Tag Archives: chorizo

Pieminister’s Cattle Market, Camden

Grab a cardboard box and fill it with creamy mash. On top, place one, perfectly formed, homemade pie* and cover it with a scoop of mushy, minty peas, lashings of thick, rich gravy, grated cheese and crispy, golden shallots.

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That, readers, is what they call The Mothership. The tasty, pie medley that you can now get at Pieminister’s Cattle Market – a laid back, spacious pop up right by Camden Market.

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Once you’ve chosen your pie – we went with Heidi (an ingenious combination of goats’ cheese, sweet potato, spinach & red onion that’s even a hit with carnivores) and Matador (Pieminister’s Spanish offering with farm assured, British beef steak, chorizo, olives, sherry & butter bean) – you can decide on your donation.

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Money goes to Pieminister’s Send a Cow Cattle Drive campaign to kick start 30 farms in Africa. A very worthy cause that the founders Jon and Tristan firmly believe in.

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The pop-up’s due to last a month, but with those pies – plus Camden’s need for somewhere decent and cheap to eat – I’m sure we can keep Cattle Market open a bit longer. It certainly gets my vote. Moooooo.

Pieminister’s Cattle Market, 21-22 Chalk Farm Road, Camden, NW1 8AG

*all Pieminister pies are handmade in Bristol, something that will always stay the same (I heard that from Tristan himself)

Berry Bros. & Rudd Bar, Royal Albert Hall

BBR Bar front (l)

Berry Bros. & Rudd is Britain’s oldest wine and spirit merchant. So old its shop opened on St. James’ Street 314 years ago. So old it received a letter from White Star Line Services apologising for a shipment lost when the Titanic struck an iceberg and foundered at 2-20am in 1912 – see exhibit A.

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Exhibit A can be found in the six month old Berry Bros. & Rudd Bar in the Royal Albert Hall basement. The bar is elegantly old fashioned, filled with leather sofas, black & white photos and a long, impressive bar that curves to the shape of the hall.

The bar fed and watered us on Maundy Thursday before we went upstairs to watch Foals in our box (la de da). I use the word ‘watered’ loosely as there wasn’t a drop of H2O in sight, just a Negroni (£9.50), French 75 (£11.50) and a Rhubarb & 3 (£9.50).

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These No. 3 London Dry Gin Cocktails share the menu with Classic Cocktails, wines and spirits. I was sad not to see my favourite White Lady gin cocktail on the menu and even sadder to hear it wasn’t part of the bartender’s repertoire. But hey, I wasn’t holding it against them.

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There was also a list of oh so important bar snacks on the menu. Split into Light Bites, Sharing Boards and Pudding, we chose the Spanish Charcuterie Sharing Board with Teruel ham, Salchichon De Vic, Chorizo Magno Teruel Lomo, Torta de Acelle, almonds and caper berries (£20 for two people). All that, and just one ‘light bite’ – Rillettes of Pork, Scotch Egg, crackling, celeriac remoulade, cornichons and sour dough (£8.50).

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As bar snacks go, these were up there with the best. The portions were substantial and the combinations far from flat. Standout for me were the sweet Rillettes of Pork and the crunchy, non-greasy crackling. The Scotch Egg also had a lovely flavour, even though it lacked the runny centre I’d hoped for.

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The bar was busy by the time we left, so I’d definitely recommend booking if you’re after a seat. It’s the perfect place to eat, drink and be merry in anticipation of what you’re about to see, so I’ll give Berry Bros. & Rudd Bar a LLE Rating of 7.5/10.

Berry Bros. & Rudd Bar, Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AP

Tapas Touring in Seville

Seville is home to some of Spain’s best tapas bars, the world’s largest gothic cathedral, fantastic food markets and lots of beautiful orange trees. So, I’ll never understand why it’s such a pain in the bull’s backside to get to.

Thankfully, after taking one of the few scheduled flights to the Andalusian city, I made it. And, in just three days, managed to eat at five different tapas bars, some more than once. To my friends, it may have felt like a military tapas tour, but I’m fairly confident they thank me…deep, deep down.

