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: (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
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)
I've been following Sabrina Ghayour (a private chef, cookery teacher and food writer) on twitter for a while and when she announced a Persian supper club, I had to sign up for it, as it seemed the ideal way of sampling a cuisine I hadn't tried before. It was held at a private home, with (I think) 15 guests in total and a friendly and informal affair.
The food was served not in individual portions but in big dishes on the table which was nice as it added a level of interaction with the other guests.

The starters consisted of a selection of vegetables, herbs, salads, cheese and dips to be spread on flatbread and rolled up. The cucumber/tomato salad was light and fresh, as was the yoghurt dip, the sauteed aubergine with caramelised onions and whey was more earthy but the standout dip was one of smoked aubergine with tomato and garlic. I would have been quite happy with just a bowl of that and some bread.

The mains were more rich: Two stews, one of chicken with walnut and pomegranate molasses and one of lamb with aubergine, split peas and preserved lemons. There was also a fresh herb and barberry frittata and Basmati rice. As with the starters, everything was fantastic and full of flavour.

For dessert was an almond, carrot, pistachio and orange cake served with rosewater cream. I'm not a huge cake fan but this was brilliant, crumbly yet moist, perfectly matched by the cream and to wash everything down there was real mint tea.

It was a lovely evening with excellent food and good company. And now for some photos:

The table is set
The table is set

The Chef
The Chef

Mixed veg, herbs and cheese

Maast-o-Khiar - Yoghurt and cucumber with mint, rose petals and pomegranate seeds

Mirza Ghasemi
Mirza Ghasemi - Smoked aubergine dip with tomato and garlic

The Mains
Coucou Sabzi (mixed fresh herb and barberry frittata)
Khoresht Gheymeh Bademjan (lamb, aubergine and split pea stew with preserved lemons)
Khoresht Fesenjan (chicken, walnut and pomegranate molasses stew)

Almond, carrot, pistachio & orange cake
Almond, carrot, pistachio and orange cake with rosewater cream







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karohemd: (Photo)
Last July - Alix
karohemd: (Photo)
Thanks to a friend who works at BT I had the opportunity to go up the BT Tower. It's not open to the general public these days, only for private events or during the Open Days in London. The "Tower Flight" I attended is usually reserved for BT employees but they can invite family and friends so that's how I got in. They have quite tight security with handheld metal detectors. The sweeping lobby looks rather swish and has obviously been updated since it was first built in the 60s.
The lift are rather small and have room for about 8 people but they go up at breakneck speed (7m/s). Despite this, it was probably the smoothest large scale lift ride I've been on, you don't really feel the acceleration, just your ears pop about halfway up. The ring room on the 34th floor used to house a regular, public restaurant but these days is only used for corporate events etc. It's glazed from floor to ceiling and rotates slowly (stopping for while, rotating again) so once you've picked a spot, you can just stay where you are.
Stupidly, I'd forgotten to pack my polarisation filter (and when I remembered this morning I couldn't find it) so taking photos through the glass was a bit tricky but not as bad as I feared. Here are a few examples:

Up the BT Tower

Up the BT Tower

Up the BT Tower

Up the BT Tower

Up the BT Tower

Up the BT Tower

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karohemd: (Photo)
On Thursday I had the opportunity to shoot the action in the kitchen at The English Pig, Johnnie Mountain's restaurant in Barbican, London. I've been a fan of the place since I was there last month and tried their signature pork belly dish.
Since Tom Kneale started as head chef, they revised their menu to feature only pork based dishes (no other meat, no fish, no vegetarian option) to pay justice to the restaurant's name. Yes, there's even a chocolate and bacon creme brulee as dessert.
When head chef Tom posted some phone photos of the new dishes on twitter I made an off-handed comment offering to come down and take some nicer ones and he took me up on the offer so on Thursday after work, I made my way down to London.
The restaurant is on the ground floor of a large office building just down the road from Barbican tube station on Aldersgate St. and if it wasn't for the signature blackboard on the street you might even miss it as you walk past. The blackboard is one of Johnnie's trademarks and always has something entertaining on it. See for yourself:
One side of the trademark board The other side of the trademark board

