Friday, December 30, 2011

Dock Street Beer

701 South 50th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19143

One of the best parts of going to Philadelphia for work was getting to see old friends. M & K moved to Philadelphia recently so it was great to see their (palatial) new apartment and also find out about their first pregnancy. We decided to have dinner in their neighborhood and they suggested Dock Street Beer - I can't remember which beer I had with dinner but it was pretty good, and dinner itself was a lot of fun. The fried calamari above plus a mixed basket of fries, sweet potato fries and fried leeks was a nice way to kick off a feast. I then had a roasted beet salad in an attempt to get some actual nutrients (but M's sausage pizza was far tastier). Not sure if I'll be back in Philadelphia any time soon, but I would recommend this place to anyone who's a bit closer...

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Chickie & Pete's


Philadelphia International Airport

I'd never heard of Chickie & Pete's before, but as food options in the airport were quite limited on a Sunday night, I gave it a try. I have no idea why the above basket of fries are called World Famous Crabfries, but they were decently crisp and crunchy and came with a cheese sauce for dipping that at least tasted of cheese. I also ordered a jumbo shrimp cocktail (I love how big shrimp are in the US!) and they were fresh and bouncy, which was a surprise for airport food. Don't make it a point to go here, but it was a more pleasant experience than I expected.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Oscar's Wine Bar and Bistro

27 Swinegate

Since we were in York for W&W's wedding, we thought it would be a good idea to explore the city a little bit and see some sights. Of course, that also means asking for recommendations for food, and A's friend J said that he had a pretty good burger at Oscar's. When we dropped by during the lunch hour, the place was packed, so we decided to come back after 3pm when burgers went on special, 2 for £10. The picture above shows what we got when we ordered cheeseburgers - I'm ok with grated cheese, but I would think the only reason for doing that is to make the cheese melt better, so if you're not going to serve it warm enough to be melted, what is the point? The bun was overly large and dry, and the meat cooked to well done. Chips were clearly from a big bag of frozen. All in all, disappointing, but then again, also only £5, so I suppose I shouldn't be that surprised.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Diwana Bhel Poori House

121-123 Drummond Street

I really dislike being so behind with blogging, but all I can do at this point is attempt to catch up. This was a dinner with F, H and S after an interesting talk regarding speech and brain patterns at the Wellcome Collection. Apparently the three of them had been to the restaurant before and really enjoyed it, so I happily tagged along. It's vegetarian, but South Asian food is one of the cuisines that I don't miss meat in - I ordered the dosa pictured above and it was enormous and crisp and spicy in just the right way. There was a fantastic starter too, of tiny little puffed balls of dough that you broke into and then spooned in a sweet/sour chickpea sauce. If I find myself looking for food around Euston again, this will certainly be on my mind.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Matthew’s Spicy Sauteed Corn

Holy cow, if ever there was a recipe that I would scream MAKE THIS NOW, this is it. It is so so so easy, and so so so delicious, that I ate the entire bowl in one sitting and that was my dinner. And now, when I want a quick and easy dinner, this is what I have. The browned, buttery nubs of corn pop in your mouth and just release the most amazing flavor, and the lime juice cuts right through and sings. I love corn, and now I love corn even more.

Matthew’s Spicy Sauteed Corn
Adapted slightly from Spilled Milk and Orangette


3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Kernels from 3-4 ears fresh corn (I used frozen with good results)
1 small birds eye chilli, seeds removed if desired, minced
2 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving


Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high until bubbling. Add the corn, scallions, and jalapeno, stirring to coat with butter. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the corn begins to brown and stick to the bottom of the pan, about 10 minutes. (You might hear some kernels popping toward the end.) Add the water and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to dislodge any extremely delicious brown bits. When the water has boiled off, add salt to taste. Remove from the heat, and stir in the lime juice. Serve immediately, with additional lime wedges.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Britannia

44 Kipling Street

Mr. AB had his birthday drinks here on a Saturday night - it was quiet as anything but meant that we could all have a nice conversation without shouting, which at our age is something we value ;) Anyway - since it was clear that we should eat something while downing pints, we perused the dinner menu and I have to say, considering the state of the other meals, I chose well. My grilled fish was fresh and crisp-skinned, and the pile of chips underneath was cooked, at least. Others had the burger which was a sad, grey puck of meat surrounded by overly large, stale buns, and Mr. AB even had undercooked chips with his meal. Basically - don't go here to eat - go here to have a drink and try one of their whiskies, as that is what they excel in. We asked too much and in return received too little.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Hotel Chocolat Christmas Choccies

