Friday, November 21, 2014

LONDON Borough Market: Shopping Haul + Street Photography


At the heart of a genuinely delicious meal is its raw ingredients. I've had a list of things I've been wanting to make for awhile including truffle mac and cheese and marinated mozzarella, the latter inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi. Knowing I wouldn't do either recipe any justice without the perfect set of ingredients, I took a 15 minute tube ride to London Bridge,  desperately hoping the overcast sky would hold back its rain until I'd done my shopping. 

My truffle mac and cheese craving was triggered when I saw Courtney Lapresi's version on Master Chef 2014. Sadly I couldn't find the recipe online but I did find the exact clip on youtube. Because I am, after all, a mere student prone to the occasional bout of laziness and not a gourmet chef, I'll be making attempting the dish without the lobster; and instead of three cheeses I'll only be using one cheese (see said cheese in the photo below). Edel de Cleron is a mild, light and creamy cheese which I hope will go well with the intense truffle aroma on my mac and cheese. The vendor at "The French Comte" was extremely helpful when I told him I wanted a mild cheese I could melt into a sauce.

At £7, the tiny bottle of white truffle oil from "Tartufaia Truffles"  seems like a lot to pay until you actually dip some bread into it and try it for yourself. With flavour so intense, you won't need a lot of it to suffuse your dish with the nutty, mushroomy aroma of truffle. 



I've always wondered why burrata costs so much in restaurants. After all, it doesn't appear to me (though I might be wrong) like much skill is required in prepping a marinade and garnishing a plate. Either way, I've had a recipe from Lottie + Doof for Marinated Mozzarella bookmarked for ages so I got myself some creamy, velvety burrata from "The Parma Ham and Mozzarella Stand" to try the recipe out with. By far my favourite type of cheese, burrata is light, delicately flavoured and simply amazing with cherry tomatoes. 

Since this is a post about Borough Market without any actual photos of Borough Market, I thought I'd post the ones I took as part of a photography course assignment a while back: 






Shopping List: 

White Truffle Oil.................£7
Burrata 250g......................£5
Cheese wedge....................£3
Mushroom Pate (Pate Moi)......£4
Custard Buns (Bread Ahead)...£2.50 each

Total: £24

Borough Market 

Tube: London Bridge

8 Southwark Street

SE1 1TL

020 7407 1002


Sunday, November 2, 2014

LONDON: Brunch at Lantana

Toasted banana bread with mascarpone, banana custard and salted chocolate crumb   
While my brunch partner and I squeezed into a little wooden table at Lantana between a group of indie hipsters (did I get that right?) and a sweet old couple, I wondered how I was going to snap my food shots with my huge camera without embarrassing us. Then again, it helps to be Asian in Europe. I could easily be classified as an over-enthusiastic tourist. 

I learnt two things from my trip to Lantana. 1. The devil is indeed in the details. 2. A few minutes out in the open can be lethal to a freshly toasted breakfast.  

My toasted banana bread (see first photo) came not only with a healthy dollop of velvety banana custard, but also salted chocolate crumbs. These artfully sprinkled sugary flecks gave each bite a lovely crunch that ever so subtly elevated the whole dish. What distinguishes Lantana from other brunch places isn't its service or interior - both of which have some room for improvement - it is the thoughtfulness that has gone into the planning of each dish. 

Nonetheless, with the slowly decreasing temperatures, I feel the food could have been served steaming hot rather than simply lukewarm. With the kitchen so far from the seating area this can be a difficult task but a plate warmer or heat lamp could go a long way. Eating french toast (see third photo) crisp and fresh from the toaster oven is infinitely more satisfying than eating it after a few minutes out in the open. While I enjoyed the banana bread at Lantana, I couldn't quite appreciate the maple french toast until I heated some of it up in the toaster oven at home and tried it again piping hot and devoid of the veritable sea of maple syrup it had previously been swimming in. 

My advice? Go to Lantana with an empty stomach and a craving for something rich and substantial. 


