karohemd: by LJ user gothindulgence (Default)
As much as I like various features of DW, it's not really compatible with much else so I will be moving this blog to wordpress and eventually finally integrate it into my domain.
I'm going to crosspost the next few entries here until I've set up wordpress the way I like it but please visit the other blog, too.

Light/Bites on wordpress You can keep up with my new blog by subscribing to the feed: [syndicated profile] karohemdwp_feed.
karohemd: photo by me (Science)
I'm resurrecting this blog for a post that wouldn't fit into my wp one.
Last week a friend tweeted a link to This Northern Boy, an artist who mainly does line art SciFi illustrations. He had a sketch for sale I really liked and I ordered it. It arrived today.

There was no context, no name, or any indication who or what the ship was so I had a bit of a brainstorm and came up with a tiny story:

The small spacecraft dropped out of hyperspace a few clicks from a massive asteroid field. As it approached slowly on thruster power, its compact shape extended to reveal a cockpit with a large, lens-shaped window. A solar array and various sensors and aerials deployed and clicked into place as it drifted into the field and began a search pattern.
Inside the cockpit, the sole pilot worked the controls, multiple legs prodding and adjusting dials, multi-faceted eyes checking visual readouts, feelers searching for vibration patterns, antennae sensing the olfactory outputs. Every now and then, a small transmitter was jettisoned from a chute at the bottom of the craft and buried itself in one of the asteroids.
Its search pattern complete and its supply of transmitters exhausted, the surveyor retracted its sensors and returned to its travel configuration. When it had cleared the asteroid field, space folded around it and it was gone.
Just another day working for the Krktk mining corporation.

karohemd: by LJ user gothindulgence (Default)

Eat Cambridge is a food festival this coming March. The main event, an all day fair at the Guildhall will be held on Saturday, the 9th of March from 10:30am to 4:00pm. Throughout the previous and the following week there are many fringe events like popup restaurants, cooking demonstrations and classes, tasting sessions and so on. You can find all the details and information on how to book in the programme.

I will be joining the food debate panel at the McCrum Theatre in the afternoon on Sunday, the 17th of March. From the programme:

Food debate hosted by Tim Hayward
Time: 2pm to 4pm Location: McCrum Theatre, Bene’t
Street, (through the Eagle pub courtyard and on the
right hand side) CB2 3QN Price: £5.50 in advance,
£7.50 on the door
Description: To round Eat Cambridge off nicely we
will be holding a debate between food writers, bloggers
and restaurateurs. Covering issues such as reviews,
freebies and marketing in today’s social media world,
the debate will take on a Question Time format with
a panel of well-respected local food experts taking
comments and questions from the audience. Things
promise to get lively and you’re guaranteed to come
away with some food for thought (sorry, we couldn’t
To book: Visit http://www.wegottickets.com/event/206087

I am really excited about this festival and I hope so are you if you live in or near Cambridge or at least visit regularly. Its main aim is to showcase local and independent producers, businesses and activists. Cambridge has long been slated as a clone town but if you know where to look, you will be able to find hidden gems run by passionate people who are worth supporting.

So, what are you waiting for, get booking! 

karohemd: Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, by me (Hungry)
The Cambridge Brew House opened today in the former premises of the Bun Shop and its various incarnations in King Street. What used to be two rather cramped spaces is now one large open one with diner-style booth seating along the window front to the right of the door with tables and chairs filling the rest of this area with table service. Opposite the door is the bar with quite a wide selection of beers, including currently two house brand ones and a few other locals as well as a few well known beers. In the back to the left of the bar is the onsite brewery bit behind glass. This is not operational yet, their own beer is currently brewed off site until it's all set up. This is also a bit more casual area with a wild mix of seats (chairs, armchairs, bar stools and even a wooden vaulting horse) with low and high tables. I'm not sure if there is seating upstairs as well as it was quite busy and a grabbed one of the last seats on one of the bar tables before ordering a King's Parade and a chicken and mushroom pie. There were lots interesting things on the menu including home smoked and cured meats/fish but I thought a pie would be a good dish to get an idea of their cooking.
The King's Parade is an excellent bitter and one that actually deserves that name, really fully flavoured. I was just about to dig into my pie when Caroline found me and took me to her table. They had already had starters ("British Tapas") which they had enjoyed so I tucked into my pie while they waited for their mains. My portion was a quarter of a bigger pie, rather thick with excellent, crunchy pastry. The filling consisted of large chunks of well cooked, i.e. still nicely moist meat and mushrooms, not as liquid as you often get which also helped keep the pastry crispy. There was also a pile of fluffy chips and a little copper pan with gravy. I only realised now that there was no veg or salad but I didn't really miss it. I really liked it.
I'm looking forward to reading what Heidi thought of her excellent looking pork belly.
The second beer I had was the Misty River, a pale ale that wasn't quite to my taste but I prefer a darker beer, anyway. Heidi didn't fancy the bitter so it's definitely a matter of taste.
I also wanted to try a dessert but there wasn't that much exciting (chocolate/orange torte, "winter berry" Eton mess, and toffee pudding as well as ice creams and a cheese board with three or six cheeses). I'm not a fan of either orange with chocolate nor toffee so I picked the Eton mess which was not bad, not too sweet but with strawberries and blueberries it went a bit against their claim of using local and seasonal ingredients.
We agreed that the desserts needed some work but were rather happy with everything else. Considering it was rather busy indeed and their first day, I couldn't really find fault with the service, either.