Each place was either recommended by journalists, bloggers or locals. On the list was El Burladero (Gran Melia Colon), Casa Morales (García de Vinuesa 11), Boudequita Casablanca (Adolfo Rodriquez Jurado No. 12), Las Teresas (Calle Santa Teresa 2) and La Azotea (Calle Jesús del Gran Poder), each bringing something different to the table (mind the pun).

At expensive El Burladero, we dined on Salmorjo a tomato cream similar to Gazpacho, sprinkled with Iberian cured ham and a quail’s egg – oozing ‘Grandma’s Homemade Croquettes’, succulent skewered beef, roasted octopus on garlicky potato puree and Burladerdo (bull’s tail). It was a delicious feast all round and perfect if you fancy treating yourself to something special.

Casa Morales, Boudequita Casablanca and Las Teresas can easily fit into the same  evening, if you’re feeling energetic. Morales dates back to 1850, so takes tradition and authenticity to the next level, both in the food and decor.

The tapas we went for were aromatic Garbanzos Con Espinacas (chickpeas and spinach), pork Albondigas (meatballs), Habas Con Jamon (broad beans and serrano ham) and Ortiz Ventresca (tuna belly), all happily washed down with a large glass of Verdejo Blanco.

Casablanca was all about pijotas – crispy, fried baby hake, eaten like corn on the cob, from head to tail. That, coupled with a fantastic view of the cathedral when standing outside, makes for a very happy fish loving tourist. Just like me.

At Las Teresas, the chosen tapas was what us Brits would call ‘traditional’. Calamari, Anchovies and Chorizo were devoured as we sat on a cobbled street, wondering why we don’t take ‘City Breaks’ more often.

Across town at La Azotea, we settled in for the night. The queue that ran out the door made us pleased we’d arrived as the restaurant opened. As we were sitting at a table, tapas was unavailable, so we picked four half plates and two portions of dessert.

Everything from the croquettes and prawn stuffed filo triangles, to the beef carpaccio, clams with artichoke and chocolate pudding was lovely. And, the 25 Euros per head with wine was even lovelier.

So, if you’re prepared to be flexible with your flights and travel with Ryan Air or Easyjet (double yuk), I couldn’t recommend spending a few days in Seville enough…and that’s not just because of the food.

The Balham Lounge…Balham

Quick post on a little gem I came across last night. The Balham Lounge is in…erm…Balham, but isn’t in fact a coffee shop or a full time bar. What it is, is a charming, family run Spanish tapas restaurant that serves great food and has a wonderful atmosphere.

Food wise, I ate what the lovely owners Philippe and Manuela recommended to me – Patatas Bravas (sautéed potatoes in spicy tomato sauce), Camaron al Ajillo (prawns in garlic oil and chilli), Almejas a la Marinera (clams in a spicy white wine and tomato sauce), Pincho de Ternera (beef rump shish kebab) and Chorizo al Vino (you can probably work that one out for yourself).

I wasn’t disappointed by anything. The meat was tender, the potatoes crisp despite the sauce (I’ve had some mushy Patatas Bravas in my time) and the fish, bursting with flavour. The highlight for me were the clams – without noticing, I ate almost all of them, leaving just two for L (sorry!).

For two, it came to £70 for all the above, bread, olives and more Cava than I’d like to admit. What’s not to love? The Balham Lounge gets a LLE Rating of 7.5 / 10 – Balamites, go forth and indulge.

Cooking, Eating & Drinking at Food at 52

Food at 52 isn’t your average cookery school. At one point you’re learning techniques and cooking beautiful dishes, and at another, you’re in the midst of a dinner party with a group of your new best friends, pouring wine, breaking bread and laughing like you’ve known each other for years…not hours.

When I cook, I tend to stick to Italian, French and English recipes, with the odd Thai curry thrown in. Determined to learn something new, I jumped on the tapas bandwagon and went for the Food at 52 Spanish course, run by owner and head chef John Benbow.

I arrived promptly at 6.30pm and was whisked downstairs into what felt like the perfect country kitchen, complete with an enormous long wooden table, handcrafted by John. Spying another solo student, I quickly stood next to the lovely Vanessa, poured myself a glass of cold white wine and waited for the fun to begin.

