5.03.2016

THE QUALITY CHOP HOUSE

Recently I went to dine at the Grade-II listed dining room of The Quality Chop house in Clerkenwell. I am a huge fan of their shop next door which sells top quality food, especially the meat. I never had the chance to go for dinner at The Quality Chop House before as it was always packed every time I walked past.

To not miss the chance this time I decided to book a table, as we were 5 people we got one of the booth tables. I really liked the decoration of the whole room with black and white tiles on the floor, wood furniture, old long narrow tables and bench which makes the atmosphere quite cosy. They also had some small and discreet details of decoration such as mirrors & flowers. 

While I decided to kick off this dinner with a fresh Scottish langoustine, two of my friends had some pork & pistachio terrine served with some Pommery mustard and two lucky people managed to get the two last plates available of morcilla. 
All starters were great. I liked the freshness of the langoustines and the mayonnaise was perfect. The terrine tasted light and the mustard gave a kick of heat. The morcilla was tasty and earthy  and went very well with the duck egg.

For mains, two of us had their traditional Galloway mince, the dish was rich and very juicy. The mince came with some bread and watercress and was delicious as it sopped-up all the great flavour from the dish.
The rest of us ordered the duck dish. It was the best piece of duck breast I ever had in terms of quality, cooking and taste.This breast was ridiculously perfectly cooked: pink and juicy. It was served with salsify, morels and Madeira.

To compliment our mains we had some confit potatoes as I heard so much about it that I demanded that my friends order it. It was for sure the second highlight of my meal just after the duck. Their confit potatoes are one of their signature dishes and if you try them you will surely know why it's a 'must try' dish.
The wine list at The Quality Chop House added an extra level to our meal thanks to the great selection they have. 

Overall, my friends and I had a great evening at The Quality Chop House. This restaurant is my idea of the ideal place to spend an evening with friends (or maybe a romantic dinner on a different occasion). I loved the fact there is nothing extravagant in this place, the decoration is old and traditional, the service was faultless and our waitress was very friendly and not intrusive.  
I will definitely come back to The Quality Chop House, I hope they will have some of this delicious duck again next time. 

10/10
Scottish langoustine, mayonnaise
Pork & pistachio terrine, Pommery mustard
Morcilla, duck egg, brown butter
Duck, salsify, morels, Madeira
 Galloway mince, dripping toast, watercress
Confit potatoes

The Quality Chop House 
88-94 Farringdon road
London EC1R 3EA 
Twitter: @Qualitychop
The Quality Chop House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Square Meal
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4.24.2016

THE BEST AND THE WORST RESTAURANTS IN LISBON

The last two months I've spent most of my weekends away from London and hence the same time away from my blog and my laptop! I spent some time in my hometown in France: Toulouse, a weekend in Paris with my friends to celebrate my birthday around a Provencale dinner at Chez Janou and some days in Lisbon and Sintra in Portugal.
My boyfriend and I spent four days in Portugal walking around everywhere, trying out some great places but also one of the worst places ever.... 

On our first day we walked around Alfama, Baixa and Barrio Alto. Lisbon is such a beautiful city, I fell in love with the architecture of this town with all the azulejos (painted tin-glazed ceramic tile work).
We ended our day with a dinner in the area we were staying : Alfama. We walked past a cute little restaurant which seemed to be a traditional Portuguese places: Taberna A Baiuca.
We were seated on a very narrow table just right next to some other people despite the fact there was three empty tables around, my boyfriend and I thought this was a bit weird and impersonal. Without ordering anything we were offered some chorizo, olives, beans salad and some sheep's milk cheese. The waitress dropped everything on our table without saying any words, we didn't have time to stop her to order some drinks.

Once we managed to catch her attention we discovered this was not on the house and each little plate was price 9 euros. we only had the olives and the very fatty tasteless chorizo. She tried to sell us a bottle of Porto while she was starting to open it without our agreement at the same time. We managed after 15 minutes to negotiate with our waitress what we really wanted and not what she wanted to gave us and we placed our order. I was very annoyed by the attitude of this waitress, which happened to be the owner of the restaurant at the same time.
And then the nightmare started...we were in a traditional Portuguese place which had Fado music, from the moment we ordered our mains  (19 euros each) and finally had the mains in front of us we listened to one hour of horrible Fado music where we were not allowed to speak or stand up. I am usually the first person to enjoy discovering new culture and traditional things but these singers were just terrible and we were starving.

