Monday, August 31, 2009

The New Yard Restaurant at Trelowarren

Cornwall TR12 6AF

For Sunday lunch, A's parents brought us to a really lovely estate called Trelowarren - there are art galleries and paths to walk along but the main attraction for us was lunch at The New Yard. Looking at their website now, I see that they aim for 90% of their ingredients to come from within a 10-mile radius, which is certainly admirable. I didn't know this while I was eating though, and the food was delicious enough that I don't think the chef is hampered by the provenance of his ingredients. We all started with a broccoli soup with bits of crispy pancetta and creme fraiche, which tasted intensely of broccoli but without the traditional crutch of cheese - I loved it and may try to make a version at home. Somehow the soup was creamy although I didn't detect any actual cream aside from the creme fraiche - I may be deluding myself but it actually felt healthy!

I had grilled plaice with new potatos, samphire, mange tout and lemon butter sauce as a main, which was also very good. The fish was fresh and cooked just until it was firm, and the samphire and mange tout were bright green and retained a tiny bit of crunch. The sauce went well with everything on the plate and portions were well thought out - large enough to fill but not to overstuff.

We ended with the chocolate cake with hazelnut ice cream - this was a bit of a letdown as the cake seemed really dry but the hazelnut ice cream saved the day. I don't even like nuts but I would certainly have this ice cream again. Thanks to A's parents for such a treat!

Cornish Weekend

(From The Vaishnava Voice)

I am still pretty forgetful about taking pictures of the food I eat. It's hard to erase so many years of just diving in head first whenever anything tasty is put in front of me. So the things I ate but don't have pictures of from a trip to Cornwall are two Cornish pasties and a Cornish cream tea.

Cornish pasties came from Rowe's and a tiny pasty shop by Falmouth Harbour. The Rowe's one was a traditional steak pasty, filled with onions, potatos and steak, and the one from the harbour was more adventurous, with a cheese, potato, tomato and basil filling. Both were tasty, though I had a slight preference for the one from the harbour since the pastry tasted a bit flakier and more homemade.

The Cornish cream tea was at the Rising Sun hotel in St. Mawes - you can take a ferry from Falmouth to St. Mawes which is certainly worth it on a nice day if you like boat rides. The Rising Sun's tea is 6 quid for two scones, clotted cream and jam and one pot of tea. I thought it was ok, but those who have consumed more cream teas than me informed me that the scones were a bit dry, the jam should have been homemade and not out of a jar, and the clotted cream should have had a darker yellow skin on top that you break through to get to the pale cream underneath. That's ok, I'm always happy to try more cream teas until I get a really good one!

Thursday, August 27, 2009


107 Whitecross Street

Alba is an Italian restaurant that has started doing take-away from a little shop next door. A had already tried it and said it was good, so we ended up there for my last-day-of-work lunch. There are a few little tables and chairs outside so you can actually sit and have lunch in a civilized fashion - plus when you pick what you want, they put it on real plates and heat it up for you (and if you're A, you seem to get special table-service as well!) The guy working there is clearly loving his job - singing while working and gushing about the dishes. I had a delicious vegetarian arancini stuffed with mozzarella - apparently the Sicilian-style arancini are supposed to be size of softballs. Crunchy exterior filled with creamy risotto inside - shouldn't have these too often since they're probably terrible for you, but boy do they taste good.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Jamie's Pavilion

Finsbury Circus Gardens
Finsbury Circus

M took me here for lunch so we could catch up (she's been gone for three weeks!) There's a bowling green in Finsbury Circus, and this restaurant (or wine bar) overlooks it. Pretty simple menu - sandwiches and pub food - so I went with fish and chips, while M had a burger. I was impressed by how crisp the fish was and the chips were crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. Peas were still whole, not mushy, which I prefer. M's burger looked enormous with bacon and cheddar piled on top - though the bun was too large even for the massive fillings. Really nice on a sunny day. Probably won't ever go there again though since its main virtue is being so close to where I work, and that ends tomorrow!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Jerk Chicken

Whitecross Street Market

I was forgetful today and 1) didn't take a picture of my lunch, which was a container full of salad, rice and peas and jerk chicken, with some hot sauce drizzled on top and 2) also forgot to check the name of the Caribbean stall it was purchased from. It was wonderfully spicy though I was probably a bit too enthusiastic with the hot sauce which resulted in relatively slow progress when eating. The chicken was chopped up into little cubes which made it easier to mix with the rice and peas so that you could get a bit of everything in each mouthful. Not sure how authentic it is - the peas in the rice and peas looked like kidney beans to me, and I haven't had much jerk chicken before so the spicing could be totally wrong for all I know, but it was tasty. I'd eat it again.

