Honey and
Ricotta
a food journal

Friday, 30 May 2014

5 Things

I have no idea how I've got so tired after only a four day week. Not looking good for me and my energy levels for next few bank holiday free months! Five happy moments from the last few days were:

2. Pre-work coffee
3. Sleeping until my alarm
5. Flat finding

X

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Caravan


I've eaten at Caravan many times before. Their brunch is a firm favourite.


In need of an early evening, bank holiday monday, pre-gig meal, somewhere between mum's train platform and the Barbican, we headed for Caravan at Kings Cross. B and I were early and so started with fresh mint tea. We're that cool. The cups here were served on top of the pots: Pimlico Fresh in reverse, but a less perfect fit. 


Maman arrived and we moved on to bellinis for the girls and a beer for B. Bye bye fresh mint tea. The bellinis were described as seasonal. They were peach. As the waiter told us, they must be in season somewhere. Nice try, but not an excuse. If it hadn't said seasonal, we wouldn't have batted an eyelid. 


Not wanting a huge plate of food each, we shared a few of the smaller dishes. The best way of getting to try as much as possible, which, with this fusion-y menu, filled with enticing ingredients and mixtures, is exactly what you want to do.


Because of my miso-based work, we started with seaweed bread and miso butter which was as gloriously umami-filled as you would expect. A far superior alternative to marmite. Mine and maman's favourite spicy cornbread with lime and butter was spicy and sweet. If you have one dish when you go, make it this one. Just cornbread and a drink and I'd have been quite happy.


What followed was a mixture of fabulous and flawed. Roasted cauliflower with harissa; carrots with beetroot and goats curd (which we decorated with the herbs maman had bought from the garden for B and me); lamb ribs in miso and ale on the fabulous side. Heirloom tomatoes (read: one average tomato), chickpeas (big but soggy) and greens (and an unwelcome addition of raw red onion), on the flawed. 


A finale of black coffee for maman and cookies and cream for B made up for the previous mistakes. Together, the bitter coffee and glass of chocolatey, creamy heaven would have made a great breakfast. If you've got as sweet a tooth as me. 


We'll certainly be back, the buzzing atmosphere, wonderfully designed industrial space, and fresh coffee, are too good to give up for the odd faulty dish.


Highlight: Cornbread
Lowlight: Tomatoes

Caravan, Granary Building, 1 Granary Square, London, N1C 4AA



Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Pimlico Fresh


As I mentioned, a couple of weekends ago I went to see my friend lovely C over in her neck of the woods, Pimlico. I was so excited by this place and we had so much to catch up on, that I completely forgot to take photos. So this weekend we returned, and I dragged B along too.


Fresh juices sit in the fridge, waiting for you to grab a straw and slurp away: mixes of mangoes, spirulina, matcha, berries are simultaneously tasty and healthy. The dream. Believe me the green liquid you see in the photo which looks like it tastes of mud, actually tastes of tropical, sunny beaches. 


I went with every intention of trying something different this time, but when C ordered the sweet French toast again, there was no point trying to convince myself I wanted anything different. The food envy would have been too much. Two enormous slices of brioche, fluffy and pillowy, fried to give the whole thing a little crust, covered with caramelised bananas, doused in maple syrup, sprinkled with cinnamon, and with a generous dollop of mascarpone on the side.


B ordered poorly and grumpily looked around at what everyone else was eating. Everything else looked fabulous, and his just looked fine. The eggs were yellow and cooked perfectly, but the toast was useless, and the sausages plonked pathetically next to the eggs. An afterthought.


A few hours of art and culture later (the Tate Britain mobile guide app comes highly recommended from us!) and we found ourselves back again for tea. And cake. Oops. Hot ginger, lemon and honey bought us back to life. I also have teapot envy - how adorable are these little pots and cups combinations?! An enormous slice of lemon cake with buttercream icing shared between us gave us the energy to face the rain and venture outside again, back to the other side of town.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Watermelon, Lime and Chilli Granita


Granita is going to be my summer obsession. The first one's been made and it's been decided.

