6.24.2014

TASTE OF LONDON 2014

This year again I had a great time at Taste of London. I went to so many different stands and tried a lot of food. Five days wasn't enough to try all the different 39 restaurants listed at Taste of London .

Club Gascon
Croque Gascon, crispy barbecued Foie Gras
This dish win the award of best dish from Taste of London judges. The design of the dish was great, the tuile was very delicate, it gave a touch of crunchiness and crispyness to the delicious barbecue foie gras. I had two of those during the show. 
Truffled crackling dug egg
Again a combination of mixture for the second dish I had from Club Gascon, Truffled crackling duck egg, the egg was well cooked as yolk was runny inside, and match well with the crispy vermicelli and truffle. 

 Ballotine of Foie Gras, confit duck and chicken
I wasn't a big fan of the ballotine of foie gras dish. I didn't like the texture. My friend love it so I guess it is just a question of taste. 
Braised beef cheeks Bourguignon
Everything in this dish was perfect, the cooking of the beef cheeks, the gravy and the mash was very creamy. 

 Morini meatballs, proscuitto and mortadella, baked in tomato sauce.
Those meatballs were fantastic, well seasoned, it goes very well with the tomato sauce and parmesan on top. Taste better than beef meatballs, I am sure they would have been excellent with a spaghetti dish. 
Pulled pork sausage roll with tomato chilli relish
This sausage roll was excellent, texture was heavenly. The tomato chilli sauce wasn't necessary, it was good on its own or I think it would have been great with a gravy sauce. 

Baked beetroot with balsamic, grated Belper knolle and hazelnuts 
This dish is probably the only dish I found a bit boring and without interest. It was just beetroot. Belper knolle hasn't got any taste. It would have been more tasty with goat's cheese.
Shoulder of Berkshire Lamb with red pepper ketchup, aubergine and dried olives
The texture of this dish was interesting, lamb has been slow cooked and was a bit like pulled lamb inside. I really liked this dish, aubergine purée gave another dimension to the dish and the special red pepper ketchup a bit of spiciness. 

 Salt Yard
Courgette flower with goat's cheese
I never had a courgette flower before, I really liked it, even if I think they could have put a bit more goat's cheese and a bit less honey. The dish was too sweet.
 Ibérico Pork ribs with quince glazed and caramelised cauliflower purée
Those ribs were the kind of ribs you have to lick your fingers after to try to get a bit more. Cauliflower purée was good too. Great dish.
Ibérico pork and foie gras burger with manchego cheese
I heard a lot about how good is Ibérico and foie gras burger from Salt Yard, I was very disappointed when I ate it at Taste as I didn't taste any foie gras in it... I will probably have to go to their restaurant to have a better version with foie gras. 
Chocolate and walnut cake, with salted PX caramel, vanilla, yoghurt cream
This cake was delicious, crunchy on top and soft at the same time, it goes very well with the salted caramel sauce, I didn't like the taste of this vanilla yoghurt.

Le Gavroche
Puy lentils and smoked chicken ballotine with sweet and spicy pepper mayonnaise
This dish was ok, nothing special. I think I am just not a fan of ballotine dishes. 
Pork cheek and belly braised in Balvenie whisky sauce with soft polenta
Pork cheek and belly was cooked perfectly, the Balvenie whisky sauce add a plus to the dish. I was a bit disappointed with the texture of the polenta. I had such a great experience recently at The Palomar with their polenta dish which was light and creamy at the same time, I thought Le Gavroche will have the same quality but it wasn't as good. 

Duck and Waffle
Smoked chilli braised ox cheek served with cheesy polenta and fried pickles
I watched Daniel Doherty cooking this dish on Sunday Brunch the weekend before Taste of London, smoked chilli braised ox cheek was well cooked, the sauce was rich and tasty. Regarding the polenta, like the dish of Le Gavroche mentioned above, I was again disappointed by the texture of the polenta. The fried pickles was cold and soggy. The whole dish could have been better with a lighter polenta and hot & crispy fried pickles on top. 

Scallop shui mai, wild mushroom dumpling and venison puff
I am a big fan of dumplings, dim sum and shiu mai so this stand sounds like a paradise to me. All of them were delicious, tasty, cooked perfectly. I was a bit worry they will be cold at the time they served it as this kind of dishes can cool down very quickly, but they were served hot. My favourite one was the scallop shiu mai. 

Bahn-mi : French Vietnamese baguette confit duck, foie gras pâté, pickles & coconut chilli sauce
The combination of Vietnamese and French ingredients was interesting and good. I really liked this dish. Confit duck was perfumed with Vietnamese sauce, the foie gras pâté under it was great and add something to the dish without overpowered the dish with a rich taste. 

Lil' Shack burger - 100% Aberdeen Angus Beef cheeseburger topped with lettuce, tomato and shacksauce

I don't think Shake Shack are the best burger in London but I thought this one was better than the one I had in their flagship in Covent Garden. The beef was not too cooked this time so it tasted better. I would have been 100% happy if they were more generous on the shacksauce. 

CHEESEBURGER SLIDER - Beef patty, cheese, minced white onions, pickles, ketchup, mustard
The burger was good but it wasn't as exceptional as normally. The bun was a bit dry.

