Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Singapore Coffee Hawker Stand

A short video of a man making coffee at his stall "New Fashion Coffee" at the Pek Kio Food Centre in Singapore.
He only makes 200 cups a day then he goes home.

For more videos goto www.youtube.com/mzungu1970 

Monday, 27 June 2011

Sandwich Time @ the Nordic Bakery and Paul Rothe and Sons


I’ve been hearing about the Nordic Bakery for quite a while now, actually quite a while, but for some reason I just never managed to venture inside and sample the delights that it has to offer. I know I’m not a follower of fashion but this is taking the piss a bit.
The Nordic Bakery is a great place to sit, relax, drink a cup of coffee, nibble on a sandwich or a cinnamon bun and read a few chapters of a book.
I opted for a pickled herring and egg sandwich. An interesting combination that works perfectly, the tangyness of the herring with a sharp dressing and boy do I love boiled eggs in my sandwiches. A throwback to my old schoolboy days.
The latte comes in what can only be described as a mug that would satisfy a giant. It was big. The coffee was just ok, which is a shame as the treats on offer, the vibe, the ambiance of the place is second to none. Get better coffee guys. If Fernandez and Wells can do it then so can you.


Another great sandwich shop is Paul Rothe and Son, which has been around for over a hundred years. It’s hard to describe this place. It’s a shop cum café cum deli all rolled into one.
I’ve never sat down and eaten here, as it is normally full so I always get a takeaway. It’s one of the few places I have found that actually sell cold cuts in their sandwiches. The tongue is my favourite and always on light rye, with English mustard. I’m a creature of habit and when I find something I like, I normally stick to it. Look at me and Wagamama and its chicken katsu currys.


They put just enough mustard on the bread so you can taste it, but it lets the tongue take centre stage. As it’s the only reason I go there.
It’s an old fashioned place with old fashioned values. A rare thing these days. I just wish it was either near my house or my work so I could eat there more regular.

Nordic Bakery on Urbanspoon

Paul Rothe & Son on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Good Times @ Randall and Aubin


Sometimes you find a place and for some reason you love it more than you should. The menu may be limiting, the food may not fantastic, but the atmosphere and vibe make up for a whole lot more, and to me this counts for nearly everything.
It’s been a while since we were last in Randall & Aubin, a long while. We have good memories of the place, seen some wild shit happening inside its doors, some really wild shit.
It is one of the few places where I don’t actually mind queuing up. In fact I get rather disappointed when I don’t have to wait outside on the street for our turn to sit down and eat.


Queuing does have its benefits, you do end up ordering a bottle of wine and drinking it while you wait. Life in Soho gets more fun after a bottle of wine or two.
Nothing seems to have changed really inside Randall & Aubin. The chefs all look the same, the waiters have changed, but they do seem to still look the same. The women are still tanned and gorgeous, and the men camp as hell. Hey it’s Soho, what would you expect.
We have fun here, it’s a place to lift your spirits, to enlighten your soul, to make you feel young again, and at the moment I need that a lot.
As I said I’ve seen some crazy shit here. I remember once, a stunning looking girl came outside to chat to some friends who were in the queue behind us. All I really heard was her friends asking her to come and go dancing later, and she replied “no I can’t I’m working, I have a punter inside.” This kinda threw me, as she was the 2nd most beautiful girl in Soho that night. The wife obviously being number one.
After we sat down and ordered, I noticed that she and her punter visited the toilets looking very fresh and returned looking completely dishevelled 10 minutes later. Good times were a rolling. This actually happened twice. The 2nd time the guy could barely walk back to his stool. Respect.


The food is really incidental to the restaurant. It’s pure Soho, you come to be with friends and have a good time. You drink, you eat, you flirt, and you have a great time. It’s what life should be all about. Plus the best thing, they have a mirrored disco ball. Soho baby Soho. Gotta love it.

Randall & Aubin on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Taiwan Tourism Appreciation Lunch @ China Tang


