Tuesday, 30 August 2011

G is for Germany @ The Zeitgeist

My forays into German food have been few and far between, apart from a recent visit to Kurz and Lang in Farringdon and a seemingly odd German restaurant in the countryside outside of Medellin in Colombia, that served awesome ham hocks and sauerkraut. It’s been pretty miserable to say the least.
Well there was that one night many years ago in Munich at the Oktober Fest, where I guzzled down litres and litres of fine German beer in those mighty stein glasses, and consumed so many sausages and hocks it defies belief.
So when G came up there really wasn’t too much competition. Well Greece was a front runner, but since one of us is off a sailing holiday around the Greek islands in a few days it made more sense to go with other options. A Ghanaian pub in south London was blown out of the water by our Polish musical loving cartoonist, as he had heard there was a Polish chef there and couldn’t see the point of eating Ghanaian food cooked badly by a fellow countryman.

So looking around it seemed Zeitgeist was getting all the accolades as the best place in London to sample some fine German beer and food.
The menu is amazing, there are 9 different schnitzel dishes on it. I was so sold, and therefore I sold it to everyone else as well. It’s a good job to be the chooser.
Zeitgeist used to be what looks like an old time boozer. With its large open room with a horseshoe bar in the middle. I bet the regulars were a tad miffed when their beloved watering hole became a German beer house. Although I am sure they changed their mind, especially with the impressive array of German beers on tap, which may even put a bar in Germany to shame.
But we were here for one thing and one thing only. Schnitzel. Yes, a simple piece of meat breaded and then fried. Yes, sometimes life is about the simplest things done well.
Damn I love this dish, from the chicken escalope, to the milanesas of Argentina, and those schnitzels from my days on the kibbutz in Israel.

What could be more heavenly than taking a piece of meat, pounding the hell out of it, dripping it in egg and then breadcrumbs and then frying them. Heaven.
There is only one schnitzel to have and that is the Weiner Schnitzel. A large thin piece of veal (or baby tortured cow as Cartman calls it), fried to crispy paradise.
They also do a schnitzel coasted in black pudding, then breaded and fried. It’s good, damn good, so good I only got one solitary bite of it. Damn.
They claim to have the best schnitzels in London, while technically I’ve only had a schnitzel here, but for other versions of the breaded meat, then Garuffa wins hands down. Theirs are the best. It’s a shame they only do them for lunch though.
The food at Zeitgeist is good and hearty, but it is the beers that make this place worth the visit, plus the pronunciation of them from the staff is spot on.
Zeitgeist on Urbanspoon

Friday, 26 August 2011

Foto Friday # 65

Anoop drinking form a freshly cut coconut in a small restaurant on Setse Beach, near to Mawlamyine in Burma.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

All's Cool @ Chilli Cool

I’ve finally made it to Chilli Cool. Finally I stepped through the door, sat down and ate. Guess what. I never wanted to leave.
I think I’ve found my new fave restaurant in the world. My other one is all the way over in Hammersmith, and shall forever remain one of my treasured places, but it’s just too far away. I need somewhere close, or at least closer to home. Although the Regent is closer, but how many times a week can I eat pizza?

Chilli Cool felt right, the staff were friendly, the menu reads like poetry, the food sent me to heaven. OK slight over exaggeration there. The food was not knock your socks off, but it was pretty damn good, and I got the wife to eat tofu, which after her attempt at eating stinky tofu in Chengdu, she vowed never to touch the stuff again. It was really stinky.
To be honest we were not that hungry, we just wanted a quick bite to eat on the way home, and I didn’t fancy yet more Turkish kebabs or pide. Anymore and I’ll start looking like one. No we wanted something light, refreshing and with a kick.

The restaurant is split between 2 shops. I’m not sure if we were in the new part or old part, but it looked like it had won last prize in an interior design competition. The décor is pretty lame, but we were not here for that. We were here for the food.
We are getting more restrained these days. We are actually able to order enough food that we want to eat, which I wish I’d learnt that trick years ago, as I’ve wasted enough food to feed the 5,000 before now.
So after much deliberation on what and how much to order. We had quite simply a plate of ma po dofu, green beans with minced pork and a bowl of rice. Yes that was it. I know not much, but as I said we were not that hungry, just something to tide us over for the night, and I’m trying to get out of eating large meals at night. I think the waitress was a tad shocked as she said, “Is that all?” but it’s my new regime, and it is kinda working. Sometimes.

