Sunday 27 November 2011

Jose in London Bridge

I have walked past here a few times now and always wanted to go in and sample the tasty-looking tapas - it looks just like a typical little restaurant you'd find in Barcelona. In fact, it is one. Except that it's in London Bridge. It's new and a real find, I haven't had jamon this good outside of Spain. My favourite dish was a shocker, as I would never, ever order baby potatoes with chicken. But it was the first time I'd tried romesco sauce, and it was a true revelation (it's the photo with my hand in it).
Other stuff was good too. Though Petey pointed out that the hake up there with the morcilla would have tasted better with the vegetable ratatouille-type stuff just above it, whereas the duck egg would have been better suited to the black pudding. He was right, of course. The joys of going to dinner with a chef... Actually, it was fantastic for me, because before our other friend, Tish, joined us, we managed to talk food for about two hours, and there's little I love more than talking food. Yet I always feel a bit guilty when I realise other people are not as interested as me in some cheese or cookbook I've been going on about for twenty minutes. But Petey is
And there's Tishy leaving the join in a typically dramatic fashion. The whole meal, for three, with plenty of wine was about £80. And there's a great cocktail bar just down the road, if you don't want your night to end here, but unfortunately I can't recall the name

Saturday 26 November 2011

A Silver Bullet at Anchor and Hope

It takes a mean drink to drag me away from my dirty (read filthy) vodka martinis. Meet Silver Bullet
It's 1.5 measures vodka to 1 measure Kummel
A Silver Bullet is ideal as an aperitif, because of the slight bitter note that sharpens the appetite. Kummel is flavoured with caraway seeds. Unfortunately, we didn't eat at the Anchor and Hope last night, as my friend, Petey, is a chef there and, understandably, wanted to try something new. Fortunately, we ate at another place I've always wanted to try, which is Jose in London Bridge. It was a fabulous meal, which I'll tell you about tomorrow. I am still too tired and hungover to write about it properly now

Thursday 17 November 2011

Japanese-Polish-Russian sandwiches

So Japanese-Polish-Russian fusion - don't ever say that I don't show you anything new. I'm being fasetious, of course, normally I would never attempt something like this. It brings to mind the time we were in a chalet in the French Alps and the guy running it made us moussaka and a stir fry. My dad said "right let's see what we've got here - Greece and China. I think there's a reason why those countries are so far apart". The English families thought he was terribly rude of course, but I thought he'd made a good point. We went out for fondue and raclette after that. However, despite my bad fusion connotations, I wanted to make a Japanese style sandwich, because I saw one in my favourite-for-now cookbook, Simply Japanese, as well as this blog. And I had filling left over from my Polish Russian-style dumplings...
So, I used the technique of rolling each slice of bread until it's very, very thin (crusts off), from this recipe for Nori and Mimolette sandwiches
I think her knife's better than mine, though, because my sandwiches are nowhere near as neat! And then the filling left over from my dumpling days was a rough mixture of ricotta, boiled potato and fried onion (in butter). In terms of aesthetics, I think my sandwich needs another layer - ham perhaps; in terms of taste - it was perfect for lunch, served with a cup of instant borsht. My colleague, Matt, who had a sample, agreed that the weird experiment had, in fact, paid off

Tuesday 15 November 2011

Koya on Frith Street

I was going to say that if you're a patient person, then Koya is the best place to eat a cheap meal in Soho. But I'm one of the most impatient people I know and I still loved it, so that doesn't really work. I guess some things are just worth the wait
So as long as you have the time to queue for a table, then wait to get served, then wait for your food, then this is the best place for a cheap meal in Soho. Two of us ate cold udon with warm duck, one of us a butter bean and clam stew. Everything was delicious, to the point where the conversation completely ceased as we ate. We were also very hungry by that point (I may have said I'll eat my own arm if we don't get our food soon). Yet, as soon as we left, there was regret - we should have stayed for longer and sampled more...
Instead, we went to see Melancholia at the Prince Charles cinema. It was packed so we sat in the front row. Massive mistake - the film is shot on a hand held camera. Within half an hour I was wondering whether the food had any hidden milk products in it. Half an hour after that, the woman sitting next to me took her smelly trainers off, which was the last straw for me. I lent over to Harriett and said that I'm going to have to leave as I feel so sick. She felt exactly the same, as did Hannah -we had all been suffering in silence. For one brief moment we wondered whether it was the food, but that's practically impossible - it tasted fresher and healthier than anything I'd eaten in a long time. We'll be going back to double check shortly. Probably for a weekend lunch though, in the hope that the wait will be at least a bit shorter

