Thursday, July 24, 2014

Bogayo Restaurant and Bar


320 Old Street
London
EC1V 9DR

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
London 
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?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Punter


3 Pound Hill
Cambridge 
CB3 0AE

So a group visit to Cambridge to see C and A before baby E was born resulted in a lovely walk, a fortunate stop in a pub by the river while a torrential downpour occurred, and then dinner at The Punter, a cozy pub. Sadly this was quite a while ago so I can't remember exactly what that terrine was, but I do remember enjoying it. A look at their website shows that their menu changes regularly, so there's no way of finding out, but it says a bit about how much care and thought they put into the food - no same-old same-old prepared stuff being deep fried in the kitchen, that's for sure. It was a wonderful evening with great company - so I'd be happy to go back for more.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Earlham Street Clubhouse


35 Earlham Street
London 
WC2H 9LD

When P emailed me about a place that was 90s themed and served cocktails and pizza, I immediately made arrangements with him to visit. Those are three of our favorite things! Walking in, I was struck by how much they tried to stuff it full of Americana - battered metal signs advertising PBR, license plates everywhere, etc. This whole obsession with the US is at full throttle in London.

Since P and I arrived at 6.45pm, we were able to take advantage of both the before 7pm special and the after 7pm special on this Tuesday night. Before 7pm, you can get a gigantic pizza and bottle of wine for £25. After 7pm, they had a 2-4-1 deal on one of the cocktails (Rolling with the Homies, Ketel 1 vodka, peach and strawberry purees, fresh lemon and sugar, topped with fizz). We opted for a "Ross and Rachel" pizza which meant you could get a half-and-half pizza - we chose the Vincent Vega (tomato, mozzarella, spicy Calabrian sausage and fresh basil) and the Ferris Bueller (tomato, mozzarella, chilli chicken, spicy salami, scotch bonnet chillies and red onion). Neither half was all that spicy, but I still really enjoyed the thin crust pizza. It took forever to eat the whole thing as it was so enormous! The wine was drinkable, and the cocktails were long and boozy and sweet, so all in all it was a pretty decent success. Just be warned - around 9pm the music suddenly got turned WAY up so P and I left in order to avoid screaming at each other for the rest of the night.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Stuck pot rice with lentils and yogurt


I've been trying out more vegetarian dishes lately - while A and I both enjoy meat, it helps to have some more vegetable based meals here and there for variety and health's sake. Plus our friend AB has gone vegetarian recently so when he's over for meals it makes sense to just find a tasty vegetarian dish that everyone can enjoy. This recipe called out to me as soon as I saw it, and it was a hit, even if the crusty bit didn't quite turn out as expected. This may be due to me messing around with proportions and not being so precise at measuring out yogurt, but who cares when it tastes good?

Stuck Pot Rice with Lentils and Yogurt
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Serves 6 generously (a main dish)

Ingredients

Salt
1 1/2 cup green lentils, rinsed
1 1/2 cups white basmati rice, rinsed well
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion (or 5 small ones in my case), thinly sliced
1/4 cup plain yogurt, I used low-fat, plus additional for serving
2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus additional lemon wedges for serving
1/3 cup water
2 teaspoons ground cumin
Freshly ground black pepper or red pepper flakes
Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

Method

Bring a medium-sized heavy pot with a tight fitting lid (so you can use one pot for all the steps) of salted water to a boil. Add lentils and rice and return to a boil. Simmer the mixture for five minutes without stirring. Drain mixture and transfer to a large bowl.

Heat the same pot over medium-high heat. Once heated, add 2 tablespoons oil; one oil is warm, add onions and a couple pinches of salt and cover with a lid. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly caramelized and brown, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Add onions to bowl with rice and lentils. Stir in yogurt, lemon juice, water, cumin and pepper, plus additional salt to taste.

Heat pot again over medium-high heat. Once fully hot, add remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Once that is hot, return rice mixture to pot, pressing it in. (It will sizzle.) Wrap clean kitchen towel around lid of pot so it completely covers inside of lid; gather corners on top so they do not fall anywhere near stove. Place lid on pot, sealing tightly. Reduce heat to very low. Cook undisturbed about 30 minutes; rice should smell toasty but not burned and you might need to check on it once or twice if you’re making it for the first time. Remove from heat, and let sit 5 minutes more.

Carefully remove lid and cloth, and turn pot upside down over a platter. If rice comes out in a single crust, terrific. If not, use a spatula to scrape crisp pieces out of pan and onto remaining rice. (I'll confess I didn't even really get crisp pieces, more like crisp bits - there was no crust, just crispy rice, but it was delicious anyway.) Garnish with chopped cilantro, and serve with lemon wedges and additional plain yogurt.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Duke of Cornwall


48 Fulham Palace Road
London W6 9PH
 
S and I met up with some of her friends before a gig at the Hammersmith Apollo (this guy, if you're curious). While wandering the area looking for a place to have a drink and a bite to eat, we stumbled across the Duke of Cornwall. Its menu is not that promising - the pictures of the food are terrible and we were all a bit concerned, but when you're hungry and pressed for time you're willing to take a chance. Turns out, we're all happy we did - my pad thai (boring, I know) was actually delicious, if a little on the sweet side - it came with proper crushed peanut and chilli garnishes and was an absolutely enormous portion for under £7. We scarfed our food, along with some wine, and then hopped across the road for a wonderful evening of music.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Shepherd's Pie


 

Shepherd's pie is a dish that I've been meaning to try to make since I moved to the UK. It's basically the same thing as cottage pie (which is made with beef instead of lamb). And while it's called a pie, it's only topped with mashed potato - there's no pie crust needed. On a cold night, it makes the perfect warm dish to fill you up - and this could have easily served six people, which meant A and I had plenty of extra meals out of it.

Shepherd's Pie
Adapted from Jamie and Nigel
 

Ingredients

1 onion
2 carrots
2 sticks of celery

handful of button mushrooms, chopped (optional)
2 cloves of garlic
a small bunch of fresh rosemary (I used dried)

Worcestershire sauce
olive oil
500g good-quality minced lamb
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
250ml lamb or vegetable stock

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 kg potatoes
100ml semi-skimmed milk


Method

Boil and mash 1kg of big, floury potatoes, adding a thick slice of butter as you mash (or, if you're me, skip the butter and just add some milk until the mash is the consistency you like). Soften the onion, peeled and chopped in a little butter. (You can add a few diced carrots and celery at this point, and the mushrooms if you're using them.) When the vegetables are softened a bit, add 500g minced lamb, letting it brown thoroughly. Now add your salt, pepper, rosemary and a shake or two of Worcestershire sauce, the tomatoes, and about 250ml of stock. Let the mixture simmer gently for 30 minutes. Tip the lamb into a shallow baking dish, top with the mash, use a fork to rake the top so that you get extra crispy bits, then bake for 35-40 minutes in a hot oven till the surface is crisp. Serves 6.