The restaurant itself is rather dark, all dark woods, indirect lighting and lots of candles everwhere, simple, yet elegant.
Considering the size of the place, the kitchen is small but efficiently laid out. As the evening wasn't very busy, I managed to stay mostly out of the way, taking photos from the service side of the pass and occasionally peering around the corner. Sadly, this also meant I didn't get a chance to see all the dishes.
Starters: On the left, crispy pig's ears salad, on the right, braised cheeks (my choice)
Crispy Pig's Ears Salad Braised Cheeks

Mains: The Pig's signature dish is the 21 hour roasted pork belly with mustard mash and savoy cabbage:
Plating the Belly 21 hour Pork Belly

Chargrilled chop, prepared by head chef Tom Kneale:
Head Chef Tom Kneale Pork Chop

Smoked Hock:
Smoked Hock

Coriander Fillet:
Coriander Fillet

Iberico Pork Rice Pudding:
Iberico Pork Rice Pudding

Shoulder Steak, braised in cider with vegetables and strawberries. The latter might sound odd but they really worked because the other ingredients and seasoning balanced the flavours. I had this as my main and really enjoyed it.
Shoulder steak braised in cider Shoulder steak braised in cider

Desserts: Chocolate fondant with white chocolate sauce (between the layers) and dark chocolate "soil" in a plant pot. This was fun, rich and very yummy indeed and my choice of dessert.
Chocolate Fondant

A "deconstructed" Lemon Pie:
Deconstructed Lemon Pie

Chocolate and Bacon(!) Creme Brulee:
Chocolate & Bacon Creme Brulee

The brigade: Sous Damian, Head Chef Tom, Pastry Chef Wyman (plus Tom from Stokey Secret Supper who wasn't available for the group photo):
The Brigade

A few more shots from the kitchen action )

Many thanks to head chef Tom Kneale for this insight into a pro kitchen and to the whole team for feeding me afterwards.
karohemd: Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, by me (Hungry)
Another one, I hear you cry? Well, yes, thanks for asking but I had to because I was recommended a dessert I didn't want to miss before it came off the menu.
This time I had a tasting menu:

Alimentum - Mushroom veloute with Coffee

The amuse bouche, a mushroom velouté with, wait for it, coffee. We had this when we were there for my birthday and I remember something interesting flavour wise but couldn't put my finger on it, now I know. This is one of those combinations that, when you read it, shouldn't really work but it does.

Alimentum - Asparagus, Goat's Cheese Ice Cream

The first dish was a combination of raw and cooked white and green asparagus with goats' cheese ice cream (savoury). All very fresh in flavour and there were great contrasts of warm and cold, crunchy and soft. I really like white asparagus now. :)

Alimentum - Quail

Then, a ballotine and terrine of quail with savoy cabbage and truffle. The flavours in this were rather subtle (not a bad thing!) and the textures varied. There were soft bits, chewy bits and crunchy bits.

Alimentum - Langoustine, Pork Belly, Cauliflower

Moving along, a seafood/pork combination in the shape of a slice of pork belly so soft you could separate with a spoon, topped with langoustine, topped with avruga, sitting in a cauliflower veloute, garnished with thin slices of cauliflower. One could think that the strong meaty flavour of the pork would overpower the subtleness of the langoustine but that wasn't the case at all, they complimented each other nicely. The avruga provided little pops of salt and the smooth cauliflower veloute a warm coating for everything. Dancing tastebuds.

Alimentum - Lamb Three Ways

The main: lamb three ways (rump, breast and sweetbreads) with courgette and sundried tomato couscous. Each part was cooked differently, providing different textures. The rolled breast was crispy, the rump slow cooked and the sweetbreads seared. My tastebuds were dancing propably even more here.

Alimentum - Strawberry, Elderflower, Lime

The Grand Finale: A dessert of strawberries, elderflower curd and lime. This dessert was the main reason I had gone back so quickly after last month's visit because I didn't want to miss it and it came highly recommended by a number of people whose tastebuds I trust and they weren't lying. Again, it was the combination of flavours and textures that made it: the fresh fruitiness of the strawberries (fresh and icecream), the sweetness of the elderflower curd and the zingy and crunchy lime.

Another part of the experience was the "flight" of wines, one glass with every course and this is where I fail as I can't remember them all but each one of them was a perfect match with the dish. What I do remember was the '98(!) Chardonnay with the langoustine course, a Chianti Classico with the lamb and a Coteaux du Layon with the dessert. This (and a glass of champagne to start) had been quite an amount of alcohol so I politely declined the kind offer of spirits as another measure would have sent me straight to sleep at the cinema.

