Tag Archives: pork

The Pig, Brockenhurst

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Sometimes – when you’re really lucky – you can get away with excuses like ‘the dog ate my homework’‘my three alarms didn’t go off’, ‘there was a wild pony in the way’

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I used the latter last weekend when driving to The Pig in Brockenhurst. You see, there really was a wild pony in the way. A stubborn, brown wild pony that didn’t want to move, so just stood and stared, enjoying the power. Were we, or The Pig, surprised? Of course not – this is what happens in the New Forest.

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We were there for lunch, which started with a cocktail in the opulent bar of a magnificent country house. Our jaw dropping menus were stuffed with food that either came from The Pig’s walled garden, or anywhere within a 25 mile radius. Garden to plate is The Pig’s delicacy.

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A large, bright, rustic conservatory housed the dining room, which was packed with guests staying in one of The Pig’s 26 rooms and people like us that had battled wild horses to be there for lunch.

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A handful of honey covered, rosemary almonds kept us going at the bar, but didn’t stop us ordering from every section of the menu. ‘Piggy Bits’ were our appetisers (£3.75 each) – dense, crisp Black Pudding Balls were lightened by a side of piccalilli and long strips of crackling looked too scary for my teeth, but were happily munched around the table.

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When I heard they’d been foraged that morning, I immediately ordered the New Forest Mushrooms & Black Garlic Mayo with a crispy Burford Brown egg as my starter (£6). Dripping in parsley butter, the mushrooms had the most beautiful flavour and texture, made all the more special by the runny, golden egg.

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The Pig’s Extraordinary Bath Chap was the only main for me (£15). Our smiley, attentive waitress tested my squeamishness by mentioning that this Bath Chap came with his teeth. But that didn’t bother me, I was going in.

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When I lifted the vast side of crackling off my massive pig’s head, I found the cheek, which couldn’t have been more succulent, and the teeth, which made me feel sick.

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A simple turn of the plate soon sorted that out and I continued my hearty meal, smothering all meat in homemade apple sauce and enjoying the occasional piece Roasted Crown Prince Squash and our side of purple sprouting broccoli (£3.75).

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We shared a Garden Tarragon Cheesecake for dessert (£7). We weren’t hungry, but the sweetcorn sauce sounded interesting and I’m a sucker for anything with popcorn. This was accompanied by Fresh Mint Tea (to aid digestion) and Piggy Fours (£5.50) – bright pink lumps of deliciousness that almost looked too good to eat.

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I’d go back to The Pig in a heartbeat and am now dying to try The Pig on the Beach in Dorset. I hear they may be planning to expand nearer home – a rumour I very much hope turns out to be true.

The Pig, Beaulieu Road, Brockenhurst, Hampshire SO42 7QL

Food 5/5 – Price 5/5 – Staff 5/5 – Atmosphere 5/5

Smorgasburg, Brooklyn, NYC

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If you’re in New York on a weekend, Smorgasburg is the perfect place to while away the hours. Think Street Feast, KERB and Urban Food Fest, but on a larger scale with a fantastic Manhattan backdrop.

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Smorgasburg is a street food festival that attracts 100 street vendors to Williamsburg on Saturdays and Brooklyn Bridge Park on Sundays.

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We walked / taxied our way to Brooklyn Bridge on Sunday 14th September and wandered round the stalls twice before deciding what to buy. We’d read about the Milk Truck Grilled Cheese bar, so kicked things off with a Three Cheese Sandwich.

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Oh yes, this wickedly tasty treat combined aged Gruyere, aged New York State Cheddar and Wisconsin Blue with caramelised, Granny Smith apples on Rosemary Pullman Bread. Cheesy, oozing, deliciousness.

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2nd course was a delightful cheesecake ‘bite’ from Gooey & Co. (the name says it all). We asked the owner where to go next. ‘Simple’, he said, ‘I’m looking right at it’. And so, we turned our heels and marched to Schnitz for a Grumpy Russian.

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The Grumpy Russian was pork loin schnitzel topped with Schnitz Greens, pickled cherries and gorgonzola. It was rich and satisfying, but could have done with a few more cherries to cut through the strong gorgonzola.

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Dinner was two hours away, so we stopped there. Had we stayed another weekend, I’d have gone back without hesitation. Smorgasburg is a place to eat, smile and laugh. Something this grouchy fella will learn as he gets older…

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Smorgasburg, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 5

momofuku, New York

momofuku means ‘lucky peach’ in Japanese. As there’s no fruit to be seen in this popular restaurant, I can only assume the name refers to its customers – happy, juicy peaches that are lucky to be eating its noodles.

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We went to the original momofuku noodle bar on 1st Avenue and waited around an hour for a seat, guzzling wine by the window. Long wooden tables surrounded the busy bar and kitchen. The atmosphere was fun and lively.

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Some friendly New Yorkers recommended what dishes to choose from the menu, starting with one of the specials – yummy pork buns that made me want to cry with joy ($12).