It's cold outside and time to get ready for Christmas again! Hotel Chocolat very kindly sent this Signature Dark Collection to me for review. These rich dark chocolates should do the trick for anyone who likes the bittersweet goodness of high quality dark chocolate - my favorites being the ones spiked with chilli and the ones with gooey caramel filling. The packaging is beautiful as well, which makes it a lovely gift to take to a Christmas party; the hosts are sure to thank you. Of course, not everyone loves dark chocolate - but that's ok, Hotel Chocolat makes all different kinds of chocolate collections - check out their Christmas gift page if you need some inspiration. I'm celebrating my first British Christmas this year, and I think some Christmas crackers would be a nice addition to the traditional dinner - or this adorable reindeer would be an excellent stocking stuffer.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Delhi Grill

21 Chapel Market
N1 9EZ

P had raved about this place a while back, and I had also heard wonderful things about it, so it was an easy choice when we were thinking about places to go for dinner. I do love Tayyab's but the wait and the atmosphere can leave much to be desired - and now that I have found a place that is polite, clean, and also serves a fantastic mixed grill, there is no need to drag myself out to Whitechapel anymore! We enjoyed gnawing on the bones of that giant pile of meat and also treated ourselves to dhal and aloo gobi - all of this with pilau rice and a couple of beers came to just a little over a tenner a head, which is also just as much of a bargain as Tayyab's - so long live Delhi Grill, you've taken over as my go-to place whenever I need some tandoori lamb chops.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Royal Standard

For the August bank holiday, a few of us went to A's mum's house in Falmouth, Cornwall. For one of our meals out, we chose The Royal Standard in Flushing - I've written about it before here but it was noteworthy enough the second time around that I'm posting again - definitely one of my favorite restaurants in Cornwall. Above is a glorious plate of fish and chips - crunchy batter, fresh fish, and peas that taste very much like peas (none of this weird mushy pea stuff, thank you). Can't wait to go back again and again!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Chickpea stew with pork sausage meatballs

Amazing recipe, as usual, from HF-W in the Guardian. Some recipes make you want to make them as soon as you read them, and this was one for me. Of course, being impatient (and knowing I had sausages in the freezer), I subbed in pork sausages which worked wonderfully. This made excellent lunches and dinners for several days.

Chickpea stew with pork sausage meatballs 
Adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

A great, spicy stew for a chilly day. Serves eight.


6 pork sausages
3 onions, peeled and finely diced
6 dried bay leaves
6 thyme sprigs
1 head of garlic, peeled and sliced
3 small red chillis, membrane and seeds removed, finely chopped
3 tsp ground cumin
3 400g tin plum tomatoes
500ml chicken or vegetable stock
500g dried chickpeas, soaked and cooked
500g baby spinach
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


First make the meatballs. Take the sausage out of the casings and pinch off walnut sized chunks of sausage. Wet your hands and roll each chunk into small meatballs. Place in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat, and fry the meatballs until lightly browned on all sides, about five minutes. Set aside.

Next, make the stew. Warm the remaining oil in a large saucepan over a medium-low heat and fry the onions gently with the bay leaves and thyme, stirring from time to time, until the onions are soft and translucent, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic, chilli and cumin, and fry for a minute. Add the tomatoes (crushing them roughly against the side of the pan with a fork), stock and chickpeas. Season and bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Add the meatballs to the stew and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Add the spinach and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste, adjust the seasoning if necessary, and serve. Add parsley garnish on top if using.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mussels in White Wine

As much as I love mussels, I have never cooked them at home. I know they're easy, I know they're cheap, but somehow I never found time to grab some and make them in my own kitchen. (Perhaps this is because my local grocery store doesn't carry them and I am too lazy to go to the fishmongers. This is where
Farm Direct steps in - fresh mussels to your door! And no, I don't get paid by them, I just love them.) Anyway - my first bag of mussels was obtained, and then I had a rummage around for what else to throw in. Onions, carrots, thyme, sage, chives, two puny red chillies - all of it was in the fridge or garden, so that's what went in. Oh, and the duck fat I've been using in everything lately - crazy good with every dish so far. And last but not least, a bottle of white that has been sitting on our counter, waiting for a chance to be used/drunk. So here you go - and yes, it is as easy to cook mussels as everyone says. This felt like a luxury lunch even though it was cheap and quick.