Huge thanks for the invitation go to head chef Mark and brigade for the food and sommelier Kyle for the wines as well as the rest of the Front of House team for looking after me. Good service (polite and attentive without being overbearing) is just as important as good food at a restaurant and Alimentum has all of that.
Every time I go there I think they won't be able to top my experience the following time but they always do.
karohemd: (Photo)
When there was a gap in my FFW schedule, I either tried to find some food, chatted with people in the bar or wandered around the museum taking a few photos.
These were taken in the animation gallery. Most of the models are really small (the Wombles are less than 10cm tall, the Harryhausen models are between 20 and 30cm). I was a bit sad that the Kraken (the biggest of the Harryhausen models) isn't currently on display.

karohemd: (Photo)
Bitter Ruin played a half hour gig at St. Pancras Station last night (as part of the Station Sessions). The small, flat stage was set up in the middle of the busy shopping arcade with at this time of day (6pm) hundreds of commuters bustling past. There was obviously a group of fans but the duo's strong, unmistakable (and hard to put in genres, they are still looking for one themselves) quickly gathered a sizeable crowd. The sound was superb, despite the huge, noisy space and the tiny looking speakers (tall, thin bose contraptions) which coped perfectly with Georgia's incredible tonal and volume range.
They played a mix of favourites (Trust, Soldier, Beware) and one of their new songs (Leather for Hell) and, almost bizarrely, music that's more suitable for small, intimate venues really worked in this big space. They created, as a friend called it, an "island of difference".
If you have a chance to see them live, do.

Bitter Ruin at St. Pancras Station Bitter Ruin at St. Pancras Station
Bitter Ruin at St. Pancras Station Bitter Ruin at St. Pancras Station Bitter Ruin at St. Pancras Station

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karohemd: (Chef)
I hadn't had duck in a while so I picked up a couple of Gressingham duck breasts during my lunchtime shop.
This evening I was meant to go out so I just made something quick:
I trimmed and scored the skin, put the breast skin side down into a cold pan and turned up the heat. This way the fat under the skin has time to render before the skin crispens. When the skin was nicely browned, I seasoned the fleshy side with sea salt and pepper, turned the heat down, flipped the breast and cooked that side until sealed, transferred into a dish and finished it in a medium oven for about five minutes before I took it out, covered it in foil and let rest.
For the sauce, I sprinkled some icing sugar into the fat (of there wasn't much, with more fattier ducks you might have to get rid of some of the fat), deglazed the pan with a good glug of red wine, added a teaspoon of concentrated chicken stocka and let it simmer until it was the right consistency, seasoning with salt and pepper.
I served it on crushed new potatoes and with some wilted spinach (cooked in olive oil, seasoned with salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg).

The meat was soft and tender, the skin crispy and not fatty at all, the sauce was probably the best I've ever made and the spuds and spinach went well with it.

I have another breast which I'm going to cook differently tomorrow. It'll be an experiment so you might not see a post. ;o)
karohemd: Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, by me (Hungry)
So last night was the foodie night of my life (and one that's unlikely to be repeated). I went to the Kai We Care charity dinner in aid of the victims of the New Zealand earthquakes. Thought up and organised by Mat Follas, Masterchef 2009 winner and owner/head chef of The Wild Garlic. By the power of twitter and other social networking alone, he managed to recruit a brigade of top chefs (five with Michelin stars, all of them with various awards), suppliers and FOH staff who all gave their time and wares for free to stage a 9-course dinner for 200(!) people. Considering they only had four weeks and the event went on with barely a glitch, that was an amazing achievement.
So far, they managed to raise £60,000 (tickets and auction) with most likely more to come.

At £150 a ticket, this wasn't exactly cheap but where can you get a 9-course dinner with matching wines with each course cooked by a group of top chefs? Nowhere. You'd pay at least that much for a normal tasting menu at a high class restaurant in London and then you'd get only one chef. As I was looking for a birthday treat to myself, this was perfect and I wasn't disappointed.

At the reception at the rather splendid venue of 1 Moorgate Place there was kiwi champagne (which I actually liked!) and canapees: cured salmon/cucumber "fruit pastilles" (sweet/savoury, very fresh), port and Spenwood pencil (also nice) and the highlight, Pork crackling toffee apple (basically a ball of apple coated in a crunchy but not too sweet crumb, fantastic). No photos of these because the reception was cramped and it would have been a bit awkward. I'll pass on links to the official photos when they're out.