The Ma Po tofu was one of the best I’ve had outside China. It beats hands down the crap I eat sometimes form the bad takeaway across from work. The tofu was swimming oh so happily in the chilli broth. It had been given a light dusting of pepper that added another taste to a firm favourite. My mouth slowly became more and more numb as the night wore on. This actually more or less lasted all the way back on the 73 to Stoke Newington. No heat pain, just numbness. Lovely sensation.
This version was the complete opposite of what I normally cook at home. Mine is a tad sweeter, as I use a sweet chilli bean paste, and mine is a lot thicker from mixing in a lot of cornstarch to thicken it up, so this was a lovely change.
This was as close as I remember it from our short jaunt through Sichuan all those years ago, except those versions were seriously hot. But ohh so good.

The minced pork and green beans were our vegetable accompaniment. The pork had been fried to a crispy loveliness, and made some good green beans all the more yummy. I think, unless I am wrong this is translated from Chinese as ants climbing trees. I do love poetic translations in food.
I’m not a big fan of noodles, so I always order rice. I like the way it soaks up the sauce and makes it a great meal in itself. I work with some guys who always order ho fun noodles with everything. I look at noodles as a part of a meal, not as a side. Maybe I need to open my mind a tad, and see how it goes. Sometimes I am a little closed minded.
Why oh why has it taken me so long to walk in through the door and try the food on offer. No idea. But I want to eat everything off the menu.
I am hooked on Chilli Cool and I have no idea why, maybe I just need somewhere to lay down my hat and call it my home

Chilli Cool on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Burger Monday @ The Draft House

My first burger Monday, and it will not be my last. I missed out on the last Burger Monday by a few hours. By the time I saw the email all the places had sold out. I was gutted and didn’t want to miss out again.
When the email came though at work, I was in pure panic for 30 minutes after I saw the email for the latest Burger Monday, which was going to be at the Draught House close to London Bridge.
I almost booked the 9pm sitting before the wife told me over skype to go for the 6.45pm sitting, by the time I read this it was on waitlist.  Noooooooooo.

Amazingly after much fretting and sweating the earlier sitting came available. Forget work, forget those clients who wanted to give me their credit card number and book a holiday. I didn’t care. I wanted to goto Burger Monday, and Burger Monday I was a going.

The first thing that hits you as you walk in to the draft House is the mammoth amount of beers on draft that they have on offer. Truly impressive. This was going to be a very good night. I pre ordered some of the house beers to get the night going.
This evening we were in for a real treat. 3 different burgers with 3 one third pints of beer from the Windsor and Eaton Brewery all matched to the different burgers.
We were introduced to the brewer by Daniel Young, the organiser and writer of the Young and Foodish, who amazingly along with the chef at the Draft House, Simon Noumar devised the burger menu for tonight.

OK let’s get straight down to business. First off was the Yolk Burger with the Conqueror Black IPA.
This was a perfect combination. The burger was juicy pink and the trimmed egg and runny yolk topped with a slightly burnt hollandaise, which almost gave you the impression it was cheese was sublime. Who says you cannot eat a juicy burger and live to tell the tale.
The Conqueror Black IPA looked heavy with its dark dark colour, but was surprisingly light but big on taste.
Next was the Smoke Burger (smoked cheddar and smoked streaky bacon) with the Guardsman Best Bitter.

The cheese and bacon were really good and had a wonderful but light smoky flavour to them. The burger was slightly more cooked than the first, and was slightly over powered by the cheese, but a damn fine burger it was.
The copper coloured Guardsman Best Bitter was a good match to this burger, as it allowed the smoked cheese and bacon to come through and take the glory, but still match them step by step.
And finally the Foie Burger, topped with a slab of foie gras and cherry lambic jelly with the Windsor Knot royal wedding Ale.

To be honest I was really quite disappointed by this. I think after two powerful burgers and beers, this one never really shone at all. Maybe it we’d had it at the beginning I would have been more able to taste all its nuances, but after what I’d just eaten, a battleship would have been hard to spot. Again the burger was slightly more cooked than the one before. The jelly was great on its own, but kinda got lost in with everything else, the foie gras, again never was able to shine as my taste buds were still reeling from the smoked cheese. I would like to try this again on its own, and then I’m sure I would appreciate it more.
The Windsor Knot, again paled in comparison by its predecessors. It was light and fresh and a really great beer to round off a fab night, but being a light beer it failed to shine at the finishing post.

We also had a plate of stringy fries per table and sauces to dunk into. I think everyone felt the same as we would normally just dunk the fries into the sauces, but as this was a communal table we really couldn’t do that. I wish we could though. We also had a lonely salad on the table, which no one except the girl next to me felt obliged to give it a try, as otherwise it would have felt neglected. She said it was a nice salad, and had a lovely mustardy vinaigrette dressing.
All in all it was a great night, ate some great food, drank some fantastic beers, met some nice people and found another good beer pub. Life is good.

