ArchiveSeptember 7, 2017

Favourite London Eating Places

A reader texted me recently to ask for my ‘London List’. Another asked “Any chance you’d do another piece on your favourite London eating places”. I realised that its quite some time since I devoted a column to my new finds. We’re so fortunate to be so close to London – a mere 50 minutes hassle free hop from Cork or Dublin.

For those of us who are connected to the restaurant scene it’s a big bonus to be so close to one of the most exciting food capitals in the entire world. I pop backwards and forwards regularly for meetings and events so I use each of these opportunities to try out new places. Hence I’m regularly asked for my list of favourite cafes, restaurants and cocktail bars.

One of my most unexpected discoveries is called The Other Naughty Piglet. The name is super cute, not normally a good sign and then there’s the location, right in the centre of the Theatre District. The restaurant is upstairs above the lobby in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Palace Theatre on Shaftsbury Avenue in The City of Westminster.  While I was climbing the grim, blingy marble staircase I was convinced that what lay ahead would be disappointing. I couldn’t have been more mistaken.

The original, Naughty Piglet, co-owned by Joe and  Margaux Aubry Sharratt  is a Brixton hotspot that serves seasonal and creative small plates alongside a great list of natural wines. It ticks all my boxes and  I particularly remember a Datterini tomato salad with frosted feta, micro greens and togarashi.  The latter is a Japanese condiment also known as Shichimi made up of seven spices. A typical blend might contain red chilli pepper flakes, Japanese peppers, roast orange peel, both black and white sesame seeds, hemp  and poppy seed, ground ginger and nori seaweed. If you haven’t already got it in your cupboard look out for it next time you go shopping.  You’ll find yourself reaching for it regularly to add oomph to grilled meats and seafood, noodles, salad dishes and even soups. At The Other Naughty Piglet, the chef sprinkled it over the tomato salad but the other bit of magic was the frozen feta grated on, at the last minute, altogether a delicious combination.  Burratta with chocolate mousse and vanilla ice cream, crumbled honey comb and salted caramel were also particularly good. Pop this place on your London list and also check out Over Under Coffee in 181A Earls Court Road, a local community focused café that serves exceptional coffee and nutritious, simple and delicious food. Over Under Coffee are getting ready to open a second branch in October in the Ham Yard in Soho. Check out the breakfast sandwiches and avocado toast.

Bao started life in Netil Market close to the Broadway Market in Hackney serving fluffy white steamed buns filled with braised pork, sprinkled with peanut powder – you can’t imagine how delicious this Twainese street food tastes, always a long queue for Londons’ equivalent of David Chang’s Korean version of Momofuko which became a cult food item in New York.

It’s not that easy for market traders to make the transition from street stall to bricks and mortar. They often lack the staffing and accounting skills. The founders teamed up with Trishna and Gymkhana  (also add to your list) to launch the new establishment at 53 Lexington Street in Soho – can’t book but brave the queue and it can be an hour long but it’s worth it…..

In Shoreditch, out in Hackney, in East London there are several gems. Pidgin has been making waves serving a four course menu that changes every week, all the best places have an interesting natural wine list.

Many of the most exciting new restaurants are tiny – sometimes as few as 5 or 6 tables, owned by eager young chefs and cooks who are still fizzing with  enthusiasm and hungry for success. These are the ones I seek out but I often lose interest when I hear they have opened their third or fourth place.  Some succeed in keeping up the standard but they are few and far between. So you’ll need to travel out into the less gentrified suburbs where rents are lower to find the rising starts, check out Som Saa, Oklava, Kiln and Clipstone and another of my absolute favourites Padella.

Check out Legs– a tiny neighbourhood wine bar in Hackney, open just for dinner (and lunch on Saturday and Sunday) as I discovered after I’d schlepped the whole way out for lunch – simple beautiful British food, small plates, worth a detour and there’s more…..

Hot Tips
Ballymaloe Garden Festival
Get Gardening and Seed Saving

Don’t miss the Garden Festival at Ballymaloe from 2nd and 3rd September 2017. There will be a variety of talks, demonstrations, entertainment and shopping offers a bumper crop for garden lovers, seasoned experts, late bloomers, families and foodies. Entry fee is €8 and children under 12, go free.

