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.

Brownie

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


Kitchen action


Shrimp
Shrimp bodies, dill, frozen horseradish.


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


Mackerel
Mackerel, oyster, cucumber, sea purslane


Kitchen action


Scallop
Scallop


Kitchen action
Shaving truffle


Truffle
Truffle pasta


Kitchen action
Rack of roe buck being seared in the pan


Duck hearts
Duck hearts, turnip


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


Burrata
Burrata, shallots


Kitchen action
Roasted figs


Fig
Roasted fig


Apple
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: by LJ user gothindulgence (Beer)
Friday
Around 2, I went over to [livejournal.com profile] raggedyman's where his mother picked us up and drove us to Stansted. There we waited at the Krispy Kreme stand for the others ([livejournal.com profile] mansunite, [livejournal.com profile] razornet, [livejournal.com profile] devalmont, Graham, [livejournal.com profile] robinbloke and finally Jon). After a few donuts and checking again we had everything we made our way through customs where [livejournal.com profile] razornet was the unlucky one to be picked for special treatment but we made it through in one piece. A quick "pizza" and a couple of shots later, our flight was finally called and we trekked to the far end of the airport (Gate 54, where no handy train thing goes). We waited in the queue for what seemed like ages but miraculously, when things finally got moving the plane actually left on time and arrived in Krakow 10 minutes ahead of time. The two hour and a bit flight was relatively painless and was spent chatting and reading.
Going through customs and arrivals in Krakow was OK, too, although there was quite a queue. The airport is tiny so while some of us got money out of the cash machine (exchange rate was 5:1), others went for a smoke and [livejournal.com profile] raggedyman even found a flask of vodka for [livejournal.com profile] robinbloke. After looking for the nonexistent hotel shuttle and asking a helpful member of staff we decided to take two taxis to the hotel which worked out quite cheap for the journey (our hotel was at the other end of Krakow). We got to the hotel just after 10, checked in and were told that the bar would close in a few minutes' time so we quickly dropped off our bags and then proceeded to make a good dent into the bar's stock until around midnight because we had an early start the next morning. Nobody asked us to leave and they kept serving us so I guess their opening times are arbitrary (as are other rules as you'll see later).
Getting ready at the airport Hotel bar Hotel bar

The hotel rooms were basic but functional and clean (two beds, wardrobe, desk, two chairs, bathroom with shower, loo and sink), all we needed for a weekend.

Saturday
The breakfast buffet had hot sausage and "scrambled eggs" and lots of more continental style items like cold cuts and cheeses, rather good bread and bread rolls, boiled eggs, salads, cereal etc. perfect for providing the base for the day's (drinking) activities.
Our first item was a Crazy Guides tour of the communist legacy of Krakow. Our guides were Yoolka, Kielbasa and Nyzio and we were driven around in the Red Devil (standard Trabant), The Frog (Trabant Kombi and the Polski Fiat. How they managed to fold [livejournal.com profile] devalmont into any of them, especially the Fiat was a miracle. We visited Nowa Huta, a huge part of the city build during the Stalin era to house 100,000 steel workers. For communist architecture. this was quite beautiful (if all covered in soot from the pollution) and positively huge and still the biggest district in the city. All communist trappings like the Lenin statue in the main square have been removed so it all looks quite pleasant. In an old restaurant which was the main attraction during the communist era and still makes a lot of business we had a drink (two different shots of vodka) and a bit of a history lesson of the years after WWII until the late 80s. As a centre of heavy industry, Krakow was also one of the major centres for Lech Walesa's Solidarność trade union.
The steelworks itself we didn't visit, just the main gate as there was some celebration going on (some anniversary related to Solidarność. After the steelworks, we stopped at a random street corner where an old Soviet tank was parked which we had a good look around and posed with.
Tanktastic Communist Krakow tour Tanktastic

We were dropped off somewhere in town (at the Square of Ghettos Heroes as I now know) from where we wandered around a bit until we found a small restaurant where we stopped for lunch. We had two flavours of pierogi (pork and sauerkraut), breaded pork neck and other delicacies as well as a couple of beers and more vodka (I held back a bit there as I can't drink much during the day without falling over). After finding out where we actually were, we made our way into the old town proper. Apparently because Hitler loved it, Krakow was never destroyed during WWII so there is a lot of historical architecture from all eras, mostly Central European so not much different from, say, Berlin or Vienna. We walked around, watched the fattest pigeons we'd ever seen, visited the very impressive cathedral which among other lush features has a huge altar piece by Veit Stoß, a German sculptor who also worked in Nuremberg and Bamberg and then had a couple of drinks before wandering more to find The Wodka Bar where they didn't serve food so we went around a couple of corners until we found a restaurant where more excellent food and cake for little money (by UK standards) were had. The menu mentioned mushrooms on my veal escalopes that turned out to be girolles so that was nice. This was also when we discovered that tax often isn't included on the price shown on the menu but the added surprise wasn't that big. The rest of the evening we spent at the vodka bar sampling a variety of vodkas guided by [livejournal.com profile] robinbloke and the very helpful barman. Having had quite enough around 10, we got taxis back to the hotel where we propped up the bar for a bit until midnight or so.
8 do Krakow Cathedral Cathedral Wodka Bar


