Tag Archives: London

The London Particular, a SE London gem on the A2..

We started looking for houses in Hackney, Stepney, “blah blah I live East and I’m a hipster” land. When I suggested we consider South East London it was met with some pretty blank looks from all in earshot. However, a tube, a tube, a train and a walk later and we were considering calling these dark depths home. Months (and blood sweat and tears) later, we’re pretty confident we made the right choice, and I’ve met several pretty lovely, fun people which confirm this. On Friday I discovered The London Particular as another reason why this particular corner, New Cross/New Cross Gate/Deptford is on the up!

For other reasons, see here.

In my unemployed state I took myself and J to The London Particular for coffee and a sandwich yesterday afternoon. Clad in hard wood and copper with arty touches (we are in Goldsmith’s territory) I like the interior. The girl behind the counter (sorry, barista) was reassuringly Antipodean and the resulting coffee was testament to this. (I didn’t catch which beans they use, I will be back with this info)

By the time we made it lunch was over (4.30pm) and I scoffed the last sandwich available, and very satisfying it was. Cheddar with rocket, roasted tomatoes and a red onion&chilli marmalade (made on site) on a white bloomer bread.

J had a cup of trendily named builder’s tea, this appeared atop a yellow tile which matched the ones on the exterior of the shop.

I definitely like The London Particular, they are doing a great job, all is reasonably priced, from what I could see of the kitchen the cakes are homemade and looked yum. All in all, and with inside and outside seating I think they are onto a winner. I, for one, will be back for lunch on Friday!

Welcome to your renaissance New Cross.

The London Particular

399 New Cross Road,

New Cross,

London SE14 6LA

020 8692 6149

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Thoughts on moving forwards..


I have been neglecting my double saucepan.

It is my favourite, most precious bit of kitchen kit, and I have just not been using it enough…but hopefully that is about to change. When I leave my office today that will be for good and in September I will be back at King’s College London training to teach kids about books that have been made into films they will complain about having to watch, never mind trying to get them to read the longer, wordier hard copies!

In between I’m having a summer holiday, a month off to curd and preserve and potter about in the kitchen and garden to my heart’s content. I also want to take myself to the Guildhall Library to do some research on British preserves, watch this space for some historical food thoughts soon.

So, double saucepan, you had better get ready

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10 yellow jars..

Helen of Food Stories fame held a Big Lunch in Peckham on Sunday. A fab idea, and in aid of Maggie’s, an amazing charity who provide, information, support and lots more to Cancer patients and their families. She had requested through the magic means of the internet donations of food, drink, and everything else one would need to hold an event like this!

She had a huge response, and was given everything from ex-student halls’ cutlery to a KitchenAid, along with loads of booze, food and other bits and pieces.

I thought I would pass a few jars of curd her way and at the same time this gave me the opportunity to take some photos of the process. The labels have not made the final cut, and I will be posting soon with examples of the ones we have decided on!

Zest and juice of loads of lemons

almost done..

treasured double saucepan (more than 75 years old)

hot jars from the oven

labelled

boxed and off to Peckham we go!

(the 2 pink ones are Pink Grapefruit…not P.G. Fruit as J suggested)

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Medcalf, Clerkenwell

When my fresh face, at the naïve age of eighteen years, made its debut in London Town I had only visited the city maybe four or five times. These few visits included the one (Golden ticket) university interview which gave me the excuse to gallop my way down here from the North-West in the first place. In the early days of my residence my Mum worked down here a reasonable amount, and I saw her quite a bit – which was always a pleasure (read: free lunch and shoes). Unfortunately due to lots of unforeseen circumstances her opportunities to visit are becoming less and less. As a result I was delighted when she wanted to come down on Friday to catch up (not just for free food and shoes!).

Despite my Mother’s lack of cooking ability, of which I can assure you she freely admits, she is, thankfully, interested in eating. So, considering the comment made in jest above I charged myself with the task of finding a great restaurant for dinner. Also, once again I am blighted with poor quality iPhone photos, but I have now ordered a digital camera, hooray!

I have walked past Medcalf many times, as a former Clerkenwell resident and [current] lover of Exmouth Market I would wander past there on a pretty regular basis, but I had never got round to eating there, until Friday.

As a renovated/transformed early twentieth century Butcher’s shop the exterior of Medcalf reminds me of several Brooklyn and downtown Manhattan bars. It has that shabby, mismatched furniture, inside chairs outside thing going on which, although often overdone, I actually really quite like. Inside, the bric-a-brac furniture theme continues and the overarching material used is wood, I suspect to stay reasonably true to its Butcher’s block past. Incidentally, I don’t usually notice artwork in restaurants but Medcalf had some absolutely stunning textile pieces by Charlotte Jonerheim on their walls.