Sezchwan salt and pepper squid
Not the best fried squid I had in my life but they were ok, not soggy but they were a bit dry.
Strawberry ice cream and waffle cone
My highlights this year at Taste of London was Maze restaurant ice-cream, I dreamt of a strawberry 'glace a l'italienne' since the sunny weather in London. I am used to eat at least 20 of them during summer when I was younger. This one was a wonderful ice crean, I like the surprise strawberry coulis which was inside the cone, it add a great plus to the boring usual taste of a classic waffle cone.

Cape Sante in padella - Pan fried scallops served in the shell with pancetta, red chilli, parsley, capers, lentils di Castelluccio and chopped rocket
 Excellent dish, I have never tried Theo Randall dishes before. Scallops were perfectly cooked, they went well with the salad of lentils. Presentation was nice too.

Sake No Hana
Aburi Salmon Avocado Maki with Homemade Lemon Wasabi Sauce
 Globally it was a nice presentation, but there was a lack in the composition of the aburi, they were falling apart, and some of them didn't have a lot of avocado in it.

Tamarind of Mayfair
Murgh Makhni - Chicken Tikka, Smoked Tomato Sauce, Dried Fenugreek Leaves; Cumin Pulao
I wasn't sure about this dish as a chicken tikka can be sometimes classic and taste the same as a waitrose, tesco microwave version and can be a boring dish, but this one had a lot of flavor and a good punch of spiciness.
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6.08.2014

PERSIANA SUPPERCLUB / BOOK RECIPES

It is without doubt the best news of the year: burgers & pulled pork are finally a bit old fashioned. The new trend is spiced, healthy & rich dishes from The Middle East. 
Following the buzz of Sabrina Ghayour's new book Persiana on Amazon, in the last few month many restaurants opened and started serving dishes from The Middle East, Persia and other Levant countries: my favourite The Palomar (see my review here), Dindin Kitchen and others that are opening soon.
I really like this kind of cuisine, it is a lot of fresh vegetables and meat, all cooked with a lot of different spices and herbs. It is very easy to reproduce at home (see below some of the recipe from Persiana I made). 

A few weeks ago, I went to one of the supperclub nights Sabrina Ghayour organises in her flat, when I booked, she sent some menu samples to get an idea of what we are going to have for dinner. 
When I saw the menu I thought we will have to select one starter, one main and dessert, I wasn't expecting what happened on that night...all dishes came to the table and we were offered to select what ever we wanted. All dishes were nicely presented, it was an absolute pleasure for the eyes and for our stomachs too. 
Maast-o-Khiar : yoghurt and cucumber with dried mint, Iranian golden raisins and rose petals
Mirza Ghasemi : lightly smoked aubergine with tomatoes , garlic & eggs.
Naan-o-paneer : marinated feta cheese in lemon zest, shallots and herbs served with Lavaash bread and Lamb, herb and sour cherry meatballs : spiced lamb meatballs in a homemade San Marzano tomato sauce with flat bread, Mirza Ghasemi and Maast-o-Khiar .
Blush orange, raddicchio and pomegranate saladwith fresh dill, sumac and pomegranate vinaigrette
Persian rice
Spice perfumed shoulder of lamb: infused rose petals and Sabrina Ghayour's secret Persian spice blend

Roasted butternut squash: with pistachio pesto, crumbled feta and pomegranate seeds
Mahi Shekampor: whole roasted rainbow trout stuffed with a spicy citrus-spiked herb and pine nut stuffing
Persian feast 

I had never been to a supperclub before, it was a nice experience, the night was wonderful, Sabrina Ghayour is a fabulous host, a little bit disappointed she didn't spend the night at the table with all of the guests, but well I suppose if she did we wouldn't have eaten anything! 
At the end of the meal, I like the fact she asked who wanted their dessert to take away, this option might sound a little bit like she wanted to kick everyone out, but you will understand if you ate this feast, this option was a lovely offer... half of us took away the dessert as we couldn't eat more. To help diggesting she offered a mint tea. 
Spiced carrot, pistachio and almonds cake
I really recommend Persiana supperclub, a massive feast and funny and friendly dinner with perfect strangers, if you want to get more information sign up to her newsletter on her website, she recently published more supperclub dates. 

10/10

Following our dinner,the next couple of days I tried to cook some of her recipes from Persiana book. So far I have done four of them, however it was hard to select only four as they all look good. 
The first recipe I cooked was the baked eggs with feta, harissa, tomato sauce & coriander. She recommends this recipe for breakfast, but I couldn't wait so I cooked it for dinner. It was a great alternative to the classic eggs soldiers with mushrooms.
Probably the hardest recipe I've tried to recreate so far from the book was Turkish feta pastry cigars, I wasn't very happy with the result. Maybe I put too much feta inside the pastry... Next time will be better I think. 
One of my favourite dish at the Persiana supperclub was Mirza Ghasemi, I was very happy when I discovered the recipe was inside the book. It was very easy to do. I cooked the aubergine on the gas as recommended, it added a little smokiness to the aubergine. I never thought before of cooking something straight on the gas like that. May be the beginning of new experiments on gas...
The most successful dish of my dinner was her recipe of Persian saffron chicken, fennel & barberry sauce. This recipe is all about slow cooking, it is a mix of a lot of spices and aromas. Cooking this recipe was a pleasure, the kitchen smelt delicious. The dish was great on its own, but I am sure it would have been very nice served with a classic couscous on the side. It is a recipe I look forward to making again. 
The second best dish of my dinner was chargrilled aubergine with saffron yoghurt, parsley and pickled chillies. Easy and tasty recipe. I love saffron and it gave a bit of freshness on top of the aubergine.  




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