Sunday, 30 October 2011

truffled egg toast

truffled egg toast is gusty and certain of its ability to please. 
o and i have to thank russell norman for bringing truffled egg toast to london. we first ate this super-calorific treat at spuntino in soho. it is basically a thick slice of bread whose depressed centre holds two very runny yolks framed by melting fontina cheese. the real pleasure though is olfactory - the sharp stinky nuttiness of melting fontina taken up several notches by pungent truffle oil. 

the politics of pesto

pesto with toasted almonds 
i cannot recall the first time i tried pesto but i am certain that it was made by mama. i took to it instantly. what's not to like about the delicate peppery notes of basil combined with the slight bite of garlic, fruity olive oil and most importantly the rich oiliness of pine-nuts. in pakistan, pine-nuts (called chilgoza's) are often eaten in the winter. shelling them is tedious and messy as the flaky brown skins are fragile. i was taught by my aunt to gently bite them on the defined edge of the shell and then chip the shell to reveal the slim nut. ever since i have spent many a satisfying evening shelling and eating chilgoza's by the fire. the italian food that i enjoyed growing up conveniently abbreviated itself to three p's - pizza, pesto and pasta. 

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

life is dessert first.

cream-cheese with pistachio frosted carrot cake 
"life is uncertain. eat dessert first" 
or better still have dessert for dinner as i did this tuesday night. 
for those of you who are frowning please be aware that carrots are one of five a day. if you still don't agree then dan lepard (creator of this recipe) will convince you that the ingredients of this cake are good for you - 'carrots are good for you. tahini, excellent for the liver and skin. pistachios, all that nutty protein and those plant sterols that reduce cholesterol'. at this point i'll ask you to overlook the cream-cheese frosting. 

Saturday, 22 October 2011

diwali at dishoom

dishoom covent garden
this tuesday i skipped my yoga class to do something very fun and special. i went to dishoom for a diwali preview dinner. the evening began with all of us seated in somewhat of a circle near the bar downstairs. a most serene and elegant lady brought to life the story of diwali. well known as the festival of lights, diwali is the shortened version of deepawali which literally translates into row of lamps. this five day festival marks the hindu new year. a number of legends from the ramayana are part of the celebration and on this night we heard the story of rama and sita. as vayu naidu says, this is a story for all ages so that in the telling of an epic of old she embraces the new - like the sounds of cocktails being mixed at the bar, or the flavours of food tasting unbecoming to the lovelorn sita. we were even told that the legends have responded to changing times through changing versions. so during the time of the mughal's sita walks behind rama rather than alongside him as is often done in muslim tradition. diwali is an affirmation of hope, of light against darkness and knowledge against ignorance. so rapt were all of us that despite the din near the bar we were able to hear most of the story and join in the conversation afterwards. 

citrus coriander baked fish

 citrus coriander baked fish, baby new 
potato chili coriander hash
i spent this week catching up with nigel slater's simple cooking on bbc one. watching his shows or reading his cookery books always inspire creativity in my kitchen so today, i explored a spicy and cool marriage by putting together a citrus coriander baked fish. o said that the fish had a distinctly thai flavour. i used medium smoked cod fillets and served the baked fish with a baby new potato red chili and coriander hash. 

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

carluccio's brunswick

a single stemmed yellow rose
the carluccio's brunswick has a special significance for o and i as this is where our life as a couple commenced. so it was apt when o said that we should dine there on our third anniversary. on a clear autumn night on what was the twelfth of october i met o at carluccio's at the brunswick for dinner. he presented me with a single long stemmed yellow rose because as we both agree, friendship is the most important element of a relationship. love can wax and wane but friendship is a constant. 

lazy roast garlic and courgette soup

i love courgettes but for some reason i always forget that i bought them. they usually make their presence known when i am doing the next round of grocery in the mistaken belief that i have run out of vegetables. this week i made a lazy roast garlic and courgette soup with my 'a little on the tired side' courgettes. 

{lazy courgette and roast garlic soup}

500 grams courgette 
three tablespoons of olive oil and a little extra to drizzle on the garlic
an unpeeled bulb of garlic 
a tablespoon of dried mushrooms
a roasting tin
enough foil to seal the roasting tin

Sunday, 16 October 2011

chatsworth road market

coupling bikes at chatsworth road market, e five
if autumn were a fragrance it would be a combination of musk and wood fire. it's tone would be a deep amber to imitate the changing colour of leaves. autumn is undoubtedly my favourite season of the year. today was the perfect autumn day and o and i spent it doing what we do best, eating. a quick overground ride led us to chatsworth road market in hackney. i was on my way there to eat some kimchi cult street food. as always, i've been following my palate around london. 