Mussels in White Wine
Serves 4 as starter, 2 as main
1 kg mussels
1/2 bottle white wine (I used a pinot grigio from Italy)
2 small carrots, finely diced
1 small onion, finely diced
4 sprigs of thyme
10 sage leaves, shredded
2 small red chillies
handful of chives to garnish
butter (or duck fat, if you have it on hand)
crusty baguette for dipping
1. Add 1 tbsp butter (or duck fat) to a large pan/pot that has a fitted lid. Place over medium heat until fat is melted, and then add carrots and onions and give it a good stir. Cook for a few minutes until onions are translucent.
2. Add wine, thyme, sage and chillies. Bring the liquid to a boil and let it boil for a couple of minutes.
3. Add the mussels and put the lid on the pot. Cook for 10 minutes - all of the mussels should be open now.
4. Serve portions of the mussels in bowls (make sure you get some of the cooking liquid in the bowl to dip the baguette into). Garnish with chives. Serve with sliced baguette.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bahn Mi Bay

4-6 Theobald's Road

I always get excited when I see bánh mì on a menu - these sandwiches are absolutely amazing when they are done right. I pass by this place on my walk to and from work so it made sense one day to pop in and see if they were making bánh mìs to my specifications. The guy behind the counter recommended the Bahn Mi Bay Special, which includes pork pate, pork roll and spiced pork. They also have an option of a special Vietnamese baguette - it costs a bit more but is more authentic as it is made with rice flour rather than wheat. 

When I took a bite, I was a little disappointed by the bread-to-filling ratio - the flavors of the filling weren't punchy enough to stand up to all of the bread. I love all of the ingredients that go in, especially the pickled vegetables and cilantro, but for some reason everything tasted a bit muted. That said, it's still a bánh mì and so I still finished it - it just wasn't one that I would necessarily rave about or go back for.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Driver

2-4 Wharfdale Road
N1 9RY

The Driver is just off Caledonian Road and occupies a lovely building with five floors of options, from the pub downstairs to the restaurant on the first floor, going up to the the additional bars and roof terrace on top. A Groupon deal was what attracted A and me to the place and it was lovely to find another nice place to have dinner in the area. 

We started with pan fried queen scallops and a chorizo, halloumi and new potato salad. Of the two, the salad was definitely the winner with the spicy savoury chorizo playing well with the halloumi. Mains were a venison steak (perfectly rare and with a great hint of gamey flavor) and a rib-eye with Diane sauce that A polished off with a smile. We were so full that we didnt' attempt dessert, even though I am usually unable to resist sticky toffee puddings.

Service was friendly and even though the upstairs floors were occupied by private parties, our waitress went to ask whether the roof terrace party was winding down and when she found out it was, she encouraged us to go up and finish the last of our wine there since it was such a unique spot. Roof terraces are hidden gems in this city, and now I've got one more filed away for sunny days.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Big Chill House

257-259 Pentonville Road
N1 9NL

King's Cross is becoming a better area for eating and drinking, as The Big Chill House has set up almost across from the station, providing a nice space to have a meal or snack or stiff drink before boarding trains to destinations galore. I was kindly invited to try out their new breakfast offerings, and not just once, but 5 times, so I could make sure that the experience was consistent. Each and every time, I was incredibly pleased with the food. The atmosphere was certainly a bit still on my first visit, as I don't think the breakfast option was common knowledge yet, but by the last visit I felt like it was starting to pick up, especially for weekend brunch.

The pictures show a Breakfast Muffin, two Full English Breakfasts (thumbs up from both me and the Brit), and the Creamy Scrambled Eggs with smoked salmon (a real bargain at 3.75!) Another early morning train meant that I grabbed a Breakfast Muffin to go, which was packaged nicely in a cardboard box with napkins. A Homemade Rosti was the weakest link, but it was still nicer than many breakfast offerings I've had elsewhere (and for a much more reasonable price to boot). So all in all, I would recommend The Big Chill House to anyone looking for a good breakfast place around King's Cross - there's no one else in the area doing such nice breakfasts at such good prices.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Melissa Clark's Roasted Broccoli with Shrimp

For those of you who read food blogs regularly, you're probably sick to death of this recipe (and also think I'm several years behind, which might be true...) For everyone else, let me just say that this recipe is beloved by many because it is easy and fantastic and makes your kitchen smell wonderful. It's healthy, it can be paired with different types of starches if you need something more filling, and roasting the broccoli and shrimp really bring out the best flavors in each. If you don't believe me, believe someone who lots of people listen to, the Wednesday Chef.

Roasted Broccoli with Shrimp
Serves 4


2 pounds broccoli, cut into bite-size florets
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds (or 1/2 teaspoon ground)
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds (or 1/2 teaspoon ground)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon hot chili powder
1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 1/4 teaspoons lemon zest (from 1 large lemon)
Lemon wedges, for serving

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, toss broccoli with 2 tablespoons oil, coriander, cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and chili powder. In a separate bowl, combine shrimp, remaining 2 tablespoons oil, lemon zest, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

2. Spread broccoli in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes. Add shrimp to baking sheet and toss with broccoli. Roast, tossing once halfway through, until shrimp are just opaque and broccoli is tender and golden around edges, about 10 minutes more. Serve with lemon wedges, or squeeze lemon juice all over shrimp and broccoli just before serving.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Andrew Edmunds

