Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Le Mary Celeste

Le Mary Celeste
1, rue Commines (3rd)

Paris, France

This was so long ago (April) that I can't tell you what we had with any detail, but the one dish that really sticks out in my mind is the deviled eggs. I kind of wished I wasn't sharing that with C & A. We also had some nice cocktails - it's an attractive space and the food was all interesting and good - but some months on I only remember the eggs and the horrifically slow service, which was almost comical by the end. Don't go if you want any semblance of speed or order to your meal - if you're happy to spend three hours getting a selection of small plates out then it is perfect. P.S. A's coworker was there a week after us and experienced the same level of service so at least I know it wasn't just us.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Feta and Scallion Tart

UPDATE: It's now over two years since I first posted this and it's become a go-to staple whenever I have feta and spring onions in the house. Some edits below to reflect how I usually make this.

I love the idea of a super quick "pizza" at home, and all I needed in addition to things in my cupboard were feta and scallions, so it was a simple decision to make this. I have seen people suggest adding vodka to pastry before - apparently it evaporates very quickly and keeps the pastry tender? - but may have to try this once without vodka to determine whether it is a significant addition. I always make it without vodka now - no noticeable difference. Also, I think maybe my sheet pan is smaller than the one the recipe calls for - 1/4 cup of olive oil meant the tray was swimming in it, and I think the temperature for the oven is too high as well as it quickly meant that smoke was billowing out of the oven and I almost asphyxiated A and myself. Also I no longer use the olive oil coating on the sheet pan. Just some parchment paper works fine. I also skipped the butter as I had issues with topping feta with butter. And never bother with the butter either. Thankfully the end result was fantastic (having the leftovers tonight, in fact) so I am going to tweak this and make it again, even though the original recipe was a bit of a disaster. New recipe is anything but a disaster!

Feta and Scallion Tart
Serves 4
Adapted from Serious Eats


3 teaspoons vodka (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup (245g) water
1 egg
1 1/4 cups
(160g) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Kosher salt
200g crumbled feta
4 scallions, thinly sliced


Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 200C. In a large bowl, mix together vodka, 2 tablespoons olive oil, water, and egg and whisk until everything is evenly incorporated. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt. Gently whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients until a batter forms, making sure to whisk out all the lumps.

Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour batter onto sheet pan, tilt so it coats most of the pan, and sprinkle with feta and scallions. Bake until feta is beginning to brown and crust is crisp and golden, about 25 minutes. Sometimes if the bottom isn't crisp enough when I take it out, I take it off the sheet pan and pop it directly on an oven rack for a few more minutes, like you'd do with an oven baked pizza. Let sit for 5 minutes before slicing.

Other things I have thrown on top - frozen peas, parmesan, rocket, etc. I've never tried any meat products as I quite like having a quick veggie option at home, but I don't see why any cured meats such as pepperoni / salami / prosciutto wouldn't work well (you might need to add it a little later in the baking time so it doesn't burn though).

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Buxton Tap House

Buxton Tap House
George St
Buxton SK17 6AT

Let's be honest, I am so behind that it no longer makes sense to try and do posts in order. So here's something from last Friday, when we were on our way to G&H's wedding in Manchester. Since we were driving, we decided to spend a night in Buxton so that we wouldn't have to get up quite as early on Saturday to make it to the party. Buxton is small - with a great park, opera house, and other villagey charms. For the size of the place, there are an awful lot of drinking spots - but we settled on the Buxton Tap House due to their large selection of beers that they produce themselves. For those of you curious about the beers, follow A on Untapped - I'm just going to cover the food. We had the night's special of smoked salmon (smoked on site, which you could certainly taste!), along with a couple of "sliders" which were more like full sized sandwiches - stuffed to the brim with pulled pork, bacon, sausage and cheese. That was actually overkill - I picked out the bacon and sausage and had that with the top half of the roll, then got through the generous and tender pile of pulled pork. We also had the mac and cheese, which I would skip - it's not bad but it's not worth the calories either. Not a bad option for some dinner with your interesting beers - wish we had more time to explore Buxton properly but oh well.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Colcannon Soup

I've probably already made this soup three or four times since discovering it. It's full of flavor from all the leeks and chicken broth, and feels healthy because of the kale and the cabbage, but not too healthy - the richness of potatoes and cream and butter still make it a really enjoyable soup. Proportions are a bit different from the original since I tend to use entire packages of things and this is based on the usual sizes I can get from my grocery shops.

Colcannon Soup


75g butter
600g sliced leeks
1/2 head sliced and chopped white cabbage (approx 500g)
200g sliced and chopped kale or cavolo nero
6 medium peeled and diced white potatoes
6 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
170ml double cream
4 green onions, thinly sliced


  1. Melt butter in a large, heavy bottomed soup pot on medium heat. Add the sliced leeks, cabbage, and kale, toss to coat with the butter. Lower the heat to low, cover and gently cook until the greens are wilted, about 12 to 15 minutes.
  2. Add the diced potatoes to the pot, along with the chicken stock, bay leaves, and salt. Increase heat to bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, and cook until the potatoes are softened and falling apart, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat. Swirl in the white pepper, double cream, and sliced green onions. Taste and add more salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Balthazar's Keuken

Elandsgracht 108
1016 VA 
Amsterdam, Netherlands

PaulyG was clever enough to make a late dinner reservation here - they only do a prix fixe menu which is nice in terms of making it quite easy to order. Service is amiable but slooooow - we were even given a free first round of cocktails as a sort of apology for the time it took for us to get anyone's attention. Much like the previous night's dinner, the starters were a selection of small dishes with no choice (though since PattyG is allergic to fish they did make him a couple of small non-fish bites as a replacement). The bacon was especially nice, as were the mussels. The olives, for some unknown reason, were drenched in cumin which was way too strong for any of us to eat. There were two options for mains - steak or fish. I went for steak again (not entirely sure why as I love fish) - it was very good but PaulyG's fish choice looked better. And then I'm sure they must have brought us dessert but I cannot for the life of me remember what it was and I didn't manage to remember to take a picture either, so sorry. 

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Van Kerkwijk

Nes 41
1012 KC 
Amsterdam, Netherlands

In case you couldn't tell from the name, this place is in Amsterdam. It is frickin' awesome (except for the no reservations thing). The starters are a mix of lots of different little things - you don't pick, they just come like that, and then the waiter comes by and tells you what they have on offer at the moment for mains, and you choose one of the four or five options (PaulyG and I went for steak, PattyG had some crazy good Indonesian chicken I think) and wine is ordered and everything is just warm and convivial and great, and then you get two or three options for dessert, which is also fabulous, and then you stumble out into the street, full and merry and you meet your Dutch friend's friend who comes screeching up on her bike, tries to park it but instead ends up shoving it over while shouting "I'm so drunk!" and then you get invited to an electro techno DJ party that everyone you are with says HELL NO to and then you go home for a sleep.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Red Dog Saloon

37 Hoxton Square
N1 6NN

I had another one of my massive cravings for buffalo wings and happened to be walking past Red Dog Saloon (or at least their little fast food takeaway joint next door) - and then I found myself going inside. So - in my hunt for delicious buffalo wings around town, I have so far approved of the ones at Meat Liquor and at Duke's Brew and Cue. This is another one to add to the list - these were the biggest wings, and very nicely fried so that they stayed crisp even after a drenching in authentic buffalo sauce. I would have liked some celery sticks on the side, but all I got was blue cheese sauce which I still haven't discovered a taste for. But at least I now have three places I can go to get a fix.