Monday, March 23, 2015
7 Denmark Street
So the food experts of London have been raving about Smoking Goat, talking about the ridiculous queues and the incredible platters of grilled meat. P and I perked up our ears and made plans to visit on a Monday night - we went early, around 6pm, and it was a bit rainy, and there were plenty of tables. I don't think the place was ever full during the entire 2.5 hours we were there, so maybe the craziness has died down. We ordered a couple of beers and the fish sauce chicken wings, which were so delicious that we got a second order of them. The coal roasted aubergine dish was really smoky and lovely as well - I think I am growing fonder and fonder of aubergine. Then we decided on the lamb ribs, which came with sticky rice and a green papaya salad. I liked it all, but the chicken wings were my favorite. I'd love to go back with more people and really get into the duck and pork belly options as well - even though P and I are greedy we just couldn't fit in any more food.
Monday, March 16, 2015
4200 North Lamar Boulevard
Austin, TX 78756
So this year, in a rare aligning of all the planets, my mom, dad, brother and I were all back in Austin at the same time, without any other people staying with us. It was like a reunion of family life back in 1998! J and I wanted to take the parents out for dinner for all the birthdays and other random things we have missed, and I made a reservation at Uchiko since I had eaten at Uchi a long time ago and still have fond memories of that meal. Sadly I did not take into the account how uncomfortable my parents would be with the price of the dishes. It was only tempered by the fact that our 6 pm reservation allowed us to ask for the happy hour menu, which our waiter was kind enough to arrange even though apparently it is usually restricted to the bar area. Anyway - the happy hour menu is full of reasonably priced things, so we ordered a bit off of that, but since it was a celebration dinner we still wanted to let my parents have anything else they wanted. My dad spotted mackerel, which he loves, but he did not clock that ordering it as sashimi would mean it was raw. And everyone at the table except for me DOES NOT like raw mackerel. On top of that, 7 tiny slices were $20. I know fish can be expensive, but mackerel is one of the cheapest fish to buy, so that was hard to reconcile. There were some dishes that were standouts (in particular a salmon and kale dish) but also a few that were just ok but nothing special. In the end, while the parents appreciated the gesture, I think they would have been happier at a more mid-priced restaurant, so let's try again next year.
Monday, March 09, 2015
140 E. 41st Street
(Btw. Lexington & 3rd Ave)
New York, NY
I knew I was going to get hungry at some point during my travels from NYC to Austin so before I went to the airport I picked up a sandwich for later. I was staying at my friend V's apartment (thanks V!) and this Cambodian sandwich shop (Num Pang) was nearby and came highly recommended. The woman at the counter was very friendly and when I asked her which sandwich would travel best, she recommended the coconut shrimp sandwich. It was probably four hours later that I actually ate it, and it was pretty damn delicious - but like with most things I think it might have been even better if I had it fresh when it had just been lightly toasted and handed over to me. Still, the flavors were great and it felt relatively healthy due to the amount of veggies in it - it's certainly on the expensive end of takeaway sandwiches but let's just call it a treat.
Monday, March 02, 2015
350 West 50th Street
New York, NY 10019
So one of the consequences of there being very few nonstop flights back to Austin is that I can usually have a stopover on the east coast without paying much extra. I take advantage of this on my way home for the holidays, so three days in NYC were quickly booked in to see some of my favorite people in the world. Y&A live in New Jersey now but still work in NYC, so we managed to schedule a Friday night dinner just a few hours after my plane landed, and my friend O was able to join as well. This is where my story takes a dark and unexpected turn. I got sick on the plane. Really sick. I'm not going to get into graphic descriptions, but let's just say I was not able to eat dinner, really. Which was a shame as Y&A had picked a Korean restaurant (Bann) because I had told them I was craving Korean. Above, you see the delicious tofu stew I ordered. I took two bites. They were delicious, and I was so sad that I wasn't feeling like scarfing the entire bowl, plus the amazing looking seafood pancake that Y&A ordered, plus the banchan on the table. Thankfully, I was in the US, where you can have anything packaged up neatly to take home, and I did manage to eat it a couple of days later when I had recovered a bit, and it was good, but I bet it would have been better if I had gotten to eat it when I ordered it.
