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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1.10.2016

LE VINTAGE AMERICAN BISTROT

Like every year, I spent the festive season in my hometown Toulouse, in France. As usual, it was only a short visit which didn't give me enough time to do all the things I wanted to do. In the last few months a lot of new places have opened in Toulouse, it's becoming a more and more amazing place if you are a foodie.

Recently an old friend Julien Monterdez with his partner Sophie Monné and his half brother Florian Segarra opened Le Vintage American Bistro on Rue Labeda. They serve American cuisine with some French classic dishes. All their dishes are made from scratch with fresh local ingredients. 

The restaurant was nicely decorated in a chic bistrot style with wooden tables and red banquet. 
There was also a beautiful wall with the traditional Toulousaine's brique which featured some old posters.

My sister and I shared the mozzarella sticks and the chicken nuggets. 
The mozzarella sticks were good, the cheese was properly melted and stringy. Unfortunately some were missing the cheese. The chicken nuggets were excellent, they were perfectly cooked with a crispy batter and the chicken was still moist and tender. 

Both of us ordered the bacon cheeseburger for mains. It came with homemade French fries and homemade ketchup. The beef was cooked as we requested and it was a great quality beef. The bun was very good but I usually prefer when they are a bit more light and airy. 
There was a lot of bacon and cheddar in this burger which was a good thing. Overall it was a great burger. 

For dessert, my sister and I shared a homemade banoffee tart. It was a delicious dessert, the bottom had a well balanced texture, it was moist and crispy, the cream on the top felt very light in the mouth. 

I really enjoyed my lunch at Le Vintage American Bistrot, their chicken nuggets were for sure the highlight of my lunch. I look forward to going back to discover their new brunch menu which I'm pretty sure will be a great addition to the Toulouse foodie scene.  

8/10
///////////////////////////////////////

Comme chaque année, j'ai passé les fêtes de fin d'année dans ma ville natale: Toulouse. Comme d'habitude j'y étais que pour une courte durée, je n'ai donc pas eut le temps de faire tout ce que je voulais et de découvrir tous les nouveaux restaurants qui ont récemment ouvert. 
Toulouse devient une super ville si vous êtes une foodie, il y a de nouveaux restaurants qui ouvrent quasiment chaque mois.

Récemment un vieil ami Julien Monterdez, sa compagne Sophie Monné et son demi frère Florian Segarra ont ouvert le Vintage American bistrot. Ils servent de la cuisine américaine et également des plats français. Tous les plats sont faits maison avec des produits frais locaux. 

Le restaurant est joliment décoré, c'est une sorte de bistrot chic avec des tables an bois et une banquette rouge. Il y a des vieux posters exposés sur un magnifique mur de briques Toulousaines.

Ma soeur et moi avons partagé deux entrées pour débuter notre déjeuner, nous avons commandé les sticks de mozzarella et des nuggets de poulet.
Les sticks de mozzarella était bon, le fromage était bien fondu et filant. Malheureusement certains sticks n'avaient pas de fromage à l'intérieur.
Les nuggets de poulet étaient succulents, ils étaient bien croustillant et le poulet était bien tendre et juteux. 

En plat principal, nous avons opté pour le cheeseburger au bacon, ils étaient accompagnés de frites et de ketchup faits maison.
Le boeuf était cuit comme nous l'avions demandé, c'était de la viande de bonne qualité.
Le pain était bon mais je préfère quand le pain est un peu plus léger et moelleux. Ma soeur était du même avis, nous n'avons pas réussi a le finir. 
Il y avait beaucoup de bacon et de fromage dans ce hamburger ce qui était une bonne chose. Dans l'ensemble c'était un très bon hamburger.

En dessert, nous avons partagé une part de banoffee. Ce gateau était délicieux, le dessous était a la fois moelleux et croustillant, la crème sur le dessus était très bonne et légère en bouche. 

J'ai adoré mon déjeuner au Vintage American bistrot, les nuggets de poulet ont été mon plat préféré. 
Il me tarde de retourner au Vintage pour tester leur nouveau menu dominical qui proposera un brunch à base de plats avec des pancakes, des oeufs et de bacon.

8/10
Mozzarella sticks
Chicken nuggets
Bacon cheeseburger: cheddar, beef steak 180r, homemade ketchup, bacon, red onion, tomato & salad served with homemade French fries
Homemade banoffee
Le Vintage American Bistrot
4 rue Labeda
31000 Toulouse
05 61 12 21 18

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12.01.2015

BRASSERIE GUSTAVE

November has been a very busy month for me, first because I started a new role and secondly because I had friends and family visiting every weekend. To celebrate my new role, my boyfriend and I went to Brasserie Gustave.

We arrived there a bit earlier than we should. The atmosphere was a bit quiet at the beginning, but it became better after few minutes. I was surprised by the number of walks-ins this evening which filled up the entire dining room in a couple of minutes. 
The decoration was more like a 'posh' brasserie with traditional red banquettes, old French advert posters on the wall and in the background a nice playlist of some old French classics such as Edith Piaf and Gainsbourg. 