The Cambridge Brew House is going to serve food all day, from 12 noon to 9:30 in the evening which makes it ideal for both early and late-ish dinners, lunch or an afternoon snack. I am definitely looking forward to returning soon.

Oh, and they are still offering 50% off on food today (Thursday) so you really can't go wrong.
karohemd: (Chef)
Kavey Eats has a monthly ice cream challenge called "Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream" in which I have taken part twice so far. This month's challenge is any theme from the last year so I thought I'd try my hand at a sorbet.

My Riverford box contained blood oranges which were ideal. I zested the oranges then instead of juicing them I peeled them and blitzed them with my stick blender. In a saucepan I combined the juice, zest, half an inch of grated ginger, half a vanilla pod, two short cinnamon sticks, one star anise, five or so bruised cardamom pods and quite a bit of demerara sugar (don't ask me how much, I did this by eye but enough to make the mix taste really sweet), heated the mix until the sugar was dissolved, pulled the pan off the heat, put a lid on and let it cool off and infuse with the spices. After the mix was cool, I strained it into a tupperware container to remove the spices and put it in the freezer.

I don't have an ice cream machine so I took the container from the freezer every hour or so and stirred it through with a fork to break up any ice chunks that were forming. In my low rated freezer compartment it took almost 24 hours until it resembled sorbet or, to be honest, more like a slushie as it melts quite quickly. It tastes nice, though, fruity, tangy and spicy so I'm really happy with it.

Spiced Blood Orange Sorbet
Served in a tumbler with (shop bought) brownie pieces
karohemd: Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, by me (Hungry)
On Friday evening Jo Kruczynska aka The Afternoon Tease, cake baker extraordinaire and regular club host held a special night of boozy baked goods and cake inspired cocktails at Hot Numbers in Gwydir Street. Despite her only initial advertising being her blog and twitter, the tickets were already sold by the time it was advertised in Cambridge Edition.

Click on the menu for a larger version

Marmalade Martini
We started with a "marmalade martini" which was a lot less sweet than it sounded and was a great way to ease us into the evening.

Amaretto Sour Macaron
The first bite was an Amaretto Sour Macaron, which was crunchy and light with good almond flavour.

The next drink was a "Hot Gingerbread Punch" which tasted rather like a hot toddy and made sure the last of the cold was driven out of our bones.

Polish donuts Polish donuts
These Mojto Doughnuts were the highlight for me as they while flavoured were exactly like the Faschingskrapfen my grandmother used to make. They were fantastically fluffy and a little crunchy from the sugar glaze. I've already ordered a box of them for my birthday party. The punch was great with this.

The last baked round had two bite sized offerings: Dark chocolate Margarita Truffles which had been sprinkled with salt, creating the perfect balance of sweet and savoury; and a brownie with a Kirsch soaked cherry and cream. Needless to say, the brownie was rich and moist.

Espresso Martini
The last drink was an espresso martini which was quite strong both in coffee and alcohol but thankfully it was still relatively early in the evening (just after 9) or I wouldn't have been able to sleep.

The evening was also accompanied by live music, James Brotherston on the piano and Phil who occasionally sang as well.

Sweeteasy Sweeteasy

The atmosphere was jovial and fun. I think pretty much everyone asked when the next one is going to be and rumour has it there will be one in a couple of months' time so keep your eyes open.