The food arrived and looked horrendous. I know we should not judge a book by its cover but in this case...the food tasted terrible too. I had the octopus dish and my boyfriend had the bacalhau. My dish was cold and served with uncooked fries. I am sure the octopus was not even fresh as after few bites I started feeling awful and sick. My neighbour on the next table, who didn't have their food still after an hour wait like us where not feeling confident about the food... they could tell by the look on my face!
As it was a mission to catch the attention of the waitress, my boyfriend stood up in the middle of the fado to pay at the counter. At this step he discovered there was a minimum charge to pay per person 25 euros. As they noticed I felt sick I think we were very lucky to only pay 51 euros for the two awful plates of food we didn't even touch, two beers each and a plate of olives.
This place is without any doubt the worst place I have even been: horrible music, pushy and annoying waitress, long waiting time, poor quality, overpriced and awful food. On the other side, this place is the best in one category - the best tourist trap ever.

0/10 - I was very tempted to rate this place with a negative figure.
A Baiuca
Rua de São Miguel, 20, Alfama
1100-544 Lisboa, Portugal
A Baiuca Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

We started one of our days in Bélem at the most famous and old pasteleria: Pastéis de BelémThe baking of the Pastéis de Belém started in 1837 in the buildings attached to the sugar cane refinery next to the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos. Passed on and known exclusively to the master confectioners who hand-crafted the pastries in a secret room, the recipe of the past remained unchanged to the present day. 
It was so delicious to start the day with this exquisite sweet, slightly warm tart. The best advice I can give you if to enter by the door on the left side and find a place to sit within the seating area (300 seats available) behind the counter. Once you are seated, you can order take away pastéis too and you avoid the queue.
Pastéis de Belém
Rua de Belém 84 a 92
1300 - 085 Liboa, Portugal

After our delicious breakfast we walked around Belém and came back to Lisbon to have lunch. We went to the famous Mercado di Riberia. Since 2014, Time Out has turned this historical market into a foodie court with 35 kiosks of the city's favourite chefs and restaurants. 
We tried one of the country's most high-profile chefs stand: Henrique Sá Pessoa. Everything on the menu was very tempting, but I heard Henrique Sá Pessoa was the best place to get some pork dishes, so we ordered the crispy skin suckling pig sandwich with homemade pickles and the 24h confit suckling pig with sweet potato purée. We were not disappointed by any of our dishes. The pig was cooked perfectly. I really enjoyed the 24h confit, which was very moist and the crackling thin and crispy. The sweet potato purée was nice and smooth with a hint of orange which gave a bit of acidity to the dish. 
The only thing I didn't like about this market was the lack of space to sit down at rush hour. People were taking their seat before ordering their food, which was a issue when you had your food and couldn't find a seat to eat it.  
7/10
Crispy skin suckling pig sandwich with homemade pickle
24h confit suckling pig with sweet potato purée

Time out Mercado da Ribeira - Henrique Sa Pessoa
Avenida 24 de Julho, Cais de Sodré, Lisboa


One of the best meals we had in Lisbon was at Cervejaria Ramiro. Opened since 1956, this place is a seafood institution. We were recommended to go early if we wanted to avoid the queue. We went there at 7pm and we queued for 30 minutes, but the wait was totally worth it. 
We started our meal with toasted bread dripping in garlic butter given by our waiters and we ordered some pata negra, Manchebo cheese and shrimps in garlic sauce to start our meal. The pata negra ham was delicious but this was nothing compared to the shrimps in the garlic sauce. We requested more pieces of bread to dip in this amazing garlic sauce. 
As a main I had some giant tiger prawns and prawns. Again all dishes were fantastic, the prawns were cooked directly from the tank, the quality of their product was so good I could have eaten prawns all night! With our meal we had a bottle of Alvarinho Solar de Serrade which went perfectly with our food. 
This is definitely a place I will go back in Lisbon as I am a fan of seafood but I am always scared of ordering some in London as you can never guarantee the freshness of the products. 
When we left the restaurant there was a massive queue (probably 2 hour wait), so don't be scared to have an early-bird dinner for once if it means you will avoid to queue. 

10/10
 Pata negra
Manchego cheese
 Shrimps in garlic sauce
Giant tigers prawns with butter sauce
Prawns 

Cervejaria Ramiro
Avenida Almirante Reis, 
1H, Mouraria, Lisboa

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2.20.2016

DUCK ME

During a little escape to my hometown: Toulouse in France, I decided to try the local duck version of McDonald’s: Duck Me. Since their opening in 2014, Duck Me has now three different branches around Toulouse. 

Their menu offers a selection of 5 sandwiches based around duck meat (the Ducker, the Double duck, Duck sticks, Faladuck, Taco duck andHhot duck) and one salad (the Saladuck). They use for their recipe fresh and locally produced duck and bread.

I heard a lot of good things about them and their Ducker burger with slightly pink & juicy duck steak and its special sauce. I had been looking forward to trying it for a long time.

