unchopped cookbook  home, it feels as though you have his handwritten instructions with which to make all your favourite Chinese dishes. And I can't wait to get stuck in.

All recipes are in the book Chinese Unchopped, and classes can be booked online at The School of Wok. Big thanks to the team at the School.

Hello to fellow foodies Rosie and Mylen

Read my article for Fabric Magazine, here.