Here are a few more photos:

The tables are set Sweeteasy
Sweeteasy Sweeteasy
Sweeteasy Sweeteasy

Still more photos on flickr. You can read about the evening from Jo's perspective on her blog.
karohemd: Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, by me (Hungry)
On Friday I needed a quick dinner before my next engagement and as The Sea Tree on The Broadway section of Mill Road had been recommended to me by various people I decided to try it. The Sea Tree is part traditional fish&chip shop, part fishmonger (one of the very few independent places selling wet fish in Cambridge) and part eaterie with a handful of small to medium sized tables where you can order both from the fish&chip shop menu and their "alternatives" menu with pan-fried or grilled fillets of or whole sea bass, gilthead bream with a choice of sauces and sides as well as a specials board.
I picked the "whole baked Whitby crab thermidor" which was served with a mixed salad (leaves, peppers, red onions) and chips. The picked and mixed crab meat was served in the shell of the body and was carefully seasoned so the flavour of the crab still came through and it was cooked on the dot, lovely and moist. There was a nice crust on top, too. The chips were crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and not soggy at all.
If they can cook something as tricky as crab so well, I'm convinced their other offerings will be just as good. It's a bit out of the way for me but I will definitely be back, most likely for one of their lobster nights. It's not a place to linger because the shop is unsurprisingly rather busy but if you want a quick quality bite before a night out, this is definitely the place to go. They even have an alcohol license and serve beer and wine but I only had orange juice and water because I had a night of cake and cocktails ahead of me.
The bill came to around 13 pounds without service.
karohemd: Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, by me (Hungry)
Plate Lickers is a supperclub by Jo Kruczynska and Ivana Gresham. I was at the first one and loved it but since then my calendar had been against me so I missed the others until today's "Sunday lunch club".
It was held in the community centre in Ross St. (off Mill Road) which had more of a sports hall than a restaurant feel to it but it worked quite well, mainly because of the nicely laid out and decorated tables.

Proceedings started with an excellent hot toddy and deep fried haggis balls with red onion marmalade.

Platelickers supper club, 01/13 Jo and her haggis treats

The starter was beetroot cured salmon on dill buckwheat blini with creme fraiche:

Beetroot cured salmon
This was my favourite dish of the day, the salmon was pretty much perfect.

The main was stuffed roast loin of pork with tatties&neeps and buttered savoy cabbage:

Roast stuffed loin of pork
The fun bit about this dish was that the gravy came in a giant teapot:
Gravy from a giant teapot

The palate cleanser was a tangy "baked lemon pot", rather like a flavoured burnt cream but without the caramel topping:

Baked lemon pot

The actual dessert was a poached pear with chocolate sauce:

Poached pear, chocolate sauce

There are few more photos below and still more on flickr.

Platelickers supper club, 01/13
Ivana and Jo, our lovely hosts and fantastic cooks.

Platelickers supper club, 01/13 Amazing teapot

Platelickers supper club, 01/13
karohemd: Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, by me (Hungry)
Continuing my local binge on Saturday, the destination was the hall by the Catholic church where the Cambridge Food and Wine Society had invited Carri of Pavitt's Pies to offer a tasting of her range of excellent home-made pies.
To go with the pies we had a selection of beers from the Moonshine Brewery in Cambridge which were equally excellent.
The pies on offer were:

Mushroom, onion and thyme (vegetarian)
Chicken and mushroom
Beef and ale
Cheese and onion (vegetarian)
Pork and chorizo
Pavitt’s Piemosa (vegetarian, similar filling to samosa but with a pie crust)

There was also a selection of beers from Cambridge's Moonshine Brewery: Parkers Piece, Reel Ale (orginally brewed for the Arts Cinema), Night Watch Porter, Silent Night, Black Dog and Boathouse Bitter, ranging from a pale ale to a strong Porter.

A few photographic impressions:

Carri Pavitt Pies and Pints with Pavitt's Pies

Pies and Pints with Pavitt's Pies

Cheese & Onion "Piemosa"
Carrie and Caroline Pies and Pints with Pavitt's Pies

For more impressions, have a look at Jean-Luc Benazet's blog with the official photos.
karohemd: Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, by me (Hungry)
On Friday evening I braved the cold and took the bus to Urban Larder on Mill Road. This is a small independent shop stocking mainly local produce from breads and meat via handmade pies (incl. Pavitt's Pies) and cakes (e.g. from Afternoon Tease) to preserves of all kinds and it's café during the day.

The shop also hosts regular events in the evening and this was one of them. It started with a glass of bubbly which was nice but didn't do much to warm me up.

The table is set

However, this trick was accomplished by the first course, a hearty bowl of Cock a Leekie soup, a thick stew with leeks and chicken. This was a great way of getting us going and prepare us for the main event.

