1 October 2015

Peruvian Plates at Pachamama, Marylebone, London

I want to tell you about the best meal I've had this year.
Which is a huge claim because we've had some cracking meals this year. Like when I took Dan (my long-term man associate) to Ink for his birthday, the restaurant of Nordic Cuisine Madman Martyn Meid, whose food I had the pleasure of sampling last year courtesy of Miele (hello 9 about them all here) which Dan had been jealous of ever since I went. Then we also went to Sushi Samba, amazing Brazilian inspired sushi with a killer view, so Dan could thank me for being me and ultimately just being the best person ever (this blog is rich in sarcasm). It's a hard life. Although both restaurants were incredible, I keep thinking back to our visit to Pachamama, a peruvian fusion restaurant serving up some sexy sharing dishes, and what a great night out we had parents. They know how to hang loose guys! And if you're not taking your rents out on a Friday night then more fool you.

I'll lay it on the line, my photos from Pachamama are substandard. But the food was amazing, so amazing I'm sharing my camera phone horror pics with you. Look away now if you don't want to be scared! We'd bought my mum's boyfriend tickets to see Shakespeare in Love (which apparently is also great but is no longer running, sorry guys) and said we'd take them out for dinner afterwards. My mum isn't great on tubes so the brief was to find a place within walking distance of the theatre that had proper chairs to sit on AND would take reservations. This is a lot more difficult than it sounds and after our first booking rang us on the morning of our reservation to say their ovens were broken, it was all family members to battle stations to find somewhere else!

Queue our reservation at Pachamama. Booking made, we grabbed my parents and leisurely strolled towards it. Leisurely because my mum is a magpie or to use Dan's fave (and my most loathed) analogy she's a magnet in a spoon shop. Almost everything we passed by we had to stop and examine, I don't mind it makes you a proud Londoner (albeit part time) when someone is complimenting it every 5 minutes as opposed to the usual I don't know how you could live in London speech (we've heard it, we love London, get over it). Anyway cutting a long waffle short that's how we ended up late for our reservation.

Maybe it's because Pachamama had recently opened and were eager to please, or because I'd emailed in advance and told them I had two elderly relatives coming (sorry mum!) or they are just really nice, but what we experienced was some of the best service I've ever had, if not the best. We were welcomed, shown to our table (which I was positively sure we would have lost as we'd been running so late) and were sipping on cocktails in no time. Mum or as we call her Mama T had to go for the Mama's Pisco a rather fruity number with raspberries, orange and lime. Wondering what Pisco is? Me too, so I googled it (you're welcome) it's a type of refined brandy made in Peru and other places. I also went for a Pisco cocktail because you know when in Lima do as the Peruvians do, mine was a Chilli Pisco Sour and it was all of those things. I'll be honest I switched to beer afterwards because I fell victim to the strength of this drink, definitely not for the faint hearted. The men drank beer, in glasses of course...we're not animals (we are, we all are).

Brown Crab and Yuca Churros

 Cornish Seabass, Samphire and Tiger's Milk Ceviche

Yellow Tuna, XO and Pickled Potato Ceviche

Whole Seabass Frito with Chimichurri 

Following on from our Pisco discovery was the food. As I said Pachamama serves Peruvian fusion plates, focusing on the aspect of sharing. This is my favourite type of dining, I love sharing food and us all digging in. We did have side plates for us to use but they fell to the wayside as we fought over some of the tastier dishes, which leads me on to the first dish or 'snack' Brown Crab and Yuca Churros. I love churros. They're probably my favourite street food (BIG praise) but never had I ever had a savoury one before. Oh My Lord this churro will change your life, it changed mine (I'm enlightened now, and more refined). It's soft and crabby on the inside, crispy on the outside, and rolled in salt and sugar it's a miracle in choux pastry form. There's a lot of great dishes at Pachamama but this is the reason why you'll wake up in the night with wet sheets craving to go back. Trust me, order the churros.

Moving on we went for some 'Sea' options (the menu's split into Land, Sea and Soil, easy dining for veggies and pescatarians alike as you know what's suitable is all confined in one place). The Cornish Seabass, Samphire and Tiger's Milk Ceviche was refreshing from the lime in the Tiger's Milk (FYI not real tiger's milk) and fresh. I've eaten this flavour combination a lot recently and it doesn't get old. We also went for a Yellow Tuna, XO (strong chilli shrimp sauce like tamarind except without any tamarind) and Pickled Potato Ceviche which was incredibly different to the other ceviches I've had, the flavour was strong but not overpowering and the potato which I thought would be a bit gross was delicious, we were left trying to scrape up the sauce it was so good. But the one that had us going tooth and nail at each other was the Whole Seabass Frito with Chimichurri. Picture this, a whole deep fried seabass with a pungent parsley, lemon and chilli chimichurri (my lazy go to condiment recipe at home), juicy, plump flakes of seabass with crispy skin on the side left me thinking I need to deep fry whole fish more often. Served on the bone, it won't be for fussy eaters but it's perfect for a fish lover like me.

