Flesh & Buns, Covent Garden

The clue is in the title – buns (the best kind of buns going if you ask me). Flesh & Buns offer delicious Japanese food with the buns being the star of the show – you can choose from a range of top-notch fillings and then pile them up yourself, at your table.
My parents and brother were visiting and so I decided Flesh & Buns was the perfect opportunity to show them what London has to offer. This is how it began:Ccz_lUxWwAAaPXJ.jpg-large
A chopstick lesson from Harry (my brother) for my Dad. The chopsticks didn’t last long. After much deliberation we went for the tasting menu. It was perfect for us as it gave us the opportunity to try lots of new things in manageable sizes. It’s a five course tasting menu which is reasonably priced at £35 or £54 if you want wine pairings.
In order of appearance…
1. Rice crackers with avocado shiso & tomato jalapeño. A glass of prosecco regardless of whether you have chosen the wine pairings option. Sorry, no picture the hunger pangs were too strong.
2. Salmon avocado roll & tuna tataki
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3. Fried squid and Korean fried wings
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4. Buns with crispy duck leg and crispy piglet belly (pork pictured bellow)
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5. S’mores – passionfruit marshmallows, almond chocolate and crackers
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Overall, we were four happy dinners at the end of the evening. I would eat every course again (everyday if possible) but a personal favourite was the salmon and sushi. My Dad and brother really enjoyed the Korean fried wings. Whether you’re a Japanese novice or expert, Flesh & Bun’s serve up wholesome, flavoursome food that will leave you tummy happy.

Gazette, Battersea

A few weeks back my aunt visited London. This meant one thing, food everywhere. She came armed with curly wurly brownies from Borough Market as well as cheese. Brownies for us lot, cheese for some other lucky buggers – don’t touch the cheese, I didn’t touch the cheese, I knew better than to touch cheese than didn’t belong to me (I really wanted the cheese though OK?!). Anyway, this post isn’t about cheese.

We headed to Gazette which is right by Wandsworth Bridge. Whilst it’s a cosey French restaurant, it actually seats quite a few but the service felt personal and quick. We went on a Wednesday so it was ladies night (a free cocktail or pudding – since we had the brownies at home, we went for the cocktails). I had a mojito…
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It was a super tasty mojito with an added swirl of strawberry puree at the top. It was a pleasant surprise and it went down far too easily. For starter I had Cocotte Meurette – fried eggs and toast with pancetta and mushroom in a red wine sauce. It was absolutely delicious but perhaps a little large. No one needs three fried eggs, especially in a starter. “too big?! Don’t eat it all then”… IMPOSSIBLE. I can’t control myself when it comes to food, especially food that tastes this good.

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The eggs were perfectly cooked and the flavour of the mushroom and pancetta were delicate.  Next up I had Le Burger Gazette – now we don’t need to speak French to work that one out. It came with cheese, a warm tomato relish and salad. Of course there were chips – crispy but chunky (one of the few places you don’t have to buy chips at an additional cost).

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It was a very tasty burger but I was left feeling a little jealous of my fellow diners steaks. With the competition of burgers in London the Gazette burger could not compete. It lacked the real juiciness packed full of flavour I have tested in rival burgers, this is not to say it was dry!

Overall it was a delightful meal, the starter was outstanding, the main less so. The drinks were quick to arrive and a little different (in a good way).

The Orange, Victoria

I had the weekend from foodie heaven last weekend. My parents came to visit and  there’s only one thing beef farmers’ like more than a good plate a beef and that’s a good plate of beef they haven’t had to cook. We went to The Orange before heading to see Billy Elliot (which, by the way is incredible, you must see it!). The bar was heaving as we entered, whilst this was a good sign we where glad to be ushered upstairs to enjoy a more peaceful meal. It had a great atmosphere – a family feel and the waitresses were relaxed and chatty. We skipped straight to mains…
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Proper grub. Becky had the pork belly (with rosemary white beans, kale, apple & saffron chutney and brandy jus) which she said was delicious and not too fatty. It certainly looks good – you can’t tell me it doesn’t look good (?!). I had the Chorizo, Fivemiletown goat’s cheese, spinach & red onion jam wood fired pizza. There was just the perfect about of goats cheese as it was quite rich and the chorizo was light yet really flavoursome. It arrived… “you’ll never eat all of that” was the general consensus around the table. 15 minutes later, not one slice left. Not impressed? I also finished off a side of the truffled macaroni cheese which was glorious.
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Still not impressed? I had only had brunch 5 hours beforehand. STILL NOT IMPRESSED? Well I give up. Anyway, back to the food (as if it was ever not about the food). I was IMPRESSED by the food offered up by The Orange. Five of us dined and we were all more than happy with our choices. My Dad, the classic steak eater had a funny turn and had the mussels with a side order of chips. The slurping noises from across the table assured me he was happy with his choice and thank god otherwise we wouldn’t have heard the end of it. 
So, book Billy Elliot and go for lunch/supper at The Orange. I can guarantee you will have a fantastic time. What better combo than good food and good entertainment? I can’t think of one.