After introductions were made, the lovely John ran us through the menu, which included everything from fish and meat to salads and chocolate. John explained that we would be stopping mid way for food, which was music to our ears, legs and stomachs.

Divided into three teams of five, we started at the end, making Spanish Olive Chocolate Truffles. Olives and chocolate?! I had a similar reaction, but trust me, it works – just like salt or chilli, the bitterness of the olives makes a welcome contrast to the sweet chocolate.

Next up were more olives, this time stuffed with Manchego cheese, deep fried and served with a drizzle of honey. I still can’t believe the simplicity and effectiveness of this recipe, so I’ve pasted it at the end so you too can make these tasty morsels.

Before moving onto our mains, we created a colourful Amanida Salad from Catalana. John announced that salad building would be judged between teams, which didn’t worry me as I knew my new friends were more than up for the challenge.

As you can see, what we ended up with was a thing of beauty, which clearly won the virtual trophy, even though John felt too bad to admit it to the others.

Moving onto mains, we braised some chicken thighs, before popping each piece onto a bed of chopped green olives sautéed with onions, garlic and pepper, and leaving it to braise for around 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, we created a delicious salad of new potatoes, chorizo, paprika and cumin, whilst pan frying sea bass with capers and roasted red peppers.

The end results were fantastic, reminding me how easy it is to make mouthwatering meals with just a few simple ingredients.

We covered a lot of ground in four hours, which included regular breaks to eat, drink and be merry. It was a complete contrast to my intensive Leiths course last year, but that didn’t surprise or upset me in the slightest. Food at 52 is about learning to cook exciting recipes, whilst having a brilliant time with your fellow classmates that are also passionate about sharing food. I left feeling inspired, a little tipsy, very full and, most importantly, happy.

Fried Queen Olives with Manchego

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 200g pitted queen olives
  • 50g Manchego cheese
  • 2 tbls flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tbls breadcrumbs
  • Mild Spanish olive oil for frying
  • A drizzle of honey

Method

  • Open the tin/jar of queen olives and drain the brine, taste and if too salty wash in cold water. Drain in a colander and pat dry
  • Finely chop the manchego cheese until is resembles breadcrumbs; then mix the cheese with 1 teaspoon of the breadcrumbs
  • Stuff the olives with the cheese and breadcrumb mixture using the back of a teaspoon
  • Once the olives are stuffed, sprinkle them all over with flour. Whisk the egg and egg wash the olives making sure they are fully coated. Then do the same with the breadcrumbs and put to one sid.
  • Heat oil (enough to cover the olives) in a small pan on a high temperature. Wait until the oil is hot (test by dropping an olive in and it should fry quickly in around 5 seconds). Once the oil is hot enough, fry in batchers of about 7 olives until golden. This should take less than 90 seconds
  • Pat dry on kitchen paper. Put on a plate and drizzle with the honey. Serve!

Food at 52, 96 Central Street, London EC1V 8AJ (http://www.foodat52.co.uk/

Top Five London Bruncheries

I have two new words for the English dictionary – ‘Brunchtime’ and ‘Bruncherie’. ‘Brunchtime’ takes place at around 11.30am on a Saturday morning when I eat a  version of Eggs Benedict. ‘Bruncherie’ is the place I go at brunchtime if I’m too lazy to cook at home.

If you share my love of brunch, here is my list of the top five bruncheries in the big smoke, as well as one rotten egg.

1. Tom’s Deli, 226 Westbourne Grove, London W11 2RH

You can, and should, expect a lot from Tom’s (including a long queue). It’s a beautifully quirky deli that looks a bit like the sweet shop in The Giraffe & The Pelly & Me. Even the menu has elements of surprise in it, such as my tasty Eggs Benedict Flamenco from the Eggsactley section. Although I’m a sucker for Eggs Benedict Royal, I enjoyed the change at Tom’s as the combination of tomato, chilli, chorizo and egg transported me back to my time in Mexico.

