Tuesday, 9 September 2014

La Bodega Negra, Soho, London

Life changes suddenly. Just a month ago I was waking up some time before midday, working at a lazy pace for a couple of hours on whatever I felt like working on and mostly had no idea which day of the week it was. Now I wake up at 7, commute to Paddington and have no time to do my laundry. I'm tired and a little stressed, yet I'm enjoying the change of pace. Many people are frightened of change, but for some reason I enjoy it. Even when it's crazy, scary, destabilising change, there is still a part of me that thrives on it. So now that I'm working flat out I'm predictably going out much more, consuming more.  I can even go to places like La Bodega Negra on a Monday night if I feel like it...
With a cancellation policy of £25 per head if we fail to cancel by 5pm, this is not somewhere I'd go when strapped for cash. I thought this was a bit harsh and off-putting until my friend pointed out that since it looks like a sex shop from the outside, people aren't just going to drop in. Nevertheless, for somewhere so well hidden and so early in the week, it was heaving. This also explained the slightly unattentive service and lack of the tap water I asked for. The sexy waitress explained later that they weren't expecting so many people and were short-staffed, so I'll give them a break.
The food was absolutely delicious. We had a few different tacos, corn salad, beans, guacamole and quesadilla. I have two favourites: soft shell crab tacos and and the massive, crunchy corn salad. I can't fault my spiced pear margarita either.
The atmosphere was great - buzzing yet romantic, full of life, glamorous. Kind of what I like to imagine Mexico itself feels like. We all paid under £40 per head with drinks, which is less than I was expecting after the scary cancellation policy.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Grandma's sorrel and yoghurt soup

Whenever I eat sorrel now it reminds me of this lovely day, a couple of years ago, when my grans were still alive. It was just ordinary summer's day then, mooching about, cooking, sunbathing... yet it will always live on in my memory as something extraordinary and special, a reminder that all things pass and to cherish the moments we have with our loved ones. This sorrel soup is different to the cold one I made that day
Once you've got hold of the sorrel, either by foraging or by buying some in an online shop like this one, the soup is very simple to make. It tastes just like the one my Babcia Ziuta used to make, yet the recipe comes not from her but from this lady's grandma
That's the lady who sold us the sorrel at the market. We always wash the sorrel thoroughly first. Fry it in a large knob of butter until it wilts. Allow it to cool for about 20min, then blend. The old method is to push it through a sieve with a wooden spoon, but blending is much easier, so I suggest to do that. Put it in the biggest pan you can find and fill half-way with cold water. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for half an hour. Near the end of the cooking time, we season the soup with salt and pepper and thicken with plain flour, stirring all the time. Bring it back to the boil for 5min, allowing the flour to do it's job.
Before adding the yoghurt, we allow the soup to cool down a little bit again, for about 20-30min. The lady's grandma would have used thick cream rather than yoghurt I expect but the lady uses yoghurt and it works very well. Not to mention being healthier. So you do it like this: put the yoghurt you intend to use in a large cup and add a tablespoon of soup, stir it in. Add another tablespoon and stir it in. Repeat about 5 times. Finally, pour the whole thing into the soup and stir vigorously. Heat the soup a little before serving. Hard boiled eggs inside each bowl are a necessary addition, the potatoes with dill are optional but highly desirable

Ingredients

1 large bag of sorrel
50g butter
3 tablespoons flour
150ml greek yoghurt
Salt and white pepper
Hard boiled eggs