Tag Archives: sausages

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

Chilli Sausage Ragu

What do you do if you’re dangerously near your overdraft limit, are about to move house (always expensive), yet crave a homemade meal bursting with flavour? Cook Chilli Sausage Ragu, that’s what!

Tricky questions aside, this recipe costs around a fiver to make not one, not two, but more than four delicious portions. What’s more, it’s tasty enough to serve at a dinner party without seeming like you’ve gone for the cheap option.

It may sound like I’m blowing my own trumpet, but as this is one of The Boyfriend’s specialties, I think you can let me off. Anyway, the proof is in the ragu(?!), so here’s the recipe.

Serves 4 penniless people

Ingredients

  • 2 x tins of chopped tomatoes
  • Eight pork sausages
  • 1 x large red chilli chopped into small pieces
  • 3 x cloves of garlic chopped into small pieces
  • 1 x tablespoon of good Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 x tablespoon of sugar
  • Rigotini / Penne pasta to serve (you need something that will scoop up the lovely Ragu)

Method

  • First prepare the sausages by removing the skins and chopping the meat into small pieces (see image below)
  • Fry the chilli and garlic in a little olive oil over a medium heat
  • Once the chilli and garlic has changed colour, add the sausage meat and cook until golden brown (it will start taking on the consistency of mince)
  • Pour in the chopped tomatoes and bring to the boil, before turning down the heat so the mixture simmers
  • Stir in the Balsamic Vinegar and sugar
  • Season to taste and leave to cook for around 20minutes (good time to put the pasta in)
  • Spoon over pasta and serve with a little grated cheese and salad

Taste of Christmas

When I woke up on Saturday morning, the last thing I wanted to do was travel across London to Taste of Christmas at the ExCeL centre. This wasn’t down to tiredness, being hungover or just plain lazy, it was because I couldn’t bear to leave my flat after being burgled the night before by absolute bastards (I could write something ruder, but my parents read this).

In hindsight, I’m really glad I decided to go as I was able to spend the day doing what I do best – trying lots of food. I’m also glad I didn’t recognise all the brands that made up the large number of stalls, as if there had been more than one big corporate brand like Nespresso present, I think I would have questioned the whole event.

My favourite moments were trying the perfectly creamy and soft buffalo Mozzarella by Laverstock Park Farm, sampling Black Garlic for the first time, which I now know is made by slow cooking a bulb of garlic for 30 hours to produce a rich, sweet flavour, and eating too many slices of Scottish Oak Smoked Salmon from the Isle of Skye (this was so good, my dad bought an entire fish for Christmas, yay!).

As well as the stalls, there were a number of pop-up restaurants, including the amazing Cinnamon Club, where we were lucky enough to meet head chef Vivek Singh and his team.

We had already devoured the Stir Fry of Shrimp with Cracked Pepper and Curry Leaf when a lovely member of Vivek’s team gave us a free Garam Masala Christmas Pudding with Thandai Custard. The only downside to eating the perfectly light and fluffy subtly spiced dessert was the feeling of sadness that I couldn’t have it on Christmas day – Heston’s hidden orange pudding better live up to the hype…

I enjoyed the day and came home feeling a lot happier than when I left, probably because I was weighed down with a big bag of chocolate covered raisins from Cranberry and six delicious Hereford Beef and Free Range Pork sausages from Three Counties Fine Foods (some of the best sausages I’ve tasted in a while).

The one downside to Taste of Christmas is the fact it’s held inside. At eye level, it looked like a bustling market, but once I raised my head and saw the metallic roof, I felt like I was in an aircraft hangar. Christmas markets are traditionally held outside, so I’m sure we could all brave the cold if, like Taste of London, it was held in Regent’s Park next year – organisers, take note.