Cock a Leekie Soup

The beast was brought out and presented to Donald who addressed it in the traditional manner.

Donald addressing the haggis Donald addressing the haggis

The haggis was excellent with a rich, meaty taste and not too peppery. Sometimes it's very peppery while still being bland so this one had a good balance. Tatties and neeps on the side, obviously, and an excellent tarragon cream sauce. There was also a dram of whisky, a very young English one from Norfolk of all places. Considering its youth (3 years!) it was quite good, if a bit rough but I could well imagine that mellowing with age.

The wee beastie itself

For pudding, there was Cranachan, a Scottish version of trifle with raspberries and toasted oats. This was really good and not at all heavy.


The last official act of the evening was a group rendition of Auld Lang Syne which sounded rather good in the small room. All in all an excellent evening with lovely people. A few more photos below:

Donald Guests
Guests Guests
karohemd: (Chef)
[Edit: This was originally a post about the immediate area where I live but various twitter friends have suggested I expand this to north of the river]
Various bloggers and websites have written about independent shops in Cambridge but those usually concentrate on city centre and Mill Road (which of course is the mecca of shops offering produce from all over the world) and not where I live (King's Hedges/Arbury). While cheap(er), this area is not as poorly supplied as one might think and there are a few local gems.

The Art of Meat (Arbury Court)
This is my local butcher with a good selection of various cuts and joints of high quality beef, pork (from Dingley Dell, no less), lamb, chicken and sometimes game. Their own sausages (three main varieties and a number of changing specials) are superb as is the bacon that is cured on site. Service is friendly and superb, always happy and willing to accommodate special requests and recommending substitutes should something not be available. The little extra cost is easily outmatched by the superior quality. Highly recommended.

Les Ward (Arbury Court)
A family run greengrocer offering very reasonably priced veg and fruit, some dry goods and preserves and, er, fresh flowers. So much better and even cheaper than Budgens opposite.

There's also a baker's in Arbury Court but for me it's not very good, I still have rather continental tastes when it comes to bread.

The Daily Bread Co-op
This place in an industrial estate between King's Hedges Road and the green behind Nun's Way (accessed either via KHR or a footpath from the green off Campkin Road) offers only organic or at least fairtrade goods. Mostly dry goods like muesli (a selection of varieties mixed on site as well as the basic ingredients to mix your own), flour, pasta/rice/couscous/grains, tinned goods, soy products, gluten free and vegetarian alternatives. A little bit of veg, too, but they do not get regular deliveries so it's always quickly gone or looks a bit sorry. There are also artisan breads (also not always fresh, depending on when they get their delivery) and non-food supplies like eco-friendly cleaners/detergents, reusable nappies etc. I get most of my dry and tinned goods there.

Cambridge Quality Meats (Arbury Road)
This butcher is a bit further from me so I don't go there often but they have a similar selection to the Art of Meat, own sausages (incl. biltong) and they tend to have more non-chicken poultry and game. If you're on Milton Road/bottom end of Arbury Road/Chesterton, this is the butcher for you.

Al Noor
This Asian grocer has a good selection of fresh (and sometimes unusual) vegetables and fruit, dry goods, spices and tinned goods as well as a halal butcher. They are inexpensive and also open until 8 which is great as I can drop in on the way home from work. All the others are available (to me) on Saturdays only.

Radmore Farm Shop (Chesterton Road)
I haven't been there but various people have recommended it.

Nasreen Dar (Histon Road)
Asian supermarket that also offers takeaway curries.

A Waller & Son
A butcher's on Victoria Avenue, just before the bridge. A prime address for game and more "exotic" choices like hare.