Grilled Plantain, Malt and Olive

Warm Quinoa, Garden Peas and Summer Truffle

Fried Aubergine, Smoked Yogurt and Pecans

Soil wise, I could have picked any one of the veggie dishes. However, we narrowed it down trying the Grilled Plantain, Malt and Olive which although nice, I'd pass by next time. The Warm Quinoa, Garden Peas and Summer Truffle was a hit, refreshing simple clean flavours with a nice bit of nuttiness and crunch. And my fave, the Fried Aubergine, Smoked Yogurt and Pecans whose smoky yoghurt sauce won my heart, you could smother that sauce on anything (anything? ANYTHING!) and I'd eat it.

Crispy Lamb Belly with Jalapeno and Green Miso 

Beef Short Rib drowned in Wild Garlic

Land also got a look in with the Crispy Lamb Belly with Jalapeno and Green Miso, and the Beef Short Rib drowned in Wild Garlic. Both courses were good, but they weren't my favourites. To be honest, I was hugely disappointed with the Beef Short Rib. You could tell the meat was good and it flaked nicely but you couldn't really taste it over its bath of wild garlic puree. Don't get me wrong I'm a heavy handed garlic fan and I cook with wild garlic whenever I can get hold of it (hello recipe plug for Wild Garlic Pesto and Wild Garlic, Beetroot and Goats Cheese Tart) but it was just too much. Poured all over the beef short rib, the meat didn't stand a chance. Hopefully they've fixed this dish because it has a lot of potential to be scrumptious.

 Plate of Small Bites of Chocolate Truffles and Plaintain Marshmallows

 Strawberry & Sorrel Suspiro de Limena

Chewy White Chocolate, Rhubarb and Basil

I don't always order a pudding, queue shock and horror, but I'd normally rather have another savoury plate, in this instance crab churros. However, even though we were all so full I could tell my mum wanted one (she's my excuse for being greedy) so we ordered a few to share between us. A plate of small bites of chocolate truffles and plaintain marshmallows was devoured graciously, but the scrapping started again when faced with Strawberry & Sorrel Suspiro de Limena, with meringue, macerated strawberries and a sorrel granita there's no way I can describe the complex flavours except outing it as the best high class pud I've had. Next to this was Chewy White Chocolate, Rhubarb and Basil, a nice novelty that my rents hadn't seen before. Both desserts were refreshing and delicious, if we hadn't have been family I would have fought my Mum and her boyfriend to the death in order to eat them all to myself (and Dan).
But you know blood is thicker than dessert...only just.

My only negative about Pachamama and to be fair for me it's a fairly big one, is that as soon as it hit 9pm, the restaurants music got so loud and electronic it felt like we were sitting in a club, and FYI I hate clubbing. Then people started coming in for dinner, who didn't have bookings and they were just waiting round the tables chatting and pushing up against us. It would have been nice to have been forewarned if this is a regular occurrence at Pachamama, especially because I told them I was with some more senior members of my family but then by 9pm we were just polishing off dessert and we left fairly sharpish afterwards. Overall the food was so good, definitely the best we've had this far!

This post has been a long time coming, excuses aside I just couldn't stomach writing about it last week as I was cursed by the dreaded Norovirus (two words projectile vomiting) and now we're off to Iceland! Can't wait, so excited to try loads of new things and just chill out! I loved Pachamama despite the club vibe and are keen to go again soon, if you've been let me know what your favourite thing to order was below. More importantly have you been to Pachamama for brunch? It's high on my to do list. Supposed to be incredible. Too many good brunch places not enough time. 

To Reykjavik we go!

p.s don't worry I've packed my real camera! No more bad phone photos on this blog!

18 September 2015

The Magic Roundabout, No Dougal just Disco, Old Street, London

Firstly does anyone else remember the TV show The Magic Roundabout? I used to love it, looking back the whole production looks like it was produced by someone on a psychadelic trip but hey ho. Growing up in the Falklands we only used to get one tv channel (mind blowing), and the programs I watched were all reruns from the 60s to the 80s, we're talking Roobarb and Custard, Banana man and Stingray. Also the Moomins, Clangers and Rainbow, I could go on. Hey I'm a 90's babe but as a child my tv taste was much older than my years.

