It’s all been a bit quiet on the tastecard front recently. Work, life and finding nice places to visit has been a slight challenge – but I had a nice treat a couple of weeks ago when I took my key agency contact out for lunch around the corner from her office.
The Barbican Centre is an institution in itself. Famous for the arts and located in the City of London – it is the largest of its kind in Europe. The design of the building is Grade II listed and a brutalist style building – most people would think hideously ugly but brutalist buildings are very sought after and a big deal these days! I LOVE them.
Would you consider eating there? I wouldn’t have until last week, but largely because I didn’t know you could! However my latest tastecard adventure took me small plate exploring at their exquisitely designed Barbican Lounge. Continue reading
So, I was on the phone gassing to my friend Simone last night and she asked me “what are you having for dinner?”
“Well…” I replied.
“You know how I like a fad…?”
“A what?” She asked
“No, Fad. F.A.D”
We continued this for around 30 seconds.
“FAD Simone. F for foxtrot. A for apple. D for delta”
Finally she got it. Continue reading
I’m always on a quest to visit restaurants serving seafood, (ok this fact you already knew about FoodieClaire) so I jumped at the opportunity to visit Blackhouse – The Grill on the Market Restaurant in Smithfields, London. I had been sent an email about their Lobster Festival, which has been running throughout the month of March. I thought it would be a great excuse to visit my first restaurant in Smithfields – an area I previously associated with viewing from the confines of a black cab en route to client meetings back in my agency days.
The timing was perfect as Chanelle had decided that she was going to stop being boring during throughout weekdays in 2013 and start partying instead. Well we weren’t quite having a party – but eating seafood does kind of get us excited…
Such is the nature of my job, now that I am client side working in marketing, I now get taken out all the time. Of course, I’m not complaining. Not at all.
Christmas is a time most are stuffed with food without even trying. Here are some of the fantastic places my lovely suppliers took me too with gratuitous pics to match.
Another week, another adventure with foodie partner Chanelle.
This week – Spaghetti House in Tufnell Park. “NOT THE CHAIN!” I yell in unison each time I tell someone about this restaurant.
Spaghetti House is actually a small Italian run café that has been around since the late 1970’s. Walking past, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a greasy spoon, set on a cross junction facing a fruit and veg cum off licence, Boston Arms Irish pub (beautiful building) and The Hideaway bar which let’s face it – should be hidden.
If you were to walk past Spaghetti House and have thoughts of “caff” greasy spoon – more fool you.
My aunt first took me to Spaghetti House about three years ago. I distinctly remember being completely in love from first sight and insanely jealous that I lived nowhere near this fantastic place – I would have been in there at least once a week. In my head remembering how great it was I had visions of lobster, caprese salads and lugs of wine and walking away with a heavy stomach AND pocket.
There is always a spark of interest when a new restaurant opens in East London – particularly the part of East London I am in (Wanstead/Leytonstone/Leyton) and so I was delighted when my friend Cheryl opened her new venture – a Caribbean restaurant called Heart and Soul Restaurant in Lea Bridge Road, Leyton.
Within weeks of opening, Chanelle had made me envious with her elaborate descriptions of the seafood dishes she had experienced, cooked to perfection by the wonderful chef Mikey.
Chanelle joined the 30’s club a few weeks ago (Happy Birthday old cow) and booked a group meal at Heart and Soul. I couldn’t wait to see the restaurant for myself.
Birthdays to me generally mean food, and theres nothing I like more than cooking (duh).
I anticipated a very special birthday meal last month by planning ahead with a very special menu:
Starter: Scallops with apple and pistachio dressing
Main: breast of duck with raspberry sauce
The bulk of time was spent prepping the ingredients. To start I had a whole duck to dissect. It’s amazing what you can get out of a whole duck! I portioned it courtesy of YouTube’s assistance:
The breast I set aside for the birthday main, I also took off the legs, seasoned everything apart from the breasts and put it in the oven to roast – that was one week day dinner along with pancakes, cucumber and hoisin sauce, not to mention the duck fat I have waiting to grace Sunday roast potatoes.
To prep the sauce for the scallops I had to soften the apples with cinnamon, cloves and star anise, add pistachios, then blend everything and put through a sieve. That was one part of the sauce. The other part of the sauce required pistachios, extra virgin olive oil, again blended. Sauces done. I then had to warm a mixture of red wine vinegar, a few saffron strands and some honey, fry the scallops for 2 mins on each side, then dip one side of each scallop in the honey before serving with each of my dressings.
The duck was a pretty straight forward feat. Fried for 4 mins on each side (then added a little extra time for preference) I left them to rest, then added balsamic vinegar to the pan, the juice of one orange and the raspberries.
Note: at this point I was running over a bit time-wise so I decided not to pass my raspberry sauce through a sieve – school boy error, do you know how many little seeds are in raspberries? If one must cut time, it would have been better to have not passed the apple mixture through a sieve as the consistency wasn’t marginally different.
Nevertheless, I’d say both dishes came out as expected. I served the main with my famous heavenly light mashed potato, and greens (of course!) The flavour was perfect, we were both so full after eating – no space for dessert. Now here is the finished result and recipes should you want to try them.
Actual recipe taken from this issue
of Stylist Magazine
by Gino D’Acampo
(I skipped the roast veg part)
It is with great sadness that I write this blog post as I received an email just two days ago informing me that Sargasso Sea, a specialised seafood restaurant in Winchmore Hill is closing its doors at the end of the year.
Chanelle of Parisienne, The House of Cupcakes introduced me to this restaurant just last month when we started our dinner club (which by the way we are still trying to come up with a name for – any suggestions? Let me know). It is one of her favourite restaurants. With our love for food in general and in particularly seafood, we just had to go.