And so, on to the important part…The menu gives the impression that it changes daily, as the date on the website changes, but today’s menu is pretty much word for word what we were offered on Friday. I’m not convinced this is a bad thing, it is a seasonal menu with some really strong components and if it ain’t broke…

To start we shared a dozen Irish rock Oysters and Duck hearts with Lardons on toast with parsley and red onion. The Oysters were lovely, with a solid Red Wine vinegar and shallot dressing. The star of the show however, was the Duck hearts. Just pink in the middle with salty lumps of pig and the well matched garnish of parsley and red onion on a good sourdough toast. Absolute meaty heaven. I was also slightly surprised at the size of the hearts, they were quite small, and maybe somebody can tell me why? I remember wild Duck from my childhood always being smaller and almost wiry as opposed to the fat packaged version you see in supermarkets, but I’m intrigued as to whether this is why the hearts seemed proportionally off to me?!

I continued along the meaty theme and had Guinea Fowl with char-grilled Treviso and broad beans, whilst J ate Hand picked Dorset crab with peas, asparagus and herb mayonnaise and my Mum ordered the Beer battered hake with tartare sauce, mushy peas and chips. Apologetic at this point I think she felt her foodie credentials were failing me, which is ridiculous – the only reason I never order Fish and Chips in London is because I often feel, as a Northerner with pretty high Fish ‘n’ Chip standards, slightly disappointed  (as the Yorkshire born and bred Green Onions also explains on her blog). Well, I stand officially and happily corrected. Medcalf’s hake was melt in the mouth perfect. Crisp batter, beautiful fish – I cannot rave enough about this plate of food – it was divine. The Dorset crab was also lovely, proffered with small Gem lettuce leaves to scoop some crab and herby mayonnaise onto, it was a tasty main course. J had also ordered a portion of chips which were good chips – not the best chunky ones I’ve had in London – but pretty good all the same, and bonus points go to Medcalf for homemade mayo! My main course was reasonably good, the Guinea Fowl was slightly over cooked and therefore a bit overpowered by the char flavour from the Treviso Radicchio. I suspect if the meat had been cooked a little less then the ingredients would have come together more cleanly.

J abstained from dessert but because my Mum and I are evidently greedy (and by this point a tad tipsy – hence the lack of photos until after we had dug in!) we decided to order 3 puddings on the basis that he would eat some once it was in front of him! Again it was 2 hits and 1 miss with the puds, the Bakewell tart was executed faultlessly with a dollop of clotted cream and the Rhubarb and Strawberry crumble with pecans and runny cream a sharp delight. The third was the Chocolate Pana cotta with Orange caramel which although it was nice, tasted like chocolate mousse with tinned mandarin oranges, which wasn’t quite what we expected.

Medcalf was mostly excellent, and when it wasn’t excellent it was still really good. The service was spot on, as were the drinks. A local Greenwich beer (Meantime Helles) had a complex taste that after a couple of sips I really enjoyed and the bottle of Rioja Navajas Blanco, 2006, was well priced and I would gladly have drunk another one.

Go to Medcalf, it is definitely worth it, and whilst you’re there take a look around Exmouth market – there is so much to be seen in this corner of London, foodie and otherwise.

We paid approximately £35 per head for 3 courses, including drinks.

Medcalf
40 Exmouth Market, London, EC1R 4QE
020 7833 3533
020 7833 1321
mail@medcalfbar.co.uk

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Would you trust us…

to cook you dinner??

We are now putting together the mailing list for our first date. Please email us at hatchamsupperclub@gmail.com to receive our first ‘update’!

(sorry condom not included)

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Belated, but as promised


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vokzal

The Russian word for train station, apparently (according to Wikipedia…) due to a little trip to view the construction of the London & South Western Railway at Vauxhall, South West London, by some Russians, who then took the Proper Noun name of station to be the noun for train stations in general.

Fact. (ish)

Vauxhall is also the home to a large part of the Portuguese population of London (not Russians, that part was mainly irrelevant). As a result, it is also home to several amazing Portuguese cafes, one of which J took me to last week.

Being in Estrela felt like being in a small town cafe somewhere in the Algarve, the atmosphere is warm and friendly, the service attentive without being annoying and on the occasion of our visit Portuguese football was on the tele.

Straight off, and as usual with tapas, we over ordered. Also as usual, we still finished it all. We ordered grilled Sardines, Bacalhau (Salt Cod Fritters), Chorizo in firewater (setting something on fire almost always = better, non?), Pork and Broad Bean Stew, Sardine Pate and Patatas Bravas.

I apologise in advance for the lack of pictures…still no digital camera to my name!

Sardine Pate, which appeared first alongside the Bread and Olives was like an upmarket, yummy version of the fish paste which I remember my Grandmother eating when I was a child, I probably could have eaten just that and bread.