Anyway when I found out that The Magic Roundabout, an outdoor permanent pop up offering cocktails, burgers and excellent seafood, was opening on top of Old Street station my immediate thoughts were is it going to be psychodelic inspired and will Dougal be there? Answer: there was no flower eating dog (aka Dougal to those kids born outside of the 80s who didn't live close to the South Pole). However, there was lots of disco music, trippy graffiti and cool yuppies a plenty, so I think we can say yes it's inspired.

I'm a self declared street food lover. Be it a farmers market, pop up or random street stall adventure, I like to hunt all the food available down. If we're going away on holiday it's the first thing I look for before we go (coincidentally does anyone know if there's a market in Reykjavík that's open all year round?).

When I heard about The Magic Roundabout and saw the massive whole BBQ'd crabs at Prawnography I knew I had to round up the troops for our latest food attack. And who better to take to a pop up (is it a pop up if there's no end date?) serving all things under the sea than my two skittish seafood haters Sophie and Frankie, and my partner in crab desiccation Gianni. It's not entirely fair or true to say Sophie and Frankie hate fish but let's call it poetic or blogger licence.
At first unsure that this pop up was for them, I swung my second plan of attack at Sophie and Frankie 'there'll be burgers, cocktails and a free reign on gossiping'. Sold, we set a date and headed on down to stuff ourselves silly.
Finding the entrance to The Magic Roundabout is easy if you know where to go (name that movie quote). We stumbled around for a good while searching outside of Old Street station until Sophie turned up and showed us the light. FYI come out of the ticket barriers and turn left then it's on the left hand side surrounded by bouncers. Humiliation at failing to spot the mass of bouncers at the stairs up on to Old Street roundabout led to me drowning my sorrows in cocktails while catching up with the ladies that pop-unch...just go with it.
My cocktail was nice and refreshing, nothing to write home or in this blog about but there it is. London cocktail prices are generally expensive, a lot of the time it's worth it but for this I just thought it was a bit basic for essentially £10 (give or take a few quid). They've done a good job at circling off the area to avoid most of the road noise, which also means you lose the panoramic 360 view of the road outside the pop up. Aside from the view up being surrounded by skyscrapers you wouldn't know you were on a roundabout it's more like a hipster beer garden with no inside (aka don't go on a rainy day).


Embarrassment over, cocktail down, sites captured, we split up to search for food. At the moment there's only two foodie outlets but don't let that put you off. I'm a solid believer of in quality over quantity and both of these pop ups are excellent. Like top 10 street food stalls ever excellent.
Gianni and I clubbed together to split the cost (£ was a large crab) of a whole Spider Crab and chips from Prawnography. After being told it'd be 20 minutes and arriving 40 minutes later (we were apologised to several times in that period). It arrived looking magnificent, king of the crustaceans, complete with two apology BBQ'd bacon wrapped scallops. You know an apology is sincere when it comes with food.
The bacon wrapped scallop was delicious, seriously good. One of the things I can't wait for when we get a house with a garden is to be able to bbq everything and anything I want daily, and scallops are right up there on my bbq wish list. Some people take their gardens for granted, not me though I'll be out there bbq'ing a turkey for Christmas (#bigplans).
After some bashing, thrashing and some very scared looks from Frankie, the crab was broken into and the meat enjoyed. I love crab, coming from a seaside town we used to eat a lot of fresh fish and crab claws used to be my favourite meal. With their long spindly legs spider crabs are a bit harder to break into than I imagined. The brown crab meat had melted away and became a good salty sauce for the chips, which was super rich.
It's definitely worth a go, although next time I'll be sampling the bbq'd king prawns or one of their fish of the day dishes. If you hit up the crab, bare in mind this dish is not for the lazy lay abouts. This is a working woman's dish so be prepared to put your back into it!

Crab tackled, I'm ashamed (not really) to say I then went on to eat a Grizzly Bear Burger from Burger Bear. I mean how could I resist when Sophie and Frankie ate theirs, the Grizzly Bear Burger was awesome, we're talking American Cheese, Bacon Jam, Bacon on top of a Beef Patty and a touch of salad. It was dreamy, the buns as well, although not as good as Bill and Beaks at Kerb (see here) were a pretty close second.

Sophie, Lauren and I recently went to Mr Hyde's National Burger Day celebrations at Street Feast and the queue for the Grizzly Bear Burger was at least 30 minutes long. It was ridiculous. It's a great burger but cut the queue and head to The Magic Roundabout if you see the stand out and about. I wanted to try the Angry Bear Burger, but after seeing Frankie cry tears into her brioche bun I thought I'd give it a miss.