Yesterday I went to their first branch on rue de la Pomme for lunch with my boyfriend. 
We ordered the Ducker (6.50€): a burger made with a duck steak, melted cheese, salad, tomato, onions and their special sauce and the Faladuck (6€): a pita bread with duck breaded meatballs, coleslaw and hummus. We took both sandwiches in a meal so they came with homemade fries cooked in duck fat and a drink (+3,50€).

The homemade fries were very good, however we were both disappointed by our sandwiches. Let’s start with the Ducker, the duck steak was very dry and overcooked and it didn’t taste of duck at all. The melted cheese was actually a tiny slice of cold cheese. I couldn’t see any onions or taste any special sauce in my burger. 
All in all The Ducker was a very disappointing tasteless dry burger, such a shame considering there are using local & fresh product. In my mind I couldn’t stop thinking that the French expat behind The Frenchie in London are doing such a better & tastier duck burger than Duck Me! 


The Faladuck, was a bit less disappointing even if you couldn’t really taste the duck again. The 4 tiny little meatballs were lost in a big amount of coleslaw and I didn’t taste any hummus in the pita bread either.


Overall I feel I have been ducked over at Duck Me.


2/10



/////////////////////////////////////////

Lors de mon séjour à Toulouse, j’ai décidé de tester le fast-food local 100% canard: Duck Me. Depuis leur ouverture en 2014, ils ont ouvert deux restaurants supplémentaires dans la région toulousaine. 


Leur menu offre une sélection de 5 sandwiches autour du canard (le Ducker, le Double duck, les Duck sticks, le Faladuck, le Taco duck et le Hot duck) et une salade (la Saladuck). Pour leur recette, ils utilisent des produits frais régionaux.
J’avais tellement entendu parler de leur Ducker préparé avec son steak de canard rosé et une superbe sauce, qu’il me tardait d’aller chez Duck Me pour le tester. 

Hier je suis allée dans le premier restaurant qu’ils ont ouvert à Toulouse, rue de la Pomme avec mon copain. 

Nous avons commandé le Ducker (6.50€): steak de canard, fromage fondu, salade, tomate, oignon rouge et une sauce maison, et le Faladuck (6€): un pain pita avec des boulettes de canard panées, émincé de choux rouge, choux blancs et carottes, du houmous et de la crème ciboulette. Nous avons pris nos deux sandwiches avec la formule qui inclus des frites cuites dans la graisse de canard et une boisson (+3,50€).

Les frites maisons étaient très bonnes, malheureusement nous avons été tous les deux très déçus par nos sandwiches. Dans notre Ducker, le steak de canard était beaucoup trop cuit et sec, et on ne sentait pas du tout le gout du canard. Le soit disant fromage fondu étant une petite tranche de fromage froide. Je n’ai ni vu, ni senti la sauce maison non plus. Le Ducker au final était un hamburger sec insipide très décevant, un gaspillage de produits locaux mal cuisinés, Outre-Manche les expatriés français de Londres de l’équipe du The Frenchie font un bien meilleur hamburger de canard!


Le Faladuck a été un peu moins décevant meme si encore on ne sentait pas vraiment le gout du canard. Les 4 petites boulettes sèches de viande étaient totalement perdues dans une grande quantité de salade de chou sans houmous. 

Duck Me, c’est pas pour moi! 


2/10


 Faladuck 
 Ducker
Duck Me
10 Rue de la Pomme
31000 Toulouse

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2.10.2016

IN LOVE WITH FRENCH GOAT'S CHEESE

Recently I was contacted by the French Goat's Cheese team to participate in their new challenge.
As Valentine's day is around the corner, I was asked to come up with recipes which can be made as a Valentine's day meal, or dishes which show my love for French goat's cheese.
This challenge was not complicated for me as I'm already in love with this ingredient.

Valentine's day for me is not about a fine dining meal with expensive ingredients such as foie gras, truffles or oysters...(for this we have Christmas), Valentine's day for me is more about who you share your meal with, and the story behind the dish you share with your loved one.

I've come up for this challenge with two recipes: goat's cheese croquettas as my boyfriend and I spent a lot of times in Spain each year and I wanted to add a twist of goat's cheese to my favourite classic Spanish dish. The second recipe is goat's cheese tostadas, as I love to start my weekend with a toast with goat's cheese in the morning.

Here's the list of shops where I usually go to buy my goat's cheese: Une Normande a Londres (Borough Market), La Fromagerie (Marylebone), Androuet (Spitafields),  Whole Food market (Piccadilly or Kensington) and Waitrose.

