Monday, 18 July 2011

Kimchi sliders at the zoo

Although I love the idea of blogging my every mouthful, I don’t blog enough for a number of reasons. The first one being that I don’t have an iphone, nor a clue how to get photos from my old Nokia to a computer so I have to remember to carry my camera around with me. Not ideal. The second being that I don’t have a computer so I have to arrange to bring my computer home from work. Fingers crossed this will all be resolved soon as I have a birthday coming up (please, Present Fairy, bring me an ipad) and I have a very kind sister who might give me her iphone when she gets an upgrade (if i'm good). The main reason for not writing enough is lack of time to actually write (not sure how you other bloggers do it) so I’ll keep this short and sweet.
Kimchi burger - photo stolen from Kimchi Cult's website.
I usually don’t blog about things I haven’t managed to take a photo of but I had such incredible food at the zoo the other night that I thought I had to mention it to the world and will just steal other people’s photos and hope they don’t mind.
The London zoo has been running 'zoo nights' every Friday in June and July and this year they had a really impressive collection of street food stalls. I finally settled on Kimchi Cult and had 2 sliders for £5 - one beef with kimchi and bacon and the other pulled pork with ginger coleslaw. Both totally incredible but I think the pork had the edge because the ginger coleslaw was so tasty and juicy. Hope they come to a street near me soon as I can't wait to stuff my face with their sliders again.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

A coastal walk and the pasty of dreams, Cornwall

We recently spent 5 days down in the depths of Cornwall, in Pendeen, near Land's End. We took a beautiful coastal walk in the Porthcurno area, wandering from cove to cove. It was quite a grey, overcast morning so my heart went pitter patter when we heard the news from a friendly fellow walker that there was a Cornish pasty shop awaiting me round the next bend.

I'm not a conoisseur of Cornish pasties but this was nothing like a pasty at one of those crappy places in London stations. It was peppery, meaty and honest and was a very welcome respite from the drizzle on a slightly grizzly day.
Cornish pasty of dreams
I wish I knew the name of the pasty shop but I can't so I'll just say that if you're in the area, take a walk and hopefully you'll stumble across it!
What started out as a fairly grey day actually turned into a beautiful day and we ended up sunbathing on a beautiful beach.
Porthcurno Beach

Friday, 1 July 2011

Porthminster Beach Cafe

What do you get for decided to take a holiday in Cornwall instead of heading to the South of France? English drizzle. Never mind though. We decided to splash out and eat ourselves silly instead of buying flights and accomodation and boy, did we eat! Cornwall is a mecca of seafood and we really took advantage.
Surfers in the drizzle on Sennen Beach
Our splash out dinner came on our penultimate night and we loved it so much, we considered coming back the following night for our finale (we didn't, but we should've as the final dinner was disappointing). The restaurant has that real seaside vibe to it; a bright and airy whitewashed wood room, with an informal and relaxed vibe. This is the kind of place that is just as lovely during the day as it is at night. We had a prime spot in the window, overlooking the beach as the sun went down and it couldn't have been more idyllic or romantic. We would have loved to have gone back to see St Ives properly during the day as it seemed like a lovely place, but sadly we ran out of time. Next time.
Porthminster Beach Cafe, St Ives

The view from our table.

The Porthminster has a list of 'tasters' on the menu before the starters so we did try one to share. They were really designed to be amuse bouches so I think we missed the point, by sharing, but we really felt like this was a restaurant that really wanted to be able to give its customers an amuse bouche, but it couldn't factor that into its margins. I don't know how many people go for these tasters but I don't think they're necessary when you have such beautiful starters to choose from anyway.

Taster portion of squid with pea and mint puree
I loved the way they used a beach bucket to keep the wine chilled. Very cute. Our wine was delicious.

I'm not sure who the chef is or where he trained but there seems to be an Asian influence on lots of the dishes. By chance, without realising, I went for two dishes with Asian flavours. The first was an Asian broth with pork and prawn gyozas, noodles, spring onion, chilli and coriander. Delicious rich deeply-flavoured broth with soft gyozas was a total triumph. I've never been able to achieve that incredible rich flavour that Japanese or Thai soups manage.

Light Asian broth with pork & prawn gyozas - absolutely perfect!
Cornish scallops, avocado espuma, tartare of scallop and caviar dressing.