FEAST Supper with Rory O’Connell at Ballymaloe House
Thursday 7 September – €75 pp
Rory O’Connell is hosting a special 4 course seasonal supper at Ballymaloe House as part of FEAST: Midleton Food & Drink Festival 2017. The evening will start with a cocktail designed by Irish award winning mixologist Andy Ferreria served in the Ballymaloe walled garden.
http://www.ballymaloe.ie/blog-item/seasonal-cocktail-feast-ballymaloe-house

Taste of West Cork Festival
Don’t forget the Taste of West Cork Festival from 8th-17th September 2017. Check out Guest Chef Danni Barry from EIPIC in Belfast. Danni will cook dinner using the freshest and most seasonal produce at Glebe Gardens in Baltimore on Monday 11th September. €70 including wine pairings. Booking Essential. Tel: 028 20579.

Pilgrims Restaurant and Doswell Gallery join forces….begin the night with aperitifs, drinks and art at Doswell Gallery, then move to Pilgrims Restaurant for a five course tasting menu. Thursday 14th September. Tel: 023 8831796, booking essential.

A Date for your Diary:- Guest Chef Gillian Hegarty, past student and teacher at the Ballymaloe Cookery School and most recently Head Chef at Ballymaloe House will host a demonstration at Fernhill House, Clonakilty on how to prepare and use fresh herbs in canapés and cocktails. There will be a three course seasonal menu (waiting to find out if Gillian is involved with the dinner). Thursday 14th September, 023 8833258, booking essential

Home Butchery, Charcuterie and Sausage Making Demonstration with Philip Dennhardt
There’s a growing interest among chefs and enthusiastic amateurs for home-curing and sausage-making , a subject we’ve become more and more absorbed by in the past few years as we continue to learn and explore the rich traditions of many countries including – France, Spain , Italy, Germany, Poland …..During this one day course you will learn how to butcher a side of pork from nose to tail, identify the cuts and learn about the technique involved to dry, curing…. and learn how to make four different types of sausage and salami, chorizo, frankfurters, beerfest sausages, brawn………taste and enjoy
Saturday September 9th 2017, 9.30am-5pm, www.cookingisfun.ie

Labneh with melted red peppers, garlic, anchovy and sumac

Serves 4

8 tablespoons labneh
4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tabs extra virgin olive oil garlic
2 large organic red peppers, seeded and sliced into 1/4 inch strips
4-6 anchovies,
Salt and freshly ground pepper
A fistful of fresh mint leaves,
Sumac

Heat the oil in a wide sauté pan, add the sliced garlic, stir and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sliced peppers, season with flaky sea salt and freshly cracked pepper. Stir to coat, cover and cook on a gentle heat until soft, 10 to 12 minutes. Taste, correct seasoning and transfer to a bowl. Fold in the halved and quartered anchovies if using,
To serve, Spoon two dollops of labneh into the centre of a medium sized plate to form a high mound, spoon a generous helping of the pepper mixture on top, sprinkle with fresh mint leaves and a generous dusting of sumac on top. Serve with grilled or fresh sourdough or a flatbread.

Datterini tomatoes with frosted feta, micro greens and torgorashi

A fresh and delicious inspired by a small plate I enjoyed at The other naughty piglet in London.

Serves 4

30 ripe but firm Datterini or other sweet cherry tomatoes,
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4ozs Feta cheese, frozen.
Extra virgin olive oil
Gorashi.
Micro greens, both green and red,

Slice the tomatoes in half, both ways. Season with flakey sea salt and freshly cracked pepper,
Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of freshly squeezed lemon juice, toss gently. taste and add a little sugar or honey if necessary. Arrange a little mound of tomatoes on a plate. Grate some frozen feta over the top, add a sprinkling of gorashi and top with some snipped micro greens. Serve ASAP.

