Thursday, 29 December 2011

boxing day tea-time mackerel toasts

tea-time mackerel toasts
breakfast on christmas day was a wedge of white stilton with apricots on crisp toasted slices of gail's apricot and hazelnut bread accompanied by glasses of duval-leroy fluer de champagne. i love the citrus notes of this particular bubbly. we had this whilst watching nigel slater's simple christmas. my past two christmas' have featured a nigel slater recipe and this christmas is no exception. his tea-time mackerel toast recipe came handy on boxing day when o and i couldn't face eating any of our left-overs. i dialled back the richness of recipe by substituting creme fraiche for the cream. nigel recommends this as supper on christmas eve to precede the big christmas lunch. o and i had it the day after to help alleviate a twenty-four hour food coma. i was more generous with the pile of mackerel on my toasts so we got three helpings instead of four as in nigel's recipe.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

mulled wine, poicamole and christmas drinks

our little christmas tree
it was mulled wine and mince pies at thirty-two on saturday seventeenth of december, as kbt and i hosted our first ever christmas drinks. i have always loved entertaining and it's because my parents have always loved it too. mama and i used to love hosting tea and as a family we hosted lots of lunches and dinners. it was a time when our family of four would pitch in and do things together. i've also been very lucky to learn the ropes of entertaining in pakistan and abroad and yes, there is a difference. domestic help in pakistan means that you'll have helping hands for washing and cleaning-up afterwards. in places like the uk you're left to clean-up yourself which is why it's much easier to get party plates, napkins and disposable glasses. fortunately, john lewis had really nice disposable/reusable wine and champagne glasses as i don't relish the idea of drinking wine out of plastic cups. i bought some recycled napkins with a holly pattern to add a little brightness, and got kbt to bring home a long branch of winterholly with clusters of berries to use as a centre piece for the table.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

chez angelo restaurant des antiquaires

moitié-moitié fondue in a caquelon 
no one can dispute that fondue is the perfect winter food. the intensely savoury aroma of melting cheese piqued with wine and kirsch is an olfactory pleasure. gentle bubbles that erupt with the heat burst and dissipate into rings that are lovely to look at. lb has brought me to chez angelo in old town geneva to savour this swiss speciality. chez angelo specialises in fromage (cheese), bourguignonne (beef) and chinoise (hotpot) fondue. my first and only experience of eating fondue was in geneva in two thousand and eight, and i cannot say i enjoyed it much. however, i was pleased to be placed in the competent care of lb who loves food as much as i do to renew my acquaintance with fondue. 

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

christmas with a dishoom

love the stick-on christmas hats on this picture
o's birthday was gluttony personified. after our grand breakfast at hawksmoor guildhall we were due at dishoom in the evening for a christmas tweet-up. we therefore imposed a period of fasting upon ourselves for the remainder of the day, drinking copious amounts of cardamom laced jasmine tea to create space. 

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

the moolilicious rudolph

a half eaten rudolph
santa and his trusty four legged companion have delivered a truly delicious mooli for christmas. when christmas meets india and sits down at a table it brings us the flaming turkey raan complete with two vegetables at dishoom. the potatoes have had a make-over in bombay and long green beans have been jazzed up with masala. but one doesn't always have time on a weekday for a leisurely lunch, and it is quite possible that by this point most of us have exhausted our craving for the christmas sandwich lunch. so you will be pleased to know that the work day christmas lunch now has a new contender and for me it takes the number one spot on a quick even desk friendly christmas lunch. 


street-food kind of effect, the interior of east-street
east-street is the newest addition to canteen style restaurants in london. truth be told i was quite apprehensive  about trying it out as its menu is a jambalaya of east-asian cuisine. as much as i love east-asian cuisine, idon’t make it a habit to go to places that serve the breadth of the region. but sometimes curiosity gets the better of both o and i so we figured we’d give it a try.

it’s really a place that i can imagine university students frequenting. the menu is extensive and it would just on this basis manage to satisfy a crowd with diversity of tastes. since we went in the week that it opened there was an offer on which allowed us an appetiser and entree or entree and dessert each. additional such as rice, tea, drinks etc were to be paid for. o and i picked the bulgogi from the small dishes to share as a starter.