Sunday
After the previous night's heavy drinking, we had a bit of a lie-in before breakfast. The historic part of the day was Wawel, a castle complex that has been in use since the 9th century and continuously rebuild and expanded over the centuries in a hodgepodge of styles (quote [livejournal.com profile] raggedyman, "When you become king, you just stick on another bit to live in"). The whole complex is huge and you can walk around the outside areas and most courtyards. Various inside areas are ticketed but separately so you can pick the things you're really interested in. The weather was rather grey and rainy so we just picked up tickets for everything. We started with a guided tour of the royal apartments which were very impressive and lush. Some walls still had original, unrestored murals around the top edge of the walls. Other items like huge tapestries and furniture were equally well preserved. Our lovely guide covered quite a bit of history during that good hour and I learned a lot I hadn't known about Poland.
The armoury was equally impressive. As Krakow used to be the seat of kings, there were the crown jewels and other items from that era in one part of the building and the armour proper with a huge selection of weapons, armour and artillery in the other. Photography was prohibited in all the inside areas so sadly you'll have to take my word for it how interesting and fascinating all the items were, like the gunblades (short thin swords with double barrelled guns built into the handle) and firearms with intricately carved and/or inlaid stocks. One of the rifles looked like a Dwarven blunderbuss from Warhammer and there was a double-action wheel lock handgun, too. The most surprising aspect to me (remember I didn't know much about Polish history other than 20th century) was the strong Central Asian influence especially in the armour. The day before we'd seen a number of people in armour and uniforms wandering around the city center and posing for tourists who looked almost like Mongols to us which we found strange but was then made clear that it was actually local.
We took a break from all the wandering around the castle and then visited the oldest part of the castle (the "Lost Wawel"). For the most part, this is a walkway suspended above excavated walls and ruins as well as cases with items found in the ruins from arrow heads to shoes.
When we came out the sun had come out and on the way to the baggage area (you couldn't take bags into most of the inside buildings) I retook a few photos as things looked even more impressive. Then we climbed up Sandomierska Tower from which we had an impressive view over the city.
We exited through the Dragon's Den, a natural cave underneath the castle, said to be the legend of a great beast that was slain by Krakus, the legendary founder of Krakow. Randomly, as we came down the winding staircase into the first chamber, a short old bearded man in chainmail came the other way who very much like the old Knight Templar guarding the grail in the third Indiana Jones film and pretty much all of us thought, 'Did I just see that?'.
Outside, beautiful weather over the Vistula greeted us as well as a multi-headed statue that actually breathed fire every few minutes. This was a bit hard to photograph in bright sunshine but I got a reasonable shot, even on the G10. There were enough parts of Wawel we didn't see so could easily have spent another day there but we wanted to see some more parts of Krakow and were slowly getting hungry again so we made our way into town again.
Stepped privies Wawel Wawel Fire-breathing Dragon!
Wawel Fancy gargoyle Wawel

We wandered back into the old town and then found a veritable heaven of meat in the shape of Miod i Wino. The menu outside had things like veal shanks and pork knuckles but we went for the Hunters Feast for 8 which included wild boar, deer pierogi, poached venison roulade, breaded pork, red cabbage, pearl barley, ghoulash, various gravies and potato dumplings. As a starter there was bread and lard with crispy bits which amused my Brit friends greatly but was something I was perfectly used to from Germany (we call it Griebenfett). The whole meal was like a journey into my youth in Germany as I couldn't actually remember the last time I had roast wild boar. Suffering from the meat sweats ([livejournal.com profile] raggedyman tweeted "We have managed to give ourselves meatpoisoning by having a "Hunters feast". Currently we are sweating gravy.") we staggered back past the cathedral to the Southern bit of the Jewish Quarter to Singer, a bar [livejournal.com profile] raggedyman had found during his research. It was dark and cosy and the smaller tables were all antique Singer sewing machines. Many a vodka, beer and Slivovitz (damson brandy) were had before we got taxis back to the hotel and ended the night in the hotel bar (which again stayed up a lot longer than advertised). I turned in around 11 as I wanted to pack in peace, shower, rehydrate and write a couple of postcards and was in bed just after midnight.
Bread and lard with crispy bits Hunters Feast Hunters Feast
Singer Singer Singer