Baked Goods

P and S had us over for drinks on their sunny roof deck and S baked up a storm - pictured is a slice of quiche lorraine, a cheese/bacon/sundried tomato muffin, a smoked salmon/dill/lemon muffin, and a raspberry chocolate muffin. Mmm. I had not thought about savory muffins before but they are such a good idea - will need to steal that burst of genius and try some at home myself. Also could not stop eating quiche - do you think bacon is addictive?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Mirch Masala

213 Upper Tooting Road
London SW17 7TG

So we set off to Tooting Bec to say goodbye to T, who is moving to Peru. He picked Tooting because it is where is favorite curry house is, so a dozen of us headed off to Mirch Masala after a couple of beers at a nearby pub. It allows you to BYO so cans of lager and bottles of wine were quickly pulled out of bags when we got there. T recommended the lamb chops and karahi ginger chicken, so those were quickly agreed on, and then we tacked on tandoori chicken wings, butter chicken wings, prawn rolls and onion bhaji. I was surprised by how spicy the lamb chops and chicken wings were but they were delicious and smoky (though I still prefer Tayyab's tandoori lamb chops). Prawn rolls were the least interesting of the starters. Then mains started pouring out - kahari ghosht (lamb), kahari chicken, kahari ginger chicken, kahari chicken keema, dal, kahari fish, kahari aubergine, kahari paneer, rice and loads of different naans. All delicious with very vibrant spices - the ginger chicken had lots of fresh ginger, the lamb was tender, the fish was flaky and the dal was lovely and creamy. Too bad Tooting is so far away.

Broadway Market

Broadway Market, Hackney, E8

J and D have their own bikes now so A and I rode with them to Broadway Market to pick up goodies for an impromptu picnic. Tomato focaccia, garlic sausage, avocado, cherry tomatos, peaches, spinach quiche, tomato and pesto quiche, comte, smoked cheese (gubbard?), fresh pesto, olives stuffed with almonds, and a dense chocolate brownie later, we were in London Fields lying in the sun, stuffing ourselves. Perfect way to spend a few hours on Saturday. Apologies for the lousy picture though - we ate everything so quickly that by the time I remembered to take one we had eaten almost everything.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Luardos Burritos

Whitecross Street Market

So this is the burrito truck that tipped me off to the fact that there was a street market on Whitecross Street - I think it was summer 2007 when I ventured off with fellow burrito-lover W to see if the rumors were true. A bright sea green truck with "Luardos" painted across it greeted us and it was like all of our burrito dreams had come true - burritos are one of the things that made me constantly miss Texas (and even New York, sometimes). While these may not be the most amazing burritos I've ever had, they are certainly satisfying enough to quell the burrito cravings and at five pounds, pretty reasonably priced considering that they will fill you up for the entire afternoon. I always go for the carnitas burrito with guacamole, no sour cream - plus you can get a loyalty card stamped so you get your 10th burrito free. There are loads of other places to eat on Whitecross Street now but it's hard to choose anything other than the burrito once you're there.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Spianata & Co.

12 Moorfields

Met up with S for lunch since once I leave my job we will no longer be working around the corner from each other! Since it's a gorgeous day, we decided to grab something portable and go sit in Finsbury Circus. Cue up sandwiches from here, made on pizza bianca bread. I tried what was listed as a "new" sandwich - salmon, asparagus, lemon juice and mayo. I usually hate mayo, but it looked like there wasn't much in there and thank goodness I was right. Pretty delicious, though maybe a tiny bit overpriced at four pounds? Still, they are much more filling than they look. Watched some city workers play boules on the green and basked in the warm summer sun - perfect!

The Ivy

1-5 West Street

So sometimes you just get lucky and you have friends who have parents that want to take you out for theater and dinner - all you can do is say yes and enjoy the generosity of others.

This meant that last night I got to see an amazing production of A Streetcar Named Desire at the Donmar Warehouse and also try The Ivy, one of London's restaurants famous for celebrity-spotting. Since the friends that invited me along are regulars, we were seated quickly and a procession of waitstaff came by to say hello and bring us glasses of champagne while we decided what to order. I had a wonderful tuna sashimi starter (with a tiny bit too much horseradish for my taste, but I just put it to the side) and a rib-eye steak that filled my entire plate. The steak was more medium than medium rare, but it was absolutely delicious and full of charred beefy flavor. Bearnaise sauce was creamy and perfect. Everyone helped me polish off the bowl of frites on the side - salty and crisp. The elderflower jelly with fruit suspended within was also decorated with gold leaf - possibly excessive but it went very well with the atmosphere of quiet luxury that they cultivate.