After much deliberating over the menu, next up was John Dory fillets and crab fritters with chilli, coriander & spring onion salad and chilli ponzu dressing (are you spotting the similarities?). Ponzu is one of those mysterious ingredients that has suddenly shot to fame (thanks, I reckon, to Mr Oliver) and some people say you can substitute it for lime. I don't think you can and the ponzu dressing really pulled this dish together. Generally I don't go for crab as I don't love it but I thought the other flavours in the description were enough to make me like this. I wasn't wrong. It was utterly perfect. Light and flaky John Dory fillets, crispy-on-the-outside-soft-on-the-inside crab fritters were beautifully complemented by the Asian flavours and each componant was as good as the next.

John dory fillets and crab fritters with chilli ponzu dressing.

Hake fillet, broad bean gremolata, celeriac puree and a truffle yolk parcel.

The only thing that was slightly disappointing was the dessert. Although beautiful, after such a tasty meal, nothing was going to live up to expectations!

I can't wait to go back.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Hong Kong Part Deux

It's taken me so long to get round to writing this second post about Hong Kong's amazing food so i'm just going to summarise the best bits, rather than write about every meal we ate!

Korean Barbecue
This was my first time at a Korean BBQ and I loved it. It's down a pretty spooky back street (sadly I can't remember the name of the restaurant or the street) which is poorly lit and has no signs in English, so we were the only tourists in there, which was reassuring. The waiters found us very amusing to watch and came over to show us exactly how it was done (even though it was pretty obvious!).
Korean BBQ with the 20 different types of kimchi.
Korean BBQ comprises of deeply marinated chopped up meat or fish (we went for a mixed platter of both) which you cook yourself (or in our case the waiter cooked for us!) on a hot plate sunk into the centre of the table. They brought an incredible selection of around 20 different types of kimchi, delicious soy bean paste, chilli paste and lettuce leaves. Basically you fill the lettuce leaves with the meat, bean paste, chilli and kimchi (the cabbage one being my favourite), roll it up and munch. This is right up my street, being seriously satisfying in the flavour department and fairly healthy too...well, that's what I'm telling myself anyway! We loved it so much that when we came back to London we went straight to Koba, just off Charlotte Street, and had their Korean BBQ (which was very good too).

Peking Garden
Kenneth carving the duck
We were recommend a place to go for Peking duck that was tucked away in a shopping centre, up a back staircase that was nearly impossible to find. We obviously went for the Peking duck pancakes, being in a Peking duck restaurant and were very excited to try some ginuwine Peking duck. The theatrics of the place were in fact far more impressive than the food. Sadly the duck was very bland and the skin was totally under-seasoned so it didn't have that characteristic salty flavour, and the portion that came off a whole duck was so measly! You can see it in this photo. I know a whole duck doesn't really have that much meat on it but it was so sad to see him (let's call him Kenneth) walk away with all the flesh still on the legs. We assumed he was coming back to give us the rest once we'd finished the first plate, but alas no. However, two things really made our night: 1. having Kenneth carve the duck at the table which really got our tastebuds going and 2. the hand pulled noodles performance.

Duck pancakes
Unfortunately, we didn't have noodles, although I wish we had tried them, but I learned so much about them here. I had no idea how they were made before seeing this. The noodleman started with a ball of dough which he bashed out on the work surface, stretching and folding it as he went along. After a number of repetitions it started to separate into strands until the whole thing had perfect noodles. We were all gobsmacked this. How did we not know this before??

Noodleman making the noodles

Noodleman with his finished noodles
Peking Garden Restaurant
3/fl., Star House
3 Salisbury Road
Tel. 852 2735 8211

Friday, 18 March 2011

Mochi class at Atsuko's Kitchen

A while ago I did a Japanese sweet making class (mochi lesson) at Atsuko's Kitchen on Kingsland Road. Absolutely loved it, not only because I adore anything mochi but also because Atsuko herself is absolutely adorable. She runs Japanese cooking classes from a cafe in the back of a healthy/organic/Wholefoods-y type shop called The Grocery (54 Kingsland Road) which is itself a lovely shop to browse.

Of the 5 of us there for the class, I was the only one who was a new face. They had all taken part in either her beginner or advanced course which says a lot to me.

The class was brilliant and the food was so interesting and if it weren't so darned far away from SW11 then I'd definitely sign up for her beginners Japanese cooking class which is a 5 week course and you learn all kinds of soup stocks, rice dishes, miso, gyoza etc. I'll have to think hard about whether I can commit to going to the back of beyond once a week!

I took photos on my phone but, sadly, can't figure out how to load them to my computer!