The Sardines were fresh, crispy and perfect, you get four in one portion and they are left as whole fish so you do have to take the flesh of the bones. I’m not one to be squeamish about bones, but if you are I suppose this could seem a bit of a faff. But they are worth it..despite the simplicity of the cooking method, having eaten Sardines newly caught in Greece on several occasions, I can attest to these being very fresh and well cooked.

Bacalhau was as good as any I have eaten and definitely better than the ones I attempted to make on Bank Holiday Monday (mine weren’t bad, they were ahem…different – will try again). Patatas Bravas were also really good, tomato sauce had a nice level of heat, greatly appreciated having eaten so many blandly seasoned tomato sauces in the past.

The pork dishes, however, ‘stole the show.’ I must qualify at this stage that I have never eaten Portuguese Tapas but J used to live around the corner from Estrella and spent many evenings and lots of long Sundays in here before I muscled my way onto the scene, so he ordered the Chorizo in Firewater, and I had no expectations. The Chorizo arrived, a big, thick, red curl of a sausage sitting on top of a sort of terracotta grill with some sort of booze (Brandy? Whiskey?) alight in the bottom of the dish. Although some would accuse this of being a naff spectacle I am easily entertained. It was also lovely as a result, the flame kept the fat in the sausage juicy as we ate it bit at a time with the other dishes.

The final dish was the Pork and Broad Bean Stew which was the one dish I picked that J had never eaten, being the sucker for beans that I am. Again, sorry to go on but, it was amazing. It had bits of Chorizo, Lardons and Rib, all had been cooked slowly to melting point with the beans in tow. The whole thing tasted of pork fat and pork and beans…..and everything that is good and right with the world.

All in all, Estrela is worth a trip for what I feel is a pretty authentic Portuguese cafe experience. By all accounts there is a couple of other really good Portuguese restaurants around there, some a similar experience and others slightly more upmarket. There are also several Delis which weren’t open the day we went as it was Good Friday. If you don’t know the South Lambeth road and you like Iberian food stuffs, now is the time to find it!

Bar Estrela
113-115 South Lambeth Road, Vauxhall, London SW8 1UZ

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What a revolting colour…

As a middle-aged woman descended the spiral staircase from MsMarmite’s balcony I looked up and smiled…to be greeted with her exclamation at the sight of Violet’s Rhubarb Curd…”What a revolting colour!” Once the shock at her brusque outburst had subsided I realised the hilarity of the whole affair, she had no idea what the curd was and I suspect she originally thought it to be some sort of children’s concoction!

Having rolled around laughing for ten minutes or so with this mortified lady she tried a dollop of said curd on top of one of my mini fruit buns. Suddenly she was not only mortified but determined to buy a jar, despite my protestations that it wasn’t necessary to make up for her earlier comments!

The first UK Underground Farmer & Crafts market was the setting for this sale, held at MsMarmiteLover’s lovely garden flat in Kilburn. This was, in fact, the setting for all of my sales so far, of which there were many on Sunday! Violet’s Fruit Curd seemed to go down really well and I am absolutely delighted.

I sold Lemon, Apricot and the famed Rhubarb, selling out of everything apart from 3 jars of the Lemon and 2 of the Apricot. Other stallholders (of which there were more than 30!) were selling lovely napkins, tasty chutneys, lots of cupcakes, aprons, coffee and so on. Demos were held in the kitchen and many a Shed made gin cocktail was consumed….

J and I took home lots of swapped treats, cupcakes from Crumbelina, chutneys from House of Chutney, amazing tortilla and Empanades from can be bribed with food and it was all so lovely that we sat on the floor and ate it whilst watching Poirot (with David Suchet…yay).

The next day I received the loveliest of emails telling me how gorgeous Violet’s Lemon Curd was…was being the operative word…attached was this delightful picture:

Thank you, the late night tying on of labels and recipes related hair tearing definitely feels well worth it now!

Watch this space for further news on where Violet goes next…and the Underground Farmer and Crafts Market in Minolta+Ilford made pictures.

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Curd girl?

Having spent all of my day so far (that would be 8 hours) binding presentations I have decided now is the time to sneakily skive away to write about the lovely Sunday lunch we had yesterday at The Shed.

Firstly, damn you BBC weather and your inane, misguided meteorological predictions. Poor Nicola and Andrew, hostess and host of this supper club in Newington Green, reliant on the licence payers money to present reliable weather info, moved their tables inside yesterday in order to avoid everybody getting soaking wet.

But it didn’t rain of course.

However, less with the negativity. The Shed also now known as ‘The Lounge’ was just delightful.