46 Lexington Street

Andrew Edmunds is a place that A and I passed by before several years ago. I remember on a dark night, the glowing candles on each cozy table made it look like the most magical restaurant in London. But there was no sign announcing its name, and then some time passed and I forgot about it. Cue some food blog reading a couple of years later, and suddenly a post about this place rang a handful of bells in my head. Could this be it, the place I had been meaning to find and try? IT WAS. And man oh man, am I glad I found it. To start, I had goose rillettes with toasted granary bread and onion jam while A slurped up a potato, chorizo and chard soup. Sipping on glasses of red wine in between courses, we admired how pretty the lighting made everything look and how well laid-out the tables were - the space just conjures up a welcoming feeling with enough of a buzz to lubricate your conversation without having to actually overhear other people's talking. Next up for me was a whole lemon sole with fried capers and roasted fennel while A opted for poached salmon with samphire and new potatoes. My dish was the winner of the two, as A was left wishing that he had ordered steak instead. Still, as we eased out into the summer evening, we decided we would come back in winter for an even cosier meal.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011


196 Essex Rd
N1 8LZ

Akari is a local Japanese restaurant inside a space that still looks like it could be a nice pub. What I love most is that they have a very interesting menu - it's not just the generic Japanese food you find at all the chains that have sprung up around town. For example, they sell the bellies of various fish. Above is our grilled yellowtail belly, which is fatty and absolutely wonderful (at least to me). With A and A's mum, we also had an assorted nigiri set, salmon teriyaki, tuna fry (enormous portion of large cubes of tuna, breaded and fried, with a superb tartare sauce and salad), salmon and avocado inside out roll, and cold sake. Prices add up quickly here, as in most Japanese places, but I could happily just have a portion of tuna fry for dinner and make this a place I visit more often.

Sunday, September 04, 2011


32 Exmouth Market
EC1R 0

More fun with A's mum! Since the sun was shining and we were thinking about a little snack before a late dinner, A and I brought her to Morito for a few tapas and an afternoon drink. We selected four dishes: salt cod croquetas, mussel empanadilla, crispy aubergine with miel honey and potatos with chilli and cilantro sauce. All of it was lovely but the potatoes were a real revelation. I don't know what they do to those things, but they were perfectly cooked and the verdant green sauce on top made me wish for a basket of bread to mop up every last drop. I will be back and I am always choosing Morito over Moro, no matter what anyone else says!

Friday, September 02, 2011

Freebird Burritos

Rupert Street
In my quest to try most of the burritos available in London, a few have eluded me (mostly due to their locations, which are often inconvenient for me). On one of our days off, A, C and I were walking around Soho and stumbled on Freebird Burritos. Since A is always up for a burrito, we got a carnitas burrito to share. It was pretty reasonably priced compared to other burritos in London (around 5 quid) but it seemed a bit smaller than others. The other thing that threw us off was the overpowering taste of orange juice in the carnitas. I know carnitas is often cooked with OJ, but all I could taste was oranges, and if you know me and my issues with fruit & meat combos, you know I wouldn't be a big fan of this. It's okay though, I've found enough other burrito places in London to keep me satisfied.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream

917 East Pine Street
Seattle, WA 98122

Seattle was hot over July 4th weekend! Afer basking in all that sunshine, when we passed by Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream, we all swerved inside with the same idea. I asked for one scoop of
strawberry balsamic (look how big it is!), while others chose cucumber mint sorbet, salted caramel, and thin mint. Everything was good, though the cucumber mint sorbet was particularly refreshing that afternoon. My ice cream fell off its cone, but somehow I managed to catch it in my arms and save it. I smelled like strawberry ice cream for the rest of the afternoon, but that's not actually so bad.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Beecher's Handmade Cheese

1600 Pike Place
Seattle, WA 98101-1529

Another sad photo that totally does not match how wonderful the food is. A big bunch of us met up at Beecher's Handmade Cheese where we tried cheese curds (squeaky) and then went with more traditional options of macaroni cheese and grilled cheese sandwiches. O kindly shared some of her macaroni cheese with me and it was creamy, tangy, cheesey goodness. Could be improved by a crisp breadcrumb topping, I think, but that is a minor quibble. N loved her grilled cheese with fresh tomato and basil (so much so that she also returned a couple of days later for more). Outside, C and I watched the giant machine creating curds and the workers inside straining giant bucketfuls of curds and whey - well worth a stop.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Chicken Valley Farm Stores

Pike Place Market
Seattle, WA

Call me crazy (or Chinese) but I love chicken gizzards and hearts. When I heard that there was a little stand inside Pike Place Market selling fried chicken gizzards and hearts (and liver), I was determined to hunt it down. Chicken Valley Farm Stores also sells "normal" fried chicken (N & V shared a drumstick and liked it so much that they brought K back a couple of days later to have more) but I was concentrating on a tray of mixed fried gizzards, hearts and liver. Crispy (and surprisingly ungreasy), these were a huge treat for me. If only somewhere in London would do this...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

