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
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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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1.02.2016

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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