Thursday, October 09, 2014

Rotorino



434 Kingsland Rd
London
E8 4AA

Not to sound like completely smug jerks, but A and I found ourselves having a conversation about how amazing our neighbourhood has turned out to be since we moved in almost six years ago. Neither of us were familiar with it when we decided to take a small leap of faith and just go for it, and in the years since we have seen a huge number of restaurants, bars, and shops open up, almost all pretty much designed to be right up our alley of interests.

Smug jerk-ness aside, we now have a restaurant at the end of our road that has a chef that is well known and well awarded. Rotorino, which didn't have a sign up when we went (but I think that has now changed) is a gem of a neighbourhood restaurant. We went on a Sunday evening, so things were pretty chill. I had my sleb spot early on, helped by the fact that we'd just watched Broadchurch in the couple of weeks before visiting Rotorino, so hi Nigel! 

As soon as I saw a starter of pig face, I had to get it. A was much less enthusiastic about that decision, but gamely tried one piece. My counterargument is who doesn't love breaded, deep fried bits of juicy pork? Who cares if it comes from the pig's face, or leg, or tummy?

We then shared some ricotta gnudi - one of the richest pasta dishes I have ever tasted but in such a delightful way, though I'm glad we shared. The roast chicken (whoops, there was ricotta stuffed under its skin as well) was fought over eagerly by the two of us and went perfectly with a side of roast new potatoes. 

The meal only stumbled when we got to desserts. We went for a three-peat on ricotta with the fried ravioli, but the dough was bland and it was less a ravioli and more a stodgy filled pocket of dough. While the savory-sweet description sounded nice, it didn't really work in practice and I wouldn't get it again.

That said, we loved Rotorino enough to talk about it constantly, plotting our next trip there - so we'll be back soon and ready to try more of the short but elegant menu.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

The Grain Store


Granary Square
1-3 Stable St
London 
N1C 4AB

J and I hadn't seen each other in a while, and Kings Cross tends to be a good place for us to meet as it's on both of our ways home from work, so we agreed to meet at The Grain Store, a restaurant I had heard mixed reviews about but was still curious to try. One of the big draws is the cocktail list brought to you from the genius behind 69 Colebrooke Row, but as we were both avoiding alcohol for various reasons, we didn't get stuck in (but not to worry, I'll be back to try it). I loved my starter, listed as asparagus, minted mushy peas, parmesan mousse - each component was full of flavor and it felt light and perfectly in season. J had the cauliflower 'couscous' & spelt salad, vegetable merguez, yoghurt & pistachio - I have no idea how they formed a sausage out of vegetables but it was excellent, and a very generous portion indeed. For my main, I saw the word kimchi and could go no further, so I selected the homemade kimchi cabbage broth, udon noodles & squid, which was again exactly what I wanted - a broth full of deep kimchi notes, with springy noodles and tender squid. I believe J had some kind of lamb and aubergine dish which she really enjoyed as well - clean plates at the end of the night for both of us, and what was even nicer is that we walked out full but not overly so - the emphasis on the vegetables really shines through at The Grain Store and I'd love to go back for more.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Breakfast in a pan


I'm not sure this even qualifies as a recipe as it was essentially thrown together using leftovers and store cupboard goods, but it was such a lovely breakfast that I'm writing it down anyway.

Breakfast in a Pan
Ingredients

handful of diced onions
1/3 cup of cooked beans (I used haricot, I think)
1/2 can of tinned chopped tomatoes
1 cooked sausage
1 egg
chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste
crusty bread

Method

Fry the onion in a bit of oil or fat until translucent, or just beginning to brown. Add beans and tomatoes and cook down until tomatoes are thick and chunky. Salt and pepper to taste.

Add sausage to pan to heat through. Make a little well in your pan and crack and egg into it. Cover with a lid so that the egg white cooks through but the yolk is still runny. Remove from heat and sprinkle parsley on top.