Watermelon, lime, salt and chilli from What Katie Ate sounded both delicious and a little scary. tThe only way to judge was to make it. No added sugar, no regular scraping intervals like many recipes seem to demand, just the four ingredients blended, pressed through a sieve, and then frozen for four hours before being scraped into granita. Now if only the rain would stop so I had more excuses to eat and make more.

Recipe can be found here.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Lily Vanilli's Rhubarb Bakewell Tart


Before rhubarb season disappears in the blink of an eye and I have to wait to for another year before I can lay my hands on this beautifully-coloured plant, I needed to do more with it. Lily Vanilli's famous bakewell tart, with a rhubarb twist, was the bank holiday weekend solution.


Making this tart isn't recommended for the impatient, for those looking for an instant treat, for those with a busy day planned; there are many, many steps, many different parts to be created before the whole thing can be assembled. The whole process will take many hours. 



When the pastry's in the fridge, the frangipane has been beaten, the rhubarb filling is syrupy and sticky, the rhubarb decoration is still holding it's shape, and the almond buttercream is light and sweet, only then can you get on with baking it. And even baking it consists of many steps: blind baking, egg washing and then sealing, baking with the filling in, and then leaving it to cool before decorating and - finally - eating.


So it was with legs up on the sofa late in the evening that we finally cut in to the tart. The bitter rhubarb contrasts with the nutty, spongey frangipane, encased in crusty pastry (no soggy bottom, don't worry Mary), and blobs of sweet buttercream come together to make all those many steps and stages totally worthwhile. 


Recipe from Lily Vanilli's Sweet Tooth. You can find a video and a few parts of the recipe here.



Saturday, 24 May 2014

Borough Market: Bread Ahead


It had been far too long since I had last been to Borough Market. Over a year. The last time was a beautiful sunny Saturday morning and the crowds got to me. I got stressed, couldn't move, queued for a Monmouth Coffee (yes, that queue was worth it), and then left.


It was the hundreds of rave reviews of the doughnuts at Bread Ahead that got me there again this morning.


B, T and I traipsed down in the pouring rain to find an enjoyably empty (given that it was a bank holiday Saturday in May) market. I mean, it wasn't empty. It's not like we had the whole place to ourselves (which would I think be my heaven). But we could move around at a reasonable pace. We didn't have to queue to buy things. I didn't feel like a hamster trapped in a wheel.


B was not going to let us admire anything, taste anything or buy anything, until we had sourced our doughnuts. So round and round we walked, until we finally found it. Bread Ahead's stand, piled high with sourdough, brownies, focaccia, cakes, and, of course, trays of doughnuts. One vanilla custard doughnut each and a loaf of sourdough purchased. Excitement all round, followed by many repetitions of 'so good', 'so fluffy', 'mmmmmm', all said with sugar and custard all over our faces. We contemplated a second, went back and gazed at the remainder of the tray lovingly, before deciding we'd do a market lap and come back later. 



We sipped on juices as we walked (juice + doughnut = healthy meal), picking at samples, grabbing vegetables for dinner, escaping the not-too-bad crowds to the comparative calm of Neal's Yard to buy ricotta and a bank-holiday weekend dose of Dorstone, before returning to Bread Ahead for an aubergine focaccia and an olive and cheese stick (T just couldn't resist those crispy bits of cheese hanging off the side any longer).


I think I could now put up with the heaving crowds of a sunny Saturday lunchtime if I knew one of those doughnuts was waiting for me. But if they'd sold out already, well, I think I'd break down and cry. I'd be heartbroken and have to go for some inferior treat elsewhere.

Friday, 23 May 2014

5 Things

5 happy moments from this week:

1. Bouncy new trainers
2. Japanese sweet treats
3. Weekend planning
4. Returning to London after a day away
5. Learning Italian

I hope you've all had a happy week and relax and smile over the three day weekend.

X

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Chicken Shop & Dirty Burger


50% off rotisserie chicken, burgers and drinks just round the corner from home on a Monday night was too much to resist. So we didn't. Keen to avoid the queues we headed straight from work to find some people had skived off already and so we did have to queue. Once we'd been armed with a Ginger Mule and a pint, things didn't seem so bad. We discussed briefly whether to buy one of the doughnuts which were sitting there so patiently before we sat down to keep us going. (We didn't.) An overestimate of how long the wait would be (always a clever trick) from the staff meant happy faces when we were seated before we'd even finished our drinks. 