Another cocktail later, the disco started heating up as the DJ cranked up the volume. I'll be honest, for me this is super off putting as you can't speak to each other and ruins the dining experience, but hey I'm a nightclub hater for exactly the same reason and I'm sure there's someone, somewhere who is loving it. It's probably the DJ. Based on this we cut the night short, but let's be honest I couldn't have eaten another crab so it's a probably a good thing. If like me you prefer music to stay in the background while you eat, hit up The Magic Roundabout in the day for fabulous, mouth watering, Michelin star quality seafood and burgers for those extra hungry readers.

Look at that beaut above, I'm so spoilt by burgers in London. This is definitely one of the best I've had but I'm always up for the next burger challenge. Tell me your ultimate favourite burger in a comment below and I'll make sure I take it on and devour it. I'm super excited to head to Iceland, it's only a couple of weeks away (EEK!) and it'll be the first time I've been away and know absolutely none of the language (need to correct that pronto, preferably before we go away!!!) so I'm really nervous. If anyone has any tips for things to do or eat (mostly eat) in Reykjavik, please let me know. We're going to be staying in a self catered apartment so any tips on where to shop for food is also much appreciated! I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend, I'm excited to spend mine with my friend Kimi who's coming over from Hamburg for the weekend. I'm thinking lots of food, wine and chick flicks are needed (aka Pitch Perfect). Anyway peace out pitches (you can be a man pitch if you're that way inclined).

14 September 2015

Blueberry Cheesecake Brownies with Lindt-y Goodness

I know everyone says you shouldn't say you hate Mondays, what you really mean is you hate your job but the truth is I don't hate my job (truth be told I quite like it, FYI I'm a secret agent) I just really dislike Mondays. I'd say it's nothing personal but that'd be a lie. Mondays made it personal when they started coming after Sundays and cutting my weekend short.

On a sad Monday (any Monday that isn't either Christmas or when you're on holiday) there are only two things I want to do, watch Harry Potter and eat cake, preferably chocolate but I'm open to carrot. Anyway as I recently said in this post (say blackberry no churn ice cream, click your heels and the link will appear) I recently made brownies for the first time to celebrate the birth of my brand spanking 3 month new niece (which I went on to recreate for her baptism, bless her holy watered head). It's not like me to ever play it safe, so of course I had to go big or go home. As I was already home, the only option was to go big on the flavour with these brownies, thus Blueberry Cheesecake Brownies were born.  

You might be thinking, how did you leap to that decision. Well having sampled lots of brownies, including my good friend Sophie's (self-titled brownie queen who coincidentally sent me home with a care package of cake last Friday), I knew cheesecake brownies were the way forward. It's like combining the two ultimate desserts, brownies and cheesecake, all you need is for it to be encased in cream and a choux bun and you'd have the one dessert to rule them all. Sally (blogger from The Cat Café and employee of Lindt) had sent me some bars of Lindt's Blueberry Intense Dark Chocolate, along with lots of other Lindt goodies, which I was itching to try. Eating dark chocolate on it's own can be a bit too strong for me (not for my boyfriend Dan he wolfs it down) but this blueberry bar was just delicious with some sweet slivers of almonds, so into the brownie it had to go.

I also had a dream. A dream to create a blueberry cheesecake topping. A dream that required blueberries. This was bought on by the desire to incorporate more swirling in my baking life after 2015's Blackberry Ripple No Churn Ice Cream. A dream that was made possible by my determination to buy blueberries and mix them with cheese cake topping, and a love for sieving jam. All of this is rubbish, I just wanted to do it so I did. You hear me dreamers stop dreaming, make it happen then dream about how great you are (modesty in full flow here). There's just something really satisfying about making your own jam and putting it in stuff, be it ice cream, brownies or marshmallows. Plus swirling makes everything prettier.

These brownies are super good. Picture a fudgy brownie, covered in sweet and creamy vanilla cheesecake, with some tangy fruity blueberries swirls and chunks of blueberry intense chocolate. Since creating these brownies, I've made a couple of other variations mostly focusing on triple chocolate (I'm a fiend!) but none have been as good as my original frankenbrownie, you need the tart sharp blueberries I tell you!
Luckily my sad Monday is about to get a lot better. We're talking Harry Potter 4 and a slice or two of these brownies. It's an instant mood lifter, unless you don't like Harry Potter and/or brownies, which is impossible. I can't admit someone doesn't like HP or brownies exists, I can only say if you don't think you like either of these things you haven't persevered enough. You need to really commit to both brownies and HP, to the point where you'd happily eat brownies all day and your wedding/birthday/funeral/general life is going to be Harry Potter themed. I've started asking Dan if we can have a HP wedding when we get married. It's a long way off (we're NOT engaged!) but you know I thought I'd start wearing down his defences now (currently it's a firm no).
Anyway let's move away from my ambitious and crazy wedding plans and move back to brownies. You've got to try them. Adding blueberries to your cheesecake brownies takes them from the passé to the so now. You're not sure what I'm talking about? Neither am I, I'm 3 brownies into a sugar coma. You can't trust anything I'm saying right now. I'm delirious, who talks about Harry Potter in a recipe for brownies. Naboo that's who (this is a terrible Mighty Boosh joke). I think I'm just going to make a quiet exit now. Saved by the recipe!   

