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.

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

Ingredients

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

Method

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
London 
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.