I’ve been backwards and forwards to London a lot recently to work with my long suffering editor doing the final tweaking on the manuscript of my ‘Forgotten Skills’ book. I’m chained to the desk all day and well into the evening so I don’t get distracted by London’s many temptations. However the deal is we must be allowed to fortify ourselves with lunch or dinner so I’ve had the opportunity to try some of the new (to me) places and in the process found a few gems to add to my London list.
Hereford Road in Notting Hill serves a simply gutsy no-nonsense style of cooking in this small restaurant which was originally a Victorian butchers shop I enjoyed Crispy Rabbit Fillets with Aioli. The young chef Tom Pemberton has a terrific pedigree, I loved his food when he was head chef at Fergus Henderson’s St John Bread and Wine and he’s brought his sure touch, love of offal and seasonal ingredients to Hereford Row. We loved the Deep Fried Rabbit and Aoili, Cured Duck with Pickled Chicory and Buttermilk Pudding with Prunes.
Close to Borough Market was another great find, Magdalen in Tooley Street, they got a whingy review from restaurant critic AA Gill a few weeks ago. They promptly put it up on their website and are now even busier than before. Perhaps this is a consequence of having a bad review from the entertaining but acerbic Mr Gill. Daylesford Shop and Restaurant was lambasted a couple of months ago and despite the recession had the busiest three weeks ever, immediately after publication. They have expanded their facility in Gloucestershire and now make three cheeses, a big variety of breads and the cookery school will open September under the guidance of chef Vadimir Niza The café serving delicious food is open every day, breakfast is served from 9:30am and dinner is served from 6pm to 9pm outside on the alfresco terrace.
Back to Magdalen, the enthusiastic young team, headed up by James Faulkes, have pooled their collective experience from Le Manor Aux Quat Saisons, The Fat Duck, La Trompette and my favourite gastro pub, Anchor and Hope. The result is beautiful confident cooking where the menu changes every day, incorporating seasonal produce and rare breed meat and fresh fish from the Market close by. I loved the thinly sliced Pigs Head with Pickled Red Cabbage and Fried Potatoes. The puddings were some of the best I’ve had around London and I managed to taste Lemon Pot with Cassis, Elderflower Cream and Strawberries, French Toast with Marmalade and Vanilla Ice Cream – all sublime as was Prune and Armagnac Ice Cream.
It’s also tough to get a table at Bocca di Lupo in Soho but it is well worth booking ahead to taste Jacob Kenedy’s Fried Baby Artichokes and Shaved Radish and Pecorino Salad and if you have to settle for sitting at the counter, look on it as a bonus – you can watch the chefs doing their magic.
My last top tip this time is the new flavour of the month Terroirs Wine Bar and Restaurant in William 1V Street, that’s another spot that got a dressing down from AA Gill. It too was packed to capacity. It has the feel of a French Bistro. The simple menu has many charcuterie choices and great bar snacks, Radish with Butter and Sea Salt, Duck Scratchings, Boquerones. The delicious Taramasalata and Crostini, quite different to the spooky pink stuff often served in Greek restaurants. There’s a whole section of Small Plates on the menu which are incredibly reasonable priced, snails, bacon and parsley £6.00. Broad beans, Pecorino and Peashoots both £6.00. Secretts Farm Salad half the price at £3.00 and lots more. There were four Plats du Jour, the most expensive of which was the Gilt Head Sea Bream, Cockles, Pequillo Pepper and Sea Purslane for £14.00. Again desserts and cheese were good with superb French Rocamadour from the Lot. A wobbly Panna Cotta with Raspberries was especially memorable. All these restaurants were fully booked despite the recessionary doom and gloom – the secret as ever was simple fresh food from superb ingredients, convivial atmosphere. Some like Magdalena, had starched white linen tablecloths, other simple timber tables, all had well chosen wine lists, reasonably priced. Despite the times you’ll need to book ahead, all except the Anchor and Hope take bookings.
You’ll be forgiven for thinking I did no work on the book but a girl has to eat to keep up the energy and after all, it’s all in the way of research. A special thank you to all the restaurants who shared these recipes with us.
