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Salt Beef Heaven

3 Dec

I have been looking for a really good salt beef with pickle and mustard on rye and found it.

If you’re in London, in Soho, on a Thursday, Friday or a Saturday, you should pay Bel Shapiro and The Bell and Brisket in the Brewer Street Market a visit.  She absolutely will NOT disappoint.  My salt beef sandwich was bee-yoo-tee-ful and absolutely delicious.

Salt beef, pickle and mustard on rye, The Bell & Brisket

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Still thinking about this!

16 May

We went to The Ship for my birthday lunch.  I had my usual slow cooked lamb shank which was melt-in-your-mouth-fall-off-the-bone delicious.  But it was the dessert that I’m still dreaming about.  I’m obsessed with food at the moment because I’ve got this stupid stomach bug and I can’t keep anything down for longer than half an hour.  I find that I’m always starving but the food doesn’t stay inside me long enough to satisfy that hunger!  Anyway, back to my perfectly perfect birthday pavlova.

The Ship's Strawberry and Mango PavlovaWhen they placed the plate in front of me, I knew a picture had to be taken.  It was almost too pretty not to eat!  Well, ALMOST.  The mangoes reminded me of my Mom’s thick mango juice with their tangy sweetness.  The cream on the yummy chewy meringue (I now need to learn how to make meringues from scratch!) was sweetened just right.  The strawberry coulis (at least I think it was strawberry coulis) was absolutely yummy!  I’m actually licking my lips while I’m writing this because it was just oh-so-good!

Empty Pavlova Plate!And this is what my plate looked after I demolished my pavlova!  🙂

I definitely recommend going to The Ship if you’re in Harwich.  It’s a small restaurant (it only has 24 places, I think) that doubles up as an art gallery.  Their food is well-prepared and the portions are generous.  Everytime we’ve had lunch or dinner there, we’ve never been disappointed.  You get amazing value for money: a 2-course Sunday lunch is £13 + drinks + service charge and a 3-course lunch menu is available Wednesdays-Saturdays for £15+ drinks + service charge.  The staff are friendly and attentive.  The restaurant is light and airy and while it is a small place, the large windows makes the room feel larger than it really is.  Make sure you book before you visit to avoid disappointment, because if they are fully booked, they will turn people away.

BIG Breakfasts

14 May

I grew up eating hearty, hot breakfasts.  My mom would always make us something to go with the hot steamed rice, or the garlic fried rice (called sinangag).  My favourite was when my Mom would make daing na bangus (it’s a crispy fried filleted milkfish that was marinated in vinegar, salt, garlic and crushed pepper) or beef tapa (thinly sliced beef steak marinated in soy sauce, vinegar, and garlic) served with eggs.  It was probably a Filipino version of a full English.

Hot food in the morning sets everyone off, at least that’s what my mom always used to say.  I’m beginning to think there is a lot of wisdom in that.  These days, I tend to skip breakfast and satisfy myself with just a hot cup (or three) of coffee in the morning.  Every Filipino mother worth her weight in salt would always have a hot meal in the morning.  It might be a fried breakfast, or it might be congee, or it might be champorado (which is glutinous rice cooked with chocolate and is served with either tuyo, which is a dried salty fish, or just evaporated milk).  Or it can be a slice of spam with a scrambled egg on the side.  On Saturdays, we’d usually have longsilog (which is a sort of acronym for longganisa-sinangag-itlog, which is a Filipino sausage, garlic fried rice and egg–mostly cooked sunny side up), usually served with a side of chopped salad tomatoes.

Breakfast Club's Full MontyI love the fact that the Brits have what is called the full English breakfast (also called the Full Monty).  It’s a fried breakfast that is reminiscent of longsilogs—supersized longsilogs, that is!  It consists of sausages, strips of bacon, grilled tomatoes, grilled mushrooms, a fried egg (or two), hashbrowns, and toast (some versions have fry bread and black pudding! yes it’s a lot of food!).

I don’t think I was actively looking for a great place to that does excellent breakfasts.  But it is nice to eat breakfast without having to contend with the washing up after.  There was a place in Harwich that did excellently priced breakfasts (mind you, it was okay but nothing to write home about) that has since closed.  I’m always open to trying new places to eat and this was a gem of a find.

The Breakfast Club already has a cult following.  As was the case when we got there early this morning.  There were several people milling around the area of the D’Arblay Street branch of the Brekky Club!  There was this woman who kept opening the shut door asking if they were open already.  Talk about being desperate for breakfast!  Mind you, after having had breakfast at the Breakfast Club, I can almost understand why she was that excited to get a table and order whatever it was that she wanted to order (but at the time, I was thinking, “Man, this woman must’ve failed the marshmallow test!“).