Maskell's (Akeman St.)
Another independent but basic baker's shop

If you happen to know any others in the area, feel free to comment/recommend. If you would like to provide a short description of the shop (a couple of lines, as above), you'd be more than welcome. The post is set to allow anonymous comments so feel free but leave a name. If you have a blog yourself, please log in with Open ID.
karohemd: by LJ user gothindulgence (Default)
I'd always thought the idea of food programmes on the radio a bit strange until The Kitchen Cabinet came along, a travelling panel discussion led by restaurant critic Jay Rayner with four guests from the food world (writers, chefs, scientists, historians). The discussion topics are a mix of specific themes related to location and trends and questions from the audience. When a while ago tickets for Cambridge were released I applied for a ticket (the BBC run a system for their shows where people send in applications from which the audience is selected) and was lucky to get one. Knowing that they always send out more tickets than there are seats, I wanted to get to Clare College way ahead of time but was delayed by chores and a very slow bus so when I got there there was already a very large queue and when the person putting stickers on tickets came through she stopped just three people ahead of me, explaining that anyone behind the line was in the "reserve" and wouldn't be guaranteed a seat. Thankfully, I had run into Tom Lewis, a Cambridge based wine blogger, who was on the guest list and was able to get me in as his +1. Thanks again, Tom!
When the queue finally moved, we filed into a holding room where I ran into a few other familiar faces (Mark Poynton, head chef of Alimentum, and @ythos). I filled in the survey but couldn't think of a question to the panel.
Then it was time to enter the auditorium where I managed to get a reasonable seat about halfway up. After more waiting, the producer said a few words and then introduced the host, Jay Rayner, who in turn then introduced the panel: Tim Anderson, beer and Japanese food geek, winner of Masterchef 2011 and soon to be head chef of Nanban, a new ramen restaurant to be opened in London later this year; Angela Hartnett, head chef of Murano in London; Dr. Annie Gray, food historian from Ely and local hero Tim Hayward (with the best buns in broadcasting), owner and resurrector of Fitzbillies, journalist and magazine editor.

BBC Kitchen Cabinet recording

The topics discussed were as varied as new year resolutions, Japanese food and its role/reputation in the UK, what to do with leftover cheese, port and celeriac, fasting, the point of swans as a foodstuff (it turned out that two members of the audience had actually eaten swan and neither had been impressed), the worst student meals the panel had cooked, and which kitchen innovations the panel wanted to see.

There were interesting bits on the various types of miso by Tim Anderson, the fact that pork and curry were introduced into Japan by the British, or that burnt cream wasn't invented in Cambridge as it is sometimes claimed. We discovered that putting a large slab of stone (possibly not a gravestone, as Tim Hayward suggested) in your oven can improve heat distribution.

We also discovered that Wisconsinites are raised on a healthy diet of Mac&Cheese, that High Table (at old universities) isn't just the table where the bigwigs sit but also an occasion where the exchange and discussion of ideas between faculties is encouraged, that Angela Hartnett had never cooked a bad meal in her life and that some of the yet to be invented kitchen gadgets should be a mini Aga and an entirely safe to use mandolin.

All in all, the recording with pickups/re-recordings of some sections lasted about an hour which then was edited down to the half hour you heard on the radio. The whole thing was really enjoyable as there was lots of banter that will most likely not make the cut but helped involve the audience.

The programme is also available as a podcast with a few extra bits of chatter before and after. ETA: The podcast also includes bits I mentioned above but didn't make the broadcast (stone in oven, miso, Tim H's note on High Table and college kitchen equipment, parsnips, celeriac, burnt cream and the kitchen innovations).
karohemd: Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, by me (Hungry)
On my way back from the recording of Kitchen Cabinet (more on that in a separate post tomorrow), I walked past St. John's Chophouse and having not been (and remembering I didn't have time to marinade that Barnsley chop I had bought in the morning), I decided to have early dinner.
The restaurant with its bare wooden tables and low lighting has a cosy feel to it. There's a huge fireplace which sadly didn't contain a fire but a selection of meat cleavers hanging from a rack(!). I guess that makes it a good place to be when the zombie apocalypse comes.

I wasn't that hungry so started with a main, a "t-bone" pork chop. The meat was cooked a bit more well than I like but was still reasonably juicy and flavourful. I guess they err on the side of caution as food authorities are still unconvinced about the safety of "undercooked" pork so that was fine. The combination of apple sauce on top and spicy mustard sauce around worked well with it, as did the bubble and squeak. The slither of crackling on top was excellent.
By the time I was finished, I was glad I hadn't chosen a starter but I had room for a pudding so chose the "Cambridge burnt cream" (in quotes as we had learnt just a few hours earlier during the Kitchen Cabinet recording that it wasn't a Cambridge invention, after all). This was a generous portion in a coffee cup, a bit dense but not curdled, good crunchy caramel topping and a crumbly, sugary biscuit on the side. With that I had a small glass of Pomona which is now a new favourite drink. It's basically a fortified cider, if you will.

The bill without automatic service charge came to just under 28 pounds for a main, a pudding, a pint of ale and the Pomona so about the same as you would pay for a similar meal at The Punter opposite but in my opinion The Punter is better. However, it's not a chain (part of a local restaurant group) and uses mostly local produce so definitely has its place as an independent offering, which are rare in Cambridge.