2. Duck Egg Cafe, 424 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, London SW9 8LF

If you too love eggs, this is the bruncherie for you as you get to eat large and satisfyingly duck eggs. After queuing for a short time, I ignored the boring standard egg choice and ordered Duck Eggs Benedict with Field Mushrooms. Even though the eggs had been cooked in a mould, which I never find aesthetically pleasing, it had an eggtastic flavour that filled me to the brim, leaving no room for the superfluous hash brown.

3. The Wolseley, 160 Piccadilly, London W1J 9EB

One of my best birthday presents last year had to be my trip to The Wolseley at brunchtime. The Eggs Benedict with Smoked Salmon looked like it’d been made by angels, with its thick wraps of salmon encircling the most lovely poached eggs, all topped with light, lemony hollandaise sauce. It’s a shame I don’t have an image to illustrate this stomach rumbling delight, but sadly Little Lady Eats didn’t exist in April last year. Instead, I’ll finish by applauding the fact you have to book so far in advance – frustrating for some, but for others it’s precious time to save pennies as brunch at The Wolseley sure as hell ain’t cheap.

4. Raoul’s, 113-115 Hammersmith Grove, London W6 ONQ

With restaurants in Notting Hill, Maida Vale and Hammersmith, Raoul’s was made for ladies who brunch. Sadly, I don’t fall into that category, but if I did, I’d  be able to indulge in its perfectly cooked Eggs Benedict Royal every day as its smaller size wouldn’t make me fat from all the sitting down I’d be doing. That said, I’d have to end my love affair with Raoul’s if I kept indulging in a second course of blueberry bursting, maple-syrup absorbing, crispy pancakes.

5. The Alice House, 283-285 West End Lane, West Hampstead, London NW6 1RD

Considering it’s a pub, The Alice House makes a great brunchtime destination. Its forte is the eggs, which resemble water balloons about to burst due to the amount of gloriously orange yolk inside. Much like Raoul’s, the size is perfect for a lady and the hollandaise is light and creamy with just the right amount of lemon.

The Rotten Egg: The Providores, 109 Marylebone High Street, London W1U 4RX

Ok, so rotten egg is a little harsh, but I was really disappointed when I went to The Providores last weekend. I’ve only ever heard good things, so was surprised when my magnificent sounding hot-smoked salmon with two poached organic eggs and spinach on walnut toast with yuzu hollandaise, turned out to be quite bland. I was even more surprised, and slightly disgusted, to see the £6 booking charge on my bill, which came on top of the 12.5% tip. This didn’t happen in The Wolseley, so certainly shouldn’t happen here and, even though I’d be interested to try dinner, I certainly won’t be visiting at brunchtime again.

The Wet Fish Cafe, West Hampstead

Considering I didn’t even know samphire existed until I came across it in the Jersey fish market this summer, it suddenly seems prolific on restaurant menus and a hot topic for food writers. If you like the taste of fish, the fact that samphire is now in plentiful supply can only be a good thing as it brings out the flavour in most seafood due to its saltiness.

In case you haven’t heard of it, samphire is an edible plant that grows in coastal areas, typically on shorelines and in marshy shallows. Named after the French saint of fishermen ‘Saint Pierre’, samphire is sometimes aptly called sea asparagus and is at its best in July and August.

The main reason I’m dedicating a whole post to samphire is because I recently enjoyed once of the tastiest starters I’d eaten in the while, which had samphire as the star.

The starter was a product of The Wet Fish Café – a small atmospheric brasserie in West Hampstead. It was a very simple dish consisting of fried chorizo with cloves of cooked garlic and lots of lovely samphire, all served with warm crusty French bread.

As soon as I saw samphire on the menu I was interested to try it, but I had worried my choice would be too salty, with each dominant flavour conflicting with one another. Thankfully, I was pleased to find that the overall effect was deliciously well balanced and I finished wishing it had been my main course.

Now I’ve discovered samphire I’m keen to start using it in my own cooking, even if it’s just a simple risotto or pasta dish. As it happens, I’d even hoped to use it in my prawn linguini this evening, but clearly others are cottoning onto my new favourite vegetable, as there was none to be seen on the fish counter. I suppose I’ll have to start keeping my mouth shut about it…

The Wet Fish Cafe, 242 West End Lane, West Hampstead NW6 1LG