Monday, February 23, 2015
250 Paradise Row
A and I are much more into treating each other to experiences or nights out rather than giving physical gifts (though I suppose you could argue a night of food and drink does include things with physical properties). Anyway, philosophical musings aside, A's Christmas gift to me was a night out in Bethnal Green. We started at The Sun Tavern for a pre-dinner drink - we both chose a cocktail that came in lovely silver tankards and was a nice way to ease into the evening. The main attraction was Mission for dinner. We shared a bottle of wine, pictured above, that was on the cheaper end of the list but paired well with our food. The artichoke and ricotta gnudi dish was the standout for me - two of my favorite things in one dish! I could have eaten the entire portion myself but that would just be rude. We also had lamb, I think (things were getting hazier at this point) and it was very garlicky and salty, which I have become more sensitive to in later years. So I wouldn't necessarily recommend that unless you are really into garlic and salt. And then we were too full for dessert, and I don't have a sweet tooth, so we went to Mother Kelly's for an after dinner drink, which beats desserts hands down for me. I believe I ended on a peanut butter stout (or something equally ridiculous sounding) which basically knocked me out and I'm just lucky I was ok for my flight back to the US the next day.
Monday, February 16, 2015
69-73 Saint John Street
When Foxlow launched their brunch they did a month of soft opening so I booked a couple of tables - knowing how much I have loved meals at Hawksmoor I figured I'd love this too. The first visit was with J - we shared some baked eggs and the fried chicken and croissant waffle. For a girl who loves fried chicken, I was surprised to enjoy the baked eggs more. J's bottomless bloody mary also met with approval, though we both agreed that there is a limit to how much tomato juice any human being can consume in one go, as it seems more filling than other drinks.
The second visit was with S, E and A - and while the rest of the table got fried chicken sandwiches, I went for the steak and eggs in the picture above. It was fantastic and set me up for a day of drinking in high places (such as the OXO Tower). We also ordered a cronut for the table, which was just about right - a quarter of that thing was plenty for me and I could feel my arteries screaming out for relief afterwards.
I'm even more excited that A's brew will be going on sale at Foxlow for London Beer Week in February. So we'll definitely be back to pair that beer with some more brunch dishes - let's hope I'm not shortening my life span by too much.
Monday, February 09, 2015
Finally cleaning out my old stash of recipes torn out of magazines, printed off from websites, and generally just collected from any old place. This one seemed worth a try - it's a Rick Stein recipe I tore out of some magazine that I've simplified by quite a lot (sorry Rick, it has to be a special occasion for me to boil prawn heads and shells and then strain stock). Also I didn't have enough prawns so hence the salmon.
Prawn and Salmon Pilaf
225g cooked peeled prawns
200g salmon fillets, cooked and flaked into prawn sized chunks
1 small onion, chopped
1 small carrot, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp tomato puree
900ml chicken stock (I used stock cubes to make this)
350g basmati rice
2 small onions, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
3 green cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick, broken into 4 pieces
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
3 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
300g baby plum tomatoes, halved
1. Heat 25g of butter in large pan, add the first chopped onion and carrot and fry over medium heat for 6-7 minutes, until lightly browned. Add tomato puree and chicken stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 15 mins. Boil until reduced to 600 ml.
2. Rinse rice in a few changes of cold water until the water runs relatively clear. Cover with fresh water and leave to soak for 7 mins. Drain well.
3. Melt the remaining butter in a pan and add the other two chopped onions, garlic, cloves, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, and turmeric and fry gently for 5 mins. Add the rice and stir well to coat the rice with the spicy butter. Add the stock to the pan, season with salt and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to the slightest simmer, cover with a lid and leave to simmer for 10 mins. Don't lift the lid during this time.
4. Uncover and gently stir in the peeled prawns, salmon, coriander, diced tomaties and some seasoning to taste. Re-cover and leave for 5 minutes to warm through. Spoon into a warmed serving dish and serve.