Thursday, August 28, 2014

A La Petite Chaise

36 Rue de Grenelle
Paris, France

K and J were in Paris so I nipped over for a day to see them (justifying it as cheaper than a flight to LA). Obviously if you're in Paris you should try to eat well - using David Lebovitz as our guide, we ended up at A La Petite Chaise, which is a very old, very classic French restaurant. Charming old fashioned waiters, a decor that looks like it could have been unchanged from when it opened in the 1860s, and a menu that reads like you'd expect. Escargot, French onion soup, and for me, an avocado and citrus salad (my slight nod at trying not to have a heart attach). I made up for that starter with the duck breast main, which was executed well and came with a lovely puck of dauphinoise potato. Creme brulee to end, with an appropriately shattering caramel top - though I should point out that the portion was absolutely enormous and I was sadly unable to finish, which disappointed our waiter. K picked out a great wine (though I can't recall exactly what it was) and it made for the perfect three hour dinner after a long day of walking.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Waterfront

Middleton Rd 
Hartlepool Harbour
TS24 0UG

I'm not usually one to frequent harbourside chippies but when I found myself in Hartlepool with a colleague and a couple of spare hours before our train home, we took advantage of the sunny weather to have a few pints and enjoy the local delicacies. Both of us were up for getting some authentic fish and chips up north, and this takeaway seemed to be doing brisk business, even at the early hour of 4pm. We both had a small cod and chips (only £4.50!), though my colleague also got thick brown gravy poured over his portion. He loved the oniony gravy - I was very happy to keep my fish and chips as crisp as possible. Unsurprisingly it was absolutely delicious - flaky, pearly white chunks of cod that fell apart with the gentle prod of a plastic fork, with a shatteringly thin batter - and even the chips, which looked fresh cut and came in irregular sizes, were as crunchy as they should be on the outside, and full of fluffy potato goodness on the inside. Perhaps it's for the best that this is quite a trip to make - otherwise I might be upping my fish and chip consumption by an astonishing amount.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Sausage and Mushroom Pasta

I am having a blast with these quick pasta dishes - ever since I learned that a block of cream cheese (or soft cheese, as they call it over here) is a great "sauce" for pasta, I've been throwing it in with various ingredients to great success (or at least to A's approval, which is basically the same thing). Today's recipe follows this theme.

Sausage and Mushroom Pasta
Serves 4


500g dried pasta (I like fusilli for this)
1 container cream cheese / soft cheese
250g mushrooms (I used plain old white mushrooms but I'm sure any would work)
250g sausage (I went with a plain British pork sausage)
handful of parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste


1. Boil the pasta according to the package directions in well salted water. Drain, reserving a little pasta water.

2. Meanwhile, cook the sausages and then dice into small pieces. Reserve any fat that remains in the pan from the sausages.

3. Slice the mushrooms and cook them in the sausage pan, adding salt and pepper to taste.

4. Mix pasta, sausage, mushrooms and cream cheese in pot, adding a little reserved pasta water if the sauce needs loosening.

5. Serve, adding parsley on top and additional pepper if desired.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

The De Beauvoir Arms

113 Southgate Rd
N1 3JS

The De Beauvoir Arms is one of our many incredible local pubs - it was something else when we moved to this neighborhood but I love the new incarnation. Sunny and bright inside, with plenty of outdoor picnic tables for good weather, it serves really satisfying pub grub and some small tapas style dishes as well, so I can always find something I want to eat. Great for vegetarians and pescetarians as well, which means we visit quite often with A's mum. The menu changes every day, so sometimes when you have something really nice it's sad to not be able to just order it again, but some things do repeat regularly. This picture is from a Sunday lunch with a group of eight adults, one baby. I had the spring chicken roast, while A went for the lamb - both were fabulous (I stole a bit of the cauliflower cheese that came with the lamb) and if you know me, you know how much I adore deconstructing small birds. It was perfectly cooked, full of chickeny juices and plenty of veg. I usually don't have the patience to make Sunday roasts myself as there are a few too many components for a meal just for me and A - so it is great to know that aside from the Drapers, this pub around the corner can also satisfy all Sunday roast needs.

Thursday, July 31, 2014


53 St. Giles High Street

So since my first visit to Assa in 2010 I've been back a few more times with my Korean food loving friends.  It's in such a convenient location for pre-theatre meals, and it always helps me deal with my kimchi cravings when they hit. This latest visit was with P before we went to go see Once (which was pretty good, but I like the film more). I have been accused of going nuts with the ordering whenever P and I get together, but it worked out well at Assa. A kimchi seafood pancake was absolutely terrific - crisp crust, juicy seafood and the fermenty funk of kimchi all combine well here (plus the pancake didn't fall apart like it does at so many other places). I also loved the kimchi and pork belly over tofu - it felt like a relatively light dish due to all the tofu and cabbage, but the shreds of pork belly gave it this incredibly luxurious edge as well. And finally, a spicy chicken dish - probably the most "normal" dish of the evening but it came with plenty of rice for two people and was a great way to round off the meal. All that, plus a couple of Korean beers - exactly the right amount for greedy people like me and P. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Bogayo Restaurant and Bar

320 Old Street

C and I were meeting up for a bite to eat before some friends played a gig in a nearby club. Bogayo came up on Opentable with a special offer of 50% off food, so we decided to give Moroccan food a try. Due to my inability to keep up with the amount of food I eat, this post is probably about 9 months old, and therefore my memory is not exactly precise. Starters were decent but nothing extraordinary - the mains were much better and we were particularly taken with the lamb tagine pictured above (lamb shank coated in Moroccan aromatic sauce with prunes, apricot, roasted almonds & sesame seeds). It was a massive portion and absolutely perfectly cooked - the lamb was falling of the bone and infused with loads of flavor. I'm pretty sure we meant to get a seafood dish as well, but they had run out, so we ended up with the mixed grill, which was ok but nowhere near as good as the lamb tagine. So I'd go back for the tagine, and maybe try something else.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Flying Pig

58-60 E Dulwich Rd
SE22 9AX

So pictures above are from our first visit to The Flying Pig, with T and R and their baby. It was a Sunday lunchtime, and the pub was heaving with children, so it's a good choice if you are looking for family-friendly atmosphere and don't want anyone to glare at you if you are with an uncontrollable child/baby (not that T&R's baby was anything but very well behaved the whole time). My buffalo wings were disappointing as usual (why is it so hard for UK restaurants to fry some chicken wings and dip them in Frank's hot sauce mixed with butter?) but the beef rib that A had was pretty great, and you can see how the giant chunks of beef take up over half the plate. A return visit with a different group of friends was an entirely different matter though. Friday nights, the pub is definitely not a place for children, and the sound of adults drinking interesting beer is enough to deafen a person. I had to order the beef rib this time, and it was about half the size as the portion above. It was still plenty of food though, and I wouldn't have mentioned it, except that A's chicken burger came with a piece of chicken so small that as soon as he pointed it out, the waitress brought him another chicken burger. So low score for tiny first burger, but extra points for addressing that flaw immediately. When A mentioned my beef rib was tiny compared to last time, the other waitress seemed to take the statement personally, which was a bit awkward. I'm not sure how to summarize my feelings about this place - I doubt I'll be back any time soon, and Duke's Brew & Cue is better for BBQ meat, but I suppose if I found myself back in East Dulwich I might be tempted to go one more time?