No photos as it was too dark and I only had the G10 on me.
karohemd: (Chef)
I've been wanting to do this for a while so I finally bought a pack of Gressingham duck legs and some duck fat on Monday.
To prepare, I rubbed the duck pieces with a mix of chopped garlic, sea salt, cracked black pepper and thyme, wrapped the bowl in clingfilm and let it sit in the fridge.
After about three hours, I took the legs out of the fridge and let them come to room temperature. Meanwhile, I melted the fat in a saucepan that was big enough to fit the two legs snugly. I scraped off most of the seasoning and dropped the legs into the fat, put on a lid and let them simmer on the lowest setting my cooker offers for three hours or so, checking now and then that the meat was still completely submerged and the fat wasn't boiling.
Now came the tricky part, taking out the legs without them falling apart. I managed this mostly with one leg but the other was in pieces. I let the legs drain on plenty of kitchen paper for a few minutes while I preheated my little grill oven on its highest setting (probably around 220°). The intact leg as well as the skin from the one that fell apart went onto a rack in a tray under the grill for about 15 minutes until it was nicely browned and crispy (possibly a touch too long). It looked like this:

Confit duck leg and scratchings

The meat was soft and the skin crispy without being fatty as all the fat had rendered. Being very lazy I just had a mixed leaf salad and some ciabatta with it. It was very good indeed.

I took the rest of the meat off the other leg, shredded it, wrapped it in foil with some of the fat and kept it in the fridge for lunch today.
karohemd: Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, by me (Hungry)
My last visit to this lovingly restored pub/restaurant was over a year ago as it's a little out of the way when you don't have a car and a taxi fare is just a little bit too steep so I have to wait until I can persuade friends to come along and give me lift on the way. Yesterday, Sandi and Tim were so kind.
We arrived a bit early so had a drink in the bar before being shown through the rabbit's warren of the building to our table in the cosy but sparsely lit dining room. The choice of mains on the menu was somewhat reduced by the time we got there as the lamb was not on (the delivered meat wasn't up to the chef's standard) so there had been increased demand for the pork chop so my friends opted for the steak for two while I chose the hake.

PSB and beignets

My starter of purple sprouting broccoli with beignets (more similar to Spanish croquetas than doughnuts) worked really well. I could easily have finished a bowl of those beignets. My friends were equally happy with their choice of ham hock terrine with pickles and smoked salmon respetively.

Hake, mussles chowder

My main of a perfectly cooked fillet of hake with mussel chowder was a wonderfully warming and satisfying dish while still being light.

Roasted Marrow Bones

This was the roasted marrow bone that came with the steak. I helped myself to a few teaspoonfuls. It was very rich but literally melted in your mouth. Very very good indeed.


Hole in the Wall, 29/11/12

We'd heard lots of praise for the HITW's doughnuts so were eager to try them for dessert but sadly, there had been too much demand for those, too, so we settled for the sticky bread and butter pudding and the chocolate brownie which were both nicely balanced and not too sweet.

Despite being denied a few menu choices, this was a great meal and for the quality, reasonably priced, too. I hope to be back soon because I want to try those doughnuts!
karohemd: Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, by me (Hungry)
One of the hottest new addresses in London is Bubbledogs, a joint venture by James Knappett (who used to work at Per Se, Noma and The Ledbury, to name a few) and Sandia Chang (most recently the queen of wines at Roganic), serving gourmet hot dogs in the main area of the restaurant. In the back, there is the & part of the restaurant, where head chef James has set up an impressive open kitchen surrounded by an U shaped counter with 19 seats from where the guests can watch the chefs at work. The daily changing menu lists no dishes as such, only the main ingredient but the dishes are described and explained by James as they are served. Being able to watch how dishes are being cooked and put together is great and the chefs are happy to chat and answer questions. Here's what I had, your experience will vary.

Shrimp (crispy heads with a dipping sauce including lobster coral). Great nibbles, almost like popcorn.

Kitchen action

Shrimp bodies, dill, frozen horseradish.

Chicken skin, rosemary cream, bacon jam, a very naughty dish but oh so good. Just tell yourself they're biscuits.

Mackerel, oyster, cucumber, sea purslane

Kitchen action


Kitchen action
Shaving truffle

Truffle pasta

Kitchen action
Rack of roe buck being seared in the pan

Duck hearts
Duck hearts, turnip

Venison rack and fillet, chestnut, sprout leaves, wild mushrooms

Burrata, shallots

Kitchen action
Roasted figs

Roasted fig

Apple cake

Blackberry Blackberry
Tiny blackberry cake covered in chocolate

A few more photos on flickr. There are more to come but I currently have limited internet access.