Corn fritters stacked with streaky bacon, fresh spinach and slow roast tomatoes served with smashed avocado, a poached egg and crème fraiche   
Maple French toast w streaky bacon, grilled banana and toasted pecans    

Lantana Cafe

13 Charlotte Place
Fitzrovia
W1T1SN
020 7637 3347


Saturday, October 11, 2014

LONDON: Set lunch at Lima


As someone who blogs about food (at least occasionally), I would like to think I have a relatively sophisticated palate. Unfortunately I think Lima - at least the set lunch - is a little too sophisticated for me. Despite the raving reviews, my visit to try out their set-lunch was anti-climactic. Perhaps I was expecting a little less visual flair and a little more substance but at £27 for 3 courses, I suppose I shouldn't be complaining. To be fair, the neighbouring table's a la carte courses did look very tempting.  

If you're expecting to be wowed with Instagram worthy food shots and experience a complex intermingling of exotic flavours and textures, then I would recommend Lima's set lunch. If you're looking to fill an empty stomach or even satisfy a craving for some juicy meat, then try the a la carte menu.

One thing that might actually lure me back to Lima is its ambience. With mirrors and a generous skylight, the restaurant's somewhat narrow interiors are transformed into what feels like a cosy, yet spacious setting perfect for a warm reunion with a few close friends. 








Lima
31 Rathbone Place
Fitzrovia
London, W1T 1JH
p. +44 203 002 2640
http://www.limalondon.com


Sunday, May 18, 2014

SANTORINI: Anogi Restaurant


Now that I think about it, we were extremely fortunate to have chosen to stay in Imerovigli. Not only were the views stunning, we had a wealth of amazing restaurants to choose from; none of which were over-reliant on the scenery or the inevitable flocks of tourists to draw their customers. 

Anogi delivers a sacred mix of quality, heart and affordability - three characteristics that guarantee long queues in the restaurant industry. We visited the tavern, a mere 10 minute walk away from our apartment, at the vague hour between lunch and dinner and got a table immediately. (Note: This was in early June 2013. Trip Advisor comments for May 2014 say that the queues are insane.) 

My absolute favourite dish of the entire trip was the succulent grilled octopus. Tantalizingly juicy with a subtle sweetness from what I'm guessing to be thick balsamic vinegar, the grilled octopus left our mouths' watering and our tummies hungry for more. Sure enough, within a few days we were back for a second round with a ready list of orders in our head:

1. Grilled octopus;
2. Cod with a side of mashed chickpeas; and  
3. Yellow donkey beer for the guys

My next trip to Croatia saw a lot of restaurants serving grilled octopus, but none of them served octopus that reached the depth of flavour and irresistible texture that Anogi had executed to exquisite perfection. 





The expressions on my friends' faces speak a thousand words about the food at Anogi. 
Anogi Restaurant

Imerovigli, 84700 Santorini
Greece 

info@anogirestaurant.gr 


Sunday, March 30, 2014

SANTORINI: La Maison




There are some posts that have sat around at pre-publishing status for months because I never got around to posting them. As time goes on, I feel I won't do the restaurant or the post justice because my memory of each dish has faded. Nonetheless, I never forget how a place makes me feel. Thinking about it now, my days in Santorini, post-final exams and pre-graduation, were really some of the most blissful. 

La Maison is a 10 minute walk from where my friends and I stayed in Imerovigli, one of the villages in Santorini. It may not have been one of the cheapest but it was definitely worth every euro. Fresh from our flight in from Athens, we were flushed with excitement and absolutely starving. 

A quick search on trip advisor led us to La Maison. Trip advisor really is a hit and miss thing. After all, taste is a subjective thing and when writing a review on trip advisor, excellent service can make you forget how bad the food was. Despite this, I think we really hit the jackpot with La Maison. In early June, the weather wasn't blisteringly hot nor bitingly cold and the place wasn't too overrun with annoying tourists with big cameras (much like myself). 