Then into the main hall with large, round tables, seating 9 people each. On my table were a group of Irish people (who all knew Dave Ahern) and a couple from Essex. Was quite a friendly table.

Kai We Care - Pre starter Kai We Care - Starter Kai We Care - Fish Kai We Care - Main Kai We Care - Pre-Dessert Kai We Care - Dessert

Food and wine: )

There was also entertainment in the form of a Maori dance group who performed a variety of dances and songs, very interesting and also amusing.

Throughout the evening the auction was held and raised a huge amount of money, with most lots going for well over a grand, some for multiples. I held my own for a while on the bid on the tasting menu for four with wines at Alimentum but it got too rich for me quite quickly. I think it went for 750 or 800 at the end.

By the time I had finished the petit fours, it was already well past 11 so I said good-bye and made my way back to Kings Cross where my train was already waiting. I was finally home at about 1:40.

It was a stunning evening and a great success for a worthwhile cause. Would go again in a heartbeat. Being in the presence of so many high class chefs, who all seemed to be really nice people and not as stuck up as you'd expect them to be, was fantastic.
I'm glad I'd taken the 50mm f1.4 because the light was very dim so I still had to set the D700 to ISO3200 for the food shots. Therefore, the DOF is a bit too shallow but I have to live with that. I hope Richard Budd had a proper setup somewhere.
ETA: Richard Budd's superb photos are here (mostly food and chefs/kitchen and performers) and even more photos by Philippa Edge here.
karohemd: (Photo)
Yesterday I visited the Botanic Garden in Cambridge for the first time (I know, shame on me).
Given the time of year, there wasn't that much on show yet but there were enough interesting things for the three and a half hours I was there. It being a weekday, there weren't many people so neither were they in the way of my photos nor did I annoy others by hanging around various exhibits for a long time.
I really need to go back during other seasons, too.
Here's a selection of photos:


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karohemd: (Chef)
My butcher had these wonderful pork tenderloins so I bought one as I hadn't cooked with one in quite a while. It was vacuum sealed so I thought I'd try a rough approximation of sous vide cooking. I basically poached the loin, suspended from a wooden spoon in a stockpot full of hot water (don't know how hot it was, I chose a temperature I could still touch so probably around 60 degrees) for a bit more than half an hour, prodding it now and then to get an idea for how done it was.
I took it out, removed it from the bag, patted it dry and cut it in half (so it would fit into my frying pan). It was done just a little under pink so after I seasoned it with salt and pepper and seared it in a really hot pan in some olive oil on all sides and rested it for ten minutes, it was on the spot.
While the meat was resting, I made a sauce by deglazing the pan with cider, seasoning with salt, pepper and thyme and finishing with some double cream and the resting juices.
I served it on some potato and parsnip mash and wilted spinach. It was fantastic and I could have charged good money for that at a restaurant. I wish this happened more often. I like my cooking but only sometimes it's as good as this.
The photo is a bit rubbish because it was rushed.

karohemd: (Photo)
Spucktute who are doing I'd like to describe as beat poetry with an electronica soundtrack. Quite bleak and angry lyrics.

Last July in their new lineup with Nevla on guitar. A decent PA and the extra layer of the electric guitar made them so much more fun to watch than last time I saw them. A really excellent gig. I predict a great future for them. :D

I probably don't need to introduce Devilish Presley who play dirty and fun Rock'n'Roll with great impact and charisma while only consisting of a guitar duo and a drum machine.

The light during the first two acts was poor but DP had two extra lights pointing up from the floor which helped a lot.


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Yet more on flickr.
karohemd: (Photo)
PsychoCandy is a new clubnight at the Q Club in Cambridge. It was a lot of fun and hugely successful for an opening night. The club was already packed well before 11.


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Even more on flickr.
karohemd: self portrait (photo 85mm)
Katie West has published a book of black and white nude self portraits and asked for photos of people with her book. This is my contribution.
You can buy her book on lulu.

For Katie West

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karohemd: (Photo)
I had this funky tin so I thought I would try my hand at some product photography.

karohemd: by LJ user gothindulgence (Default)
I'm at my parents' in Upper Franconia, Southern Germany at the moment and this is how much snow we had overnight on our entrance path. Effectively, it was about 5cm but there's always wind that blows snow around so you get some more in some places.

Overnight Snowdrift

April 2016

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