Thursday, April 26, 2012

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

66 Knightsbridge
SW3 1

To mark the start of our holidays, A and I treated ourselves to lunch at Dinner. Heston's one of the few chefs that A shows much interest in, so it was fun to experience some of the strange and wonderful methods that produce what is in the end an incredibly flavorful dish. There's a special lunch menu that can make things quite a bit more affordable, but we also wanted to try the meat fruit, which has been talked about endlessly, so A went a la carte with that. The chicken liver parfait inside the orange was so smooth and creamy, and we marveled at how much it really looked like an orange when it arrived at the table. I had a snail salad to start which was also very good, but not quite as memorable. A then had the pork chop - the most remarkable thing was the tiny bits that look like popcorn next to it - the waitress explained that it takes them 3 days to make it as it's essentially pork cracklings that have been dehydrated and puffed up so that they are light as air in the mouth, yet still have an intensely porky flavor. My duck leg was good, with heavenly mash underneath, but the pork chop was the clear winner. My set lunch included a dessert and I chose the prune and tamarind tart, which turned out to be a tart with a layer of tamarind/prune puree, then a custard topping with a crackly creme brulee top. And after that, we were presented with little pots of Earl Grey ganache with  caraway seed shortbread - the sweet and savory contrast (which is something I often have issues with) worked perfectly here. While it's definitely a special occasion restaurant, I can't think of anywhere else I'd rather be if I was celebrating something on a sunny day - the views over Hyde Park added another dimension to a stunning experience that left me smiling for the rest of the day.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Albion

10 Thornhill Road
N1 1HW

A and I have suddenly been on a Sunday lunch kick after meeting A & D at The Drapers Arms a few weeks ago. The Drapers was so good we went back for lunch the week after, and then out of guilt I thought we should also try The Albion since it's around the corner and also renowned for its Sunday lunches. The roast chicken for two came very quickly, which made us think that there were probably just a bunch of them sitting around, waiting to be ordered. Drinks were incredibly slow to arrive, so it was only 10 minutes after we had food that we got the pints of ale to go with it. The carrots and kale came in copious amounts of butter, which of course made them taste great but they were slightly cloying by the end. I would say the chicken would easily feed four - so we packed up the rest and I turned it into stock and risotto for another meal. Overall, it's a good Sunday lunch, but The Drapers Arms spoiled us so much that it paled in comparison. I think on a beautiful day, if you could sit in the garden of The Albion, it would even out the competition - but if we're just going on food (and roast potatoes in particular), The Drapers Arms wins hands down.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Bell & Brisket

Pop-up at 
The Queens Head
15 Denman St

The Bell & Brisket is serving salt beef and brisket at a pub in Piccadilly Circus. P and I went to try the salt beef sandwiches, and you'll see mine above on rye bread. The beef was tender and piled high, just as one would like. Throw in a selection of amazing pickles and a bag of decent chips and you have one of the best 10 quid dinners in town.  Thankfully, after looking at their website, it seems that they are still in residency at The Queens Head, so it looks like you can still get a wonderful salt beef fix in Central London without paying Selfridges prices. Apparently they also do them on bagels, which I might need to try next. Go, quickly!

Monday, April 16, 2012


33 Dover Street

P and I went to go see the Dale Chihuly exhibition at the Halcyon Gallery in Mayfair. After gawking at the ridiculously over-the-top glass sculptures, we were hungry enough to seek out brunch. Automat was the natural choice for two Americans in Mayfair, and we were seated at a nice sunny table in the back. Aside from a very irritating fire alarm that kept getting set off, we had an enjoyable time. My soft shell crab po'boy was not really a po'boy, but tasty nonetheless - I love the contrast in textures between the crisp fried shell and the soft crab innards. P had a burger which he happily ate despite (or because of) his raging hangover. Not exactly a cheap lunch, but we were in Mayfair after all...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Cove

Maenporth Beach
TR11 5HN

C is very good at finding lovely restaurants in Cornwall and she was successful again with The Cove. Its location on Maenporth Beach means that the views are stunning, though of course the day we went it was quite gray and drizzly so we didn't get the full benefit of the big glass windows. Still, the food is also cooked with care and by someone who clearly knows how to do fish perfectly. I started with Crispy Deep Fried Tiger Prawns, Aioli, Gremolata - we noticed that the frying here is also very good as all the fried items were crisp and greaseless. My main was the stunner though - Sesame Crusted Cod Filet with Mirin, Chilli, Ginger and Coriander Dressing. The Asian flavors went so well with the cod and it was cooked just to the point of being firm enough to flake, but without any of the toughness you get once cod goes a tiny bit past done. A place to remember for a return visit!

Monday, April 09, 2012

Jamie's Macaroni and Cheese

A nice hunk of Taleggio from the store inspired a search for a macaroni cheese recipe that incorporated it. Jamie Oliver to the rescue. I changed the proportions of the cheese a bit, and didn't use the fresh mozzarella that he calls for. I also added a breadcrumb topping because I love the crunch of crispy breadcrumbs on top of macaroni and cheese. This was quick and completely moreish. We had some salad on the side but the macaroni and cheese was clearly the star of the show.

Jamie's Macaroni and Cheese
Adapted from


500g/1lb 2oz good-quality macaroni
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a knob of butter
1/2 tsp dried oregano
100g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, plus extra for grating
185g taleggio cheese, roughly torn
125g mascarpone cheese
¼ of a nutmeg (optional)
handful of breadcrumbs


Preheat your oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas 6. Cook the macaroni in a pan of salted boiling water 2 minutes short of the timing on the packet instructions, then drain in a colander and reserve a little of the cooking water. Heat the butter in a large heavy-based frying pan. When it starts to foam, add the oregano and fry for a minute, then turn off the heat. Add your cooked pasta to the oregano butter, along with a couple of spoonfuls of the reserved cooking water and the Parmesan, taleggio and mascarpone. Return to a medium heat and toss and stir around until most of the cheese has melted and you have a lovely gooey sauce – you may need to add a little more of the reserved cooking water. Season to taste, then tip it all into an earthenware dish. Grate over the nutmeg (if using), top the dish with breadcrumbs and sprinkle over the extra Parmesan. Bake the macaroni cheese in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes, finishing up with a quick whack under the grill, until golden brown and crispy on top.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Spiced Fresh Orange and Honey Sorbet

With a new ice cream maker, I've been looking up interesting frozen dessert recipes. We started by just throwing a carton of coconut yogurt into the ice cream maker, which resulted in a lovely, slightly tart frozen yogurt with flakes of coconut. After that success, I wanted to try something a little more interesting, and a look at the spice rack showed me that I have not been very good about using my cardamom pods. So here's something that does use them! I halved the original recipe but decided to include both star anise and cardamom, and the original amount of ginger because I love ginger. Next time I would skip the sugar, and just use loads of fresh ginger instead of ginger conserve, as I think the orange juice and honey were sweet enough.

Spiced Fresh Orange and Honey Sorbet
Adapted from Epicurious


1.5 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup clover honey
1 tablespoon finely grated orange peel
1/4 cup ginger conserve
1 whole star anise

1 cardamom pod
1 whole clove
1 small bay leaf
1 cups chilled fresh orange juice
1.5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


Combine first 9 ingredients in heavy large saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Boil until syrup is thick and mixture is reduced to 1 cups, about 12 minutes. Discard bay leaf; cool syrup.

Strain syrup into medium bowl. Add orange juice and lemon juice. Transfer to ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer's instructions. Transfer sorbet to container, cover, and freeze until firm, at least 6 hours and up to 3 days.