My first choice was the Eggs Benedict.  The eggs were absolutely gorgeous (they were perfectly poached!) and the hThe Breakfast Club's Green Eggs and Hamollandaise sauce was amazing–just the right balance of richness and tartness.  The ham slices that were served with the eggs were absolutely delicious.  I don’t think I can really describe how much I enjoyed it.  I loved my breakfast so much that I knew my dad would love it too, as he is a fan of a good breakfast as well.

Their green eggs and and ham were absolutely delightful.  The scrambled eggs were moist and fluffy and with just the right amount of chives and cream cheese.  The dish is served with potato wedges that were crispy on the outside but nice and soft and mushy on the inside.  Their freshly squeezed orange juice was gooooooood.  I was there, sipping away, wondering where they got their oranges because the juice was tart but sweet.  I was in breakfast heaven.

Another beautiful breakfast plate was the chorizo hashbrowns.  It’s served with two huge chorizo sausages (reminiscent of longganisas that my mom used to buy from the Fairview Wet Market), mushrooms, hashbrowns (the pBC Chorizo Hashbrownsroper ones, none of the frozen variety!) and 2 beautifully cooked sunny side up eggs.

It’s a must-go-to place for really amazing cups of coffee (their vanilla lattes are DELISH!) and an amazing menu for brunches (which I think are served until 5PM!).  All the plates are beautifully prepared and the portions are absolutely generous (makes for amazing eat-off-someone’s-plate moments! haha!).  The restaurant vibe is amazing, it’s very young, and as cheerful as the yellow paint on their shopfronts.  The service is quick and efficient but very friendly.  They solicituously ask you occasionally if you need anything or if the food is to your liking.  It’s a cosy little place (40 seats at a stretch, I would think) but it’s a place that just made me smile.  All the branches amazingly easy to get to, within walking distance of tube stations (walks are good to work up an appetite for breakfast and excellent to walk off the breakfast! Haha! :))

I’m definitely going back, if I’m in London!  Breakfast is ACE at The Breakfast Club!

Photocredits:

Full Monty – The Breakfast Club

NOW Streetfood

4 Apr

NOW Streetfood Liverpool StreetI hardly venture out of the Liverpool Street Station because if I travel to London, I usually have somewhere else to go.  I usually make a beeline to the tube station entrance, oyster card in hand.  But several weeks back, I’d read about this restaurant just outside the station, near the Liverpool Street entrance of the station.  It served one of my favourite things in the world: DIMSUM!  I’m all for trying dimsum so I was (very) eager to go try NOW Streetfood.

I loved the front of the store.  It’s got this massive window front with small towers of bamboo steam baskets piled one on top of the other.  It made me smile.  I mean if they steamed their dimsum properly, we were off to a good start.

The first thing that hits you when you enter the place is the fact that it isn’t your typical dimsum place.  There are no little tables around.  Instead the seating area is limited.  To one side of the counter where you place your order is an eating bar with high-ish bar stools that seats about 3 persons, 4 at a squeeze facing toward the street, with a couple more seats on the other side of the entrance.  The other side is a bit more generous in terms of space.  It could, quite possibly, fit 7 to 8 persons.   I think the concept is mostly dimsum-to-go for the busy commuters, hence the lack of seating for punters.

NOW Meat BasketThey have a menu up that you could chose from and build your “basket” but if you weren’t too confident about ordering specific dimsum, they made it easier for you.  You had the option of ordering pre-selected baskets.  You could choose from the NOW Basket, the Meat Basket, the Seafood Basket and the Veggie Basket.  They had hot sides, cold sides, a choice of nibbles and drinks.

We ordered a NOW basket and a meat basket and a chicken wonton soup.  I was looking forward to trying the dimsum because I’d looked through the menu online and everything looked so scrumptious.  The Meat Basket had 2 pieces of their beef dumpling, spicy pork dumpling and chicken shumai.  I quite enjoyed the beef dumpling and thought the spicy pork dumpling had promise.  I can’t quite recall what was in the NOW basket, which is not a good sign.  Visually, the dumplings were beautifully presented.  They showed how well they were made.  It was the taste that was not quite there.  I can’t really say that it was bland, because I could taste the nuances of flavour.  But I found myself waiting for my tongue to taste something else.

NOW Chicken Wonton SoupThe chicken wonton soup was in this hugely generous white tub.  I’ve always loved chicken wonton, both here in the UK and from Chinese restaurants in Manila–it was basically the same everywhere I went.  I was expecting this lovely chicken broth with chinese leaf and a bit of spring onion and a hint of garlic.  Unfortunately, the size of the serving was proportionate to my disappointment.  There was a lot of cabbage (I was wondering what red cabbage was doing in wonton soup!) and what was the predominantly offending flavour was the red bell pepper.  Although, that being said, if you could ignore that dominant taste of red bell pepper, the texture of the chicken wonton was very pleasant.  The filling in the wonton was surprisingly succulent.  But, unfortunately, whatever flavour was there in that lovely wonton was washed out by that bell pepper taste.