Source, Battersea

After hearing about Source after moving to London it has been high on my list of places to try. So when my Aunt came to visit it seemed like the perfect time to visit! Source offers seasonal, locally sourced food so it has a small yet yummy menu which is constantly changing to reflect the best produce on offer. For starter I had grilled sardines with Isle of White tomato gazpacho, whipped feta, olives & oregano… I’ve never had a dish like this before; it was a light and refreshing and the gazpacho was wonderfully flavoured.
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My Aunt had the Charcuterie Board – Cobble Lane (a british charcuterie maker from Islington) Charcuterie (Fennel Salami, Bresaola, Saucisson) and house cured ham. Served with Balthazar bread, pickled crab apples, smoked tomatoes and pickled beetroot. The meat was flavourful and she really enjoyed the tomatoes and beetroot with them. One happy Aunt.
For main I had monkfish cheeks and cuttlefish thick stew with smoky peppers. It was absolutely delicious; so filling and warming on a cold evening and the fish was lovely and meaty. I need more bread to mop up the stew – I wasn’t leaving anything behind. My Aunt, being a ceoliac was only able to eat two items from the main options so she went for the hake; something she wouldn’t usually have but she was extremely pleased with her decision…
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Source is the place to go if you want real food. Not just real food but carefully thought through wholesome food packed full of seasonal, delicious food. With the ever changing menu I can’t wait to go back to see what is on offer.

Product Review: Men’s Pie Manual

Mens_Pie_Manual
Well I think we all know, you don’t have to be a man to enjoy a bloody good pie. Whether it be a pork pie ready for lunch, a hearty beef and ale pie ready to warm you through or a light fish pie topped with gnocchi the Haynes Men’s Pie Manual have got it covered. The book is written in a light hearted, quirky tone, constantly reminding you of the delights to come and pushing you to carry on; especially in the case of the beef and ale pie which takes two days to make. This recipe book is for the ultimate foodies out there (male or female) who handle their grub with true love and attention and seek out the best ingredients to produce the best results. I would like to consider myself as being within that category, hence I went for the beef and ale, two day pie.
This is why you need this book…

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Look! Beef bones! After 5 hours of cooking the skirt and bones in the dark ale the bone marrow oozed out. Flavour, flavour and more flavour!
image 8And I was left with this sensational filling after adding the braising steak, carrots and onion and cooking for a further 3 hours. I had to stop myself from spooning it in my pie hole (hehe) to save some for the actual pie!

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Nearly finished!
image 6Voila! Ready for the oven. By this point I was pacing the kitchen in a fury of hunger. GIVE ME PIE.

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Here it is, served with buttery, delicious mash and of course some peas!

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So, if your a true pie lover and a perfectionist (when it comes to food anyway) then the Haynes Men’s Pie Manual by Andrew Webb is a winner – Tom Kerridge certainly thinks so (and who doesn’t trust Tom Kerridge when it comes to proper food?!). There’s a huge range of pies from the hearty meaty ones to lighter chicken and fish pies and of course sweet pies for pudding because after all, I could probably live off pies. What a good idea…
The Haynes Men’s Pie Manual is available from www.haynes.co.uk priced £21.99.