After the nonsense of the Hangzhou Tourism Dinner, my boss owed me a good Chinese meal. Actually the only reason I got to go is because he is in India, and someone from the company had to go and fly the flag at the Taiwan Tourism Appreciation Lunch. Yes me.
I’ve never been to Taiwan, we don’t sell that much of it to be honest, but the European office (who are based in Frankfurt) want to keep us onboard. So once or twice a year they host a luncheon and recently it has been held at China Tang, which is inside the Dorchester Hotel on Park Lane. Very posh.
I’ve seen many debates about whether Chinese food can climb the dizzy heights of European food. We all know it can and has been for hundreds of years. It’s just we have got so used to our palettes being over salted, that the delicate flavours of Chinese cooking is more or less lost on a lot of people. This includes me a lot of the time. Plus as with most people in the UK, growing up with cheap Chinese takeaways, these have really put the boot in for 99% of the population taking Chinese food seriously. I know of a few people whose idea of high end Chinese food is at a large buffet restaurant in north London. So does Chinese food work in a 5 star hotel?
The Taiwan Tourism Bureau put on a bloody good show. It was a small affair with only about 20 of us. 6 people from the Tourist office and their PR firm, a couple of guys from Eva Air, a few scrounger traveller journos trying to get free trips out of us tour operators. Fat chance, and a few tour operators who actually pretend to sell Taiwan. A jolly bunch we were.
You can really tell that Capitalist China knows how to play the game better than Communist (?) China. I like Capitalist China.
Walking down through the Dorchester, you can see that it oozes money and sophistication. It really is a lovely hotel. Although I wouldn’t want to stay there. Have you seen the décor in those rooms?
We were to meet in the bar downstairs and do some power networking before the main presentation. Thankfully the presentation only lasted 5 minutes, unlike the Hangzhou one, which lasted an hour. Big difference between Communist China and Capitalist China. I’m liking Capitalist China.
The presentation was short and sweet, and really they hit the nail on the head. For such a small country it has a hell of a lot going for it. Shame I’m off to the mainland later this year. It could have been an interesting trip with a stop over in Bangkok enroute.
After the power networking and short and sweet presentation the lunch was served in one of the private rooms adjacent to the bar. China Tang is a pure Cantonese restaurant and it really showed in the food. We started off with some dim sum. A nice way to kick of an afternoon of eating, drinking and more power networking, and more drinking.
The highlights of the dim sum were the Har Kar. These steamed dumplings were well seasoned and the shrimp really shone through, the skins was very translucent and I’m sure you could have seen through them. I would have looked properly but it popped in my mouth so quickly.
The scallop dumplings were thick, plumpy and had a wonderful scaloppy taste. They were steamed to perfection and were still had a bite to them.
The satay and spring rolls were ok, nothing special and as good as you get in China Town. Yeah, not that impressive.
Next up we had a couple of ducks cooked in the classic Peking style. It was pretty impressive to watch the girls deftly cut those birds down, and at such great speed. The skin was not as crispy as I’ve had it before, but it was good none the less. The flesh was pink and juicy and it went down a treat. I would have eaten more but the old girl next to me was picking all the food up with her hands, and she didn’t look too healthy. She actually reminded me of a mad old cat lady. I declined the offers of more Peking duck.
The mains I guess you could say, or even course number 3 had some classic Cantonese favourites like wok fried prawns, which had a very sweet sauce. Stir fried beef in black pepper sauce. These little morsels were so tender, they literally disappeared as soon as they hit my tongue. The guy from EVA Air was 100% certain they used a tenderiser in the kitchen. Could have been, they were very soft like little morsels of beefy air.
Of course they had the classic sweet and sour pork, with raw peppers and pineapple. A little homage to the cheap and easy Chinese takeaways that have made a good dish so bad. Respect.
I was slightly shocked that this top notch restaurant would serve virtually raw green peppers. Unreal.
I’ve only ever had sweet and sour pork in two countries before. England and China. It sucks in England, and it does at China Tang as well.
All in all the food we had was passable I’m just glad I never had to pay for it. But everyone had a good time, which was it was all about.
So if you’ve been to China and are thinking of going back, then maybe head off to Taiwan for a completely unique experience.




China Tang, Dorchester Hotel on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 19 June 2011

An Invitation to eat at the Thieves Market or Chor Bizarre



Chor Bizarre is not your normal Indian restaurant. For starters there is no flop wallpaper, that mainstay of any old curry house, but then again we are in Mayfair. Instead there is a kaleidoscopic of interesting artifacts that make you feel you are in someones house rather than in a restaurant. Very different indeed.
We were seated at a large table for two with very grandiose chairs that made me feel like I was a Maharaja. Maybe in a former life.


Immediately some papads were placed on the table with a trio of chutneys. Sweet mango, a very sour lime pickle and a cooling mint yoghurt.
The mango was too sweet and was the least liked of the three. The sour lime pickle hit the spot and reminded me of the sour pickles I ate routinely in India last year. I’ve nearly run out of my Mothers Recipe pickles, thankfully some people form work are venturing out to India this week. My order has been placed. The mint yoghurt was very cooling and brought a bit of balance back to my taste buds.