My best burger was the first, somehow fried eggs make everything taste better, but combining the first juicy burger with the smoked cheese and bacon with a fried egg on top would have been heaven on earth. Then we could have called it the “Smoky Yokey.” I have now copyrighted this name by the way.
For the beers, I am a lover of real ales, and loved every single beer, but the Conqueror Black IPA tipped it for me over the Guardsman Best Bitter. I was expecting it to be really heavy with its dark colour, but thankfully it was pretty light and would be a great match for any burger or even a steak or roast on a tranquil Sunday afternoon in a country pub. Well that was just me day dreaming there, need to get out of the city.

I think Daniel with the al the folks of the Draft House, and the guys at the Windsor and Eaton Brewery put on a great night, one of the best I’ve had in a long while.
Daniel is doing some more events in September and October, so sign up for the emails, and I’ll see you there.

The Draft House Pub on Urbanspoon

Friday, 19 August 2011

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Big Apple Hot Dogs @ Chatsworth Road Market

By the time the wife and I remembered to take a picture of the finished article they were both well and truly polished off.
Most Sundays Big Apple can be found at Chatsworth Road Market in E5, and of course his normal spot on Old Street during the week, which I cannot get to during my lunch break from Ealing. 
The sausages were really good, so full of taste and flavour that knock most franks out for 10. The rolls were too dense and filling, well that was my excuse for doing two, although just having a sausage would have been just as good. 
I just wish Big Apple would set up his stall outside my work, as i know several greedy buggers in Ealing who would also devour these on a daily basis. 
Hail to a proper hot dog.

Big Apple Hot Dogs on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Thai Kitchen 101

I’ve been meaning to step inside the fabled doors of Thai Kitchen 101 for many a year. But on so many occasions either Green Chilli (now sadly closed) or Mahdi, (still one of my favourite restaurants on the planet) always got in the way.
Thai Kitchen 101 was starting to become a holy grail to me. Always in reach, but yet unattainable. A bit like Uyuni in Bolivia with my wife.
So after doing the umpteenth quote for holidays to Burma that day, I really couldn’t be arsed to go home and cook. I needed someone else to cook for me, plus I was hungry and I had to eat now now like. There was no way I was going to survive that 90 minute trip home. So after deliberating for a while and ticking off every place between my work and Hammersmith, (as Soho was too far) I was left with only a few options.

Mahdi is always on these lists, but I wanted something with a kick to it. Maybe it was doing all those quotes to Asian countries that I needed a little bit of Asia that night. So this ruled out the Chiswick branch of Franco Manca, maybe Tosa, hmmm could be, may not have the spice I wanted, but it was definitely Asian. Then it dawned on me. An idea was forming in my mind, it was hurting. It’d been a while since I last had one you see. My last great idea was to return home after 6 months in Asia instead of continuing onto China. Dohh!!! That’s why I stopped having them.

To be honest I’m not a great fan of Thai food in the UK, as a lot of what I have tried has always been watered down to suit the gentle western palette. I prefer it the Thai way, harsh and in your face and able to knock your socks off at 30 feet.
The décor inside Thai Kitchen 101 is very pink, and I mean pink, so pink in fact that it reminded me of a chavette’s boudoir.

The menu is pretty vast, which I am starting to hate in restaurants as it takes me forever to narrow down my choices, and makes me wonder how fresh the dishes really are.
The starters were really hit and miss. The hot n sour soup was more or less spot on, with nice sour notes, only needed a bit more heat to put it up there with the best of them.
The fish cakes were really bad. Actually they were pretty rubbish. Soggy, limp, greasy, lifeless and a tad rubbery. I thought I heard a ping just before they brought them out. They really had to be some of the worst fishcakes we’ve ever seen or tasted.

The mussaman curry looked like no other mussaman curry I’d ever seen before. But it tasted really good. It was a lot drier than how I prefer it. I’m still not sure what meat it was, it could have been beef or it could have been mutton. Not really sure. Let’s call it the mystery meat curry. Apart from that the textures were good and the taste was good as well, nice and mild.

The Pad Thai was not bad at all. It’s not the best pad Thai I’ve ever had, but it isn’t far off. There was a nice mix of tart tamarind, pungent fish sauce, heat from the chilli and good textural senses form the crushed peanuts and crunchy bean sprouts. All in all a very good dish. Hats off to the chef.
The service is swift and friendly and with plenty of smiles. I’m just amazed that it took me so long to come here. The next visits will be in quick succession.