Raspberry, Lemon and Yoghurt Loaf Cake

  This light cake is a new favourite of mine. I love cakes that have yoghurt in them as it keeps them lovely and moist. The raspberries are a great addition and a nice surprise when you cut the cake. Despite the fact that this cake isn’t very seasonal, it’s so delicious that unfortunately, I don’t care. You can always buy frozen raspberries to cut the costs.
Ingredients:
  1. 115g salted butter, softened
  2. 225g caster sugar
  3. 250g plain flour, sifted
  4. 2 tsp baking powder
  5. Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  6. 2 large eggs
  7. 100g natural yoghurt
  8. 25g ground almonds
  9. 200g raspberries (defrosted if you are using frozen, do not use juice that comes off them after defrosting)
  10. 100g granulated sugar
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven at 180c.
  2. Grease and line a loaf tin.
  3. Cream together the butter and caster sugar. Ensure it is well combined until light and fluffy and pale in colour.
  4. Beat in the lemon zest.
  5. Once combined beat in the eggs, one at a time and adding the second only when the first is fully combined.
  6. Once eggs are fully combined, in a separate bowl sift together the flour and baking powder.
  7. Then fold in the sifted flour and baking powder in large spoonfuls.
  8. Next, fold in the yoghurt.
  9. Lastly, fold in the ground almonds.
  10. Spoon one third of the cake mixture into the loaf tin and top with a layer of raspberries.
  11. Repeat this process twice more until all the cake mixture and raspberries have been used up.
  12. Bake in a preheated oven for 45-50 minutes.
  13. If it requires longer (knife/skewer must come out clean) then cover with foil and bake until cooked.
  14. Once baked, leave to cool for five minutes in the tin.
  15. Make the lemon drizzle by combining the granulated sugar and lemon juice. Spoon over the cake, in the tin and leave to soak.
  16. Once drizzle has set, take cake out of the tin and allow to cool on a wire rack.
Let me know what you think to this recipe. It’s a winner in my family and perfect for those decadent days with afternoon tea.

Dads Birthday Trifle Cake

Harvest and my Dads birthday always clash so this year I decided to make a combine friendly version of his favourite dessert. A trifle cake. Admittedly, the finished product is still a little tricky to eat in a moving vehicle (let alone a combine) but he loved it! So layer them up and try this scrummy cake!
Ingredients for the cake:
  1. 400g butter
  2. 400g caster sugar
  3. 1tsp baking powder
  4. 8 eggs
  5. 4tbsp coconut cream*
  6. 400g self raising flour
* if you can’t find coconut cream (which I couldn’t) then use coconut milk. Open the tin but do not mix it together and scoop out the hardened milk.
Ingredients for the fillings and topping:
  1. 8tbsp icing sugar
  2. 500ml readymade custard
  3. 8tbsp white rum
  4. Juice and zest of 2 limes
  5. 400g raspberries
  6. 200g raspberry jam
  7. 150ml double cream
  8. Desiccated coconut for sprinkling on top (optional)
Method:
1. Heat oven to 180c and grease and line two 20cm cake tins (or bake one after the other).
2. Beat all the ingredients for the cake together, apart from the self raising flour. Once they are all combined and the mixture is smooth sift in the self raising flour and fold in.
3. Separate the mixture evenly into the two tins. Or you can halve the ingredients and make it in two batches to make it more manageable. Bake for around 40 minutes.
4. Whilst baking prepare the custard filling. Whisk together the remaining hardened coconut milk (discard the coconut water) and sifted icing sugar. Bring the custard to the boil and quickly whisk in the coconut mixture. Allow to thicken on the heat and then cool in the fridge.
5. To make the drizzle for the layers mix the white rum, lime zest and juice and 4 tbsp icing sugar.
6. Cut one of the cakes horizontally into two. These are your top two layers. Leave the remaining cake to be the base.
7. Line the cake tin with a little oil and cling film. Place the base cake into the tin and sprinkle with some of the rum mixture. Mix the jam and 150g of the raspberries together and spread on top of the base. Don’t let the name mixture go right to the edge.
8. Put in the next layer of cake and top with more of the rum mixture. Then spread over the custard.
9. Finally, add the last layer and sprinkle with the last of the rum mixture. Put in the fridge for at least 3 hours to set.
10. When you are ready to serve, whisk the cream with 1tbsp of icing sugar. Allow to thicken so that it will spread onto the top of the cake and stay. Once the cream has been spread on top, add the raspberries and desiccated coconut.
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