Monday, March 02, 2015

Bann


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

Mission




250 Paradise Row
London 
E2 9LE

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

Foxlow


69-73 Saint John Street
London 
EC1M 4AN

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

Prawn and Salmon Pilaf


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

Ingredients

225g cooked peeled prawns
200g salmon fillets, cooked and flaked into prawn sized chunks
50g butter
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 cloves
3 green cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick, broken into 4 pieces
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
salt
3 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
300g baby plum tomatoes, halved

Method

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.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Sicily - Day 6 & 7






Last couple of days - I don't have very many pictures because day 6 basically consisted of going to the beach and parking ourselves on sunloungers all day. It was perfect after a week of walking around (and quite a lot of driving for A). We had lunch at the beach as well at one of those overpriced beach clubs and it was strangely probably the best meal we had in Taormina, which says a lot.

But before dinner, I had an amazing cocktail called the July at a bar called Daquiri. A loved his martini as well. And the snacks that came with the drinks were top of the line - again, better than our dinner at Il Ciclope, where both pasta dishes were bland and boring. 

And the final story of our Sicily trip - when returning our hire car to Catania airport, the guy that came out to check our car pointed out some drops of sap that were on the hood of the car - they must have come from a tree we were parked under. After dragging his feet, he then tried to get us to sign a paper saying we damaged the car and were responsible for it. A and I pointed out the sap is hardly damage, and even rubbed off a couple of spots with some water to show them it could be cleaned off. This then resulted in some weird stand off where this guy insisted that we had damaged the car and wanted us to be liable for up to 900 euros, and other car rental employees came over to inspect the car, some more helpful than others. Finally, after about 30 minutes of arguing (and boy am I glad we got to the airport early), one guy came by, took a look and said he would take our car to their car wash and it would be fine. After he got a bit stern with the original guy, we were finally able to leave without signing anything. 

So in the end, Sicily was beautiful and I'm glad I saw it, but we're probably never going back again. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Sicily - Day 5











Day 5! We arrive in Taormina, which is both the most touristy and the most traditionally beautiful part of our trip. I mean, the hilltop theater is just stunning - look at the views - and the architecture is all pastel-colored and well-kept, and since you're at the top of a hill, you just keep seeing panoramic sights.

All day, we just strolled around, had drinks when we felt like ate, stuffed ourselves with arancini right and left, and then ended up at Al Giardino for dinner. I had swordfish, A had disappointing ravioli. So I wouldn't recommend it, but then again we didn't really have any outstanding meals in Taormina, so I'm not sure if we just ate in disappointing places or if it's just not that great for food.

One thing I did love - the snacks that come out with aperitivo - you order a nice pre-dinner drink and it comes with little bites of grilled cheese, crostini, etc. and also potato chips, pretzels and nuts. Probably should have just filled up on those and skipped the full meals, to be honest.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Sicily - Day 4









It has been so long since this trip (and even since my last post) I'm not entirely sure why I'm continuing on with this, but it might have a little to do with my compulsion to finish things off neatly. So I guess we're stuck on Sicily for a while longer.

We're still in Siracusa on day 4, and we spend it walking around, despite a bit of drizzly rain. We visit a museum, and I wish I could tell you anything of interest about it, except it's been so long I can barely remember anything. There was historical art. And there was supposed to be the launch party for a lemon festival in the evening. I am starting to despair at ever finishing this.

Lunch... well the restaurant was called Trattoria Do' Scogghiu. From the pictures I can see a carbonara and some octopus. It was pretty cheap and cheerful, little carafes of wine were drinkable and the atmosphere was bustly with plenty of real authentic Italians inside. 

I can tell the sun came out in the afternoon since I have a picture of almond granita and pistachio milkshake - that triggers a memory of wandering around in the sunshine, ducking into a little cafe (maybe Minosse?) for something icy, and then finding a bar to sit outside in the sunshine, nursing cold beers and reading our books (A was particularly engrossed with Gone Girl at this point). 

Dinner was at Trattoria Il Cenacolo, where I had spaghetti with cod roe - definitely something I enjoyed but wouldn't recommend to anyone who doesn't absolutely love the briny taste of fish eggs. It was a warm evening so we ate outside at a romantic table for two, surrounded by olive trees and the braying sounds of six women on a night out.