101 Thai Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Friday, 12 August 2011

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

What We Ate Last Night : Chicken Wings a la Moro

Recently I received an email asking me if I would like to have the complete set of the (3) re-released Moro Books. Didn’t take a genius to know how my response was going to be. Man was I a happy sooty indeed.
I have had a copy of the original Moro cookbook for too many years now. I seem to go in cycles with my cooking. Sometimes it’s French, then Italian, then Indian, then Asian and in between my cookbooks get an outing as well. It’s kinda funny, but the Moro cookbook was due a dusting off pretty soon. But I’m never one to turn down a good offer.

I normally buy 2 or 3 chickens at a time and joint them, bag and freeze them. My freezer is packed with little bags of different joints of chicken.
I am a fastidious saver of everything and hate to waste. I have bags of chicken carcasses waiting to be used to make stock, although this summer as most of the time the weather has been to good to stay in doors for 4 hours letting a huge pot of water bubble away. After last summer I want to be out doors.
I am also a serial collector of chicken wings. After a month or two I have a good size amount to make some very nice suppers or more interesting work lunches. So with my new Moro cookbooks and a large amount of wings begging to be let out of the freezer, it only took me 39 pages to find what I was looking for.
So for this recipe you will need the following. It does say it feeds four. Yeah right, four little sparrows on a diet. So it did us two or just one of you are Nobu.

12 Chicken wings
3 Garlic cloves, crushed with a little bit of salt
1 Tsp paprika
1 Tsp cumin powder
Juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp Tahini paste
1 Tbsp olive oil

  1. Mix the ingredients together in a bowl
  2. Add the chicken wings and mix thoroughly until they are all coated
  3. Cover with cling film and pop in the fridge overnight
  4. Heat an oven to 220°C or Gas mark 7 or on a bar-b-q if you have one. You lucky buggers
  5. Take the wings out of the fridge and allow to get to room temperature
  6. Put onto a tray and pop in the oven for about 15 – 20 minutes, turning half way through
  7. Once cooked season with salt and pepper and serve with a thick wedge of lemon

An unusual way to eat wings, but the nutty paste and lemon make this a winner for summer. I love Moro, I just wish I could eat at the restaurant more often. 

Monday, 8 August 2011

Sunday Roast and other meals and drinks @ The Jolly Butchers

The Jolly Butchers is a really cool, funky pub on Kingsland High Street. It follows the normal gastro pub rules. Wooden floors, wooden tables, mismatched wooden chairs, menu written on a blackboard. But this is a special place, a special place indeed.
It is really the Londesborough and the Shakespeare all rolled into one. It has the social vibe and the beers of the latter and the food of the former. It’s basically pub heaven.
We’ve been here several times now, and it just gets better and better with each passing.
But the real reason I come is for the mad selection of beers they have. I reckon the selection is worth about 3 normal pubs. A lot of them are London brewed, but there are many that are imported and on draught. A very happy man I am.
The Hell’s Lager made by the Camden Town Brewery seems to be my beer of choice at the mo. It has a slight yellow haze about it, and the flavour comes across as slightly flowery. A perfect summer beer.

The food is bloody good as well. The portions are a little on the generous side, but the taste is great. A recent visit on a Sunday afternoon proved that this is one of the best roasts in Stokie. Damn am I calling it that already. Shit.
Both the beef and pork were both really good. Although it’s not quite in the same league as the Londesborough when it comes to a roast, but the vibe in the place makes up for any shortcomings on the food.
It does seem to be a thing of Stoke Newington that the pubs all seem to serve a burger on a wooden board with a knife stuck in the top or is this a general trend I am missing. I’m not complaining but I’ve only encountered it here, or am I not eating enough burgers in pubs these days. Could be.

The only criticism I have of the place is that on a Friday or Saturday night there are not enough chairs to go around, as everyone wants to sit outside, leaving a lack of chairs inside. That’s it. Nothing more.
If you are in north London and seem to find yourself in Dalston or Stoke Newington and are in need of some liquid refreshment and a bit of grub, or a lot of it as it tends to be. Then head to the Jolly Butchers. You cannot miss it, it’s the crowded place on the corner, with the happy smiley people outside with the tattoos.

The Jolly Butchers on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Dishoom Pop Up......

I'm not going to write anything about the Dishoom Chowpatty Beach Bar on the South Bank. All I will say is that I'm gonna now goto the main Dishoom restaurant in Covent Garden. That impressed with the Ruby I was.
But if you are on the South Bank you should definitely pop in and give it a try, as it won't be there for much longer.

Dishoom Chowpatty Beach Bar on Urbanspoon