Vanilla and Chocolate Ice Cream with Crumbled Honeycomb

Vanilla Ice Cream (see recipe that appeared on Saturday August 19th or on the website http://www.irishexaminer.com/lifestyle/foodanddrink/darina-allen-homemade-frozen-treats-457305.html

Chocolate Ice Cream, see recipe

4 tablespoons sugar
8fl oz (225ml) water
4 free range-egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 pints (1.1L) whipped cream
4oz (110g) plain chocolate
2oz (50g) unsweetened chocolate

Honeycomb
Makes about 500 g (1lb 2oz)

85g (3 1/4oz) Duchy (or good quality local) honey
180g (6 1/4oz) liquid glucose
400g (14oz/1 3/4 cups) castor sugar
100ml (3 1/2fl oz/scant 1/2 cup) water
15g (3/4oz) bicarbonate of soda

1 Swiss roll tin – 20 x 30cm (8 x 12 inch)
parchment paper or silpat mat

First make the ice cream. Dissolve the sugar in the water, bring slowly to the boil and simmer until the syrup reaches the ‘thread stage’ (it will look thick and syrupy and when a metal spoon is dipped in, the last drops will form thin threads). Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks until white and fluffy, when the syrup is at the correct stage pour the boiling syrup gradually onto the egg yolks, whisking all the time. Continue to whisk until the mixture is a thick white mousse – add the vanilla extract. Melt the two kinds of chocolate in a bowl over simmering water or in a very low oven. Cool slightly, add some of the mousse from one bowl to the chocolate and stir quickly, add more and then mix the two mixtures thoroughly, fold in the softly whipped cream. Pour into chocolate cases. Cover and freeze.

Next make the honeycomb. First loosen the honey and glucose syrup by dipping their containers in warm water, then weigh out into your saucepan. Then add the sugar and water and heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Gradually raise the temperature of the pan’s contents to 150°C (300°F).

Carefully sprinkle the bicarbonate of soda into the pan. The contents will fizz up like lava from the underworld, but don’t be alarmed, this is what puts the tiny air bubbles into the honeycomb. Stir the mixture to make sure all the powder is incorporated, then pour it out onto your silicone sheet (or baking tray). Leave to set for at least 30 minutes, then break the brittle mass into small pieces.
To serve:- remove the ice creams from the freezer at least 30 minutes ahead. Scoop out a quenelle of vanilla and another of chocolate ice cream and arrange side by side on a chilled plate. Crumble the honey comb over the top and serve immediately. Continue with the remainder of the plates.

 

Inis Meain Suites

Every now and then there’s a moment, a milestone which can indicate the end of an era…
For me a recent experience in a West Cork village was just that. I popped into the shop to buy a carton of buttermilk to make a loaf of soda bread, I searched the shelves to no avail and when I inquired at the till the lovely lady told me whimsically, “ah sure, there’s ‘no call’ for that, sure no one around here bakes a ‘cake of bread’ any longer.” It was just a small thing but I was always reassured by the presence of buttermilk in local shops, an indication that the tradition of baking a loaf of soda bread was alive and well in the parish. It’s a long time since one could buy an entire sack of flour in a village shop but it’s still possible in the one and only shop on Inis Meáin which hopefully indicates a rich baking tradition among the islanders. We certainly enjoyed Marie-Thérèse De Blacam’s  delicious brown soda bread at Inis Meáin Suites on a recent visit.
The food in the little restaurant there is pure and delicious, home grown vegetables, herbs and flowers from the garden, a taste of the produce of the island and the local coastline. The Inis Meáin Suites are booked up almost a year ahead but the good news is that the restaurant is now open to non-residents from Wednesday to Saturday. (www.inismeain.com ) Some of the stand out dishes on the menu during our recent stay were mackerel carpaccio with an Asian dressing, thinly sliced raw mackerel caught a few hours earlier in the crystal clear waters off the coast – utterly sublime. I can’t understand why we don’t see more fish crudo on our restaurant menus. The squid with black squid ink mayonnaise was also super delicious, as was the beetroot salad served three way and a plump tender lobster claw with aioli and rocket leaves. All simple, elemental cooking made with superb fresh produce – no foams, gels or skid marks on the plate – just beautiful fresh flavours and simple presentations, a breath of fresh air.
Well, back to bread, many of you already know how to bake but for those of you who don’t, let me tell you how easy it is to make a loaf of soda bread, made in minutes and out of the oven in little more than 30 minutes. So next time when you need bread, just turn on the oven. You wouldn’t have found your car keys and be back from the shops by the time its baked and cooling on a wire rack, filling your kitchen with the irresistible smell of crusty homemade bread that you can guarantee will nourish your family. I include treacle bread and white soda bread for you to try.