Goat's cheese croquettas

Ingredients for 10 croquettas:
- 150g Serrano ham
- 150g crumbly goat's cheese
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 45g of unsalted butter
- 40g plain flour
- 350ml full fat milk
- pinch of nutmeg
- pinch of pepper
- 1 beaten egg
- 100g breadcrumbs
- 1L oil for deep-frying

In a large saucepan, heat the oil and 45g of unsalted butter. Add the ham and the goat's cheese.
Stir in 40g of plain flour and continue to cook over a low eat for 10 minutes.
In another sauce pan, add 350ml of full fat milk and gently warm it to just below a simmer.
When the milk is warm, add it gradually to the ham, flour and goat's cheese mixture, stirring all the time to obtain a smooth béchamel. Continue to cook at low heat for an extra 10 minutes. Add the pinch of nutmeg and pepper.
Once ready, remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool down in a bowl. Cover the bowl with cling film, pressing it down on to the top of the béchamel.
Put the preparation in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
Few hours later, prepare two little plates: one with the beaten egg and the other one with the breadcrumbs.
Using your hands, form a ball of the size your want with the béchamel. Dip this ball into the beaten egg and then roll it into the breadcrumbs to coat every side. Leave your breaded croquettas to rest on a plate.
Heat the oil for deep-frying, I don't have a deep-fryer so I poured the oil into a deep sauce pan.
Fry all your croquettas for about 3-4 minutes (it really depend on their sizes) until they are golden brown. Remove your croquettas from the oil and drain them on a kitchen paper.
They are ready to serve.

I served mine with a mix of salad & rocket and a little bit of truffle honey on top.

Goat's cheese tostadas

Ingredients for 2 toasts:
- 100g goat's cheese curd
- 5 chopped cherry tomatoes
- pinch of salt
- pinch of herb de Provence
- 2 pieces of bread

Toast your two pieces of bread for 3 minutes, while they are still warm, spread 100g of goat's cheese on top and add the chopped cherry tomatoes.
Add seasonings and some herb of Provence. Your tostadas are ready to be served.
I usually have my tostadas for brunch. For an indulgent treat you can replace the cherry tomatoes by some truffle honey or some caramelised onions.

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1.24.2016

HOPPERS

Recently I went to the new bloggers & critics acclaimed restaurant: Hoppers. Hoppers is a Sri Lankan restaurant owned by Karam, Jyotin and Sunna Sethi, the team behind Trishna and Gymkhana, and based on Frith street. When I heard it was related to Gymkhana, I must say that turned me off a little bit as I had an awful experience there due to bad service.

I've tried to go to Hoppers before Christmas but I did not really want to wait and have lunch at 4pm. This was before they introduced their app queuing system. I went to Hoppers last weekend and heard a lot of good things about their app queuing system, unfortunately (or kind of) I didn't get the chance to experiment with it as I managed to get a table straight away.

My sister and I were not familiar at all with Sri Lankan cuisine and dishes. As soon as we were seated, a very nice waiter explained to us the concept and the menu. He recommended that we order a dosa or a hopper which is a bowl-shaped thin pancake made with fermented rice and coconut milk batter, with a karis (equivalent of a curry).
We asked for the mildest curry, and were recommend the red pumpkin kari and the lamb kari.

We started our meal with two starters which are called 'short eats', we had the mutton rolls and the duck roti.
The mutton rolls were nicely crispy on the outside and had mild spiced rich mutton inside, and were served alongside a spicy tomato relish. The duck roti was a minced and spiced duck meat roti pastry and it was served with a nutty spicy sauce. Both starters were delicious, however we had a preference for the mutton rolls but we ate them with the duck roti sauce.

My sister and I like spicy food but only when it is not too hot. We made the mistake of drinking all our water with our starters and our mouths started to burn soon after!
A nice waiter seeing our distress, asked us if we wanted some yoghurt to calm the heat. We accepted without hesitation and ordered a second bowl to compliment our mains too.
It was really nice to have such attentive waiters.

For mains, we had one hopper each with a soft-yolked egg baked into it, with all the sauces: Poi Samboi, Seeni Samboi and a coriander chutney. We shared the lamb kari and the red pumpkin kari.
The lamb kari was very tender and melt in the mouth, but it was indeed spicy. The pumpkin was probably the most mildest dish of our meal. It went very well with the lamb.

We didn't have any dessert as we were too full, but during my next visit I might try one.

Overall, despite our mouths being on fire for the whole lunch, we had a very good experience at Hoppers.
The team was really nice and attentive, the food was superb, spicy and full of flavours. I will definitely come back to Hoppers if I don't have to queue for hours.
In my opinion, the only improvement this restaurant could do in the future will be to offer each dish with different level of spices so everyone can have more options.

9/10
 Mutton roll 
Duck roti, Rasa
 Egg hopper 
 Egg hopper with red pumpkin kari
 Egg hopper with lamb & red pumpkin kari
Hoppers
49 Frith street
London W1D 4SG


Hoppers Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Square Meal
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