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Posts Tagged ‘steak’

I have been trying to find the right subject for my first post of 2013. There have been various successes and failures in the kitchen, the successes being fairly unremarkable dishes until recently. Two things happened the other week, the first was I went to a local farmer’s market as my favourite pie man was there. I popped along to the very small event, probably only about a dozen stalls but it was good as it wasn’t table after table of home made jam. Each stall was different and after getting my hands on the pies I was pointed in the direction of the veg stall. I eyed up the veg and have to say by looks it was all good. I decided to buy some kale and potatoes to try out but did sign up for a very reasonably priced veg box to be delivered.

This was just the start of my latest inspirational journey. I was then working at our head office in London for the week and for my pleasure, but my wallet’s detriment, this is right next door to Borough market. Then to add into the mix an invite to my mum’s for the weekend who has a lovely big kitchen where I usually end up cooking (against my will honestly).  Come Friday, I knew my veg was being delivered and I scoured the market whilst trying to avoid the annoying tourists who seem to think it’s a place to just stand in the way and take photos.

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I headed for the mushrooms first as we’d already decided to have steak. I had no idea what I was doing, I just love the veg stall in Borough, especially the mushroom part, a food I never liked as a child and now love. I picked up what seem to be my usual now, girolles and chanterelle, shoving some in a bag and then spied some Japanese Enoki and another variety I didn’t even ask the name of but like the look of. Then I spied pink oysters which to me look like the kind that people make into cakes and tea (so I’m told). That was it, I had to buy and go before I bought the whole lot.

Then onto meat and I perused the meat counters to find some tasty looking ribeye steak for three of us. Organic steak, my wallet almost had a heart attack. Oh well, it’s been a while since we had dinner at my mum’s and mums are worth it. I needed pork for my non steak eating wife and being me I chose loin chops even though she doesn’t eat meat off the bone, but by jove it will be cooked on it. So off to Ginger Pig it was and the pork looked so good as well as feeling silly for only ordering one chop I asked for a few more and a slab of pork belly. This trip to just pick up a few things for one dinner was getting out of hand so I grabbed some lunch and headed back to the office, somehow stuffing my purchases into the small office fridge.

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After a couple of after work drinks in the Market Porter where I probably talked food mainly, I gathered my bags and headed home to Essex, sitting with a proud look as my Borough Market bag sat next to me on a not too busy train. Yes fellow commuters, you look and wonder what’s in there, feeling envious of my fresh produce. I get home and walk to the local curry house, order dinner and grab a lift home where my wife is waiting with cold Cobra in the fridge for me. Well, really I’m not going to start cooking late on a Friday night.

The next day I am able to have a proper look in the veg box that had arrived but actually then realised I had no need of it for Saturday night but all was not lost as this just gave me ideas for Sunday and beyond. I pack my bags, knives, a few herbs, seasoning, the steak, one huge pork chop and the mushrooms and head with my wife to my Mum’s. After a freshly ground coffee I get to work, slicing red onions for slow cooking, in goes rum, a little sugar and butter to cook in a tray under foil for a good two hours on a low heat. I love cooking onions this way.

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We decide on chips to go with them, oven chips my way. Maris pipers are peeled and chipped and coated with garlic and rosemary olive oil, pinch of salt and pepper and they basically roast in the oven I guess. The pork was seared in a pan with seasoning, nothing fancy and then transferred to the oven with a dash of honey. The steak again, nothing fancy, salt & pepper and pan fried to just under medium as I like ribeye cooked a little longer. The mushroom are washed and fried up in thyme and butter with the exception of the Enoki which I put in a Dijon mustard, olive oil, honey and cider vinegar dressing as an alternative to mustard with the steak. Bit of a mushroom overload but no one seemed to mind.

Dinner was served up with the addition of tomatoes that had roasted in the pork juices. It’s a meal that never fails to please and always produces empty plates. I love steak and was my second in the space of three days. Mine was better. Look out for part two coming up with the contents of the veg box and what I’ve cooked up with it in the kitchen.