Hereford Road Restaurant 0044 2077271144 www.herefordroad.org/news/
Magdalen Restaurant 0044 2074031342 www.magdalenrestaurant.co.uk
Daylesford Restaurant 0044 1608731700 www.daylesfordorganic.com/scat/nottinghill
Bocca di Lupo 0044 207734223 www.boccadilupo.com
Terroirs 00442070360660 www.terroirswinebar.com
Magadelen’s – Duck Ham
I duck Magret (these are the breasts of a duck that have been bred for foie gras)
20gms of coarse salt
1 tablespoon of picked thyme
1 bay leaf
6 coriander seeds
6 black peppercorns
1 strip each of lemon and orange peel
Blend all the spiced salt ingredients in a food processor for about 1 minute. Lightly rub this mix onto both sides of the duck breast and leave loosely covered in the fridge overnight. The following day wash the salt off quickly under cold water and pat dry. Wrap in muslin and tie, but not too tightly, with kitchen string. Hang on a string in a cool well ventilated area for 12 – 16 days. Test after 12 days by pinching the duck, it should feel firm but supple.
We serve this thinly sliced in a salad with confit duck, green beans and walnuts, a thin slice of foie gras and sliced radishes.
Daylesford Organic Blackcurrant Sorbet
315ml/10 ½ fl oz sugar syrup
1 egg white
A few sprigs of mint
Make a sugar syrup by dissolving 350g/ 10 ½oz sugar in a pan with 300ml/ 10fl oz water. Strip the currants from their stalks, wash, drain and dry on kitchen paper. Add to the sugar syrup and water in a non-reactive saucepan and simmer gently, covered, for 5 minutes. When cool, rub through a nylon sieve to remove the pips. Add the mint to the purée, cover and leave to infuse. Remove the mint when you pour the mixture into the ice cream maker and churn for about 10 minutes. Then add the egg white and continue churning until the sorbet is firm enough to serve. Makes about 1 litre.
If you don’t have a sorbetier (ice cream maker) just pour the mixture into a plastic box to freeze. Remove from the freezer before it freezes and stir a few times to ensure a nice smooth texture.
Daylesford Organic Sea bream with ginger
1 whole sea bream (400g/12oz)
3 tbsp light soy sauce
½ tsp white sugar
a handful of shredded ginger
4 shredded spring onions
1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
Ground black pepper
A Thai dish that is pure and simple, with fresh clean flavours. Clean and score the fish, then place it on a plate or cooking foil and cover with the soy sauce, sugar and half the ginger. Steam until just cooked, about 20 minutes, and check underneath that it is done. Then add the rest of the ginger and the spring onions, and steam for another 2 minutes. Carefully remove the plate and the foil from the steamer with tongs, retaining the juices, and serve the fish whole, sprinkled with coriander leaves and black pepper.
Terroir’s Panna Cotta
1ltr x double cream
180g x caster sugar
2 x bourbon vanilla pods split
2.5 leaves of bronze leaf gelatine
In a large pan, bring the cream, sugar and split vanilla pods slowly to the boil and remove from the heat.
Soak the bronze leaf gelatine leaves in cold water until soft. Then whisk thoroughly into the cream ensuring all the gelatine has dissolved.
Remove the vanilla pods and pour the cream into a metal bowl. In a larger metal bowl, place some ice and water and sit the bowl containing the cream on the ice to cool it down.
The reason is to slightly set the cream before it goes into the moulds, otherwise all the vanilla seeds will sink to the bottom. Using this method gives a nice even distribution of vanilla.
When the cream has thickened and the vanilla seeds are suspended evenly, pour into individual moulds and place in the fridge to finish setting. (This should take 1 to 2 hours) To serve, dip the moulds in hot water and run the tip of a knife around the inside of the mould and turn the panna cotta out onto the plate. Serve with any fruit that is in season – delicious!
1 x Whole Smoked Cod’s Roe (around 800-900g) 150g x day old white bread, no crusts milk
3 x cloves of garlic, crushed finely
Juice of 1 Lemon
1litre x Vegetable oil
150ml x Olive oil
Tabasco to finish
Remove the outer skin of the cod’s roe.
Soak the bread in the milk (enough milk just to cover) until soft.
Place the cod’s roe in a food processor with the soaked bread and the crushed garlic.
Process until smooth and then slowly add the vegetable oil in a steady stream as you would if making mayonnaise.
Repeat the process with the olive oil
Add the lemon Juice and finish with the Tabasco (to your own taste)
Bocca di Lupos’s Fried Artichokes ‘a la Guidia’
(serves 4 as a starter, 2 as a main):
4 young artichokes – these should be as large as possible without having any tough choke. You are looking for buds about 6-8cm across, with tightly closed leaves.