Blueberry Cheesecake Brownies
(makes 14 large brownies)

250g caster sugar +  1 1/2 tsps 
150g salted butter
150g plain flour
3 eggs + 1 egg yolk
150g 70% Cocoa Dark Chocolate (I used Lindt Excellence)
100g Lindt's Blueberry Intense Dark Chocolate
100g blueberries
1 1/2 tbsp water
100g icing sugar
250g cream cheese
1 tbsp vanilla paste 

Step 1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with parchment(tray should be at least 2 m deep). On a low heat, melt the butter. While the butter is melting, whisk together the three eggs with 250g sieved caster sugar until light and combined.

Step 2. Break the 70% dark chocolate and the Blueberry Intense chocolate into chunky chunks aka not too small but easily eaten pieces (make sure to keep the different types of chocolate separate). When the butter is almost entirely melted, add the 70% chocolate and stir with a metal spoon until it's one buttery, chocolatey smooth concoction, then take it off the heat and leave to cool slightly.  

Step 3. While you're waiting for the chocolate butter to cool, make the blueberry jam. On a medium heat, mix together the water, blueberries and the 1 1/2 tsps sugar in a pan and mash it all up a little. Keep a reasonably close eye on the jam till when the blueberries have broken down and it looks jammy. Then take the jam off the heat, and pass it through a sieve.

Step 4. Also known as simultaneous while the jam is cooking down step, make the cheesecake topping. In a large bowl mix together the cream cheese, sieved icing sugar and the egg yolk (you can save the white for mini meringues, see recipe here) till combined. Then portion out 130g of the cheesecake mix to a separate bowl.

Step 5. Jam done, mix the sieved jam with the 130g of cheesecake mix, it should go a beautiful purple all by itself. Then add the vanilla paste to the remaining cheesecake topping and stir through.

Step 6. Brownies Assemble! Now the chocolate butter has cooled slightly, give it a stir then slowly pour it in the sugary eggs whisking the eggs as you go. Once its all mixed in fold in the sieved flour and finally add the broken up chunks of blueberry intense chocolate. Then pour the brownie mix into the lined tray and evenly spread it around using your utensil of choice.

Step 7. Working quickly, put spoonfuls of the vanilla cheesecake mix on top of the brownie at spaced intervals I like to go for the whole 5 or 6 rows of 3 dollops per tray, but it's your call. Then add spoonfuls of the blueberry cheesecake slightly overlapping the vanilla, until you've got no more mix. Using a chopstick, swirl the cheesecake toppings together into the brownie being careful not to go too deep. Once you're happy with your swirling, bake the brownie in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

Step 8. Brownies done and fudgy, leave them to cool, then pop them in the fridge for 30 minutes (if you can wait that long!), before taking it out, cutting them into squares or just eating it with a fork straight from the tray (not for the faint hearted)!    

So I'm sorry you had to witness that rambling, but there you go that's an insight into my mind. As you can see it mostly features the three H's, Hunger, Hilarity and Harry. If you've got any fictional obsessions/you love HP just as much as me (we're talking the books not Daniel Radcliffe) drop me a comment below. If you have any brownie recipes also please leave a comment, I'm thinking about doing a peanut butter brownie maybe with jam. Maybe without, thoughts on that. Also if you want to sign a petition to convince Dan to let us (collective readers included) have a Harry Potter wedding, drop your name below. Thank God Monday's almost over. Now to grab a brownie.

Thanks to Sally from The Cat Café who works for Lindt and the chocolate gurus themselves (Lindt, that's you!) for sending me a box of the finest dark chocolate around, eat Blueberry Intense and know what I mean. All opinions are from yours truly!

7 September 2015

Blackberry, Cucumber & Gin Ice Lollies aka Cocktail on a stick

I know what you're thinking. Ice lollies in September? I felt that way too, in fact I wasn't going to write this post at all, then two things happened. Indian Summer in September has begun and they tasted way too refreshingly zingy not to share. Don't be so dramatic, it's not an Indian Summer you might say. In that case may I present you evidence A, the sunburn I got at my niece's baptism yesterday. Stupidly and because I was a little (and by a little I mean a lot) hungover after our impromptu dinner party on Saturday, I forgot to put sun cream on and after sitting outside all day you can tell. Two words: Lobster Red. On the plus side the gorgeous weather meant all the kids got to play outdoors and run free, while the adults (myself excluded) sipped on ice cold beers. I opted for 3 ice lollies (because one is never enough) instead and plenty of ice water.