Hot Tips
Want to take the mystery out of cooking Seafood. Due to popular demand the seafood course for seafood lovers by covering all the basics: how to recognize really fresh fish, scaling, filleting, skinning, general preparation….
Using a variety of eclectic recipes we demonstrate how many of the best fish dishes can be cooked literally in minutes. Simple pan-grilling is an essential technique, while poaching, baking, deep-frying, steaming, salting and pickling all enhance the flavour. Sauces, salsas and flavoured butters, which subtly complement the fresh taste of fish, are an integral part of this course.
There are two practical sessions, which means you’ll have an opportunity to test out some of the recipes you have learned. Incidentally, the fish you’ll be using is really fresh. We buy from the boats at nearby Ballycotton Harbour as well as from Kenmare Bay. Whether cooking family meals or entertaining at home, this course will get you hooked on fish!
September 6th – 8th 2017, www.cookingisfun.ie
Indian Summer Supper Club at O’ Connell’s Restaurant in Donnybrook. If you are on a skite in Dublin today make sure you check out O’ Connell’s Restaurant. Alison O Reilly, Masterchef 2017 contestant has put together a 4 course menu inspired by fresh flavours and vibrant colours from the East. Dinner is €55 per person and include a raspberry and mint prosecco on arrival. Phone 01 269 6116 or follow the link for more information. http://oconnellsrestaurant.com/indian-summer/

Electric Picnic from 1st-3rd September 2017 in Stradbally, Co Laois.
Don’t miss Theatre of Food. Join the most talented food lovers in Ireland get all funky, all weekend long. From Assassination Custard to Rosanna Davison, from Finn Ní Fhaoláin to Fintan O’Toole, from drum supremo Ralph Rolle to sushi supremo Takashi Miyazaki, Theatre of Food presents a mind-expanding, mind-altering concept of what Irish food is all about. It’s all about fun, fantastic food and drool some drinks. Come along and meet Ballymaloe’s Rory O’Connell. Let April Danann of Rebel Foods and Dearbhla Reynolds of The Cultured Club expand your consciousness with their bubbling ferments. There will be music, there will be dancing and speed tasting of great wines of the world with Pascal Rossignol and Beverley Matthews of L’Atitude 51. Paul Flynn from The Tannery will be celebrating 20 years of Waterford’s most iconic restaurant, whilst Ivan Varian and Jonathan McCrea will show you once again just how strange the science of food can be…….lots lots more. www.electricpicnic.ie

Inis Meáin Restaurant & Suites
Cáca Treacle (Treacle Bread)
Makes 2 x 1lb loaf tins
This is an adaptation of  Marie-Thérèse mother’s recipe.

160g self raising flour
320g wholemeal flour
40g wheatbran
40g mixed seeds (pumpkin, sesame, sunflower & linseed)
half teaspoon bread soda
pinch salt
1 egg
400ml buttermilk
1 dessertspoon treacle

Preheat oven to 210 degrees celcius and grease tins
Mix dry ingredients together by hand in big bowl and make well in centre
Mix egg, buttermilk and treacle together, pour half of liquid mix into dry ingredients and mix lightly by hand
Pour remainder of liquid in and mix very lightly by hand.
Put mixture into tins and bake in oven for 30/35mins turning midway for even baking. Tap bottom for hollow sound to test.
Turn out onto wire rack to cool
Copyright Inis Meáin Restaurant & Suites

White Soda Bread
Soda bread only takes 2 or 3 minutes to make and 30 – 40 minutes to bake. It is certainly another of my ‘great convertibles’. We have had the greatest fun experimenting with different variations and uses. It’s also great with olives, sun dried tomatoes or caramelized onions added, so the possibilities are endless for the hitherto humble soda bread.