In a nutshell 

If you're planning a summer trip to Santorini: 

1. Go in early June; 
2. Don't rely solely on Trip Advisor for trip advice; and
3. As biased as this may be, refer to Cafe Creatures for my recommendations. Some restaurants we tried on our 8-day trip relied too much on the view and too little on their food to get by.
4. Lastly, bring a pashmina that stuffs easily into your backpack/tote for windy evenings! 









Sunday, February 16, 2014

Green Tea Chiffon Cake


I adore green tea flavoured desserts. Whether it's ice-cream, macaroons or tiramisu, if you permeate the dessert with green tea, I will be drawn to it like a moth to a flame. When this chiffon cake recipe popped up on my Facebook stream, I bookmarked it for a free day. The "free day" came almost a year later, a week ago from today, when I finally realized I needed a break from my work, sleep, eat routine. 

As I have recently been abruptly thrust into the reality of a working life, I can now relate my posts to the working crowd. I completely understand that most people wouldn't drag themselves out of bed on a weekend to bake. If, however, you're a 9-6 (or later) worker bee and find yourself feeling a sudden, inexplicable urge to bake (or your girlfriend thinks it will make for a "fun" couple activity), one advantage of having this chiffon cake for breakfast is that it's full of matcha powder and therefore caffeine, which is bound to keep you up on lazy mornings on your way to work. 

Either way, it was incredibly satisfying to bake, but I think I will stick to more sedentary things like online shopping or vegetating in front of a tv screen next weekend. 

Sift matcha powder, cake flour and baking powder together 

Whisk 6 egg yolks together

Whisk egg yolks and matcha/flour mixture together until lusciously creamy

Whisk 6 egg whites in a clean, non-oily metal bowl at high speed with your mixer (trust me, doing this by hand is extremely exhausting) until stiff peaks form 

Stir in 1/3 of the fluffed up egg white into the creamy matcha mixture, then fold in the next 2/3. 

Pour everything into the chiffon pan!

Bake for 30 minutes at 170 degrees until toothpick comes out clean, then flip over to cool. DON'T rush to take it out of the pan! 

Voila! Yummiest, fluffiest, softest cake ever. 
GREEN TEA CHIFFON CAKE RECIPE 

Ingredients:

            6 egg yolks
            6 egg whites 
            1/2 cup sugar
            6 Tbsp. (80 ml) vegetable oil
            8 Tbsp. (120 ml) water
            150 g cake flour 
            2 heaping Tbsp. matcha powder (I bought mine at Liang Court's Meidi Ya) 
            1 tsp. baking powder
            Chiffon cake pan

Instructions:

1.     Preheat oven to 340F (170C).
2.     In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and add 1/3 of the sugar. Then add oil and water and whisk all together till combined.
3.     Sift cake flour, matcha, and baking powder together and add to the egg yolk mixture in 3 separate times. Whisk until totally incorporated, making sure there are no lumps.
4.     Using a stand mixer, whip the egg whites on medium low speed (speed 4) till opaque and foamy and bubbly.
5.     Add 1/3 of the remaining sugar and continue whipping. After 30 seconds or so, increase the stand mixer speed to high (speed 10) and add the remaining sugar slowly in small increments until stiff peaks form. 
6.     To check on stiff peaks, pull up your whisk and see if you can make strong 'peak' that stays still without bending down.
7.     Add 1/3 of the beaten egg whites into the flour mixture using spatula until the mixture is homogeneous.
8.     Fold in the rest of the egg whites in 2-3 increments and mix gently but quickly until the mixture is homogeneous.
9.     Pour the mixture into the ungreased chiffon cake pan. Tap the pan a few times on the kitchen countertop to release the air bubbles.
10.  Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
11.  The cake must be cooled upside down; (I simply flipped the tin over on a plate) then leave until cake is completely cool before removing it from the pan.
12.  Use a thin sharp knife or thin spatula and run it around the cake.
13. Place the serving plate on top and flip over. The cake should pop out easily.