The good news is that this sunny weather is supposed to last for the rest of the month, so although I was a no go alcohol zone yesterday, I'm looking forward to the weekend ahead when I'm up for licking one of these bad ice lollies (popsicles to our American cousins). I know they look all innocent, fruity and delicious, but inside that blackberry, cucumber and lime lolly lurks a dark gin-based secret. As I said in my last post (see here) I've been feeling super inspired to make some ice lollies this Summer after trying a couple of alcoholic versions, I thought I'd give my own alcopopsicle version a go. Hence these Zingy Blackberry, Cucumber & Gin Ice Lollies were born.

As we're right at the end of the season, I thought I'd flavour my alcopopsicles using the last of my foraged blackberries. We'd also been gifted a GIANT cucumber (we're talking 60cm) from my boyfriend's mum so that went into them as well. There's only so many times you can eat cucumber salad (aka once). For me, there was only one choice in accompanying liquor and that was my cucumber gin from Gordon's. For obvious reasons really, one it has cucumber in and two I'm not a huge fan of vodka, tequila wouldn't go and there was no rum in the house (where has all the rum gone?). This turned out to be a good decision, as the gin really comes through in these lollies and nobody really likes the taste of vodka (do they? do you? does anyone?!). I mean don't get me wrong I'll drink it in a cocktail, but in this lolly there would be no where to hide.

Lime was added to make these beauties zing. While I opted to make them with soda water instead of tonic for similar reasons to my decision not to use vodka (tonic's my nemesis). Combined this led to a very refreshing lolly. Albeit maybe a bit too refreshing as I polished a few off in one sitting. Course after the first one I gave up with holding the stick and went to plopping it in a glass with some soda water poured on top for what I'm calling, Cocktail on a Stick. This year is the first time I've seen it done in the blogging domain, personally I've been a fan of the sticky hands free approach for a while mostly because I can be really lazy and without the stick, there's no sticky hands, which means no getting up, leaving the sofa and having to wash said hands. You get the picture.

Lollies are super easy to make and massively rewarding, making them a pretty perfect treat. If you want for kiddies or dry individuals you can leave out the gin and it'll still be excellent. Personally I'm not of the nature (rebel rebel). I'm hoping to knock up another batch perhaps pina colada ones with rum (when I repurchase it) before the end of our sunny spell. Although I'm looking forward to cozying up with hot chocolates and blankets, and eating all sorts of Winter warmers, I'm holding out for a longer Summer yet!

To show your solidarity in wanting Summer to remain here forever (bar Christmas) consider making your own alcopopsicles or ice cream. You could forage like me and put blackberries in everything (blackberry ripple ice cream anyone?) or you can go your own way (go your own way).You can change it up anyday (anydaayyy). Sorry I love a bit of Fleetwood Mac, Dan got to see them earlier this year, not envious but envious. Anyway make your own ice lollies, experiment and go wild. Put pineapple where no body wants it, stuff raspberries into everything you can and squeeze citrus fruit like you've never squeezed before. There'll be plenty of time for experimenting, for now on to the recipe. 

Blackberry, Cucumber & Gin Ice Lollies
(makes 10)

125g blackberries
100g cucumber
100ml Gin (I used Gordon's Cucumber Gin)
80g caster sugar
1L soda water
2 limes

Step 1. In a saucepan, cook down the blackberries with a tbsp or two of water and the sugar to make a jam. Once made pass the jam through a sieve and set it aside. 

Step 2. Skin on, cut the cucumber into manageable chunks and blend to a puree. The pass the cucumber through a sieve.

Step 3. In a measuring jug, mix together the gin, blackberry jam, cucumber puree and the juice from the two limes. Fill the jug up to 900ml with soda water and stir again thoroughly (otherwise you'll get one really alcoholic ice lolly and no one wants that, unless you do and you want to play lolly roulette) then fill each mold.

Step 4. Place the molds in the freezer and leave to freeze for at least 3 hours. Owing to alcohol being  in these lollies it may take a little longer for the lollies to freeze, and I would not recommend eating all of them in one sitting. Unless you've had a particularly bad day, then go for it. Eat them straight up or to avoid sticky hands place in a glass and pour soda water on top. Whatever you do, enjoy these responsibly.   