I did enjoy the little roll of traditional sticky rice.  It was a little tricky unrolling the lotus leaf (I did find the warning to not eat the leaf very considerate to people who don’t normally eat dimsum).  There was a lot of flavour in that little parcel, and I felt that it was quite affordable, priced at £1.69.  If you were eating this together with dimsum, it is the perfectly sized serving.

NOW Streetfood Chinese BurgerMy favourite though, was what they called the Chinese Burger.  What their dimsum lacked in flavour, their Chinese Burger more than made up for it.  The Chinese Burger is made of two slices of mantou bread (the steamed bread similar to the bread in steamed buns), what I thought was char siu pork, hoisin sauce, coriander and carrots.  After being disappointed by the dimsum, I was fairly reluctant to try the burger.  I was very surprised at how good it was though.  I loved it!  If I was asked what I should eat at NOW, I would gladly recommend the Chinese Burger.

Their choices of beverage was quite interesting.  I loved the Chinese “Palmer” which was lemonade with black tea, and it was very refreshing.  I think their wall of drinks and desserts and cold sides were an interesting touch.NOW Streetfood Beverages and Cold Sides

All in all, the NOW experience was quite pleasant.  I feel that the dimsum has a lot to live up to in terms of flavour, especially if what they want to do is to “bring the very best of Chinese food.”  It’s not quite there yet, compared to the dimsum restaurants in Chinatown but I do love what NOW is trying to do.  I love that they are trying to make Chinese streetfood more accessible and less of a mystery, and to make people understand that Chinese food is more than sweet and sour pork, chicken chow mein and pancake rolls.  I love that the service is quick and friendly and the restaurant setting has a very young vibe.  I would definitely go back for the Chinese burger…or two.

Foxcroft and Ginger

26 Feb

My feet were killing me.  Absolutely killing me!  We were walking around Soho trying to find NY Deli, which, according to reviews had the best pastrami sandwiches this side of the Atlantic.  If I couldn’t go to Katz’ in New York at least London had NY Deli.  But we couldn’t find it.  So we decided to go to Gelupo on Archer Street.  I could already feel the cool comfort of their slightly overtall stools, I could already hear the quiet strains of jazz music floating in the air and I could already taste the straciatella and nutella gelato that I was going to get a scoop each of.  But we got to Gelupo and it was PACKED!  Gone were the days when we would pop in on a Saturday afternoon and the store would be quiet and we could taste all the gelato we wanted until we could decide which combination to get.  There were people at the counter and even more people in the food shop area.  So, Alan and I decided to walk to…somewhere else…anywhere else really.  Even Snog was packed (I think it’s become even more popular because it was mentionend in a newspaper article that Princess-to-be Kate Middleton loves Snog and wants to include it in the wedding luncheon menu, or something like that–Snog is a frozen yogurt place)!

So we decide to go to Foxcroft and Ginger.  Alan asked me where I’d read about the restaurant, and I said it was recommended by The London Foodie.  It wasn’t too hard to find (considering that my feet were in agony, it was a relatively quick walk from where we were).  It was where the Berwick Market was, on Berwick.  I didn’t stop to take a picture of the front of the shop because I was desperate for somewhere to sit.  We ordered a capuccino, a fizzy mandarin and ginger something or other (I forget the brand), a Chelsea bun (similar to a cinnamon roll, minus the sticky syrup) and sweet french toast.  After our order was taken and I was handed a glass and my drink, we were given this tiny canvas with our table number written on it.  I found it quite quirky (I couldn’t coo too much about it at the time because I desperately wanted somewhere to sit down!).  

We couldn’t find a spot on the main floor so we went downstairs into the basement to see if we could find somewhere else.  The place was packed too and I was this close to crying because I didn’t think my feet would survive another journey, plus we’d already paid for our food!  This lovely couple offered to share with us the table that they had (may they be blessed a thousandfold!).

After I had a chance to pour myself some of my drink and lift my weight off my poor feet, I began to take in the atmosphere, and hear the thump-thump of the music.  The place was packed but the atmosphere was very relaxed, it was exactly what I needed.  Alan’s capuccino arrived in this lovely china cup and saucer and this was when I noticed that every table had a container of demerara sugar for people to help themselves to.  I

My sweet french toast arrived next and it was HUGE!  There were about 3 slices of french toast slathered with cream, raspberry jam and yummy banana!  I loved it because it wasn’t overly sweet.  Alan’s Chelsea bun was the best though.  It had enough cinnamon sweetness without it being a danger to my blood glucose level.

We’re definitely going back!