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Steak on a school night

The title for this quick post was inspired by one of my Twitter friends who said I was spoilt for having steak tonight. I didn’t really know that you weren’t allowed steak on a schoolnight but I love steak so I don’t really care.

By coincidence I was also speaking with fellow Psoriasis sufferes about diet and that red meat is to be avoided. Some even say you should not eat red meat at all if you have psoriasis and as I then kindly remarked, if that’s the case then a big chunk of rib-eye steak is my way of sticking two fingers up at Psoriasis. For this reason I am doign a double posting, putting the dinner on my Psoiriasis and food blogs. Yes, the same exact post on two blogs, astounding.

I owe the cooking of the Rib-eye to Chef Rick or @chefzillaTSC on Twitter. I seared the steak on both sides in a hot pan, slammed in the oven for about 8 minutes, rested for 8 minutes and back in the pan with lots of butter.

I served it with some red onion caramalised in molasses sugar, which I have to say were just amazing (and it’s not often I call my own food amazing). I also cheated a bit with some fresh potatoe wedges in a smoked garlic dressing from the Tesco Finest range and I have to admit they’re pretty good. Other than that it was a rocket salad and cherry tomatoes.

It was just a great mid-week meal. If steak on a school night is being naughty, then I will continue to be naughty.

Thanks again to @Tony_farm2table for supplying such great quality steak and @chefzillaTSC for the cooking tips. Follow them on Twitter.

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The seventh year of Taste sees our fifth visit. A couple of years ago I became quite disillusioned by Taste as it seemed d to have become a bit stale and lacking some of the usual flair you expect. Last year improved with the introduction of the Icon dish which was great to see continued this year. Although they seem to be getting even more pricey, it is a true show of what these chefs can do.

Tristan Welsch of Launceston Place

So 5th visit, I thought I must try something new but couldn’t help mix in some old favourites. First call of the day had to be Bentley’s as I was lucky enough to cook with Richard Corrigan the week before. I asked for Brendon, who Richard said to, and he was more than happy to show me out the back and see what goes on behind the scenes. Seeing some of the real heroes of the day. It was even smaller out the back than I thought and then the sight of crate upon crate of Oysters for just one day was amazing. When we emerged back to the front, there was a plate of the ever fresh Maldon oysters for me and a couple of corks to get a free glass of English sparkling wine at the Nyetimber stand.

The next stop had to be Launceston Place and Tristan Welsch was there carving up the suckling pig and posed nicely for some pictures. I actually went for the Goose Egg & Chips which was my first goose egg. It was pretty phenomenal, an amazing flavour from the eggs. Who needs ketchup when you have goose egg. The Old Spot suckling pig, so well cooked too, with lot’s of black truffle on top was another taste sensation which my wife wolfed down without me getting even a taster so I only have her word that it was good.

I stopped by Gaucho for a quick piece of steak as we made our way to Nyetimber to sample the wine. Sorry Gaucho, it was very sinewy and I expected better have eaten at one of your restaurants. On the plus side, it was flavoured really well and the humitas chimchurri was stunning. So to Nyetimber for the free wine,  a crisp sparkling English wine which was most enjoyable as we continued our walk round in the sun where i spied Fullers. My wife was happy, she finished my wine while I had a beer. Fuller’s I do salute you guys, always a great beer wherever I try it.

Mennula's Carpaccio of Yellow Fin Tuna

In an attempt to stay true to my word and try food from restaurants I have never experienced before, Mennula, Trinity and sake No Hana were on the agenda. First from Mennula, where we had  a great chat about the food and their sales pitch to us which really turned out to be the food. We both chose a dish there with my wife trying the maccheroni and me going for the Carpaccio of line caught yellow fin tuna. Both dishes were great and the tuna was just so well marinated with great sweet and sour onions. And so on to Sake No Hana where I was already yearning for the pan fried quail. I do love quail and this was no disappointment, tender, succulent and a bit of a kick. Another place now added to the list of where to go. Shortly followed by Trinity which is where we both tried a dish and for me this was their Icon dish of Pig’s Trotters with what has to be the most amazing crackling ever. I mean, it was just amazing, crispy, well seasoned, a bit of meat still underneath. Even now my mouth waters like Homer Simpson just thinking about it. For me, it was the dish of the day.