1 lb (450g/4 cups) white flour, preferably unbleached
1 level teaspoon teaspoon salt
1 level teaspoon breadsoda
sour milk or buttermilk to mix – 12-14fl oz (350-400ml) approx.

First fully preheat your oven to 230ºC/450ºF/Gas Mark 8.

Sieve the dry ingredients. Make a well in the centre. Pour most of the milk in at once. Using one hand, mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be softish, not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, turn it out onto a well floured worked surface. WASH AND DRY YOUR HANDS. Tidy it up and flip over gently. Pat the dough into a round about 1 1/2 inches (2.5cm) deep and cut a cross on it to let the fairies out! Let the cuts go over the sides of the bread to make sure of this. Bake in a hot oven, 230ºC/450ºF/Gas Mark 8 for 15 minutes, then turn down the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas Mark 6 for 30 minutes or until cooked. If you are in doubt, tap the bottom of the bread: if it is cooked it will sound hollow.

Inis Meáin Squid Ink Mayonnaise
This is pictured with line-caught baby squid, grilled courgette from the garden, and wild and cultivated island flowers

Serves 12

1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 egg yolks
300ml sunflower oil
50ml extra virgin olive oil
juice of half a lemon
salt to taste
8 x 4g sachets of squid ink

Crush garlic and whisk together with the mustard and egg yolks. Combine the oils in a jug and slowly add to the egg yolk mixture, whisking continuously to create an emulsion. When all of the oil has been added, whisk in the lemon juice and season with salt. Whisk in the squid ink until you get a jet black mayonnaise

Harvest Relish of Beetroot & Tomato
This is pictured with butter-steamed golden beets and rocket flowers from the garden with pantelleria capers. We make this large batch of this delicious relish with any beetroot and tomatoes left in the garden at the end of the season and preserve it in jars for the following season.

10kg beetroot
10kg tomatoes
20 sprigs of thyme
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Pickle
1.5kg brown sugar
800ml red wine vinegar
200ml balsamic vinegar
10 red onions, chopped
2 sticks of horseradish, finely grated

Roast the beetroot in a large baking tray at 200 degrees Celsius for approximately 1 hour until soft. When cold enough to handle, peel and coarsely blend in a magimix, and put into a large pot.
Half the tomatoes and place in a large bowl. Mix lightly with the thyme leaves, olive oil, salt and pepper and roast on a large baking tray at 200 degrees Celsius for approximately 30 minutes. Coarsely blend in magimix.
Put all the pickle ingredients except for the horseradish in a large pot and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and mix in the tomatoes and horseradish.
Gradually add the tomato pickle to the beetroot until you get a consistency and flavour that you are happy with.
Jar up your beetroot relish and any excess tomato pickle and put away for the winter!

Inis Méain Vanilla Flapjacks (Flapóig Fanaile)

These flapjacks were thin and crisp and altogether were more delicious than the version I’ve been making myself for years. Thank you Marie-Thérèse and the Inis Meáin team for sharing.

Makes 48 flapjacks

650 g butter
2 dessertspoons golden syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
900 g jumbo oatmeal or gluten free oatmeal
450 g caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 180C. Get two trays and a large mixing bowl.

Melt the butter and golden syrup in a pot and add the vanilla extract. Mix the oatmeal and sugar together in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour in the butter mixture and mix thoroughly. Pour mixture into the tin, spread evenly and use a fish slice to flatten the surface well.
Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes, turning the tray after 10 minutes. Check every 2 minutes after 15 minutes as they can burn easily. Cook until golden brown. Remove from the oven; place the tray on a wire rack for 3-4 minutes to cool slightly. The flapjacks need to be tended to once they come out of the oven. Cut the biscuits in a grid of 6 by 4 within 5 minutes of coming out of the oven. After a further 5 minutes once the butter has solidified slightly more but not too much use a fish slice to place flapjacks on a wire rack to cool.
Once set place in a tin lined with a sheet of greaseproof paper to store.

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