We started our meal with a glass of Champagne.
Then we had a starter each, my boyfriend had the duck foie gras terrine. It was served with fig and port chutney. The piece of terrine was big and very good. I opted for the carpaccio of venison with black truffle dressing. This dish was superb, it was flavourful and light. I liked the hint of truffles with the venison. 
Our starters were served with a glass of Muscat and a glass of dry and aromatic Pinot blanc from Alsace.

As a main I had a fillet of beef served with pan fried foie gras, spinach,  truffle and Madeira jus. My beef was cooked as I requested and it was lovely, the foie gras were perfectly cooked too. The dish came with a crostini underneath the meat, it didn't add any flavour to the dish apart from an oily taste. It was not properly cooked and tasted awful so I left it on the side. I think the dish would have been perfect without it, which I mentioned to our waiter at the end of the meal. 
My boyfriend stayed very classic and had a beef entrecôte. Again the quality of the meat was perfect and cooked as requested.
We had our main with a side of French fries and a glass of Pinot Noir from Burgundy. 

For dessert, we both had a vanilla crème brûlée. It was alright but not the best we had. The custard was a bit heavy which made it difficult to finish. At the beginning I thought it was a bit weird to have fruits on it, but in the end I quite enjoyed the freshness and lightness the fruits gave to this heavy crème.

Overall my boyfriend and I had a beautiful evening, service was faultless. We thought Brasserie Gustave was great and is probably a great addition for local residents but we probably wouldn't travel a distance to go there again.

7/10

I was invited to review Brasserie Gustave


Duck foie gras terrine, fig and port chutney
Thinly sliced raw fillet of venison, black truffle dressing
Fillet of beef pan fried with foie gras, spinach, truffle and Madeira jus
Beef entrecote
Vanilla crème brûlée
Brasserie Gustave
4 Sydney Street
London SW3 6PP
Twitter: @BrasserGustave
Brasserie Gustave Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Square Meal
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11.09.2015

FRENCH GOAT'S CHEESE

If some people are already getting excited about Christmas because they're going to get a lovely box of Ferrero Rocher or milk Pyrenees chocolate, for me it's a different story. Each Christmas, my dad gives me a box of 12 Rocamadour. For those that don't know - Rocamadour is a soft and creamy goat's cheese. It has a strong taste and a melt-in-the-mouth texture. It is by far my favourite cheese.

Recently I was contacted by the French Goat's Cheese team to participate in their challenge. I received a hamper which included three different goat's cheese : a Valençay, a crottin de Chavignol and a Mini log. It was a sort of early Christmas present for me!
The challenge consisted of creating my very own recipe based on goat's cheese. I decided to use the crottin de Chavignol with butternut squash, rosemary and goat's cheese ravioli, and the Valençay cheese with my Oval farmers' burger (see recipes below). Unfortunately the temptation to eat goat's cheese was too strong, so the mini log was used on different occasion as a little snack with a piece of bread, grapes and figs.

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.

Butternut squash, thyme & goat's cheese ravioli

Ingredients for 4 portions:
- 200g of tipo '00' flour
- 2 eggs
- pinch of salt
- 1 butternut squash
- 2 crottin de Chavignol
- fresh rosemary


Preheat your oven to 180ºC. Cut your butternut squash in half and roast until flesh is very tender.
While your butternut squash is cooking. You can crumble your goat's cheese in a bowl and then prepare your pasta dough.
For the pasta dough, place the flour and the pinch of salt in a bowl and crack in the eggs on top, then gradually work the flour into eggs using your fingers. Knead the pasta dough, cover the dough and let it rest.
While the dough is resting, take out the butternut squash from the oven. When it is cool enough, scoop out flesh into the goat's cheese bowl and mix it together. You can add some rosemary to the mixture.
When the filling is ready you can start to roll the dough using your pasta machine. Then fill your pasta, shape and cut them. Cooking time is approximately 3-5 minutes.
I added some pancetta, the rest of butternut squash and rosemary for the dressing.

My Oval farmers' burger 

Ingredients for one burger:
- Grove Farm's minced beef
- one bun from Aston's Bakehouse
- half of an organic red onion from Brockmans farm
- Valençay goat's cheese (from my gift hamper- available at La Fromagerie)
- 1 tablespoon of mustard

Chop half a red onion. Preheat oil in your pan over medium heat and add the onions. Cook, stirring frequently until onions are a golden brown colour (this should take 15-20 minutes). To avoid the onions burning I usually add a little bit of water to the pan. Add a pinch of sugar while it's cooking. Once onions are caramelized, remove from heat and set aside.
Using the minced beef, create a beef patty and cook it.
When your beef is nearly ready, place slice of goat's cheese on top of your patty and warm up the caramelised onion on top.
Cut your bun in half and slightly toast it while your meat is cooking. Then spread both side with a bit of mustard.
Place your patty between your bun and your burger is now ready. I had my burger with some fresh spinach.

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