We were the first to arrive into Nicola’s lounge and we sat at the far table which was set for seven. My mouth was already salivating at the smell of the Beef, a bonus to being inside rather than the shed! At our heels were Alexis and her partner Yohanna (sp? I’m sorry!), followed by two more Aussies and a Scotsman. Sarah (one of the other Australians) and her boyfriend (the Scotsman) had been to Alexis and Yohanna’s supperclub, LexEat, recently and so they were already familiar. This twist of fate made everyone immediately comfortable, and drew the conversation to the art and caper involved with running a supperclub of one’s own.

Having discussed supper clubs the conversation turned to Curd and my Grandmother’s grumpiness at having her photo taken for publicity material and somewhere inbetween I ended up as Curd Girl. I’m unsure as to how I feel about this…somehow it sounds a little odd, maybe fungal, I don’t know. So grumpy Grandmother or not we are sticking with Violet’s Fruit Curds rather than Curd Girl’s Curds!

At this point I feel I should apologise for my lack of photography. So far on this blog I have added a couple of half-hearted, very crappy, iPhone pics and nothing more. It may come as a surprise that I do have some, not many but some, photography skills and I do use an old-ish Minolta to take Black and White film photos. However I have not yet entered the land of digital photography. I suspect this is where I promise to save up and buy a digital camera in order to enter the technological world everyone else is living in. I would love to, but I also have aspirations of developing my own photos in an at-home darkroom so the two ideas are conflicting in my bank account! I did notice Alexis taking lots of photos of the food so I’m sure if you go to her blog they will surface there soon enough! In the meantime you may have to suffice with my slightly poor prose!

We were swiftly presented with bowls of finely chopped Shallots, Capers, Lemon slices and Creme Fraiche, followed by a plateful of incredibly fresh Smoked Salmon and a bowlful of homemade Blinis. The other starter was a flavoursome Chicken Liver Pate, which I thought was amazing, with Date and Apple Chutney and toast. I think I remember Nicola worrying that it was too strong but I thought it was dead nice – strong pate = good pate in my book.

The main course of Roast Beef did just what it said on the tin and more. The meat was moist and well cooked, the yorkshire puddings traditional and the gravy absolutely divine, we all had seconds which of course is the beauty of a)supperclubs and, I suspect, b)the Shed.

Pudding was Rhubarb and Apple Crumble with perfect custard followed by some yummy Neal’s Yard cheeses. J and I mused over whether the crumble contained digestive biscuits, and if it did that’s definitely an idea I’ll be borrowing!

Despite how shattered we were from a weekend of hire-van driving and ebay cooker acquiring we thoroughly enjoyed the company, the food and the atmosphere at Nicola and Andrew’s flat. I will be returning next weekend for an Italian feast with an out of town mate who is down in London for the weekend.

Lastly, as I left Nicola showed me some of the knitted wares her mum has sent to her for the Underground Farmer’s Market on 28th March, which are just lovely, and so beyond my knitting patience and capability!

Tonight I’m having a go at Apricot Curd, so we will see what drops out – otherwise I’m going back to a Pink Grapefruit…maybe….I should probably stop being so indecisive!

Buy tickets for the Underground Farmer’s Market here!

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A perfect London baking day

Yesterday in London was one of those beautifully sunny days with a crisp bite that makes us all feel like Spring is at least on its way, absolutely perfect for baking with all the windows open and sun streaming in through the glass. It was also pretty helpful for the hangover I had left over from the wedding we attended on the Saturday.

So I forged on with the mini Hot Cross Bun project, to reasonably great success I feel. Having never made Hot Cross Buns at all before I really wasn’t sure of the consistency of the dough. The recipe book I had scanned before beginning and deciding 2 tsp of mixed spice was definitely not enough described it as a ‘moist dough’ but this wasn’t exactly what mine looked like when I had finished with it.

perhaps not quite moist enough..

The second challenge once the buns had risen (sat atop my washer/dryer, completing another classic Sunday activity) was to ‘pipe’ the water and flour paste onto the top in the shape of crosses. This didn’t work. At least not for me. Maybe my paste was the wrong consistency. I found I had to roll the white paste out into little sausage shapes in the palm of my hand and carefully lay them over the top of the buns. Then I panicked because they didn’t stick! But once they were all done and in the oven they looked lovely.

finished product...

They weren’t quite as mini as I had originally intended, and they did need a little more mixed spice and I wonder about a splash of orange juice instead of all milk, they were also lovely, especially with a dollop of Rhubarb curd on top.

So, I now have jars (although mostly no lids, and I definitely need more!), tasting receptacles and one out of a possible three recipes down. I need to get the Rhubarb curd just right and I also need to have a go at a Grapefruit curd…I think, although I do keep changing my mind!

Suggestions welcome!

Buy tickets for the Underground Farmer’s Market here!

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