Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Watch House

The Watch House
1 The Square
St Mawes TR2 5DJ

August Bank Holidays are often spent in Cornwall visiting C - a perfect time of year to sit outside and stuff our faces with seafood while admiring the views. St Mawes is just across the river from Falmouth so it's a pleasant trip - this time we took the car and ferry, but sometimes we just shoot across on a boat. The Watch House is right about where the boats land and has a reputation for super fresh seafood so we gave it a try and loved it. C's starter of scallops won that round (the monkfish cheeks above were pretty good too but no comparison to the scallops) while for mains, A and I both braved the fish specials which involved whole fish - mine was Dover sole, his was plaice. A has come so far from when I met him - he bravely made a good attempt at dissecting his fish and was still able to enjoy eating it. I of course was in heaven - simple, freshly cooked fish with solid, flavorful sides - no fuss needed at all. C enjoyed her fish and chips as well. One to revisit.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Barge House

Barge House
46a De Beauvoir Cres
London N1 5RY

To be honest, I'm not even sure if this place is still called Barge House - it has undergone quite a few name changes / menu changes / possibly ownership changes across the years that I've been running past, but basically it's the restaurant next to the Towpath Cafe. On a sunny stroll past around brunch time, A, C and I thought about stopping for another amazing cheese toasty and tomato-on-toast at the Towpath, but there weren't any available tables, so we went next door. Thankfully it was also delicious - you'll see my steak salad above, while A had a reuben and C opted for a pan fried cauliflower steak on cauliflower puree (can't get enough cauliflower!) Everything was polished off and the bright sunshine just made it all better.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Bian Dang

Bian Dang
Various locations, this from KERB Kings Cross on a Tuesday

My dad is from Taiwan - so this lunch box is pretty nostalgic for me as he loved pork chop rice accompanied by soy sauce eggs and preserved vegetables. I had a chance to swing by KERB one lunch time and took the opportunity to order the Beast - which is the Bian Dang's stall dish where they put pork chop, chicken and oyster mushrooms all together in one box. I figured since it would be hard for me to ever get to them again, I should go all out, and I'm glad I did - every element was fantastic and I wish I worked in the area so I could treat myself to this lunch more often.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Taberna do Mercado

Taberna do Mercado
Old Spitalfields Market
107B Commercial St
London E1 6BG

Call it brilliant planning or poor planning, J and I arranged to meet at this Portuguese restaurant a few days before I was going to Lisbon for six days. So I got a taste of what Portuguese cuisine is when interpreted by a chef. The half moons of prawn rissois were found everywhere in Lisbon, though only one place had a version that was as good as Taberna do Mercado's. We also had cheese (Quinta de Veigainha, Terrincho DOP), cured meats (Chouriço vinho tinto), tinned scallops with brown butter and walnuts (oh bejeesus I need to try the whole tinned seafood menu), a salt cod, tomato and bread salad (pictured above), the beef prego (a sandwich with prawn paste and wild garlic, also found everywhere in Lisbon) and finally a stunning cake for dessert, the olive oil Pão de Ló. So stuffed. So good. I want to go back for their pasteis de nata as I got a little addicted to having those for breakfast while we were away.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Whole Pot-Roasted Cauliflower With Tomatoes and Anchovies

I love cauliflower so I get interested in any new recipe that calls for it. This makes use of a bunch of staples I usually have sitting around the kitchen (at least with my slight modifications) so all I need to get is a head of cauliflower and we're off! Thankfully it was a big hit - beware the bit of browning at the beginning as it can get a little smoky in the house - I happen to love the smell of anchovies and garlic hitting hot oil but maybe keep the windows open if you're not as keen on filling the house with that fragrance.

Whole Pot-Roasted Cauliflower with Tomates and Anchovies
Serves 4
From A Girl and Her Greens by April Bloomfield, NYTimes


1 head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), white, green or Romanesco
5 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
3 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 50g tin of anchovies packed in olive oil
¾ teaspoon finely chopped rosemary leaves
2 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
¼ cup wine, plus extra for cooking (original calls for dry white, I used a red Rioja)
1 large pinch red pepper flakes (original calls for 3, I tried 2 which A still found too spicy)


Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 235 degrees C (450 degrees F).

Trim any wilted leaves and brown bits off the cauliflower, but leave healthy leaves. Put the cauliflower on its side on a cutting board. As if coring a tomato, core the base of the cauliflower: insert a small sharp knife about 1 inch into the base of the stem, make a circular cut to loosen the cone-shaped core, then pry it out and discard.

In a deep, heavy ovenproof pot (with a lid), large enough to hold the whole cauliflower, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower cored side up; it should sizzle. Brown the exterior, turning it occasionally with tongs for even browning. This should take about 5 minutes; reduce the heat as needed to prevent scorching. Carefully turn over and brown the other side lightly, about 2 minutes.

Remove the cauliflower to a plate and add garlic, anchovies and rosemary to the pot. Stir until garlic is golden, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, wine and chiles. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Return cauliflower to pot, cored side down. Baste with the tomato liquid and pile some of the solids on top. Simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes to thicken the tomatoes.

Cover the pot, place in the oven and roast until tender, 30 to 45 minutes; a knife will go into the thick stems with almost no resistance. Check on the tomato sauce every 10 minutes or so; it should be punchy and intense but not too thick, so add a glug of wine if it seems to be getting too dry.

Transfer the cauliflower head to a serving plate or shallow bowl and cut in half, quarters or thick slices. Spoon on all the tasty stuff left in the pot. Add a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of herbs. Serve immediately or at room temperature, passing salt and red pepper flakes at the table.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


53 Lexington St
London W1F 9AS

Bao is one of those restaurants that is hyped so much that I was quite nervous about going - but I found myself in the area around lunch time and decided to treat myself to a solo meal, something that I am getting fonder of. It lets you order exactly what you want, eat at whatever pace you feel like, and not have to worry about whether your dining companion is enjoying themselves. Especially with the dumb queues - I would feel horrible dragging someone else along to wait and then for the meal to suck. Thankfully the meal was good, though I'm not sure I will queue again, since a meal there adds up quite quickly and some elements were a bit repetitive. I had four things - house pickles, the mushroom and century egg dish pictured above, a classic bao, and the guinea fowl rice. I think because there were pickles in the guinea fowl rice, it ended up tasting a little too similar (possibly my fault for ordering both but I didn't know!) The mushrooms were the best dish for my tastes - savory with a hit of fresh cilantro. The bao was a little sweet for me, but they often are - so again, no fault of the restaurant, just not quite my thing. I see why people like it - but if I have to wait I'm going somewhere that excites me a lot more.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Marksman

The Marksman
254 Hackney Rd
London E2 7SJ

More East London smugness ahead, I'm afraid. A and I are having trouble keeping up with all the places we want to try, but we're working our way through. The Marksman is not to far from Cambridge Heath and lots has been written about it already so I won't bore you too much except to say it is as great as people say it is. A proper old little boozer that's been done up just the right amount to make it comfortable but still casual. The beef & barley bun is fantastic, A and I could have had one each, and the confit potatoes are amazing as well. We managed to share so we could save room for the brown butter custard tart, which everyone should save room for. I'm not even much of a dessert person but this was totally worth it. Go, go, go.