Monday
Up at 6:45, I crawled out of bed and dressed and stumbled downstairs as I felt the weekend's excesses in my bones. Seeing an ambulance outside made the feeling even worse but thankfully none of us needed medical attention and everybody was ready when the taxis arrived to take us to the airport. Tiny as it is, getting through security/customs was rather quick and painless (although the guard looked at my passport/me a lot longer than the others') and as we had been early we had to wait for quite a while. Getting on the plane was more annoying as there was only one bus and by the time the other half of us got on there were seats but no space in the overhead compartments left so I had to squeeze my bag and jacket between my feet. However, we left on time and got to Stansted ahead of time (that fanfare is really annoying). Getting through passport control with a chipped passport was quick as well and we ended where we started at the Krispy Kremes stall until everyone had made it (the queue for standard passports was much longer). Then we split up again, Andy and I got a lift to Cambridge and I collapsed at home, catching up with internet and TV, reheated dinner and processed photos.

A very good weekend indeed and I definitely want to go back to Poland to discover more of this wonderful country. There are many more photos on flickr.
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. A few teaser photos:

The Ledbury - Heritage tomato The Ledbury - Lobster The Ledbury - Figs, pistachio, lemon beignet


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

Alix

Last July
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 Last July
Last July Sepia ghost Heather


karohemd: (Photo)
On Saturday I took photos of Last July at an abandoned warehouse in London and I've been working on them this evening. I usually don't do a lot of extreme image processing, a bit of a crop, some exposure, contrast and colour adjustment, that's it. Then I came across this image of Alix almost floating in air so I decided to play with the effects in Lightroom a bit and this was the result:

Sepia ghost
karohemd: Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, by me (Hungry)
Yes, I know, another post about Alimentum but this one is a little different. Last Sunday was the first of head chef Mark Poynton's "supper clubs", an informal evening during which he trialed new dishes. Instead of the usual individual tables, there were three long ones which encouraged talking to the other diners about what everybody thought about the dishes.
Thanks to the efforts of Stagecoach, the bus operator in Cambridge, I was almost too late but got there just in time to grab a glass of welcome fizz before taking my seat. Proceedings started with a few nibbles, onion rice cakes, cheese puffs (neither of which I don't have a photo) and red mullet parfait on toast.

Red Mullet parfait
The parfait was soft with the fish coming through nicely.


Rabbit
Next up was braised rabbit with avruga. This might sound unusual but the saltiness worked well with the soft, sweet meat.


Whipped cep butter Milk loaf
The next item was a treat. Freshly baked bread (milk loaf) and whipped cep butter. You only needed to spread a thin layer of the butter to turn a slice of bread into a mushroom. Superb and one of my favourite dishes of the night.


Wood pigeon, liver on toast
The wild theme continued with wood pigeon, a perfectly cooked piece of breast and liver on toast.


Smoked eel, apple, cucumber, horseradish granita

Then, the fish course and my favourite: Smoked eel, apple, cucumber, goat's cheese, horseradish granita. I love smoked eel which is usually a treat around Christmas in my family but there was some apprehension among my fellow diners. However, this changed when the dish arrived and everyone I heard loved it. The apple/cucumber salad helped counteract the inherent greasiness of the fish, making it lighter. Horseradish is a classic accompaniment to smoked fish, anyway.

Beef cheek, variations of onion
The main event was braised beef cheeks with variations of onion, onion mash and onion juice. Soft, flavourful meat, excellent onion bits but not enough juice.


Tarragon, yoghurt
The pre-dessert was tarragon granita with yoghurt, a lovely palate cleanser and siimilar to a dish I had at Tuddenham Mill earlier this year.


White chocolate mousse, mango, black olive caramel
The final act was white chocolate mousse, mango, black olive caramel. I was apprehensive about the black olive having had a sweet dish with olive at Midsummer House but this worked as it had a similar effect to salt to bring down the cloying sweetness of the caramel. The white chocolate and mango harmonised very well, too. Loved it.


The dishes were paired with excellent wines, two of them English (a white and a sparkling rosé) and a superb sherry with the pre-dessert.
A very enjoyable evening indeed and I've already signed up for the next one.
karohemd: (Chef)
This steak looked so good I cooked it a lot less then usual, about a total of one minute on each side, the rested for 10 minutes while I braised the chicory in the same pan. I added some veg stock to the same pan, then the quartered chicory and put on a lid to let cook until tender but still crunchy and most of the liquid was gone.

