Honey and
food and travel

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Tom's Birthday Cake

June is a month of celebration in my family: Tom's birthday, Maman's birthday, Father's Day, Maman and Papa's wedding anniversary... This means lots of cake is called for, and I left home last weekend owing lots of cake to everyone apart from T.

T's belated birthday and homecoming was celebrated with Lily Vanilli's vanilla sponge piled high with whipped cream and fresh berries. 

A sunny day, this buttery, fluffy sponge, a mug of ginger tea, and a plateful of local strawberries makes for a happy family celebration, which we will repeat many times before the summer is up.

Friday, 26 June 2015

5 Things & 3 More

It's been another difficult week, but I won't dwell on the upsets. Here are 5 happy moments:

1. Friends eating and drinking round our little white table
2. Sunshine
3. An extra day with maman and papa
5. Sweet peas

3 things for you to read on a lazy Sunday morning...

3. Scenes from New York. Because it's nearly time to fly across the ocean.

Happy weekend! 


Saturday, 20 June 2015

Ottolenghi: Set 'Cheesecake' with Plum Compôte

Friday night at home with my two favourite girls calls for a suitably celebratory pudding. I had to tell B to stop raving about how great this Ottolenghi pud was going to be for fear of the whole evening (which had been preceded by B's homemade hummus, followed by B's handmade pasta con (hand-gutted and scaled by B) la sarde), was going to end with a let down of a splodged together cheesecake.

Thankfully, this deceptively simple collection of ingredients did not disappoint. We ate ourselves silly, as we tried to squeeze in the very last mouthful of the sweet mascarpone whipped together with cream cheese, with plum compôte spooned over the top, hazelnut crumble sprinkled over that, and with orange oil splashed on as the final flourish. Sure, there are a lot of separate elements here, but it wouldn't be an Ottolenghi recipe without just a little complexity.

Asides from being wonderfully tasty, all the elements of this 'cheesecake' can be made a day or two in advance, and assembled seconds before it is placed on the table. It's a dinner party winner, which has already made it's way on to our list of pudding party staples.

You can find the recipe here - just swap the greengages for whatever fruit is in season.

Friday, 19 June 2015

5 Things & 3 More

5 happy moments from this week:

1. Lunch in the sun
3. B's grilled veg sandwich
4. Ramen with my little brother
5. Visa success

And 3 things I've read and you think you might like to read too:

1. These PB&J cake sandwiches are bound to be my next best friend
2. Get your tummy rumbling with these 10 desserts from Food52.
3. Haleigh's wardrobe lessons: a fashion mantra to (try to) live by.

Happy weekend! Drink gin, enjoy the sunshine, and smile.


Monday, 15 June 2015

Portland, W1

When maman and papa said we were going to Will Lander, of Quality Chop House fame's new place, I was expecting red-meat-focused, proper British fodder, served up in a dark, wood-clad room. I smiled when I saw the glass-fronted, light-filled room on Great Portland Street, with clean-lined furniture and a quiet open-kitchen, serving the freshest, zippiest, prettiest plates of food, on the most beautiful bowls and dishes.

A pomegranate mimosa drank outside while we waited for the earlier sitting to remove themselves from our table was a fabulously way to celebrate a weekday evening spent with M & P. 

Inside, we did our best at ordering everything from the menu. A mixture of British, of French, of Japanese, of Korean... It all sat together beautifully - powerful flavours highlighted delicate ones, pastel colours were decorated with bright splashes, and a wonderful wine menu was thoroughly enjoyed.

Bread was served with freshly churned butter and deeply-flavoured smoked beef heart. We got over our squirmish-ness when we'd had a couple of bites of bread smothered in this super soft butter.

Pig's head croquettes were the most beautiful start to a meal. The splodge of bright orange chilli paste, the crisp exterior hiding the soft, melting inside, and the sweetest flowers balanced on top.

Salty spears of asparagus. We grabbed one each, and picked up any fallen scraps after all the green stems had gone.

Quail with kohlrabi received mixed reviews: too underdone for me, perfect for B and papa, and kohlrabi is maman's enemy (but she was a happy bunny once she'd flicked the crunchy white vegetable off the top).

Maman and papa weren't convinced by my sudden order for some kimchi. But then the plate of fermented cabbage disappeared before I could snap a photo. This kimchi didn't taste stale and smelly: it was bright, spicy and salty. This kind of kimchi needs to be in my life a lot more.

Maman's buttery fish with white asparagus and chives was rich, but spring like. Creamy, with plenty of zing. Just add sea, sunshine and a crisp glass of wine, and all your summer dreams have come true.

B raved about his mangalitsa with beets. No mouthful for me, so you'll have to take his word for it.

I (for those who know me, this was an obvious choice) went for monkfish, champignon de Paris, miso sauce. The miso sauce was packed full of umami; it was salty and rich; it did all the magical things to a dish that miso tends to do.

Papa's plate was fantastically bright; swirls of courgette, pink strips of veal, sweetbreads decorating the sides. This is why you're paying that little bit of extra at Portland - this food is made to be eaten first with your eyes, with oohs and aaahs of admiration, before you dig in with knife and fork.