Serve with crusty, toasted bread for scooping up the whole mixture.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Lockhart


22-24 Seymour Pl
London
W1H 7NL

P and I had both been wanting to try The Lockhart for a while, so plans were made, and we found ourselves there on a warm weekday evening. The menu makes me want to try all of it, but with just a tiny bit of restraint we find ourselves getting catfish goujons and chicken oysters to start, from the list of tiny snack plates, and then for a main I plump for the stuffed quail while P has the braised lamb shoulder. Of course we have to get cornbread (we both love cornbread) and I add some collard greens for the dark green component that will make us both feel better about our health. If you look closely at the cornbread above, you'll see that it's swimming in butter. Swimming. (Swimming in a good way, you ask? Yes.) Oh, and the cocktails! Mine is frankly weird, though it grows on me after a few sips - the smoke & mirrors with prosecco, mezcal and agave. P has a lady lockhart, which is much easier to drink - gin, maraschino, lemon and cucumber. Everything is refined, everything is fabulous, everything is bright and sparkly and funny.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Chez Paul


13 Rue de Charonne
75011 
Paris, France

So in a bizarre feat of scheduling, I was back in Paris a couple of weeks after my day with K and J. This time it was to see new family, namely nephew G who had just arrived in the world about a month earlier. This trip also coincided with C's birthday, so on a Sunday evening, C, A and I headed out for a traditional French bistro experience. Again I placed our trust in David Lebovitz, who so far has not done anything to make me think he is anything up a genius, and Chez Paul was agreed upon, since it was within walking distance of where we were staying. Due to a day full of eating, we skipped starters and went straight for mains - C chose cod, which she was delighted with, and A and I shared a lamb shank for two, which was so incredibly tender and full of flavor that the two of us finished off the whole thing, even though it was enormous. Some side dishes accompanied the lamb - mushrooms, and giant beans in a tomato sauce - all of it just right for a relaxed dinner. We couldn't decide on dessert or cheese, so decided to get some cheese and then see how we felt. The cheese selection was again very well judged - served at the right temperature with some lovely crackers and breads, I think. And while we would have ordered dessert if a server came by, for some reason after cheese we were completely ignored. There are worse things than being ignored in an alcove in a lovely French bistro - but it did mean that by the time we got someone's attention we were ready to depart so we headed off without a little sweet to finish off the meal.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Lemon-Avocado Spaghetti With Shrimp From 'Pasta Modern'


I thought this would be a nice summery pasta dish and wasn't wrong. It's quite lemony, in case you are sensitive to acidic dishes - but the creaminess of the avocado is a very nice way of creating a sauce that is both healthy and deceptively lush. I'm sure you could substitute a lot of different types of seafood in (I subbed salmon for shrimp, to start) or you could even leave it out entirely for a vegetarian version (perhaps with some chunks of zucchini or squash to replace the protein).


Lemon-Avocado Spaghetti With Salmon
Serves 4
Adapted from Serious Eats


Ingredients

1 large onion, finely sliced
1/4 cup (60 ml) dry white wine
250 g fresh salmon filets, no skin
Olive oil
Salt
500 g spaghetti
1 avocado
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Freshly ground black pepper 
chopped parsley to garnish

Method

1. In a skillet large enough to hold the pasta, combine the onions and wine over medium heat and simmer until the onions are soft, about 10 minutes. 

2. Add the salmon and raise the heat to high to evaporate any remaining wine; as the salmon cooks break it into large chunks and cook until the onions are caramelized and the salmon is cooked, about 5 minutes. Off the heat, add 1 tablespoon oil and salt to taste.
 

3. Boil the pasta in salted water until it is al dente. Drain and toss with the onions.
 

4. Meanwhile, peel and pit the avocado and puree it with the lemon juice, in a blender or small food processor until very smooth. Stir the mixture into the pasta and add half the lemon zest until well combined; re-season the dish with salt, if needed. Top the pasta with the remaining zest, parsley and pepper.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A La Petite Chaise





36 Rue de Grenelle
75007 
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.