i was quite overwhelmed by the choice of noodles, rice dishes, soups and salads and after having read through the whole randomly picked the vietnamese bo luc lac (shaking beef). o had the laksa. the stir-fry’s are not accompanied by rice or noodles which have to be ordered on the side.
malaysian laksa 
the bulgogi was really good and the kimchi managed to pack quite a punch. it was actually quite a generous portion too. my bo luc lac comprised of a beef seared in a rather sweet marinade served with a rather chunky salad. the beef itself was bite-sized and tender but i was quite unhappy with the thickness of the red onion slices. in addition i think the marinade could have benefitted from balancing the sweet, soy and oyster sauce elements. the dominant note was one of sweetness. o’s laksa was sharp and peppery despite the coconut milk which usually helps tame the chili in this soup noodle dish. he was actually very content with it provided the peppery notes were downplayed a bit. i personally felt that the portion size on this was rather steeply priced at ten fifty on this.

for dessert, i wish i had listened to o and picked the thai sticky rice with coconut cream and mango. the only reason why i chose the malaysian black sticky rice over the thai one was because mangoes aren’t in season at this time of the year. o caputured our sentiment on the black sticky rice perfectly when he said it was like eating a rather unusual breakfast porridge. the sweetness of this was very mellow and further dulled by the drizzle of coconut cream. the black rice grains were broken a bit too much for my likes. the sauce that was intended to marry the rice into a pudding was quite tasteless. which was a pity because i love palm sugar and the nuttiness of coconut milk and rice.

malaysian black rice pudding
east-street is cheerful and canteen like and has a student vibe which is perhaps the main reason why i am unlikely to come back. i’ve moved on from my student years and i am not inclined to go back. having said that, if i was in the neighbourhood shopping and needed a bite, i would drop in for another plate of the bulgogi small plate...

East Street Restaurant on Urbanspoon       

Sunday, 11 December 2011

l'incontro restaurant in geneva

spaghetti vongole at l'incontro
this year lb and i have had the pleasure to dine in two cities which have been home to him at different stages of his life. in july it was sydney and in december, geneva. on the night before the closing of the thirty first international conference of the red cross and red crescent he took me to restaurant l'incontro. lb tells me that eating out in geneva isn't as exciting as in london. i can see that but then i also think it's unfair to compare the two cities as they have a very different flavour.

anna mae's chili shack

bowl o red from anna mae's chili shack
some of the eat street collective were at this weekend's chocolate festival. for me, the big attraction was anna mae's chili shack. i've been a convert since the mac n cheese i had a while back and definitely wanted to give the chili a try. today was a perfect chili con carne kind of a day as winter always calls for comfort food with bold gutsy flavours. at around half two which is when i got there, there was quite a long queue. the steam that lifted from the oversized pan of chili was meaty and cumin spiked. the shack itself is an american fest complete with the flag from uncle sam's land. you can get a bowl o red from the most patriotic of states texas, and you can choose to 'pimp it up' with jalapeno corn bread. 

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

hawksmoor guildhall

the entrance to hawksmoor guildhall
i’ve been in a permanent state of food coma since the last week of november. a three day trip to geneva was something along the lines of a nakd nut and fruit bar for lunch followed by a dinner of steak frites one night, italian the second and fondue on the third.  of course a visit to geneva is not without its share of chocolate. i bought myself lindt kirschstengeli, delicate batons of dark chocolate dusted with cocoa which hold a centre of sugar crusted kirsch. i have always loved the williamine morand liquer bar by goldkenn whose milk chocolate capsules spill thin and sharp williams pear brandy. for o i got a box of martel chocolates, a long standing favourite chocolaterie. i also managed in the two nights i was there to try rohr. this is a beautiful little chocolate shop that has been in existence since nineteen fifty produces handmade chocolates. i bought a box of ten assorted pralines, marzipan and nuts based ones. i had hoped to find time to go to the tearoom at chocolaterie du rhone but got caught up in the united nations bookshop and so missed a good hot chocolate. there will be more on geneva by the by as i really must tell you about the fondue i ate, but for now it's on to hawksmoor guildhall.