Trinity's Pigs Trotter Icon DishThis only leaves one dish, Rhodes 24 Icon dish, Jaffa Cake Pudding. This was for my wife more than me but we both had a try. I’m not really a pudding person but this was just like, well a Jaffa cake but multiplied by several thousand. An intense orange with dark  chocolate, light sponge. We had a chat with Gary Rhodes while we were there who then signed a clean dish for Michala and he had a few words about Top Table. In fact we could hardly stop him when he got started. Gary said the service provided is great and always friendly but on most importantly it’s the access given to the public to find and discover these amazing restaurants. We couldn’t agree more.

We stopped by  Le Gavroche too to speak with Michel Roux Jr (legend and such a gent), where I had a cheeky little chicken terrine with pickled mushrooms. I’ve tried making these mushrooms in the past and believe me, Michel Roux Jr is good for a reason. If you get the book, go make them, great with a meal, barbecue, ploughman’s.  We then thought it was time for more wine so a trip to McGuigan’s was in order for a few tasters to turn into a glass as the only rain of the session fell. Well when it’s raining and you can’t move, wine is a good companion.

Sake No Hana's Pan Fied Quail

Overall best menu for us was Launceston Place so we counted our crowns, realising we didn’t quite have enoughfor the strawberries and champagne from there but hey, they let us have two anyway. This is the thing with Taste, it pays to ask, be cheeky, just talk and take an interest, you never know what you may get. And so with another wander round and perusal of the many suppliers we headed home laden with full bags and full stomachs.  And as I write this I raise my glass to Taste and TopTable and hear my stomach rumble in readiness for the next one.

This is the full verson of my post as written for Toptable which can be seen on their blog at http://bit.ly/9Ppq48 or go to www.blog.toptable.com

For restuarant bookings please visit www.toptable.com

For more info on Taste of London visit www.tastefestivals/london

Follow @toptable and @TasteofLondon on twitter.

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A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away……… cue the dramatic music. Okay so it actually started in Essex where a courageous couple headed off t the far distant place of London. Anyone wondering what I’m going on about yet? I shall explain.

We booked tickets to see Star Wars In Concert and the day finally arrived on the 3rd April. We headed off to the O2 through the manic bank holiday train cancellations and engineering works. (Transport for London? What transport?). This was my wife’s idea surprisingly and I was like a child all day, filled with excitement.

We had no idea where we would be eating at this point and having heard there were many venues at the O2 we just headed there to see what there was. We got as far as Gaucho which is near the main entrance. I love steak and the force called out to me, the Dark side of the force I feel as I looked at the black exterior and décor. Given the occasion I really did expect Lord Vader to appear at any moment.

Plenty of tables free for lunch and given that mainly it was families at the O2 I wasn’t surprised many headed for the cheaper options. We walk to the lift, opposite their wine room. Do we have to go upstairs? I’ll just wait here I think. Unfortunately my wife over ruled me and we head upstairs, shown to our cow hide seats. Not a place for vegetarians. Our waiter is cheery and polite, explains Gaucho to us and shows us the meat board. So much steak, looks so good and I could have just taken the lot, put it on the grill and that would have done me.

My wife was on water as she wasn’t feeling too well so I have a beer and order a starter just for me. Crab cocktail with potato. It was fresh, light and a kick of Tabasco. I’m not a fan of hot spicy food so love it when I get something to spicy for me that I can’t stop eating because it tastes so good. My wife orders a pork steak, more like half a pig really. I go for a plain rump steak, 300gr with a mushroom sauce on the side. We get fries, cheesy roast potatoes and a salad to go with it. Perfectly grilled to medium rare, a steak that must have been more than 2 inches think in places. It tasted so good and I think it is one the best mushroom sauces I have ever had, creamy, thick and well mushroomy. After my main there wasn’t “mushroom” left for dessert. (Groan).