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They came with a plate of Shrimp & Grits with Benton’s bacon, a poached egg and scallion ($14). This rich, buttery dish was a first for me and one I’d like to relive soon. I hear the Lockhart in Marylebone does a very good version (*dials reservation line).

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Big bowls of Spicy Miso Ramen came next ($15). Filled with smoked chicken, noodles, scallion and sesame, there was also a poached egg that delightfully broke with one prick of my fork, flooding the bowl with bright yellow yolk.

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We didn’t have room for dessert, but our waiter turned us with tales of the momofuku Milk Bar – a standalone bakery that produces weird and wonderful treats for each of the restaurants.

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This month’s focus was cookies, so we ordered a Milk Bar medley – ‘the ritz’ cookie, pretzel cake truffles and strawberry sweet cracker soft serve. I couldn’t eat the truffle – it was too sickly for my very sweet tooth. But the cookie made a perfect scoop for the creamy, sweet ice cream (she wonders why her jeans are too tight).

I’d go back to momofuku in an instant; it’s the original Ramen bar that made me feel like the luckiest girl in New York.

momofuku noodle bar, 171 1st Avenue, New York, ny 10003

Price 4/5 – Atmosphere 4/5 – Staff 5/5 – Food 5/5 

The Spaniards Inn, Hampstead

Keats, Byron, Dickens, Stoker, me. No, I’m not trying to compare myself to these great writers and poets. As if. Instead, I’m including myself in the ever-increasing list of punters that have visited The Spaniards Inn.

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Built in 1585, this pub of literary dreams is filled with ladies, gentlemen and children from London and further afield. We went on a sunny Sunday, so rather than sit in the dark, cosy dining room, we found a spot in the huge, beautiful garden.

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Garden diners have to order at the bar, so after a brief look at the menu, we went for a Scotch Egg with Picalilli (£5) and Cornish Sardine Fillet (£7.50) to start, followed by good old Fish & Chips, or Sustainably Caught Cod in Cider & Tarragon Batter as they call it (£14).

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The sardine stole the starter show. Sitting on toasted sour dough, it had a lovely smokey flavour that was brightened by sweet and juicy confit heritage tomatoes. The Scotch Egg was fine, but I found the meat casing a tad mushy and couldn’t help but compare it to the pulled pork and chorizo wonder I’d devoured in Brixton Village the day before.

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The Fish & Chips were great. The batter was light, the double cooked chips crisp and the pea puree fresh as a daisy and laced with summery mint. No complaints there.

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We skipped dessert, deciding to wander round the Heath with an ice-cream. Had I relented, Orange Meringue with Raspberries & Strawberry Coulis would have been the obvious choice.

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I’ve already planned my next visit, so unsurprisingly, I’ll give The Spaniards Inn a LLE Rating of 8/10. Go with friends, family and out of towners who love great pub grub with a side of history.

The Spaniards Inn, Spaniards Road, Hampstead, London NW3 6JJ

Spaniards Inn on Urbanspoon

KERB, King’s Cross

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King’s Cross is enjoying a foodie revolution…or so I’ve been told. A train full of restaurants are due to open over the next year, which will join the likes of Shrimpy’s, Grain Store and Caravan. And then there’s KERB – a weekly concrete food market made up of stalls, bars and an old man playing summer dance tracks.

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Yesterday was one of the hottest days of the year, so an afternoon of eating, drinking and sunbathing was in order. KERB King’s Cross ticked all the boxes, so we headed there to stuff ourselves with yummy street food and lie by the canal.

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There are around twenty stalls at KERB, which boarder Granary Square. In the middle there are over 1,000 individually lit, choreographed fountains – a fancy concept that’s particularly popular with children looking to cool off.

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We did the rounds, before deciding on lunch. Heartbreaker Burger caught my eye, but I chose Vermicelli Vietnamese Noodles with Tofu (£6) from Hanoi Kitchen and a side of Sweet Potato Chips from Yu Kyu (£3.50).

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The chips were incredible – crisp and sweet, there wasn’t a trace of grease in sight. I’d gobbled each and every golden wonder before starting on the noodles, which combined fragrance, texture and heat, along with a little too much salt (possibly an overzealous helping of soya sauce).

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Miss Crump Eats had the same, but R decided on a pork and duck bap from Bill or Beak, which lived up to its long, long queue. She also chose a brightly coloured Whoopie Pie from Kooky Bakes (£3) – a pie so tasty, it put a smile on her face from the first bite.

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We sat on fake grass steps by the river and spent at least five minutes talking about how fantastic our city is. Cheesy yes, but true none the less.

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There are a few KERB Markets in London, but we chose KERB King’s Cross, Granary Square, London N1C 4AA. 

Rotorino, Dalston

I’ve always liked Stevie Parle’s face. He looks like one of the good guys; someone who enjoys life and isn’t afraid to show it. You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this – even I am a bit – but I truly believe people’s personalities are reflected in their work. So, how could sunny, optimistic looking Stevie do any wrong?