We are not greedy people and even though we were on a comp’d meal, I still cannot over order. I hate waste, always have and hopefully always will. But this does limit me to what we can taste on the menus.
The menu as like the restaurant décor does not sit in any one region. It is a real mixture of India, serving food from Kerela to Kashmir. Ordering was going to be fun.
Well we were here to taste and we decided on a couple of starters to share to get our taste buds a moving. We opted for the Dakshni Crab (White crab meat flavoured with South Indian spices, served with salad and coconut chutney £8) and the Aloo Tikki Chaat (Pan fried patties of mashed potatoes filled with spiced lentil and green peas, served warm, topped with yoghurt, tamarind and mint chutney £6.50)
Presentation of the dishes was first class. Both plates looked spectacular and clean. The portions were a tad small, but we are in Mayfair after all.



Unfortunately both dishes were very under seasoned for my Western palette. It seems to be the way my taste buds are these days. At Leiths we were told to season, season and season again. It’s amazing how much salt we were putting into dishes there. Maybe I need to retrain my palette.
The cooking of the two starters was faultless, texture wise they were spot on, but we really couldn’t get any flavour off the crab or from the patties.


The coconut chutney was really good though. Nice texture and taste, I could have eaten a lot of that. Again with the tamarind and mint chutney it was the star that outshone the patties.
For the mains we ordered a Seekh Kabab (fine lamb mince kababs £15), Paanch Mirch Ka Paneer (Juicy chunks of cottage cheese cooked flavoured with five mirchis (peppers), black pepper, white pepper, bell peppers, green & red chilies £10), a Dal Makhani (thick black lentils, simmered overnight in the tandoor oven £6.50) and a couple of Reshmi Parantha £3 each.
The mains were a vast improvement on the starters. All were spiced to perfection. As the wife has totally gone off real heat these days, we are eating a lot more milder food. So what we had suited her down to the bone.


The kebabs were tender, well spiced and juicy, they came with an onion salad and went down a treat. I wish we had ordered more of them, maybe another 3 plates. They would have not gone to waste. I’m eating a lot of Turkish kebabs recently and these were subtly and delicately spiced. They were a delight to eat.


There was not enough of the paneer for my liking. Too many peppers, which some of the bell peppers still being a tad raw. The sauce was nice and comforting and made for good mopping up with the paranthas.
I always judge a restaurant by its dals, and based on the dal makhani here it deserves a big slap on the back, a hug and many blessings. They were as dal makhani should be, thick, creamy, rich and slightly smokey. I now understand why Punjabi men are so portly. It’s because they eat this dish on a daily basis. Awesome.


Amazingly after all that dal we managed to tuck into a pudding, which I do not normally do, but after last year and eating many retro puds I could not resist. I had to have the rice pudding flavoured with mango and cardamom.
This was a perfect ending to a good night. The pudding was cold, just how I like them. For some reason as a child I never ate hot sauces on puddings. My custard had to be cold when poured onto my hot sponge pudding. My rice pudding had to be left in the fridge until it was cold before I would touch it. I was a little awkward back then.


Thankfully it was not fridge cold so the flavours were able to seep through onto my taste buds. The rice was still a tad al dente, which reassured me it was not out of a tin. The mango and cardamom oozed through to give it a rich exotic flavour. Brill. I wish I had asked the chef for the recipe, as it brought back memories of my childhood. A real blast form the past.
Overall Chor Bizarre is a tad expensive for an Indian restaurant, but it does fit the area and clientele it gets. We arrived at 8, and left at nearly 11 and it was full constantly. A testament to the cooking and their dal makhani.


They are currently offering from between 30% to 50% off the food menu at certain times in June.
It is a truly different experience and maybe one you all should try. Order the dal makhani you will not be disappointed.
Chor Bizarre on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 12 June 2011

The Best Sunday Roast @ The Londesborough



Hold the front pages. If you are still looking for the best Sunday Roast in London, you can stop looking. I’ve think I may well have found it at the Londesborough in Stoke Newington.
We were supposed to goto the Riding House Café and have brunch/roast there, but as it was a crappy morning outside, cold, wet and windy, we decided to stay closer to home. I am so glad we did, although I know the Riding House Café will be visited soon enough.
We’d eaten at the Londesborough a couple of times now, but it’s always been for a mid week evening supper, as it’s the closest food pub to us, as the Shakespeare only does bar snacks.


The food has been good, especially the burger, although the fries were a bit hit and miss, but for some reason we’ve never managed to return for a Sunday roast, especially after finding the Jolly Butcher with its amazing array of independently crafted beers. More on that place in a week or two, or three, possibly four.