I went for a Malbec with my steak and boy did it go down well. We both had a citrus tart for dessert which was a little too sweet for me but still very zingy and full of flavour. I ordered a dessert wine which battled against the dessert but only because it was cheaper than the one they had matched to it. I should have listened and paid the extra few pounds.

Definitely will be visiting a Gaucho restaurant again and I know there is one in Swallow Street, off Piccadilly so it won’t be long before I do. It is a meat lover’s dream.

A few days later, the following Tuesday we were back in London as we had the day off.  As on our last two visits to London we had not been able to visit one of our favourites bars, we popped along to Selfridges to the champagne bar. We got there and as we approached the stairs, I kept thinking it’s had a make over. We then saw the new sign “Hix” and I suddenly remembered reading about it. Now I’m not a great fan of Mark Hix, well let me correct that, I haven’t been a fan in the past but probably because I’ve never sat down and looked at one of his menus.

We sat at the bar, our retro glasses filled with champagne (nice touch with the glasses Mark). I look through the bar snack menu and see a few things to go for. We went for a selection of snacks, pork crackling with belly pork, quails egg shooters and root vegetable crisps. The crackling is amazing, crisp like crunchiness with a sweet apple sauce. My wife liked it so much, we were given a second helping on the house. Although I was half thinking the bar man was flirting with my wife as he also got her to drink some extra champagne so he could just finish the bottle.

The quails egg shooters are interesting, an acquired taste. They are warmed, so basically are raw, with some crunchy bacon on top. I down the first shooter, and was unsure about it, the experience being a  little alien to me. However, I always want to try new things so I try a second one after a sip of the bubbly stuff. I take the second egg and this time it goes down easier and I get the taste of the yolk. The last time go down very easily. My wife didn’t try them and four was pretty hard going. I decided to have an oyster as well, yes just the one as I can hardly resist it when I see oysters on a menu these days.

Then the crisps, which you can’t say much about other than they were quite sweet, very tasty and overall very good. We had fun trying to figure out some of the vegetables. Now that doesn’t mean you couldn’t tell what they were, I think once you deep fry most things, the flavour changes and if your palate is trained enough, you may not recognise all the flavours. It was just a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours. The staff were excellent and our bar man on the day was jovial, polite and very funny. My wife loved him. We are plannign a retun visit the the restaurant to try the main menu and I have a feeling I may be visiting at least one other Hix restaurant.

It was then off shopping as we were fully energised and we did shop a lot. The problem is, my wife has a thing about just picking things up and not trying for sizes. So as you may guess, we get home and find that two of the tops she bought, do not fit properly. Jumping at this I say “Don’t worry, we’ll pop back in on Saturday” already thinking of the many places to lunch.

So come Saturday, one week after the Star Wars visit, we find ourselves in London for the thrid time. We are walking up Piccadilly and I keep repeating “Bentleys” and my wife soon gives in, well it wasn’t much of a problem to get her to agree. It’s warm so we sit outside, watching the world go by and I realise that I may be a while choosing. I have an oyster, yes another one and had just the one as I wanted the Sea Snails for starters. They were delicious, so good and so fresh. Michala went for the white asparagus with blood orange. The asparagus I thought was quite distinctive from the asparagus we would normally have, a little more bitter which is where the oranges worked so well.

We both had the same main course, pollock with coconut, carrot and I think orange. Right you will all be glad to know here that I have now bought a notepad for when I go out as I keep forgetting the exact details of dishes.  Suffice to say though, the pollock dish was great. Something I had never tried before and will definitely have again. I have to say though, the star of Bentley’s is the soda bread. I first tried soda bread in Dublin on holiday a few years back and try it everywhere I see it. Mr Corrigan’s soda bread is by far the best I have ever had. Maybe he’ll give me the secret at the masterclass.

And so we finish, we go home. One week, three visits to London and amazing food, great drink and the best company I could wish for. I hope you don’t all get bored of my constant trips to London and I will try to find some different places to go rather than my usual haunts.

As always when I think of these days and finish these great meals, I raise a glass to the chefs, the food and drink producers, and my foodie friends. And on this occasion I say “May the Force be With You”. I now return to adulthood for a short while.

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