Chicken Shop and Dirty Burger already exist individually in London, but have now merged to become one restaurant with two menus which can be mixed and matched (it's even more overwhelming than a pick and mix stand) under one roof. To not confuse matters they've left the name as a rather convoluted 'Chicken Shop and Dirty Burger'. No danger of people being unsure of what they're getting. I do think abbreviating it to Dirty Shop would have perhaps attracted some new customers, but hey ho. 




It being half price and all, we did the wise thing and over ordered. Half a chicken, two fries, one coleslaw, one cheeseburger, a bit of greenery and a vanilla milkshake for B. Super friendly and amazingly efficient service (given the amount of people in the restaurant, waiting for takeaways, and winding in a long queue out the door and down Mile End road). Enamelware (which I am beginning to grow a little tired of but I'll put up with for a bit longer), piled high with food soon arrived. The chicken is the perfect rotisserie chicken, juicy flesh, delicious skin which is dark and smoky; the fries are crisp and a super fun shape, served with a little bowl of aioli which was a fabulous surprise; the butter lettuce was hiding pieces of ripe avocado and the whole thing was smothered in a mustard dressing which I intend to recreate this week; the coleslaw was crunchy and creamy and everything coleslaw should be, which is everything that it's not when you're fed it at school lunches. I've been successfully converted back to coleslaw. B wasn't keen on giving up bits of his burger, but he allowed me one. I think that attests more than my words can for how much he was enjoying it.


Sipping milkshakes out of metal tumblers with fairy lights draped over the ceiling, huge industrial light shades, chipwood tables, pots full of cutlery, enamleware (there was a lot of it, so it deserves a second mention), big barn doors opening on to the street, the menu painted directly on to a distressed brick wall, means the whole place feels like a permanent pop-up. In very sophisticated, very cleverly designed, very intentional way. The perfect local fodder and atmosphere. I'm sure I'll be back.



Highlight: Coleslow
Lowlight: Queues


Chicken Shop and Dirty Burger, 27 Mile End Road, E1 4TP

Monday, 19 May 2014

What Katie Ate: Easy Chocolate Cake


I rarely make chocolate centred puddings/cakes. I guess it's because I spend most my time kidding myself that if it has a slightly fruity hint, a sprinkle of wholemeal here, a few nuts and raisins there, then it's totally okay to eat for breakfast, to have more than one piece in a day, to nibble on when hungry in the middle of the night.


B got the option of rhubarb tart or chocolate cake on Saturday night. In the post-run energy-craving haze, he went for chocolate cake, lusting after all the calories he could lay his hands on.


Katie Quinn Davies' book 'What Katie Ate' is full of stunning photography, tables covered with food I want to dive into but leave the table as beautiful and trim as she is. Every time I reach for another slice of her easy chocolate cake, I convince myself that this must be possible.


She's right, this chocolate cake is easy, but it's not cheating. With an alcoholic taint, full of dark chocolate, and served with a drizzle of double cream, it is a fantastically grown up, sophisticated take on a simple chocolate cake. Served with a few summer berries it would be the perfect dinner party ending, but it's also rather delicious as it is, with a cup of strong black coffee on the side.

The recipe can be found here, but I really recommend her book for all of you food photography lovers out there. 

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Towpath Café


B and I have run past the Towpath Café on Regent's Canal many, many times. Every time I've looked with envy at the happy people sitting in the sun, sipping coffee, tucking into breakfast, cake, coffee, cocktails and lunch while I trot on past, admiring the eclectic mix of furniture and the tiny, narrow kitchen right which almost pours out on to the pathway. Today being recovery day, we meandered up the canal at a slower pace, moving aside to let the runners and cyclists pass, admiring the warehouses with beautiful balconies and long windows overlooking the waterway, until we arrived at breakfast. 


