So I’ve gone from never visiting Farringdon at all to visiting twice in one week. Last night was launch night for The Piano Works, just a stones throw away from Tuesday’s outing at Ninth Ward. The Piano Works’ concept is pretty simple; live music requested by the audience (on napkins), delicious food served either in or out of a brioche bun and insane cocktails that will make your mouth happy. I’ve never consumed so much brioche in one sitting before and it was bloody brilliant. My favourite was the soft shell crab, followed by the tuna steak and then the vegetarian burger but everything we ate was extremely satisfying. The atmosphere and venue itself is great and the live music gave the night an extra added element that was so much fun. It’s the perfect place for big celebratory meals or a night out with friends so make sure you put it on your lists for future outings. I recommend you plan your requests in advance though – on the spot song choices can be really difficult.
This week Ninth Ward opens in Farringdon and is offering up a selection of delectable New Orleans inspired treats. Dreamt up and hand built by three Yanks and a Brit, Ninth Ward is all about ‘interesting booze, wholesome grub and fun. I went down last night to sample what they’ve got on offer and was thoroughly impressed. I didn’t want to overdo it so ordered a Bloody Mary and the Burnt Courgettes.
Contrary to their name the courgettes aren’t burnt, they are in fact part of the PERFECT courgette salad; consisting of roasted courgette ribbons, spring onions, avocado and pomegranate with lemon and olive oil dressing. It was sensational. I tasted the Cajun Sliced Steak as well which was zingy, fresh and delicious. I was really appealed by the Ward’s Whole Cajun Chicken cooked 5 ways (winged, rotisserie, fried, sliders and gumbo) but decided to resist. The plan right now is to be as healthy as possible until it’s not possible anymore. Wish me luck. The cocktails were delicious with a fiery Cajun kick and the decor and atmosphere is on point. They’ve got a cute little private dining room round the back and a vast selection of beers to choose from. I’ve only ever been to Farringdon on filthy nights out to Fabric but now I’ve discovered this little gem I’m sure I’ll be back pretty soon…
When I want to cook something I’ve never cooked before I usually spend some time doing my research and read a few recipes before adapting my own concoction under the watchful eye of the likes of Jamie and Nigella. Not tonight though. My years of avid Food Network viewing have finally paid off and I’ve created a recipe completely from scratch that would make Ina Garten proud (if you know then you know). This Pearl Barley Risotto is super healthy and super easy to make, even if you’ve never made a risotto in your life before.
Ingredients (serves 4)
1 white onion, diced
200g Pearl Barley
3 Baby Aubergines (you could use pretty much any veg)
Broccoli (half a head)
Peas & Sweetcorn (I used frozen)
1 Celery Stalk
Stock (I used Jewish Chicken Soup Mix but you can use chicken/veg stock cubes/pots, fresh stock etc)
Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley (you could use basil/mint/coriander)
Zest of 1 Lemon and Juice of Half a Lemon
Low Fat Fromage Frais (you could use creme fraiche/low fat yoghurt)
Seasoning; Salt, Pepper, Paprika, Dried Oregano
Coconut Oil & Olive Oil
Rinse the pearl barley and add it to a saucepan with enough boiling water to cover it – you don’t want it to dry out. Let it boil whilst you prepare the vegetables. Fry the diced onion in the coconut oil until it’s soft. Whilst the onion is cooking slice the baby aubergine and toss it in olive oil and salt then add to the pan and cook through. Chop the broccoli and celery and add to the pan. After the pearl barley has softened a bit drain it and add it to the vegetables and add your first lot of stock. The amount of stock will depend on how quickly its absorbed so just pay attention to it and keep stirring! Add the lemon juice, zest, chopped herbs and seasoning and stir. I added about 1 and a half pints of stock in 3 lots and I let it simmer for about half an hour. It does need a fair bit of attention but its not difficult and its most definitely worth it. When it looks like its nearly ready and the pearl barley is cooked through, add the peas and sweetcorn and stir in the fromage frais. Stir everything through one last time and check the seasoning. Once it’s thick and creamy, serve and garnish with lemon zest and fresh parsley.
On Thursday night I had the most fun I’ve ever had at a blogging event. The lovely people at Strada invited me and some like minded female food bloggers down to their More Riverside London restaurant to sample the new menu and learn a trick of two about how to make pizza. We tasted a LOT and every single morsel was divine. Strada have come a long way since I last ate there and now under new management with fresh, delicious ingredients they’ve managed to pull off a summer menu fit for kings, that you’d be silly to miss out on. Highlights for me was the Caprese Salad, Cavatappi Genovese and the ridiculously good pizza that my plus 1 aka Emma Deering helped the chef make. It was cheese free but doused in pesto and was absolutely bloody incredible. Before this meal I’d never really had the urge to go to Strada but I haven’t stopped thinking about it ever since. Lucky there’s one right round the corner from work ey…
I’ve been doing my rounds of the street food markets recently and couldn’t turn down the opportunity to go and check out the Barclaycard British Summertime events at Hyde Park. As well as all the gigs they’ve actually got an amazing selection of street food vendors and pop-up bars. I went and enjoyed cocktails at The Craft Cocktail Company, frozen yoghurt at Snog and had more fun that I’ve ever had before on a Tuesday in the Bulmers #LiveColourful enclosure. I also enviously watched my friend Amanda enjoy a pulled pork burger from the Chicago Rib Shack and a salted caramel brownie from Bad Brownie. I was doing my best to to eat well so managed to avoid scoffing on hot dog’s from Dog Town, oozy cheese toasties from Grill My Cheese and soft shell crab burgers from Crabbieshak. I did however eat 2 Nature Valley popcorn bars and they were a DREAM. If you’ve got no plans tomorrow evening go and check it out – have a Bad Brownie for me.