Anyhows back to the subject in hand, as we were pretty hungry we pitched up at 12.30 to find the pub completely empty, and I mean empty, apart from the three staff on hand we were the only people in there for almost an hour when people finally starting showing up. We were beginning to wonder if something had happened to the pub that we never knew about. I mean it had been a couple of months since we last ate there. Maybe someone had been poisoned or a health inspector had closed the kitchen down for a while before it reopened. Nothing so dramatic, it just turns out that people in Stokie like a late Sunday roast. Fair enough.


We skipped the starters and headed straight for the main event. One slow roasted pork belly with homemade apple sauce, and one Aberdeen Angus topside. Both came with some awe inspiring extras.
Where to start really, well the piece of slow cook pork belly was cooked to perfection and so bloody tasty. The crackling was as it should be. Crispy as hell. So damn yummy. The homemade apple sauce had a hint of spice that made it a perfect match with the fatty pork belly.


The beef was thinly sliced and was cooked to a perfect medium rare. Most pubs don’t serve topside, you normally get a sirloin or rolled rib, so it made a pleasant change. Very nice it was too. But I have to say the pork was the winner of the two. I did see the herbed chicken when we were walking out and it looked fab. Next time.


The all so necessary accompaniments were some of the best I’ve had outside my own kitchen. The root veg was on the perfect point of al dente, all nicely cubed as well. The greens had a slight crunch to them as well. God I hate overcooked veg. The gravy was thick and beefy. Shame there was just enough, I wanted more, much more.


I’ve saved the best till last. Those tatties were so bloody good, I wanted to go into the kitchen and hug every chef and thank them for giving me perfect roasties. Crispy on the outside and floury on the inside. Man they were good.
I sometimes make a lot of them and just scoff them in sarnies. Pikey I know, but been doing it since I was a kid, so I can’t help it.


We ended the meal by sharing a sticky toffee pudding with ice cream and toffee sauce. A real retro dish that took me straight back to school, although we used to have it with custard not ice cream. But it was rich and heavy but oh so bloody good, and a nice end to a great roast.
All in all this has been the best Sunday roast I’ve had in a long time. I will have to return to the Albion to fully judge them both, but I don’t think anything is going to beat this experience. I shall return, especially as it is just 10 minute stroll from my house. 
Londesborough on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Video of the Sea Food Market & Restaurant


I am in the process of getting a flip camcorder, which basically means I will be torturing you all with new videos of life in London and elsewhere. In the meantime I will be posting some old ones that have been lingering on youtube for a few years now.
This rather short video is of the Sea Food Market in Bangkok. It's basically a supermarket cum restaurant and a fun and tacky, but expensive place to have a meal. A longer video can be found here at the 7 minute mark, and part two here.
Don't forget to have your speakers turned on and enjoy the music.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Morito



I do love Spain and its Tapas bars. A whole night in some towns on a tapas crawl will leave you drunk and very nicely filled up as well.
It’s the diversity I love so much. Imagine a street lined with small bars that only do a few different plates, but do them well. You go from one to the other having a glass of wine or beer sampling what each bar does so well. A very good night indeed.
I’m amazed some shrewd businessman here hasn’t opened 3 or 4 tapas bars all within a ½ mile of each other, so we can have this mini tapas crawl in London. Hey if I had the cash I’d open them up. Does anyone want to join me ? All you have to do is put in the cash for my wonderful idea.
I’m surprised Brindisa or Moro haven’t done this. Or maybe Morito is just the first in a mini chain of Tapas bars around Clerkenwell. Hey you read it here first.
But this is what is kind of happening in Soho with Polpo et al, but they are more for the civilised dining scene, than the drunken tapas crawl I want to see here in London.


Anyhows away from my dream. The recent wedding bank holiday, we found ourselves around Exmouth market and very hungry. We was tempted to hit Caravan again, but I think twice in two days would be a bit much, or maybe not. But the better half wanted to try somewhere else. Amazingly this was the first time I’d seen space in Morito. Ever since it opened it has been packed to the rafters, which for a restaurateur is great, for a punter it’s a bloody nightmare.
A really unfriendly waiter seated us at the window. He obviously wanted to be watching the wedding. Thankfully he only told us where to sit, and had nothing more to do with us. Phew. He could have really ruined our meal.
To be honest I could have eaten the whole menu as it read so well. Lots of Moorish dishes to dive into and nourish your soul. We were in for a treat.


First off was an empanada. It was fried. I don’t like fried empanadas, I prefer them baked in the Argentine way. We didn’t particularly like it and cannot remember what its contents were. We were hoping this was just a glitch on the way to tapas heaven.