chatsworth road market is very much for the local area. it isn't crowded like other london markets and yet it is still quite busy. we did a round to find kimchi cult and waited patiently for the customer ahead of us to finish chatting with danny. kimchi cult's chatsworth road stall has three items on the menu: the bulgogi sub, the kblt and the pulled port and ginger slaw sub. i was a little disappointed about the absence of the kimchi slider but given that i love bulgogi was more than happy to settle on the sub. o for some reason decided to go healthy choosing the seeded roll. i stuck with the soft white roll whose soft texture is just the right counterpoint to the filling. the bulgogi sub is like a korean philly steak sandwich. the beef was soft and slightly caramelised on the edges. the slightly warm kimchi had a strong bite. i haven't had a soft white roll in so long and had forgotten how good it tastes. i must thank baba for introducing me to kimchi and bulgogi those many years ago in pakistan. 

danny assembling our bulgogi subs 
despite being quite full o and i decided to try the okonomiyaki from the stall next door. these thick japanese cabbage pancakes were a fusion version with the addition of cheddar cheese. the combination worked very well and in any case who doesn't like melted cheese. a drizzle of wasabi mayonnaise gives the kind of heat that makes your nostrils flare and the okonomiyaki glaze itself is fruity and sweet. what japanese and korean street food have in common is the multiple layers of flavours and textures that emerge. 

okonomiyaki stall at chatsworth road market
the making of the okonomiyaki
as if eating all that wasn't enough o and i then sat down at creperie du monde whose eclectic decor drew me into it. whoever did the interior here has really good taste. i loved the distressed leather sofas and empty frames to encompass blank wall space and break the monotony. o and i were almost tempted to order a belgian waffle but were openly very glad when the waitress failed to hear our request. i had an ice cream espresso which is creperie du monde's version of an affogato. o had his customary flatwhite. the espresso here is has a very assertive character with a slightly bitter nutty taste. the vanilla ice-cream had just the right mellow counter-point. as always o much preferred my order than his and ate a couple of generous spoonfuls. i definitely want to come back here for brunch sometime soon as the crepes looked very good!

glasses for water at creperie du monde
creperie du monde

babcia's suji ka halva (semolina halva)

my grandmother is polish which is why we call her babcia. strangely we call my grandfather daddy which is what mama calls him. that of course makes sense given that he is her father. i do recollect babcia telling me a couple of times that dziadek is how they say grandfather in polish but daddy stuck and that is what both of us siblings call him. but i digress. when mama was little her mum used to make her suji ka halva, a halva that she then made for murad and i when were little. it is one of those things that i have not grown out of and when i think comfort i think of this suji ka halva

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

pb and chocolate chip cookies

ready to go into the oven
peanut butter and i were lovers at first bite. 

we first met out of a skippy jar, the one with the turquoise sticker and turquoise cap. the one that called itself creamy. this particular jar had traveled all the way from the land of uncle sam in a huge carton packed with other fun things, for instance toys that had been neatly adapted for water fights so that i had a calculator that squirted water when you'd press its buttons. this was all courtesy of my baba who was away in missouri on a training course. i think there may have been a barbie in there too. although the recollection of the barbie is hazy, the jar of skippy creamy peanut butter and a candy bar called payday, a contrast of salted peanuts held together by a very chewy caramel have held sway over my memory. perhaps this is because my meeting with peanut butter was the beginning of an enduring relationship. 

Monday, 10 October 2011

yalla yalla

i and i have never had luck at yalla yalla green's court. our hunger and impatience always gets the better of us. and it doesn't help that there isn't a convenient waiting space. however all that has changed because there is now (in relation to the green's court location) a super size yalla yalla right of oxford street. on the evening that we went the weather was so warm we sat outside. inside, the decor has been kept to minimal with an emphasis on the woody tones of the  walls. the seating is canteen style. i personally prefer the green's court yalla yalla if only for the intimacy and more subdued conversation. yalla yalla winsley street is the teenage version of green's court. 