High 5 Pie

1400 12th Ave.
Seattle, WA 98102

Oh man, I have to apologize for the horrible looking photo above as it does not do that pie justice at all. High 5 Pie was a lucky find - we all happened to need a Citibank ATM and walked to Capitol Hill to the nearest 7-11 and passed by this pie shop and were sucked in by the fantastic looking pies. I chose rhubarb custard and N had a hard time choosing between lemon blueberry and apple, so she got lemon blueberry first, and then a small apple hand pie right before we left. She liked the apple better (she always likes apple better). What was truly amazing about these pies was the crust - I'm generally not a crust fan, but these crusts were so flaky, crisp and fantastic that I had to ask the guy behind the counter what their secret was. His answer: "A lot of butter."

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cafe Paloma

93 Yesler Way
Seattle, WA 98104-2530

And here begins some posts from Seattle, where I managed a quick weekend to see K & D get married (woohoo!). I met up with A & C on Friday evening, straight after 18 hours of travelling, and A took us to Cafe Paloma which a friend of his had recommended. We sat outside, enjoying the gorgeous weather, and had some cold beers. I am going to blame my tiredness/jetlag for my lack of memories about the place - I think we had some cheese, olives and hummus to start, and then split a chicken dish and a lamb kofte dish. Whatever was in the mashed potatoes with the chicken was pretty incredible - it was definitely my favorite part of the whole meal. Everything else was fine, but I do remember being way more excited about seeing A & C than I was about the food.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


7 Archer St

Post-Spuntino, we wanted a wee bit of sweetness and P cleverly remembered that we were very close to Gelupo. A cupful of salted caramel gelato later, I was ready to roll home. Of course, the next time we ended up in Spuntino, we also ended up in Gelupo (I am sensing that the two go hand-in-hand now). I enjoyed my black forest gelato, but the real winner was P's combination of coconut sorbet (so creamy! how?!) and mandarin orange sorbet, which was the perfect touch of acidity to counteract the coconut.

Friday, August 19, 2011


61 Rupert Street

P is my eating buddy. We meet, we eat, we catch up on things, we eat some more. This time we agreed to eat at Spuntino. We did not regret it at all, even though there was a short wait for two spaces to open up next to each other. The whole menu looked desirable, but sadly with just two of us, we had to make some choices. Duck ham salad, truffled egg toast, shoestring fries, pulled pork slider, some kind of lentil/sausage dish - we gobbled it all down, but what really won us over was the fried stuffed olives. Savoury green olives stuffed with the briny punch of anchovies, then breaded and deep fried. We kept returning to them until one bowl was gone, which we quickly replaced with another bowl. And then we both dreamt of them until we passed by a few weeks later and were able to pop in for some more. In my last meal on earth, I want these fried stuffed olives to make an appearance.

Saturday, August 06, 2011


34-36 Exmouth Market

With J&A in town, we decided to try out Moro which several friends had raved about. Perhaps our expectations were raised too high, but I found it mildly disappointing. Our favorite part of the meal were the tapas that we ordered to start -grilled chorizo, piquillo peppers, fried chickpeas (especially nice!) and tortilla (also an exemplary dish). Things all fell down a bit when we got to mains - A and I shared the wood roasted chicken with chermoula and cooked Moroccan salads and the charcoal grilled lamb chops with garlic purée and slow cooked green beans, while J&A had wood roasted pork with turnips cooked with sherry vinegar, lentils and slow cooked piquillo peppers and pan fried bream with clams, scapes and salsa verde with new potatoes. A left quite a lot of her bream, saying it tasted extremely fishy, and it was also swimming in an oily pool of liquid. J thought the pork was pretty fatty, and while the chicken and lamb were decently cooked, there was nothing special enough about them to justify the high prices. 

Drinks were slightly better - a Manzanilla sherry - La Goya Delgado Zuleta- went down quite well to start, and we had a chilled Borsao (Garnacha/Syrah/Tempranillo) Joven Seleccion Campo de Borja, Spain '09 to go with our mains. Service was polite, but somehow the whole meal was underwhelming and I doubt I'll be back, considering how much it cost. A much better option, I think, is to go next door to Morito for the tapas - which we did a few weeks later.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Le Marché du Quartier