I'm going to miss the natural light of Summer when we finally hit Autumn. Waking up in the dark and coming home in the dark is the one thing I hate about the UK. It's a strong word but it's true. Don't get me wrong some of the best things happen over the colder months, ahem my birthday (woo yay!), Christmas, Fondue, but I'd like it if Summer was a little longer, say 3 months. Then I could extend my ice based treats eating time, if you've got any ice cream or ice lolly recipes drop me a comment below I'd love to see them. Anyway I'm not going to be accepting that Summer is over until at least October, maybe when I get back from Iceland but not before, so expect more Summery based recipes from me, at the very least rainbow ice cream. Then it'll be time for Octoberfest Ice Cream, Halloween Ice Cream, Christmas Ice Cream and so on. Have a good week!

2 September 2015

Kerb-alicious Street Food Market, Southbank, London

Make Foodies Go Loco.

Who here is a fan of Fergie? Anyone? No one? No I'm not sure I am either but that tune has been going round in my head along with a picture reel of all the food I ate at Kerb when I met up with Sophie and Persephone (aka Lady P) for a long awaited Saturday filled with 'burgers', kimchi and bingo. Kerbingo to be precise. First off what's Kerb, for all you non Londoners, Kerb is one of the best if not THE best street food market in London (ooo contentious). Unfortunately for most of us who don't work near one of Kerb's many London locations, you probably won't have heard of them because they normally only serve up lunch Monday to Friday. For ages I have been envious (mostly of Lisa from Not Quite Enough) of people's gourmet lunches from Kerb. Ok I hate envy it's the wrong word, I've just been drooling over everyone's Kerb-alicious instagrams round about 12pm when I dig into my packed lunch, delicious it may be but it's not a juicy burger, grilled cheese sandwich or wood fired pizza.  

Don't close this window! There's hope for me and you yet because this Summer Kerb landed bankside (Southbank that is) on the first Friday/Saturday/Sunday of each month to treat us weekenders to what all those lucky Londoners have been getting daily. And gee whizz, I'm writing this post just in time for the last Friday/Saturday/Sunday of Kerb's Summer Street Food Fiesta before they bow out when Autumn well and truly hits us. That's right the 4th, 5th and 6th of September are the last dates to witness Kerb in all it's glory at the weekend. So make plans, change plans and get yourself down there because Kerbingo is waiting!

Having conversed for a couple of months or so on twitter, Sophie and I established that Persephone was 100% a real person, and so we did what the two of us do best. The two prong invite attack. What's that you're wondering? Well first one of us (on this occasion me) goes in with the 'Hi Persephone, let's meet up? Do you like burgers?' and then BAM the second one (Sophie) comes in with the 'Hey can I come too?'. We've never discussed this, it's just sort of happened, or at least Sophie and I keep inviting ourselves along. We're training for the Olympic invite relay.

I'm not going to go all weepy on you, but I've met so many amazing gals and guys through blogging. Sophie and I are seasoned chums and when we met up with Persephone we all just clicked. I don't want to say it was magical but you can't deny what's there (pass the tissues).

As three foodies it only seemed right to take Kerb up on it's Kerbingo challenge. When I say challenge I think we all took it on as more of a mission; we've got the right attitudes when it comes to food. The rules of Kerbingo are simple, buy 5 items from 5 different stalls and get a 6th one free from any one of Kerb's traders that you like. The idea being you come back another day for a free lunch. We dismissed that idea and decided to eat all the food in one day but you can do as you please. It's not just food either, items can include a cheeky cocktail or pint, which was really appreciated on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

First bingo up we headed to Donostia Social Club, a tapas style eatery on the side of a van where their dishes range in price from £3 for a chunky piece of French stick piled with goodies to £5 for one of their hot dishes. When I go out for dinner, unless it's a special occasion and Dan (my man friend) and I have gone for a tasting menu, or I'm eating out with people I don't know so well, I always share food which makes tapas my dining method of choice. Sophie went for a strawberry topped, balsamic drizzled log of goats cheese, Persephone went for aioli coated crayfish and rocket, and I went for the scallops with pisto (fancy Spanish ratatouille), almond slivers and green chilli sauce. 

For anyone who thinks Street Food is a dodgy polystyrene container of noodles or a filthy burger, firstly, why are you here? And secondly, Donostia Social Club is here to prove you wrong. That scallop was dreamy, soft and melting on the inside but golden on the outside, I was one lucky lady. The green chilli sauce was spicy but not overly so and the combo of it all with the scallops was an explosion of flavours but in a really good, I'd eat it for breakfast kind of way. Of course we all shared food and the other dishes were delicious but there's no denying the scallop stole the show. I had my eyes on their lamb chops with broad beans, and Spanish black pudding and quail egg rounds, but they'll have to be conquered another day as Kerbingo was calling.   