But the one that trumped them all was the bowl of Szechaun aubergine. The spice and oil levels had been toned down, but the aubergine was soft, with a touch of char, while the ginger, chilli paste and spring onions, decorated every lice. We fought over the last piece.

Pudding were perhaps the most obvious range of cuisines, of flavours, of ingredients. An opera cake showed off the classic French patisserie skills, with a skinny chocolate shard balancing on top of hazelnuts on the thin, layered slice.

Strawberries with sorrel ice-cream were pretty, but a little confusing. We couldn't make our minds up on that one.

Yuzu mousse with green tea ice-cream won the beauty contest. It looked like it had been taken straight out of Chelsea Flower Show.

The special was cherries with ginger crumbs and cow's milk curd. It may not look the best, but I was more than happy with my bowlful of cherries melded into this deconstructed cheesecake.

The next special occasion that we need to celebrate, Portland will definitely be a frontrunner. Fingers crossed we can get a table.

Highlight: Pretty plates and powerful flavours
Lowlight: The food was so wonderful I ate too much and so couldn't sleep

Portland, 113 Great Portland Street, W1W 6QQ

Friday, 12 June 2015

5 Things & 3 More

5 happy moments from this week:

1. A picnic in the park
2. Supper at Portland
3. Ice-cream
4. Bare legs
5. Hummus

And 3 things to read over the weekend:

3. Reading up on how to write a (beautiful) cookbook. For when that day comes.

Happy weekend friends!


Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Molly Yeh's Tahini Cupcakes with Chocolate Tahini Frosting

This blog is teaching me that I'm not one to take big leaps in life. Having promised you all last week that I would be moving away from my peanut butter obsession, I can now say that I have stuck to that promise, but I haven't moved very far away. I've taken a teeny-tiny step to the next jar along on my shelf: the tahini jar. Maybe next week we'll make it a couple of jars along to the honey. We can hope.

I also seem to be fixated on Molly Yeh's recipe archives. It's become my happy place, and I can't promise to be looking elsewhere for cake-spiration any time soon.

It had been a while since cupcakes had graced this kitchen, so it was about time they made a reappearance. Molly Yeh's tahini cupcakes with chocolate tahini frosting were simply irresistible. I like to think that these light little cakes, with a deep, nutty flavour and a super fancy nutella-esque icing are a grown-up form of cupcake, but that doesn't mean  I can't lick the bowl (and spoon) clean, and end up with chocolate icing all over my face.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Berber & Q

Berber & Q opened just around the corner from home a few weeks ago. We paid a visit with maman and papa, but I forgot my camera, so no blogpost followed. By the time we had planned a return visit,  everyone in the whole food world had written about it, with Jay Rayner saying 'The lesson here is that  it is be possible to be both cool and good at the same time.' So that explains the queue snaking round the Haggerston Arches.

We nabbed a table in the corner, and settled in to a cocktail with the beating music battering away the working day blues with admirable ease.

This menu is one where deciding is difficult because we're struggling not to order everything. A cocktail and a plate of the creamiest, most-tahini packed hummus with a pillowy pitta later, and decisions are made.

Beef short rib and chicken wings hot from the grill served simply on a metal tray, are satisfyingly charcoal-y. When sprinkled with the addictive cumin salt and garlic sauce (which is oh so unbelievably garlic-y. Do not eat if you are on a first date.), you'll be fighting over every last scrap you've ordered. And make sure you share the pitta hidden underneath the meat. It's the golden ticket hidden at the bottom of that pile of meat.

Cauliflower shwarma transforms my thoughts on cauliflower. Served piled high with herbs, tahini and pomegranate seeds, it's clearly a winner as soon as it lands at your table. If you've been forever put off cauliflower by the limp, greying florets served in school canteens, this blackened head of the wonderfully white vegetable, drowned in a tahini sauce will ensure that you overcome your cauliflower-fear.

Beets, whipped feta and saffron candied orange doesn't sound like something my tastebuds will enjoy, but the candied orange on the beets works so well that even Papa, an ardent orange-hater (even more so when it is candied), sticks his fork back in for another mouthful.

Blackened aubergine with soft-boiled egg and pomegranate is smoky and another winning dish for the mighty aubergine. I love you Mr Aubergine.

And last but not least, Moroccan carrot salad was sweet and creamy, with just the right amount of crunch. If only every carrot salad was packed full of this many flavours. 

We passed on pudding this time. On our first visit we gobbled them down, but they were not worth sacrificing the space in my tummy which could instead be filled with cauliflower and other tahini drenched vegetables.

Get yourself down to this super-hip railway arch for the most brilliantly cooked vegetables,  lovingly grilled meats, and music that's loud, but not too loud. Everything about Berber & Q is just right.

Highlight: Cauliflower shwarma.  
Lowlight: Get there early. I hate queues.

Berber & Q, Arch 338, Acton Mews, London, E8 4EA

Friday, 5 June 2015

5 Things & 3 More

5 happy things from the week just passed:

1. Smoothies
3. Almond croissants
4. B finishing his exams
5. House of Cards

And 3 things to read over the weekend with a cup of coffee in your hand:

1. An insight in to how fashion bloggers make money on Instagram. Time for a career change?
2. The always admired Natalie Portman gives a Harvard Speech.
3. How New York's best chocolate-chip cookie is made.

Happy weekend!

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