Recently my brother J and his wife A came to London for a visit before heading off to France for the rest of their holiday. This meant that I wanted to show off some cool things about London that I thought they would enjoy, and one of those things was Borough Market. I know there's a lot of controversy surrounding the changes that are being made to the market traders there and you can read all about them elsewhere - it's still a nice place to bring visitors since you get to see and try so many strange foods in one place, and the potential for deliciousness is high. I saw a few people go by with duck sandwiches, which meant I was searching for where to buy them while walking around, and finally when we made it over to Brindisa, I saw it - a giant pan (much like those enormous paella pans) filled with duck confit. The shop is called Le Marché du Quartier and I think they sell imported French goods. I went straight for the sandwich and asked for some extra crispy bits, which the guy manning the pan was happy to oblige with. Salty, fatty, crunchy ducky bits on a roll with some rocket and a swipe of mustard - my idea of heaven for a measly 5 quid. Others complain that the duck is dry - I did not have any issues with its juiciness and would highly recommend it if you love duck.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Kimchi Cult

P and I had bought tickets to go to the London Zoo Lates. This was exciting because 1) cute animals and 2) no children. Alas, the day we were scheduled to go, it was raining. Pouring. But we are hardcore, and went anyway. A different P had been a couple of weeks before and told me there were a lot of food options, so we did a quick scouting trip, sloshing through puddles, and then decided on kimchi sliders from Kimchi Cult. Of course, my vision was blurred by the water streaming everywhere and I mis-read the sign and ordered what I thought were bacon and kimchi sliders (i.e. bacon and kimchi on top of a hamburger slider) but was instead just bacon and kimchi in a tiny bun. I say "just" but bacon and kimchi is totally enough to make a great snack, no need for beef. Anyway - of course the kimchi burger at Hawksmoor is better, but if you just want a tiny bite to take the edge off a craving for kimchi, this works too.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Drapers Arms

44 Barnsbury Street
N1 1ER

After hearing wonderful things about The Drapers Arms from various blogs and Twitter, I finally managed to go there for dinner with J, who had been before but was happy to revisit. The menu was full of things I love, which made it difficult to choose what to have, but I ended up with a grilled quail on lentils. I am drawn to quail whenever I see it, and it was an excellent choice here - tender, juicy and savory. By the time the waitress came by to clear our table, all that was left was a small pile of bones, which pretty much says everything you need to know about this dish. The chips that J ordered to share were also demolished quickly. Seeing as how it's kind of in my neighborhood, I expect to be back sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Home Sweet Home

49 - 51 Edge St
M4 1HW

The twee name, Home Sweet Home, is actually quite an accurate description of the atmosphere of this little cafe/restaurant. The day before, H, F and I had been walking past to go to the Manchester Craft and Design Centre and noticed a menu full of fabulous sounding toasties. It was immediately decided that we would go there for brunch, so on a rainy Sunday morning, we all piled in for some rejuvenating vittles. Sadly, in my attempt to order something lighter, I passed up a cheeseburger toastie in favor of a crab and avocado sandwich. It was pretty good, but tiny and rather unsatisfying after seeing other peoples deliciously messy toasties. However, H cleverly ordered two portions of their fresh baked chocolate chip cookies - so freshly baked that you have to wait 10 minutes for them! These came with glasses of milk and were scarfed down (F, who claimed she didn't want any, had half of a cookie and then snaffled another cookie straight after, which says something about the addictive properties). If you go, get a toastie, and then follow that up with those magic cookies.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


1A Watson Street
M3 4EE

Self service beer! That is reason enough to go to Taps. Sure, it's a bit hit-or-miss since each table has different taps, so hopefully you sit somewhere with beers to your liking, but we certainly managed to try everything at our table (and drain the Blue Moon tap dry). To go with the beer, we had some dinner - moules frites for me and A (you choose what liquid to have them cooked in and one topping, so we chose beer and bacon). It was all perfectly decent - nothing extraordinary, but it went well with the varieties of beer available and we all had a very good time there. In summary, go for the drinks, but don't be afraid to eat there as well. I'd say it's not that expensive, but when you're pouring yourself beers, I think your tab may shoot upwards rather quickly, so just beware if you're on a tight budget.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Cabbage Peanut Salad

This is an incredibly refreshing and interesting salad - I am really starting to enjoy raw cabbage, but it needs a good dressing to bring it all together. I dislike mayonnaise-based dressings, so anything that resembles coleslaw is a no go for me, but this peanut dressing is perfect - the right balance of a nutty creaminess with the sharpness of rice vinegar and the kick of chilli flakes.

Cabbage Peanut Salad
Adapted from I Made That!

Peanut Dressing:

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
3 TBSP soy sauce
1/3 cup peanut butter
2 TBSP brown sugar
2 inch knob of peeled ginger
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp dried chilli flakes

Blend all ingredients with an immersion blender until smooth.