Summer in London is the best for many reasons but mainly because street food festivals pop up left right and centre. I’ve always been a big fan of Night Tales and what they do but this year their summer pop-up is absolutely smashing it. They’ve got it so right it’s actually upsetting that I’m not able to spend every single weekend there feasting on the city’s best street food and sipping on delicious cocktails. Summer Tales has such great vibes, you’d be a mug to miss out on this wonderful experience. It’s open Thursday, Friday and Saturday night for the rest of the summer so you’ve got no reason not to go and get involved. I feasted on Feel Good Chicken Salad from Bel Air, Real Food Croquettes from Nanny Bills and Napoli inspired pizza from Pizza Pilgrims. It was all SO yummy.
Dinerama is the newest street food festival to pop up in Shoredich and comes from the genius people behind Street Feast. It’s everything you’d expect from a street food pop-up and it’s well worth a visit. We ended up going when we couldn’t get in to Summer Tales last weekend and it was an absolutely brilliant back-up plan. In fact it was so great it doesn’t deserve to be referred to as a back-up plan at all. I ate pork buns at Yum Bun and got pizza lessons off the lovely people at Fundi Pizza. It was extremely enjoyable.
This week I got to do 2 very unusual things. I went on a tasting tour of London and to a Sake masterclass at Vinopolis. I won’t go into too much detail on either because that would give away all the fun but if you’re into history, drinking or learning then you should give them a go. Delicious London are the brains behind the Gin & Pie tour and I couldn’t praise them any higher. They refer to themselves as The Oracle Of Edible Entertaining & Experiential Events and I absolutely love everything they do. Their blog The Eateasy is a great foodie read too. They do such amazing things with food and if you’re ever planning an event with food as the main focus then you’d be stupid to do it without their help. This tour is the perfect team building activity for gin drinkers and they can create a bespoke tour tailored to you and your groups wishes. HIGHLY recommended for anyone looking to do something a bit different…
You may remember my visit to Vinopolis a few months ago. If you don’t then check it out. I had a lot of fun so was delighted to receive my invitation to the Sake Masterclass they hosted on Thursday. I’ve never had sake before, I’m always far too focused on the food at Japanese restaurants to bother getting drunk but I think I’ll order a bottle the next time I’m given the chance. The masterclass itself was a little too educational for me and I lost focus after about 10 minutes but I did enjoy the part where we got to taste the sake. I’ve been told Vinopolis will be closing their doors at the end of the year so if you haven’t been yet then book it in ASAP before it’s too late…
It’s my favourite time of year, Taste of London has popped up in Regents Park and the foodies have flocked to get their mitts on London’s top grub. This is my 6th year in a row and its just never going to get boring. My list of restaurants that I need to visit has well and truly expanded after sampling some of the city’s most delectable dishes.
We kicked off our day with these little delights from Chai Wu and were EXTREMELY impressed. The Coconut Prawns with Special Rice actually ended up being my favourite dish of the whole day. The prawns were utterly mouth-watering and I’ll be sad forever if I don’t get to eat them again. The Chilli Salt and Pepper Squid with Adjud Sauce were also scrumptious – squid certainly isn’t my favourite thing but this squid was a winner.
Lima Floral blew my mind with their presentation and absolutely exquisite ceviche. We had the Andean Quinoa Ceviche with Yellow Aji Imulsion, Fresh Cheese and Avocado and the Seafood Ceviche with Traditional Tigers Milk and Canchita Corn. Both were absolutely sublime and ALMOST too pretty to eat.
Club Gascon took a risk with their Sweetbread Popcorn and Frosted Worcester (which is essentially deep fried intestines with worcester sauce flavoured ice cream) – it was an interesting combination. I couldn’t quite get my head around the texture but the flavour was good. I was filmed taking my first bite out of the Cherry Macaroon with Lavender and Lillet so hopefully you’ll see me on the official Taste video some time soon. The macaroon was slightly too aniseedy for me but my cousin and the camera men loved it.
Palomar was one of the places I’ve added to my list after sampling their Shakshukit. The dish was an absolute taste sensation; Deconstructed Kebab with Minced Beef and Lamb, Yoghurt, Tahini, Watercress Pesto, Tapenade, Harissa and a Mini Pitta. I loved everything about it, the food was really, really good and the branding was so on point – everything from the pink neon to the business cards and branded postcards were perfect. Mum (I know you’re reading this) this is one for us, I need that meal in front of me again soon and the menu looks right up your street.