Sirloin steak, braised chicory, horseradish mash
karohemd: (Chef)
This steak looked so good I cooked it a lot less then usual, about a total of one minute on each side, then rested for 10 minutes while I braised the chicory in the same pan. I added some veg stock to the pan, then the quartered chicory and put on a lid to let cook until tender but still crunchy and most of the liquid was gone.

Sirloin steak, braised chicory, horseradish mash
karohemd: (Chef)
I found myself in town on Saturday so had a look around the market and found a lemon sole at the fish stall. I still had some broad beans from my veg box and new potatoes so that was dinner sorted.
I skinned and filleted the sole which was quite fiddly but I persevered and produced four reasonable fillets. My cooking liquid was a generous glug of vermouth, two generous glugs of white wine, some fish stock and a big knob of butter, seasoned with salt and pepper. I bought this to a boil in a frying pan, turned off the heat and when it stopped boiling added the fillets, turned them after a couple of minutes until they were evenly cooked and removed them to a warm dish to keep warm, while I turned up the heat again and cooked the (double-podded!) broad beans in the liquor until they were tender and the liquid was reduced to a sauce.
I served the fillets on a warm plate, with the beans spooned over and around, with new potatoes on the side. Very nice indeed.

Lemon Sole

FFW Day 3

18 Jun 2012 12:20 pm
karohemd: by LJ user gothindulgence (Cinema)
Writing this on the train as i was out drinking with Sarah, Andreas Marschall and the last few stragglers so didn't have time before needing to sleep.
Sunday morning started with Red Sonja which was quite as bad as I remembered but still quite bad, especially in the acting department. Some of the mechanical effects like the "fish machine" were actually quite well done. Perfect cheese for a Sunday morning.

Next up was something I had been looking forward to since it had been announced, The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm in Cinerama. Not necessarily because of the film but because of the format. The National Media Museum is only one of three venues worldwide (two more in Seattle and Hollywood) who still support this format and it was only the second time this print of Brothers Grimm was shown in the UK. The print consists of three strips that are projected onto a curved screen, giving a certain amount of depth to the picture which, considering when it was conceived is quite remarkable. Probably closest to a 3D film I personally will be able to see, unless they come up with holographic projection in my lifetime.
The film itself is a take on the brothers' life story (until they become famous), interspersed with lesser known fairy tales. These were quite twee and not that exciting, except for the one in which Terry Thomas played a cowardly knight who had his manservant fight a stop-motion dragon with painted cartoon breath and then claimed victory for himself only to have the table turned on him later. The film broke at one point and instead of silence, there was an emergency reel half the size of the central frame of a man talking to the camera, apologising and talking about his travels. Odd but funny and the second best bit of the experience.

Then, another Hammer rarity that hadn't been shown for something like 40 years, dug up from the Universal Studio archives by Robert Simpson (who programmed the Hammer strand this year): Shadow of the Cat. This was brilliant and really funny because five grown adults who had murdered the owner of a big estate were afraid of a simple house cat who was the only witness to the murder. During the course of the film, the cat kills (usually indirectly) all the bad people until only the true heir remains. This was especially funny as the cat was just an ordinary tabby and not some evil looking black cat. Excellent entertainment.

After a quick curry at Omar's, the first evening showing was Masks by Andreas Marschall, a German director who not only worked with J&oml;rg Buttgereit but also directed music videos and designed album covers for a lot of metal bands, especially Kreator with whom he also did a documentary. Masks was a rather excellent hommage to the Giallo genre on a shoestring budget (he mentioned later that he'd had better budgets for his music videos than thsi film), using mainly film and acting students (and teachers) as the cast. This didn't show at all as the acting was brilliant and the production values were also very good indeed, the visuals and themes keeping very much in line with films like Suspiria. The interview with the director afterwards was also very interesting.