We looked around dubiously as there was a spare table in the sun that noone was fighting over on this bizarrely sunny Sunday morning. It was only when I realised that we were there really rather early for a Sunday (sleeping in is not my forte) that it all made sense. Coffees soon arrived and a little while later (lots of rumbling from my tummy by this point), breakfast followed. Creamy, steaming porridge with caremaly oranges and lumps of melting dark brown sugar for me. Why is it that no porridge I ever make at home is as good as this? Something I plan to rectify soon. I think it might have to involve dismissing porridge as a healthy start to my day. B had the simply described 'Fried eggs on toast'. Simple it was, but in the best way. Slices of lightly toasted sourdough piled high, with runny yolked fried eggs layered on top, the edges crispy and dark. As a final flourish, the buttery frying liquids had been poured over the top. Yum was the consensus. More proof that butter is always a good thing.


A perfect breakfast spot for a sunny weekend morning. Get there early before the crowds arrive, as they did when we got up to leave.


Towpath Café, Regent's Canal Towpath, N1 5SB



Saturday, 17 May 2014

Kaffeine: Iced Coffee and Custard Tarts


The hot sun made this morning's training run a long, painful struggle. But it did give the perfect excuse for a post-run iced coffee. En route to Regent's Park we passed by Kaffeine. On the blackboard outside was written 'Iced Coffee' with an arrow pointing inside. I needed no more encouragement. 


An icy, bitter black for me (on which B commented 'You can't possibly like that'. Wrong. I can.), and a sweety, milky iced latte for B (going against the stereotypes in this relationship!). We couldn't resist picking up a couple of Portuguese custard tarts while we were there. I'd definitely sweated enough to earn a little eggy sweet treat, with crumbling buttery pastry. It disappeared far too quickly; it was a good job my legs were too tired to take me back to buy another.


Kaffeine, 66 Great Titchfield Street, W1W 7QJ

Friday, 16 May 2014

5 Things

5 Happy Moments from this week:

1. Sunshine
2. Scrabble
3. The most delicious glass of red
4. Banana bread
5. Margaritas

I hope you've all been able to enjoy the sun more than I have! 

X

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Trullo

B and I had a few things to celebrate so a dinner à deux was in order. I wanted pasta. So we went to Trullo.


We first ate at Trullo almost two years ago (I thought it was last year but stand corrected). Since that first visit we have talked about going back (for a year longer than I thought - our conversations clearly don't change much), and have sent many friends and family members. Everyone has left with glowing reports. And so finally we returned. After so many months of talk and fond memories, thankfully there was no disappointment. We left with happier memories.

A G&T laced with fresh sage, and bread dipped in vibrant olive oil to get us going. A view into the kitchen made for a happy me all evening, and left B with a strained neck from looking behind him to see what I found so endlessly fascinating.


B chose the wine and immediately forgot what he'd ordered so I'm afraid I can't document that for you. But it was yummy and fresh and light and so pretty. 


I'm a sucker for mozzarella and so had torn up pieces of the beautiful stuff draped over rather pale but surprisingly tasty for the time of year flower shape tomatoes. I know these have a proper name, but I prefer flower tomatoes. Delicate and delicious. B went straight in for the pasta. No hanging around with this one, straight to the point. Sausage ragú with pappardelle. I don't think I need to tell you that this was amazing. But I do need to tell you that they had zested in a little bit of orange, which was initially surprising yet soon refreshing and light. Sausage and orange - who'd've thunk it? Genius.


Tagliatelle with mussels and chilli for me. A cleverly selfish order as B claims to have a shellfish allergy. Well done me. A plate of heaven all to myself. I was a super happy bunny and would have happily left there and then. But B had still to finish his lamb shoulder with braised fennel aioli. He is forcing me now to write that the aioli really 'cut through' the fennel and meat. Pretentious blogger term in this blog post now achieved. Thanks B. Perhaps not the best looking dish, but there were only approving noises coming from the other side of the table.


And we still ordered more. We had both decided far earlier evening that we had to have the almond and nespoli tart. So we did and it was heaven. And then I really was too full and too happy and had to go to bed.


We're already talking about going back. Watch this space for another two years to fly by before we return.

Highlight: Pasta
Lowlight: There is no lowlight

Trullo, 300-302 St Paul's Road, London, N1 2LH
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