Artusi‘s Suckling Pig with Mustard was sublime. I wasn’t too fond of the fatty bit but the crackling was delicious and I really enjoyed the pickled celery on the side. This was my cousin’s winning dish and her face was an absolute picture when she bit into it. Good Jews.
At Roka we tasted the Black Cod, Crab and Crayfish Dumplings, the Sushi Choux Bun with Chargrilled Freshwater Eel in Teriyaki Sauce and the Lamb Cutlets with Korean Spices. Neither eel or lamb are my favourite things but all three dishes were delicious – the dumplings were the winner for me and the girl who served us was delightful!
Ember Yard seem to have a strange understanding of what a salad is because their Warm ‘Salad’ of Confit Duck Leg with Faro, Beetroot and Salted Grape was 100% NOT a salad. It was however an experience. My favourite thing about it was the range of textures in every bite. The Asparagus, Pea and Goats Cheese Croquettes with Wild Garlic Pesto were everything I wanted them to be and so much more. I could have devoured about 5. I was gutted that Salt Yard didn’t have a stand this year and I didn’t get to have my obligatory Courgette Flower Stuffed with Goats Cheese and Drizzled with Honey but this was a pretty good substitute.
Theo Randall was a dream and so was his food. We got to sample the Penne Rigate with Slow Cooked Violet Aubergine, Fresh Plum Tomatoes, Basil and Parmigiano Reggiano and the Fresh Sicillian Peach Sorbet with Baked White Peaches, Vanilla and Moscato. I’d say they were both top 5 on my favourites list and I want them in my mouth again right now. The sorbet was definitely prettiest dish I saw all day too so big up yourself Theo, you babe.
We ended our feast with Shake Shacks Lil’ Shroom Burger – we did the same thing last year and will do it again next year. Although by this point in the day I was beyond full and could only manage a bite – gutted. My biggest regret of the day was not having the Malted Marshmallow Frozen Custard topped with Chocolate Covered Pretzels. I’m disappointed in myself so being so full but lucky for me there’s a Shake Shack up the road at Westfield. WHOOOP.
Taste is such a great experience for anyone that enjoys eating and when the weather is as good as it was on Friday you can literally have the most perfect day. Next year I’m going to do a double session and go twice in one day, 4 hours definitely isn’t long enough for me to taste everything. Until next year guys…
On Tuesday you may have seen that I started my day at Scarlet’s and ended it at Chick n Sours in celebration of Hannah Twists 22nd birthday. In between these two venues were 3 birthday treats that I can’t not tell you about.
After brunch we headed to my all time favourite, Flesh n Buns for the only dessert worth having on your birthday – s’mores. The marshmallowy, chocolatey goodness and giant campfire flames were the perfect post brunch treat for my Twist.
Our 2.30pm booking at Sky Gardens was slightly disappointing. I’m not sure what I was expecting but I was let down and disappointed with what we got. The whole vibe of the Sky Pod was very touristy and the bar was like a museum restaurant. The cocktails on the other hand were amazing and did make up for the lack of atmosphere and the photo opportunities meant it wasn’t exactly a wasted journey. The view is amazing but if you want to see London looking beautiful then you’re better off doing it at the top of the Herron Tower at Duck & Waffle or Sushi Samba – at least then you’ll get the atmosphere to go with it.
The Anthologist is one of my favourite City destinations and is the perfect ‘post work drinks’ venue if you want to be surrounded by city boys in suits. Which we did. The chips come in terracotta plant pots and covered in BBQ sauce and they made us off the menu cocktails in sandwich bags. The vibe is great the decor is perfection and the staff are very friendly. Highly recommended for both food and drinks and it’s worth going out your way for on a week day night out.
Firstly, any place that gives you transfer tattoos at the end of the meal is always going to hold a special place in my heart and secondly, the chicken here is a fucking JOKE. In a good way. In the best way ever in fact. Chick n Sours is Carl Clarke’s newest venture and it’s bloody brilliant.The menu is small (my favourite) and every single item is mouth-wateringly delicious. The venue itself is VERY dalston. You sit on long wooden tables, squished between hungry hipsters and the tiny restaurant probably only fits about 30 people in it max. None of that matters though. The stripped back, urban decor fits in perfectly and the food is so on point I don’t actually think I have the vocabulary to give it the justice it deserves. Luckily the lighting was perfect and my pictures really do speak a thousand words. Get your butts down to Dalston Junction ASAP and experience it – you’d be stupid not to. Sticky Wings, Szechuan Aubergine (oh my fucking God), Chicken in a Bun (fuck me), Pickled Watermelon, Peanut & Mint Salad (trust me), fries and ALL the dips. Washed down with sour cocktails and finished off with Salted Chocolate Soft Serve Ice Cream & Popcorn. It doesn’t really get much better than that and you’d be a mug to miss out. Plus, they have baby wipes on every table – that’s got to be a good sign.