Of course, The Ivy being popular with celebrities, I was instructed to keep my eyes peeled for a Joan Collins sighting. No such luck, but we were rewarded instead with Jordan at the next table and a blinding pop of flashes through the windows when she exited the restaurant.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New Culture Revolution

42 Duncan Street
N1 8BL

Met up with J here for dinner - I've been a couple of times before for various dumplings but we tried all new things this time. Veggie gyoza were tasty (and spicy! which is not in their description). J liked her carrot/apple juice as well. Then we shared a braised beef and aubergine dish, and ma la niu rou mien (szechuan spicy beef noodles) - both were good though the szechuan dish could have been way spicier for my taste. I like how clean it is inside and service is a little slow but very nice. Another place to go if you're in the neighborhood, but certainly not destination dining.

It's also conveniently located by The Island Queen, a cute pub that has one of my favorite summer fruit beers, Fruli. Unfortunately renowned among my friends for being the site of a double pickpocketing during a birthday party, so keep an eye on your wallet if you're there.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Lemon Blueberry Buckle

I made this cake for a backyard barbecue and it went down well with everyone (hence only having a photograph of the tiny remains) - it's sweet but tangy enough from the lemon that it feels like you could just keep eating it until it's gone. Recipe from The Wednesday Chef below (though I omitted nutmeg because I don't have any in the house and put it in a round cake pan since I don't have a 9-inch square one).

Lemon Blueberry Buckle
Serves 8

Crumb topping

1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup ( 1/2 stick) butter, cubed, at room temperature

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest. Add the butter, using a fork or your fingers to cut in the butter until it is reduced to the size of peas. Loosely cover the bowl, and place it in the freezer while you mix the cake batter.

Cake and assembly

6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing the pan
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar, divided
Zest of 1 lemon
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, divided
Crumb topping, chilled
Juice of 2 lemons (about 6 tablespoons)

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch square baking pan.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, cream together the butter, three-fourths cup sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
4. Stir the flour mixture into the bowl, a third at a time, alternating with the buttermilk, until both the flour mixture and buttermilk are evenly incorporated into the batter. Gently fold 1 cup of the blueberries into the batter.
5. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and distribute the remaining blueberries evenly over the top of the batter. Remove the crumb topping from the freezer and sprinkle it over the berries.
6. Bake the cake until it is lightly golden and firm on top, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through for even baking.
7. While the cake is baking, make a lemon syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the remaining one-third cup sugar with the lemon juice and whisk until blended. Heat the pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid thickens to a syrupy consistency, 6 to 8 minutes. (The glaze will bubble while cooking and may need to be removed from the heat to check that it is the proper consistency.) Remove from heat and set aside in a warm place.
8. Remove the cake from the oven and drizzle the warm glaze over. Cool to room temperature. The cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days, covered in plastic wrap.

Lounge Bohemia

1E Great Eastern Street
London EC2A 3EJ

Haven't been here in a while but decided to visit again since we had guests. Still love the dimly lit alcoves and 50s decor and the drinks list is as interesting as ever. Had a lovely drink called "Tea for Two" in a teapot (pictured) along with a Gypsytini, full of rosemary flavors, and a Tree Sap, which incorporated oak syrup into a drink served in what looked like a tree trunk with another piece of bark wrapped around the straw. After that round of drinks, we tried a Lab Test, which was six test tubes filled with their "sweet" shot, which tasted like chocolate orange and was accompanied by six slices of actual chocolate orange. Also had the Parisian absinthe which came with the coolest looking water drip vessel - we were instructed to let water drip on a sugar cube suspended on a slotted spoon over the glass of absinthe until the sugar was completely dissolved. Too bad I hate licorice flavors.
They also give you a little dish of four free canapes - they were pretty bizarre though and I chose poorly, ending up with overly salty anchovy and manchego cheese in my mouth which was thoroughly unpleasant. Certainly would not pay for these (they're on the menu).


4 Theberton Street,
London, N1 0QX

Had dinner here on a Saturday night since they had a table outside for four and it was a nice evening. Mezes to start: falafel with hummus, dolma and a grilled eggplant dish - all tasty but not spectacular. Some pretty standard sesame-sprinkled bread accompanied the starters. Then for mains, we chose an eggplant dish, swordfish & prawns, swordfish steak, and mixed kebab (grilled chicken, lamb kofta, lamb chops and plain lamb). Everyone seemed to enjoy their food though apparently the prawns were a bit disappointing in size/amount. House red was drinkable. Wouldn't go out of my way to eat there again, but if we were in the neighborhood and felt like Turkish food and wanted to eat outside, I'd consider it.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sunny's Olive Tree Salads

Whitecross Street Market

Good option for lunch whenever you're feeling hungry but somewhat virtuous - a small salad box is incredibly filling because they jam it full to the brim. I'm developing a particular love for quinoa and beets, weirdly, but I think what makes the whole thing really good is the tahini they pour over the top. The bread that comes with the salad box is pretty ho-hum though - very dry.