1/2 head small green cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 head small red cabbage, thinly sliced
2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
2 large carrots, peeled with vegetable peeler into ribbons
1/2 cup packed cilantro, roughly chopped
handful of rocket (arugula)
1 cup sliced white button mushrooms
1/2 cups roasted peanuts (I didn't have any, but they would probably add a nice crunch)
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Toss all of the salad ingredients except for the sesame seeds together with the dressing. It looks like there is a lot of dressing, but the salad can handle it all. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top to garnish.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


77 Shudehill
M4 4

After meeting up with A and his friends in Manchester, we decided the first order of business would be to find a place for lunch. Korean food appealed to everyone, so we hiked over to Baekdu. This unassuming joint had a pretty broad menu - some of the group went with sushi options while I focused on the Korean options. Seafood pajeon (or pancake) is usually the first thing I order, so I tried it out here. Chock full of seafoody bits and a little greasier than I would prefer, it still won raves from the rest of the table. For my actual lunch, I went with a kimchi tofu stew that was brilliantly spicy and warm - the perfect antidote to the cold grey weather outside. It comes in a burning hot bowl and therefore stays warm through the entire meal - which means you can't just shovel it down as you would burn your tongue off. So I was probably the slowest eater at the table, but thankfully everyone was happy to eat and catch up while I patiently worked my way through the stew, spoonful by spoonful. Glad to see that Mancunians have access to good Korean food.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Caffe Caldesi

118 Marylebone Lane

A and I met up with friends who kindly offered to take us out as a belated birthday celebration for me. Our original destination was Le Relais de Venise, but after taking one look at the ridiculous queue, we popped across the street to Caffe Caldesi. The bottle of Italian white wine was decent but the food was clearly the centre of attention - I chose La Milanese, a "classic breadcrumbed veal chop with roast potatoes and salad leaves". It was fantastic - crisp on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside, and the roast potatoes were just as good as chips without giving me that greasy feeling. A had a pasta with pork and beef ragu, which was also very good, but my dish was definitely more coveted. It was a great way to start a fantastic evening that finished with cocktails at Purl - if you are ever in Marylebone I would recommend both!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Spring Rice Salad

Inspired by a salad from Ottolenghi, I created this. It's not a very close match, but it is delightful nonetheless, and perfect for the warmer spring (or summer) weather. All the greenery in it reminds me of spring, so that's what I named it after.

Spring Rice Salad


3 cups cooked rice, refrigerated overnight
1 cup peas (frozen is ok)
100g green beans
handful of dill, chopped
10 basil leaves, chiffonaded
10 mint leaves, chiffonaded
1 lemon
1/4 cup of olive oil
salt and pepper


1. Steam green beans lightly until tender-crisp. Defrost peas if necessary. Mix rice, peas, green beans, dill, basil and mint in a large bowl.

2. Juice the lemon and mix with the olive oil. Generously season with salt and pepper and shake or whisk to combine. Pour this dressing over the salad and combine well. Taste salad to make sure there is enough salt and lemon flavor. Serve at room temperature.

Thursday, July 07, 2011


287 Upper St
N1 2TZ

Embarassingly, A and I had been given a gift certificate to use at Ottolenghi as part of a wedding gift. Fast forward over two years later, and we finally used it with A's mom. Despite not going until 3.30pm in an attempt to avoid the queues, there was still a queue. This place is ridiculously popular! While you're standing in the queue, you can look at all the bright and vibrant salads that are piled up high on plates and start thinking about what you want. Alas, our late timing meant that by the time we ordered, the restaurant had run out of one of the salads that we really wanted. Still, we managed to try almost every type of salad left, and some very good seared tuna as well. Ottolenghi is not cheap, but the variety of ingredients, some of which are difficult to source, that are in every dish, make it a deal when you think about how much you would have to spend at the grocery store just to recreate one of the salads. I tried to remake a rice salad at home (recipe to come soon) which was nice, but nowhere near as complex as what we had. Plus, the white room full of chattering, happy people is a nice place to have a meal, so on the whole, I would recommend it. Not sure how you beat the queues though - only you can decide if the wait is worth it.

Monday, July 04, 2011


71 High Holborn

P somehow knew about Kimchee even though it had barely opened, so we planned a dinner there since we both like Korean food. Obviously we ordered kimchee. We also had some sukju namul (beansprouts). You can refer to my many other posts about Korean food and my irritation with being charged for banchan, since I should probably stop sounding like a broken record. Anyway, despite the fact we had to order and pay for those side dishes, they were good. I wasn't massively hungry so I ordered a side dish called "Tofu Kimchee" as my main, described as "Sliced fried tofu served with stir-fried kimchee and pork". This was fantastic - cubes of deep fried tofu, topped with a spicy, salty mix of kimchee and bacon. It was surprisingly satisfying considering how small it was - perfect for me that evening. P went with bibimbap, which he enjoyed, I think. Good to know of a Korean restaurant around Holborn for those times that a craving hits - it's a much more polished environment than the little Korean restaurants around Tottenham Court Road, and feels like it is ready to be rolled out as a chain - but the food I had was good enough that I would go back and even eat at other locations, should they appear.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Zigni House