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Because of Stevie’s face, The Dock Kitchen has been on my restaurant bucket list for the past few years. It’s still on there today, but at least I can now say I’ve eaten at his new, slightly cheaper restaurant Rotorino, which opened a couple of months ago on Kingsland Road.

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A diamond in the ‘no longer rough’ Dalston, Rotorino is made up of a large rectangular dining room that’s blue, brown and white all over, filled with wooden tables, black plastic chairs, a row of booths down one side and bright, loud patterns.

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I was right about the face; Stevie’s food is lovely. Inspired by gorgeous Italian cuisine, the menu is split into First, Second and Third courses, followed by the all important ‘Sweet’.

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We shared courses, which covered off refreshing Watermelon & Tomato Salad with chilli, mint and ricotta (£6), Buffalo Mozzarella with smashed broad beans, mint and a giant, claw like pod  (£6.50) and lightly battered Mixed Small Fish & Squid with Monk’s Beard and grease cutting fried lemon (£6). Nothing blew me away, but at the same time, not a crumb was left on the pretty, rustic plates.

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Second was a small bowl of Pistachio Casarecce (£7.50) and Sausage Gnochetti Sardi (£8). I often find restaurant pasta boring, but this was not the case here. The first creatively combined crushed pistachio, basil, garlic and olive oil (YUM), whilst the latter delightfully combined slow-cooked sausage, red wine, chilli and breadcrumbs.

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For Third, we shared Sasso Chicken (£14.50) and Pork & Veal Meatballs (£9.50) from the ‘stove’, with a side of Chickpeas topped with fried breadcrumbs (who could resist!).

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The meatballs were tasty enough and my favourite part of the bird was the juice drenched bread that sat beneath it. But it was the chickpeas that stole the show – so simple, they reminded me how satisfying vegetarian living can be.

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I must pause to tell you that there were three, not two of us at this dinner. I wouldn’t want you trying to tackle this much food, believing they’ll be room for pudding – something that should never be missed.

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It was L’s birthday, so a candle topped Chocolate Cake (£5) was quietly ordered on a trip to the bathroom. It was divine – chocolate, honeycomb, pistachio and soured cream should get engaged, married and live happily ever after.

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Stevie did me proud, just like I knew he would. I enjoyed each and every dish, although some stood out more than others. The restaurant was buzzing and will now be my little oasis of calm (and tasty food) in bustling Dalston. I’m giving Rotorino a LLE Rating of 8/10.

Rotorino, 434 Kingsland Rd, London E8 4AA

Rotorino on Urbanspoon

The House of Ho, Soho

When I booked The House of Ho for my birthday, I got some worrying looks. ‘I know you’re newly single S, but is this really the route to happiness?’. Turns out it was, so despite their concerns, my friends dutifully followed me to dark, debaucherous Soho.

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If this was the 70s, my post would be very different, more exciting and – let’s face it – confined to a diary as the wondrous internet was still a figment of TimBL’s imagination . But as it’s 2014, I will focus on what The House of Ho really is – a relatively new Vietnamese restaurant full of lively Londoners of all ages, gender and sexual orientation.

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We kicked off dinner with a bottle of Prosecco and a few dishes from the ‘Light & Raw’ section of the menu. Crab Pomelo Salad (£7) was, fittingly, ‘light’, refreshing and full of texture, and Duck Pho Cuon Rice Noodle Rolls (£5.50) were a lot like cold Dim Sum…in a good way.

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The biggest ‘Light & Raw’ treat was Spicy Salmon Tartare (£7), which was topped with a raw quail’s egg yolk and encircled by chopped pistachio, Shiso (an Asian herb) and Jicama (a type of yam). Our waiter stopped us eating until we’d mixed all ingredients together into one, mushy lump. Turns out that lump was pretty damn good, especially when scooped with a cracker or two.

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Of the ‘Hot & Grilled’, the BBQ Baby Back Ribs (£6) felt too heavy next to the other, more delicate dishes, whereas bland Smokey Aubergine (£6) could have used some spicing up.

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‘Ho’s Dishes’ were much better – The ‘Shaking Beef’ was wonderfully succulent (£14) and Lemongrass Monkfish balanced sweet, sour and meaty fishiness, despite being a little chewy.

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I think we picked the best side (thank you Mr Waiter) as Morning Glory (Water Spinach at £4) was just as satisfying as its meatier counterparts, making us vow to replicate the dish at home.

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My friends’ mischievous faces gave pudding away – Molten Maru Chocolate (£6.50) with ice cream, a candle, Happy Birthday written in sauce and a rousing chorus of singers. It was eaten with relish, just as Birthday cake should be.

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The House of Ho combined interesting, delicate food with good prices and a fun, buzzing atmosphere, making it a perfect birthday treat and a worthy recipient of a LLE Rating of 7 / 10. 

House of Ho, 55-59 Old Compton Street, Soho, London W1D 6HW 

The House of Ho on Urbanspoon