Sunday, 9 October 2011

omakase at sushi of shiori

it is jay rayner who is responsible for my introduction to omakase. in his review of sushi of shiori in august twenty ten he speaks of omakase as 'a japanese-style tasting menu prepared according to what's best and available'. elsewhere i had read that omakase means to entrust yourself to the chef's choice. at the conclusion of our omakase lunch today, the petite and intent japanese woman who is also the chef's wife said to me in a concerted manner that one must only have omakase if one trusts the chef. it is imperative of the experience. this was in response to our unanimous appreciation of our lunch as both i and i savoured every bit of it.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

‘sicilian brioche breakfast’ at la gelatiera

la gelatiera from the outside
the morning of the sicilian brioche breakfast turned out to be bright and sunny and really really warm. it was as if the gelato gods had aligned themselves with british weather to give me the perfect excuse to indulge myself. the italians generally indulge their sweet tooth at breakfast. when i was in turin with i we would have biscuits and espresso for breakfast. in sicily they eat what is essentially an gelato sandwich - a brioche with gelato in it. la gelatiera had brought together four food bloggers for a morning in their kitchen with italian patisserie chef leonard kadio. 

tapped and packed no. twenty six rathbone place

no.26 rathbone place
i passed by no.114 tottenham court road recently and was instantly taken by the large windows and the decor of the space. i also instantly connected the dots between it and no.26 rathbone place which i had seen on a recent walk through goodge street with o. unfortunately it has taken me a little while to get myself over to tapped and packed, the blame for which falls squarely on the fact that i am not located very near it. also, since o and i have freshly ground coffee at home (mostly monmouth) we don't really frequent coffee shops as much as we used to. nonetheless i think of myself as a collector of coffee places and cafes. i love unusual coffee shops with comfortable seating that lend themselves to extensive and lazy sundays with the observer newspaper. 

pitstop cafe at berwick street market, soho

pitstop cafe
there is this mobile van on berwick street. if you want an absolute location it is on the corner of where berwick street meets broadwich street. it is on the side of the corner of yauatcha. it is a two person show called pitstop cafe and is run by carol and sing. pitstop cafe is at berwick street market from tuesday to friday but sometimes when life happens carol and sing tweet to tell you that they aren't in so it's best if you follow them on twitter @pitstopcafesoho. 

trishna london

o and i dined at trishna london on a unseasonably warm evening.  summer experienced a renaissance at the end of september although the days started in an unmistakable mist that is so quintessentially autumnal in keat’s way. on this friday evening trishna london had thrown open its doors so the eating space merged with the diners sitting on the sidewalk. trishna’s location in a side street in marylebone village affords it this luxury as there is no additional noise.

the decor has been kept simple and to a minimum with large scale posters whose brightness is muted in keeping with the fact that trishna is a more upscale indian restaurant. the lighting is kept at a dim softness. service is attentive. i looked through the drinks menu whilst waiting for o to arrive. unfortunately my first choice of a spiced apricot martini was unavailable that night but the recommended mumbai mule lived up to its expectations of having faithfully captured the essence of the sub-continent. to me, it was a sophisticated  alcohol and chilli spiked version of a roadside lemon soda.

now trishna london has been on my list of places to eat at for quite a while, and for two dishes in particular one of which is the haryali bream and the other the seafood biryani. hariyali is the word for green and here it denotes bream marinated in green chilli and coriander. contrasting against the vibrancy and heat of the green is a salad of baby tomatoes. trishna’s take on the kachumber is markedly different from the sub-continental version where kachumber is a salad with a very small dice. here the baby tomatoes stand in as a smaller version of the vegetable and are merely halved. but that is not to say that it did not taste good. it was the perfect balance of heat, piquancy and mellowness.  i perhaps had higher expectations about the presentation of the seafood biryani. i like biryani to be served in a flat dish so as to expose the layers of colour that are a feature of this dish. placing it in a casserole dish detracted from that display. however, in terms of flavour it was excellent. the rice had taken a deep masala tinge which is customary of biryani and was heavy with seafood. the heat and spice of it was mediated by a cucumber raita. o had on the side picked the okra which had been cut into thin rings and dry fried with some spices and coconut.

the servings are not particularly large but biryani is by no means a light main course and i was right when i said to o that we would be sated with what we had ordered. and in the manner that is fairly unusual for us, we left trishna sans dessert. it is a pity for i would have loved to try the carrot halwa. i guess there is always a next time.

i am also inclined to say that trishna is slightly on the pricey side but that it's lunch bites and early evening menus which are coupled with wine lights look very promising.  so perhaps that is something to keep in mind

Trishna on Urbanspoon

Friday, 7 October 2011

crêperie nicolas

my half of the galette 
i can say easily that some of the best food i have eaten this year has been street-food. i can also say that i have happily followed the trail of street-food and will go in search of it where necessary. a standard weekend favourite for o and i is the real food market at south bank. one of the regular traders crêperie nicolas is one that i've bookmarked for when the crepe craving arises. this last saturday london was ablaze with sunshine and heat when o and i met up with a and i at southbank. o and i were there to have brunch, a wanted a nibble and i needed something with a salty sharpness to blunt the rich sweet and delightful sicilian brioche breakfast at la gelatiera. i therefore enlisted a in sharing a galette.