The final film was Four Flies on Grey Velvet by Dario Argento, in which a rock band drummer is harrassed/blackmailed by persons unknown. Amusingly, the cast included Bud Spencer in a serious role. i'm not sure how well known he is in the UK but in Europe and especially Germany he's well known for comedy Spaghetti Westerns co-starring Terrence Hill (both are Italian actors) and other action comedies from the 70s and 80s. The film was a bit slow but not bad and I didn't fall asleep which was quite remarkable for a Sunday night.
karohemd: by LJ user gothindulgence (Cinema)
Saturday started with The Toxic Avenger, the Troma classic. Unfortunately, this was a museum archive print so the then UK theatrical release meaning it was cut to shreds but still enjoyable in that hammy, schlock horror way, even if some bits were a bit iffy by today's standards. Overall fun, though.
Next up, Captain Clegg, a classic Hammer feature with Peter Cushing playing a vicar but not a real horror film (despite having phantoms) but a tale of smuggling and defiance in the late 18th century. Good production values for the time, excellent acting, good story and a secret that wasn't too obvious. Deserved applause afterwards.
Then back to the Eighties with Vamp in which a group of college students get in the way of Grace Jones playing a stripping vampire (or a vampire stripper?). Very cheesy, sometimes a bit slow at times but ultimately passable.
After a look at a few pieces of the museum's Hammer collection, the next treat was Barbarella which needs no introduction but has an appalling rating of 5.8 on imdb. I think this was the first time I saw it in one piece, a great piece of cinematic history.
After a quick hop to Subway for sustenance, Grindhouse was the theme of the next film, I Drink Your Blood with a band of satanist and later rabid hippies terrorising a small town. The hydrophobia symptom of rabies was used to great comedic effect and despite the print suffering from a strong magenta cast and a breakage in between, it was rather excellent. More a proper horror film than full on exploitation.
The final bit for me today was first an interview with Harley Cokeliss, a rather prolific director, writer and producer in the genre, incl. second unit director of Empire Strikes Back. This was very interesting indeed, especially (at leaset for me) when he talked about his work on Empire which gave a fascinating insight into the making of of the film, for example in how the scenes in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon were shot (shots facing into the cockpit with no windows visible were directed by Kershner, while shots facing outwards, i.e. requiring blue screen and post processing were shot by Cokeliss). I only realised when it was over that the interview lasted almost an hour. He obviuosly also talked about Battletruck the film that was shown afterwards, anecdotes about the making of and defending some critics' opinion that it was ripping off Mad Max when both films were actually conceived independently at the same time.
Battletruck (also called Warlords of the 21st Century) is a post-war film set in a near future. The titular Battletruck is the villain's vehicle which the heroes of the film fight against. The film featured mayhem, murder, betrayal and action, the vehicles were brilliant and it was a good Saturday night romp, deserving more than the 4.5 it has on imdb. The film was scheduled against The Rocky Horror Picture Show and while that is good fun, I wanted to see a film I otherwise might not be able to and I'm glad I did because the interview was superb.
karohemd: by LJ user gothindulgence (Cinema)
First, I caught the first half our of Flesh and Blood, a documentary about the history of Hammer. This would have been rather interesting, especially with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing narrating and it being a proper cut (not what shown on TV) but I really wanted to see Big Trouble in Little China in 70mm, one of my teenage favourites so it was good to see it on the big screen again and a cut that continued a few bits I couldn't remember having seen.
Next up was The Monster Squad, a teen horror comedy that was completely unknown to me and it was right up my street. Of course it was cheesy and played off all the stereotypes but it was good fun. Considering there is no German Wikipedia entry for the film and according to imdb it's only been released on DVD in 2011 in Germany, that might be the reason I didn't know it.
The short films are usually a mixed bag but except for Buddy Yeah! which was one of the most disturbing stop-motion animation pieces I've seen. Chomp! was a brilliant very short film about a zombie couple, Decapoda Shock was a quirky mixed media space exploration/lobster mutant film (and has a well deserved 8.5 rating on imdb), Perished was quite run-off-the mill zombie flick, Once it Started it Could Not End Otherwise was another quirky bit constructed from photos with subtitles, The Hunting Ground was a Finnish film about two men's fate in the countryside, The Little Mermaid was another rather bizarre story without dialogue and finally Bear was an Australian short about a surprise going horribly wrong. All good entertainment.
Shockingly, I forewent the original Fright Night for the screentalk with Renée Glynne (one of Hammer's continuity ladies) and the restored print of The Quatermass Xperiment. The interview was interesting and fun and the film was excellent for its age, just marred when halfway through audio and picture went out of sync more and more until the delay was over two seconds by the end. ETA: I later found out this being due to an NTSC picture with a PAL audio track.
The last film of the day was The Casebook of Eddie Brewer, a new Brtish documentary style POV film following the work of a paranormal investigator. As it wasn't in the programme, I didn't know what to expect and when it started, I thought "Oh no, not another shaky cam film" but it turned out to be excellent, so much better than any of the recent big productions like Paranormal Activity etc. and the rest of the audience shared my opinion. The director and producers were there as well and talked a little about the film. It was only the second showing in the UK (first the Flatpack Festival in Birmingham) and after this they're touring the US. Not sure if it will get a UK wide release at the cinema but there will be a DVD.

So yes, an enjoyable first day at FFW. Bring on tomorrow with lots of Troma and Hammer films and Barbarella. :o)

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