Round two meant Bill or Beak, and a couple of pints of Camden Hells. It's only right when taking on a meatalicious bun to have a pint of lager on the side. Any woman who says beer is for boys clearly hasn't found the right pint for them yet (p.s a pint of wine does not count, you know who you are). Two buns were on offer; shredded pork and duck topped with tempura shallots, and a salad of coriander, sprunions, mint and chilli with a generous dousing of Vietnamese style dressing, and a chicken Caesar bun complete with parmesan, lettuce and tempura capers. 

It was a hard decision which to choose, but I steeled myself and bought the duck and pork sandwich safe in the knowledge that Sophie would share her chicken Caesar bun with me. It turned out to be a good decision to share because both sandwiches were delicious. My tender duck and porkie delight was fresh from the salad, oh so spicy but with a good level of fat from the tempura shallots to compensate for the heat, Sophie's chicken was an enlightenment. Confession I have never enjoyed a chicken Caesar salad before, but this sandwich had me converted at least to the bun form, in short it's most likely the best chicken 'burger' I've ever had.

And I haven't even mentioned the best bit yet. No it's not the tempura toppings, it's not the tender meat, it's the brioche bun. That's right, the brioche was the ultimate winner. It was the best brioche bun I've ever had (I'm throwing the best out a lot today). Sweet and buttery with a crispy grilled finish, it was the perfect burger bun albeit there were no burgers but Bill or Beak's fillings stepped up to the plate. If you see them grab a sandwich, ask where they get their buns, then send me the sandwich and the bun maker's location to:

Flick's Stomach
They Called It The Diamond Blog
The Foodiverse

A break from savoury food came with a brownie courtesy of Sophie (self-professed brownie queen) and sunbathing on the grass outside the London Eye with a second pint in hand. Once we decided our stomach's were ready we surveyed the stalls at Kerb and struck. The Don's mac and cheese from Anna Mae with bacon and basil was Persephone's soul food, while Sophie and I went halves on a pepperoni pizza from Born and Raised, and a Bulgogi Beef Burrito with Kimchi (fermented vegetables with chili) rice and red cabbage, slaw, cheese, the works from Kimchinary. Today was clearly a day for new found loves as having never been a huge burrito fan before I quickly declared Kimchinary's burrito my soul mate. The pizza and mac and cheese were also solid but I only had eyes for our ugly looking beefy burrito. I don't care if you're ugly to photograph burrito, it's what's on the inside that counts!

 Maybe it's because it was so different to every other burrito I've ever had with it's spicy but clean Korean flavours, or just because the beef was really great quality, and let's be honest burrito restaurants are not famed for their high quality ingredients (sorry burrito sellers). It was just so good! I've changed my mind, stop reading this post. Close it down and go grab a burrito from Kimchinary as fast as you can because you know YOLO. But wait although I've given you my blessing to go and eat Kimchi deliciousness you shouldn't leave before you've read about dessert. 

Dessert took place in the form of ice lollies from Ice Kitchen. I've been thinking about Ice Kitchen's lollies for months, ever since the Summer first began and I saw them creeping on to twitter. They inspired me to buy a lolly mold (which took forever to come and arrived just before September when I placed the order in June! Let's talk about that Online Anonymous Wholesaler! Let's not it's bad blog content) and make some of my own flavours (blackberry and cucumber anyone?). I wanted to try all of Ice Kitchen's lollies but went for the alcoholic mojito to try and break out from my food coma with a refreshing stimulant. Sophie followed suit while Persephone opted for a raspberry and lime ice lolly.  

We sat eating our ice lollies, gossiping and having a laugh while Sophie and I dared each other to eat the large lime slice at the bottom of our ice lollies (FYI it's for display purposes only as it's disgustingly sour. Don't eat it!). I hope these lovely ladies will be joining me at Model Market asap because I don't know anyone better to accompany me on my next mission to see how far my stomach can truly stretch before I implode. If you're a weekday Londoner definitely head to one of their locations for a cheeky extravagant lunch, if not get down to Southbank this weekend to enjoy Kerb in all it's glory for one last time (this Summer)!

I didn't think it would be possible but I am more hungry after writing this post than I was after writing about Dinerama (see that post here). It's either the brioche sandwiches or the burrito that's done it. Has anyone been to Kerb at lunchtime, who's your favourite trader there? There's so many markets I've been meaning to get to, Druid Street Market is high on my list, have you been? I've heard it's really good, I might combine that with a cheeky trip to Maltby Street Market on the road behind and more importantly Little Bird Gin. While I'm there I'm going to grab a doughnut from St John's Bakery because I've never had one (oh God don't stone me), yep I've only ever bought their Danish pastries, such a sin but I can't resist their sugar coated buttery layers and pecans. The Lord made pecans to tempt me. Wait what are you still doing here? Get gone! Vamouss (is this a word?). Kick it to the Kerb!