This excellent, flavourful food was accompanied by perfectly matching wines selected by Sandia. You are obviously free to pick your own wine from the list.
This experience went straight up into the list of the best meals I've had, currently fighting with The Ledbury and my two visits to Roganic.
Needless to say, this took some time, around three and a half hours so I was glad it was a seat at the 6:30 sitting that had become available or I wouldn't have been able to get home afterwards.
karohemd: Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, by me (Hungry)
A few months ago Burmese food blogger MiMi Aye and Tim Anderson (MasterChef 2011 winner, among others) got together and planned an homage to the food of David Chang who at the time ran a short popup at St. John's in London. They joked they would be able to do it better or at least definitely cheaper. Encouraged by friends and twitter followers they planned a one-off lunch event and this is what happened yesterday.

Danny, Tim and MiMi
The team in the kitchen (with fellow blogger Danny Kingston on the left), eager to get going

Five spice pork belly bun
First course: Five spice pork belly bun, mustard daikon. The meat was incredibly tender, the daikon crunchy and the sauce had a pleasant warmth to it.

Crispy brawn
Second course: Crispy brawn, chicory, Gochujang mayonnaise. Another celebration of the "cheap" parts of the pig. The meat inside the crispy coating was soft and moist and the spicy mayonnaise went really well with it.

Spicy sausage and rice cakes
Third course: Spicy sausage and rice cakes, Mandalay Mohntee sauce, crispy leek root. I really liked this, too, but I had to be careful of the tiny slices of green chillies that were really hot. The rice cakes were crispy on the outside and chewy in the middle, an interesting texture.

Frozen foie gras
The next course was a bit different: Frozen foie gras, Gewürztraminer gel, pickled lychees, pine nuts. This was interesting but overall a bit too sweet for me.

Bo Ssäm
The "main" course was Bo Ssäm (slow roasted and pulled pork shoulder) with a variety of Shan style kymchee amd sauces. This came on a large platter with lettuce so each guest could assemble their own wraps. Needless to say, the meat was tender and moist and the accompaniments worked really well.

Cereal milk, avocado gelato, chocolate and hazelnut thing
Dessert: Cereal milk, avocado gelato, chocolate and hazelnut thing. The set milk was malty and the avocado gelato worked really well with the crisp. The idea of avocado ice cream sounds bizarre but it worked because it was neither sweet nor savoury, more earthy.

Overall, the food was excellent and there was a huge amount. I had skipped breakfast and was glad for it, I also didn't need dinner in the evening. Everybody I spoke to or overheard loved it, too so the event was a definite success.

Here are a few more photos from behind the scenes. You can click them to view them larger on flickr:

MiMi's crackling MiMi's dishes in diagram format The buns are served

Crispy brawn Kitchen action

Kitchen action Kitchen action Brawn is ready!

Rice cakes Kitchen action

Kitchen action Sausage dish on the pass Kitchen action

Kitchen action Kitchen action

Happy diners Doggy duck

The heroes of the day

Still more photos on flickr.
karohemd: Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, by me (Hungry)
After a number of friends and fellow food bloggers had only good things to say about it, a visit at The Ledbury had been on the cards for a while so I booked a table for lunch this Saturday. When I arrived at 13:45, the dining room was packed with a lively atmosphere. I had a table overlooking the dining room with the window in my back so I had both plenty of light and a good view of what was going on elsewhere.
The choice of what to eat was obvious: the tasting menu as that would both give me a good selection of Brett Graham's cuisine and had roast grouse, a game bird I had yet to try. As it was daytime, I didn't feel up to taking the flight of wines as well so asked the sommelier to recommend a glass of white (Alabrino) and red (Sequillo) wine that would take me through the menu which worked rather well.

The meal started with an amuse bouche of which I can't remember the details but contained scallop and wasabi among other elements. Really fresh and full of various flavours. Fresh bread was served as well, an excellent sourdough and one with bacon and onions that almost looked like a Chelsea bun. The rest of the menu follows in photos with a short description.

The Ledbury - Green bean, nectarine, hazelnut salad
Green bean, nectarine, hazelnut salad, grated foie gras. Crunchy beans, really strongly flavoured nuts with the nectarines not sweet but mellowing the flavours. The foie on top just melted on your tongue.

The Ledbury - Heritage tomato
Heritage tomatoes with fresh sheep's cheese (in the cigar). I'm not a fan of tomatoes in general but these were really nice as both the dressing and the cheese took off some of the edge.