Sunflower oil – about 2 litres – at least 5cm depth in a deep pan about 20 cm wide
1) clean artichokes 1 by 1. This is a little tricky, the aim being to remove any tough parts (which will be grass green), and leave any tender parts. If unsure at any stage, trim off s little and test between your teeth. Start by squeezing 1 lemon into a tub of water. Take one artichoke, break off the stem. Trim or snap off the tough outer green leaves, until you reach the tender ones within (these will have a yellow or pink hue). Use a paring knife to trim off any green bases of leaves to expose the paler heart. Trim off the tips of the remaining leaves, leaving about 3 cm of leaf – they should end up looking like anaemic rosebuds. Keep in the acidulated water whilst you clean the rest.
2) Drain well – best if you blot the artichokes dry with a cloth. Season with salt and deep-fry slowly in sunflower oil (at 130-140 degrees) for 15 minutes until completely tender but not falling apart. Remove from the oil, and leave to cool.
First two steps can be done in advance, the cooked artichokes keeping for a few days in the fridge – they even freeze well once cooked.
3) Reheat artichoke oil until almost smoking (190 degrees)
4) Open artichokes out into flowers by inserting your thumb in the middle, and gently working the leaves out flat like an open flower. Fry upside-down in the oil (lower them in gently to keep them from turning over) for a few minutes until the leaves turn an autumnal brown
5) Drain well (the oil may get trapped between the leaves), sprinkle with salt, and eat immediately
Bocca di Lupo’s Shaved Radish Salad
serves 4 as a starter
1 bunch, or about 8 radishes breakfast radishes
½ a black radish (available from Turkish shops), or 5cm green mooli (Chinese greengrocers) or mooli
A chunk of celeriac – about ¼ of a very small bulb – peeled
A little chunk of pecorino Romano – about 50g
A few sprigs flat leaf parsley, leaves picked
¼ pomegranate, picked – or 6 tablespoons picked seeds
1 tablespoon truffle oil
4 tablespoons X V olive oil
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
Salt & pepper
Make a dressing with the oils, vinegar, salt and pepper. Taste for seasoning.
Do everything else just before you serve – radishes dry out, and celeriac blackens with time. Wash the radishes (red & black), and shave thinly – best on a mandolin. Use a potato peeler to shave the celeriac and pecorino. Toss the lot with the pomegranate seeds and parsley, and dress lightly. Serve in haphazard but tall piles on individual plates, or in a bowl to share from.
Fool Proof Food
Magdalen’s French toast, Marmalade and Vanilla Ice Cream
4 slices of brioche.
Marmalade or other preserve
Vanilla ice cream
For the custard: 2 whole eggs, 460gms of double cream, 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon of grated nutmeg, 1/2 a vanilla pod, 100gms of castor sugar, a shot of cointreau.
Split the vanilla pod lengthways and scrape the seeds into a basin. Add all the other ingredients and whisk thoroughly.
Soak the slices of brioche in the custard for about a minute till sodden. Gently fry each side in butter with a sprinkling of sugar until golden. Remove from pan and spread with a thin layer of marmalade or other preserve with a scoop of ice cream. Serve immediately.
We make our own brioche, preserves and ice cream but all are available to buy.
Poke drainage holes into used yogurt pots or old Tupperware pots to use as growing containers for seeds or cuttings.
SlowFood East Cork Summer Events
How to Butcher a Lamb and What to do with the Various Cuts Learn how to identify different cuts of lamb, how to find and recognise the best quality meat and match cuts to cooking methods at the Ballymaloe Cookery School, Wednesday 15th July at 7:30pm. Slow Food Members €45.00 and €45.00 non-members.
Slow Food East Cork Fun Cookery Class for Children – Saturday 18th July 9:30am to 2:00pm. During this fun morning kids will make savoury and sweet recipes and enjoy the dishes that they cook for lunch. SlowFood Members €50.00 and €55.00 non SlowFood Members.
Booking is essential, email email@example.com or phone (021) 4646 785.
Schull Agricultural Show and Farmer’s Market The village of Schull hold it’s Agricultural Show again this year on Sunday 26th July 2009 from 12 noon.
Schull Farmers Market sets up for the day with over 20 stalls of some very well known and delicious West Cork artisan foods for you to sample including Ted Berner and his Wildside Catering. For more details contact The Secretary: 028 28707