Next off were a brace of salt cod croquettes. They were smooth, creamy and fishy. Oh my god they were good. I wish we had ordered more of them, they were that delish.


The tablouleh salad was nice, but a tad under seasoned, but that is a personal thing on how much of the white powder we all need. I need more than others. It did however go very well with the lamb chops.
Those chargrilled fatty beauties were divine. Actually heaven on a plate. I love chargrilled lamb chops. When I used to work nights in the kitchens at Café Boheme, I used to steal a few and have them for a late night supper. Good times.


These chops were cooked to a lovely bloody pink, the flesh tasted so lamby and the fat had that slightly chargrilled taste, that just brought out the sweet lamby taste.
Lastly was a plate of botifarra. It was a must, not only because it was served on top of creamy white beans, but I kind of became addicted to them when we lived in Colombia.


The butifarra in Colombia, which mainly comes from la costa is normally served with Bollo de Yuca. Mashed yucca or cassava rolled in corn husks. You don’t normally find them outside of la costa region, but we found a place that sold them, and we ate there a lot. I do miss some things of Colombia.
I do love tapas, and only wish we had more of them closer together. Dreams. Let’s hope Morito is just a first stepping stone on the way to a tapas crawl that any Spaniard would be proud of.


Morito on Urbanspoon

Monday, 6 June 2011

What We Ate Last Night : Venetian Liver



I am partial to a little bit of liver. I love the stuff. I was such a fussy eater as a kid, but for some reason I always ate my liver. I grew up eating lambs liver, potatoes and peas. Although my dad used to overcook the liver, well it was the 70’s. I now prefer it a little pinker these days.
Some of my most loved dishes are rather liverish. A quickly seared calves liver and mash is a dish made in heaven for me. Deviled chicken livers on toast or made into a creamy pate.
Oddly enough pigs liver I rarely eat, as it generally has no taste, maybe that is more to do with the pigs than the liver itself.
The Italians love their liver as well, or should I say the Venetians. I’ve seen many different versions of this dish, but the most simple is the one I cooked last night. Although I used lambs liver as it was in the fridge. Normally this is done with baby tortured cows liver, as Cartman once said.

You will need :

Liver, as much as you want. Dusted with seasoned flour.
Finely sliced onions
A few knobs of butter
Olive Oil
Seasoning
Finely chopped parsley

  1. Sweat off the onions in the butter and olive oil until you feel no resistance when you squeeze them
  2. Remove from pan
  3. Dust the liver with seasoned flour. Add more of the butter to the pan, and when it is foaming add the liver
  4. Cook for a minute or so on each so, depending how pink or how thick it is
  5. Add the onions back to the pan
  6. Add a tiny amount of water. Bring to a simmer, Cook out the flour
  7. Simmer down to thicken the sauce. Add the parsley
  8. Season and serve with creamy polenta or mash
  9. Enjoy your offaly meal

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Breakfast Club @ Artillery Lane



My hangovers are not what they used to be. I now wake up feeling fine and as the day wears on it kicks in, and by the end of the day I am as rough as I should be in the morning. Must odd.
I totally believe the best hangover cure of all is a good fry up. My aches and pains seem to vanish away with the consumption of mounds of fried food. Some of the best fry ups I’ve ever had have been eaten whilst I have been at my most worst.


I am a big fan of the Breakfast Club, as they do one thing and do it so bloody well. I’ve visited all of their branches now, including the branch close to Spitalfields Market, which unlike their normal feel of being at home in your front room. This one has an industrial feel to it. I quite like it actually. The starkness of the room fitted well with how I felt. I especially love the Roland Rat wallpaper in the toilets.
Thankfully and amazingly this was the first one we never had to queue up to get a table. I really wasn’t looking forward to that. As this is a new branch and it is down a very quiet street parallel to the market entrance, unless you knew it was there you would not come across it. This was to my benefit.
I really don’t know why I even bother looking at the menu, as I always have the same things every time. The Full Monty, flat white and an orange juice. It works a treat on my soul and I don’t see the point of deviating from it.


As with all the other branches the Full Monty is fantastic, although they did forget my mushrooms, which I only noticed as I was looking at the menu by the front door as I was leaving. I thought something was missing. Hey ho.
Thankfully with further expansion their standards have not dropped and they still deliver a fine breakfast on a large scale to an eager audience.
For a hangover cure the Breakfast Club cannot be beaten, at least they seem to understand what a hangover does to a person, unlike some other places that seem to look at you with disdain when you are dying in our seat.


The Breakfast Club on Urbanspoon