The Ledbury - Mackerel
Flame-grilled Mackerel with avocado. This was my first highlight of the menu. The fish was soft and flaking, the skin crispy, most likely the best piece of mackerel I've ever had.

The Ledbury - Lobster
Lobster, leek, potato. Needless to say, this was perfect and full of flavour.

The Ledbury - Pork jowl
Next up one of the best pieces of pork I've had: They cook the jowl for 18 hours at 85 degrees with various spices which makes the meat wonderfully soft while preserving its moistness. The skin is then crisped up to make the crackling you see. I was actually presented with the whole cut before I received my portion which I thought was a nice touch.

The Ledbury - Roast grouse
Then, the main event: Roast grouse (breast, leg and the heart on a skewer), beetroot, red chicory and plums. It was my first taste of grouse and I loved it. I actually thought it would be more gamey than it was. Now I know what the fuss is about.

The Ledbury - Olive oil panacotta, damson, raspberry, sweet cicely
This pre-dessert of olive-oil panacotta, damson sorbet and raspberry was the perfect palate-cleanser after the rich meat mains.

The Ledbury - Figs, pistachio, lemon beignet
The first dessert: Figs, pistachio, lemon beignet. Fruity, nice and fresh. I could have eaten a whole box of those beignets...

The Ledbury - Blackberry tart
The last dessert was a smooth and crunchy tart.

To finish I had a cup of fresh mint tea with petit fours, the latter served in a dried cocoa husk on cocoa nibs.
The Ledbury - Mint tea and petit fours The Ledbury - Petit Fours

At that point, I had reached capacity and had to decline the cheese, as inviting as the trolley looked. So, in total an excellent culinary experience with a varied selection of perfectly executed dishes full of harmonising flavours. Service was spot-on, too, friendly and engaging, there when you needed it and left you in peace while you were eating. This obviously didn't come cheap, the tasting menu, two glasses of wine and tea at the end plus 12.5% service came to just under £150, and while I wouldn't call it a bargain I still felt I had received value for money.
karohemd: (Photo)
A couple of weeks ago Michelle Gillott, former pastry chef at Midsummer House, cake maker and chef consultant asked if I could take a few photos of her working and the final creations for an upcoming book that is going to feature the work of pastry chefs from around the world. That was an opportunity I couldn't let slip so last Sunday we met up at Alimentum where we divided the shoot between the preparation of the three dishes in the kitchen and the plating in the restaurant.
The photos should give you an idea for the processes involved in preparing the dishes but for the actual recipes you will have to buy the book. :)

Baked yoghurt, strawberries, caramelised oats, honeycomb

Caramelising the oats Honeycomb

Plating the baked yoghurt

Plating the baked yoghurt

Plating the baked yoghurt

Plating the baked yoghurt

Plating the baked yoghurt

Baked yoghurt, strawberries, caramelised oats, honeycomb

Steamed meringue, apricot, grapefruit

Rolling the apricot cannelloni

Preparing the meringue

Preparing the meringue

Preparing the meringue

Preparing the meringue

Preparing the meringue

Preparing the meringue Filling the apricot cannelloni

Plating the meringue

Plating the meringue

Plating the meringue Plating the meringue

Plating the meringue Plating the meringue

Steamed meringue, apricot, grapefruit

Chocolate cannelloni, pistachio foam and cake, cherries, pliable ganache

Building the chocolate cannelloni Building the chocolate cannelloni

Building the chocolate cannelloni Building the chocolate cannelloni

Building the chocolate cannelloni

Pliable ganache

Plating the chocolate dessert Plating the chocolate dessert

Plating the chocolate dessert Plating the chocolate dessert

Plating the chocolate dessert Plating the chocolate dessert

Choc cannelloni, pistachio foam & cake, cherries, pliable ganache

Have a look around Michelle's blog/website if you fancy a beautiful cake or one of her chocolate creations.
karohemd: (Photo)
A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to shoot my friends of the Dark Wave band Last July at a fantastic location in Limehouse, London. This multistory abandoned warehouse is being kept as a film and photo location so despite it being in disrepair and rather filthy due to the missing roof and roosting pigeons, there is someone who looks after it and makes sure there aren't any dangerous spots. There's also a working toilet and running water. There are various areas well lit by daylight, not necessarily by windows but by missing bits of wall and roof, but also a few dark bits that would require some artificial lighting.
Here are a few examples that should give you a good idea of what the location can offer:

Last July

Sepia ghost Last July

Last July

Heather Dvae

Nevla Nevla

Last July

Last July

Last July


Last July

April 2016

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