Saturday 12 November 2011

Garlic girolles on toast (with an incredibly filthy vodka martini)

I have a confession to make. I though girolles were chanterelles for years. Until this very day actually, when I went to Borough Market with my dad and all became clear. Well, kind of. I'm still confused as to what chanterelles are to be perfectly honest- the ones I saw were very dark brown, and I though they were supposed to be rust-coloured. I clearly know my mushrooms better in Polish than I do in English, or French even. And even that doesn't mean I'd take anyone I care about mushroom picking, because I could all too easily poison them. If you have any people you don't like, however, who just love mushrooms - send them right this way, because I do so love mushroom picking
So here are my girolles sauteed in plenty of butter, with a couple of cloves of garlic chucked in, and some salt. Then served on a piece of lovely, seedy toast...
And that's an incredibly filthy vodka martini to wash it all down with. No one would dare to serve it this filthy in a bar, but that's just how I like it. It took me all evening to take a picture where this drink looks even vaguely decent. I must be drunk. I've also been musing on how a drink this beautiful and sophisticated can look so much like pond water... what does it all mean?

Monday 7 November 2011

Pork hock and kale mash in Eastbourne

I went to Eastbourne at the weekend. I used to hate it there as a teenager ("where are the cool shops/bars/clubs?") but with time I've grown to appreciate this sleepy seaside town. I love walking on the South Downs, trawling the charity shops and watching the sea. Although I'm sure that I've changed a lot since I was a teenager, this is one of the only things that I actually feel has changed inside me.  Whenever I come here, I read some of my old diaries. I have hundreds of them, as I've been writing since I was 12, and read Anne Frank. Sometimes they make me cringe, other times they make me laugh, but this time what I read just made me really sad. Between the lines, there seemed to be this longing for something pure and good that was forever out of reach, and I had no idea how to find. What cheered me up, however, and what I initially wanted to share with you, was this dinner my mum made. With a little help from me, in the form of drinking wine, chatting and grating cheese
It's a pork hock, otherwise known as knuckle. The one up there was already prepared (mum brought it  from Holland, where it's more popular than here) but if you buy this at the butcher, you need to cook it for a looong time in some kind of sauce. Beer and a bay leaf work well. If you have a slow cooker, you could leave it on all day, otherwise I reckon about 3 hours, but you'll know when it's ready as the meat will be practically falling off the bone. The mash was extra creamy, as mum used double cream instead of milk. We mashed it with salt and then added chopped and sauteed kale. Then, just to be really healthy we put loads of cheddar on top and baked it in the oven until the cheese melted. Amazing.

Friday 4 November 2011

A couple of beetroot salads

One of the few good things about working in the arse-end of nowhere, is that you are close to the countryside. In our case, that means Osterley Park and a great farm shop selling fruit and vegetables grown on the grounds. I always get tempted into buying something. I mean, look - massive local beetroot at 20p each. And they look so autumnal sitting there, nestling among the chestnut leaves
Since I'm all about being healthy and pure right now (last two weekends excluded), I decided to make a couple of salads - one more Mediterranean, one Eastern European in flavour. The beetroots need to be cooked for about 40min, cooled, then peeled first
Mediterranean Beetroot Salad

Sunflower seeds, toasted
Hallumi cheese, fried in olive oil until crispy
Squeeze of lemon juice
Olive oil
Black pepper
East European Beetroot Salad

Tiny potatoes, cooked, cooled and halved
Creme fraiche/yoghurt