330 Essex Road
N1 3PB

J joined me at Zigni House for a nice catch up over dinner. A Keynoir pass had given us £32 to spend at the restaurant, so we dived into the Combo Special for 2 people for £30 and then added a bottle of wine to go with it. Service was friendly but the food was very slow to come out - we probably waited about 45 minutes before it came out. Thankfully, it was good enough to be worth the wait. Using the soft, slightly sour injera bread to scoop up different meat and veggie dishes is one of my favorite ways to eat - then when you finish the little piles of food, you can attack the injera bread underneath which has soaked up all the remaining sauces and flavors. I've snapped up another Keynoir pass and will definitely be back.

Monday, June 20, 2011


5 William IV St

A blustery rainy night meant that P and I changed our original plans to go to Chowpatty Beach on the Southbank. After checking out the Ai Wei Wei exhibit at Somerset House, we headed towards Trafalgar Square and P had the brilliant idea of going to Terroirs. This cozy wine bar is hidden away but still popular, and we waited at the bar with a lovely bottle of refreshing white wine until we managed to snag a table. I believe their menu changes frequently so some of these dishes might not always be available, but we put together a delicious meal with some saucisson, duck rillettes, anchovies, artichoke, steak tartare and a beautifully wobbly vanilla panna cotta. It's a fantastic place to go to catch up with a friend over nice wine and perfectly prepared small dishes, and beats the pants off of most of the other restaurants in the area.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Asian-Style Cabbage Salad

A glut of veggies in the fridge meant that I had to think up something to do with them, fast. Here's a great way to use up crunchy vegetables when you don't feel like cooking.


1/2 head of white cabbage, shredded
2 cups of snowpeas (mange tout), sliced into thin strips
3 carrots, julienned
1/3 cup of dark soy sauce
1/4 cup of sesame oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp ground pepper
1/4 cup of sesame seeds, toasted


Place soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar and pepper in a container and shake hard to mix. Toss with cabbage, snowpeas and carrots in a big bowl. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and serve.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Salmon and Dill Fishcakes

Ridley Road market is one of my favorite places to shop for food - the fruits and veg are cheap and fresh, and there are several fish stalls with great deals, especially for mackerel and salmon. I picked up a bag full of the salmon bones that are left when the fishmonger has cut off the salmon fillets for about two quid - and by quickly pan-searing them and pulling off the cooked salmon, I ended up with a medium-sized bowl full of juicy flaked salmon. When I was thinking about what to do with it, I remembered my new dill plant in the garden and how it was overflowing, so salmon and dill fishcakes became the plan.

2 cups flaked salmon
2 cups mashed potato
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
a small bunch of chives, chopped
1 cup of breadcrumbs (usually I use panko but this time I had some ground up wholewheat breadcrumbs in the freezer)
salt and pepper
Mix salmon, potato, dill and chives together in a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste (and make sure you add enough salt). Take spoonfuls of the mixture and form them into patties with your hands. Pour the breadcrumbs onto a plate and then press the patties into the crumbs, making sure both sides are covered well. Heat a pan over medium heat with some vegetable oil and then fry on both sides until golden brown and crisp. Serve with a salad on the side (I paired this with the cabbage salad I'm posting next and it was devoured by A within seconds).

Friday, June 10, 2011

Jee Cee Neh

74 Burlington Road 

A trip to Surrey for a wedding meant that we could stop in New Malden on the way home. (A also managed to cajole me into a trip to Ikea but that is less relevant to this blog.) I've read a lot about this neighborhood as it boasts the highest concentration of Korean people in the London area and therefore is home to many Korean restaurants. I have a deep love for Korean food, kimchi and pajeon and barbecue being a few of my favorite foods. I've probably mentioned before that I really hate how banchan is usually charged here, unlike New York where you get amazing arrays of small dishes that come free before your meal. Thankfully, Jee Cee Neh has followed the NY tradition, and four dishes appeared shortly after we were seated - bean sprouts, kimchi, pickled spicy cucumbers and shredded radishes. The seafood pajeon was light and crispy and full of bits of clams, octopus, squid and prawns - and the spring onions had been carefully laid down parallel to each other before the pancake was cooked, making for a very attractive presentation. Since we weren't hungry enough, the barbecue that you cook yourself was not an option - instead we had some bulgogi which came on a hot metal cow-shaped plate - it was tender and balanced the sweet and savoury flavors well. This was A's first experience with Korean food and I am happy to report that he is a fan, which means we should be seeing more Korean food on here in the future.