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eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by PCL

  1. Just had lunch there. There is a £6.95 express lunch deal... including 1 No. beer or soft drink, and guaranteed 15 mins on your table of one eats for free... fantastic value for the West End, and man... I could do it everyday. The deal's a little limited, but with chicken, or boston butt (pulled pork sandwich) or 1/2 rack of ribs on offer... hey, what more do you need. Was a little sad given that we'd had dinner there last night, but it seems to be the season for pork in our office at the moment!! Have a good weekend all.
  2. Whoa... I had burgers on Friday night at home... and the killer on 'em was the oak smoked cheddar... it's good too on it's own with a decent shiraz... but yeah, burgers are on.... especially when the bacon's good, and no more than 80% lean mince... i've got a small mix of dried shrimp and chillies which is real good when lightly fried in peanut oil and thickened with plain yogurt... and it all works well together... no pics though, but a good idea... there should be a burger exhibition on the Gullet
  3. We almost went to Bread & Wine... then decided we'd take the one stranger to StJ's to the mothership then hit on B&W next week... can't wait till then, but will probably do Bodeans once before then Simon, I'll be most interested to know how your experience goes tonight. Charlene, and I love mushrooms... will try definitely.
  4. Had dinner @ St John's last night with a couple of friends, and it wasn't like it used to be. Not to say that it was bad, but there were some concerns over the 'finishing' of my dish... and the garnishing for the obligatory bone marrow. 1. The toasted slices of usually fresh crispy bread were chewy and maybe slightly stale. Probably batch fired beforehand and left to cool a little carelessly. I ended up using the fresh bread instead with the marrow, and it did not disappoint. 2. The roast mallard with radish was tasty, but tough. The accompanying sauce was watery, and unseasoned, basically not well finished. The garnish was a little too raw and overpowering. 3. My friend, however, thought his braised rabbit was up to standard. I tasted the sauce and a nibble of rabbit and it was indeed yummy. 4. No complaints about the wine, and the eccles cake was fantastic and sufficiently crisp on the outside. 5. Service was a little less polished than usual, and for a half full dining room, the staff seemed to be struggling a little. Basically, it was disheartening to have certain things said about StJ's confirmed (friends have been going there and recently without returning with the usual glowing remarks) and especially so when even the stalwart vanguard of the menu such as the marrow being treated with slightly less respect than it would have been otherwise accustomed to. Now, would this just be an isolated incident, and can others confirm or rebuke my suspicions?
  5. Being a relative newcomer to these Isles, and living in London, the apparent lack of local produce, meaning British, was a bit of a shock. After 2 years, however, one learns where the markets are and the chance to sample the fresh local stuff soon came along. But the scariest thing was and still is the cost. Take today for instance, a trip to Borough Market left me £50 lighter. And what did I get to show for it that's local?... apple juice, bacon, toulouse sausages, shin steak, shallots, tomatos, and mushrooms. Parmigiano from Italy, duck confit from France, mushrooms from France, prosciutto and lardo from Italy. Got some sweetcorn too but of dubious provenance. So a 50-50 split or thereabouts. Supermarkets are cheaper, but the trade offs are obviously freshness and overall quality. The strangling of small producers and suppliers definitely have something to do with it. But another could be the relatively recent onset of an enthusiastic food awareness. The associated trendiness had also rendered London markets as 'places-to-be' with the young and affluent flocking to the logical presence of exotic food-stalls and the opportunity to source the stuff they read about and see on tv. In Australia, where I'm from, we're just spoiled I guess, and the abundance of fresh local food stock a benefit of a young, relatively uncrowded country with plenty of land. But good markets and suppliers are far and few in between in this town, and when you're sick of wondering about the hormone count in the chicken thigh in front of you, a couple more quid a week on the shopping docket won't seem like much for long.
  6. ...yeah, me too... sounds too good to pass up and i'm sick of substandard bbq in this town...
  7. What has been generally stated about Canary Wharf and its dining possibilities are very accurate. One point I'd like to 'dispute' would be the quality of food at The Memsahib... in short, too sweet, and the prices are not indicative of the quality of the dishes: - the dahls are generally of a non-distinguishable flavor - the use of sugar in the preparation of vegetable side dishes is a little annoying and even extends to the signature dish of whole lamb shank to a northern indian recipe. simply put, i think they're trying too hard. if one works/lives at/near Canary Wharf, it would be worthwhile getting on the 15 bus on Commercial Rd (10 minutes by bus, £7 in a cab) to the Lahore Kebab House on Commercial Rd in Aldgate/Brick Lane area for a truly diabolically good curry experience... it's Northern Indian/Pakistani with lamb chops on the bone cooked over coals and the seekh kebabs are waaaaayyyyy out there.... the actual address is: 2 Umberston Street, London, E1 1PY. If you go, don't forget the lamb/mutton curry, and don't order it from the menu, just ask the waiters. Forget about service and ambience, focus on the food, and sit upstairs if possible to avoid choking on coal smoke. And I'd like to add my vote to the good words spoken about Royal China. The dim sum is probably one of the best in London, and a'la carte is good too... there is a separate menu of un-dumbed-down dishes but it's only in Chinese characters but they are happy to translate. Also, the tapas bar, La Tasca in West India Quay is quite good (even if its a chain), if you go without high expectations that it. The predominantly Spanish staff are friendly and efficient, and wines are affordable, although I'm not too pleased about having to pay for bread... and they don't do cod, but given current concerns on overfishing, they've said that they'd rather not serve it than go for substitutes like hake/haddock etc. As for the pubs, the Grapes on narrow street is always worthwhile, but reservations for the restaurant are a must, otherwise fish and chips in the bar with a pint of shrimp is yummy... the thick cut chips are actually deep fried as opposed to poached in fat like most pubs... There's also the Trafalgar Tavern in Greenwhich, which is east of the University on the banks of the Thames. The restaurant does passable modern british but stay away from the fancier items, stick to the fried whitebait, pork chop, fish and chips... good selection of ales too and a great balcony for 3 directly opposite the bar although its only for drinking.
  8. PCL

    Stir-Fried Chicken Skin

    Chicken skin is sublime. I haven't had it like in the Sichuan style for a while... but it is served in several Japanese restaurants as Yakitori, and it goes crispy when grilled over charcoal with just salt, oil isn't needed because you don't trim away every last tasty morsel of fat. In the Sichuan style, with the dried chillies, the skin can be either crispy or caramelised but softened to slight chewiness by a bare sauce. I think this depends on the type of soy sauce used. It's a good thing to learn of people out there enjoying well-cooked chicken skin.
  9. Ahh... some clarifications: 1. The roux issue... i think lou's recipe just calls for cooked flour... roux was my own extrapolation/interpretation, 'cos when I navarin, i dust the lamb in flour before browning... 2. The london heatwave and beans: well, it's okay when the place is air conditioned, and I'm somewhat immune to a limited degree when it comes to the side effects of bean consumption... 3. The larousse: when i said 'on sale' I meant discount... I had the paperback version but maybe it was left behind at the last apartment as a doorstop. And Jon, thanks for the invite to Borough, however, I'm not sure about what I'm doing this weekend... have to attend to my neglected half, the bicycle... but will keep you posted, not sure how to use the PM thing!! Will update when I attempt the Cassoulet very soon.
  10. Greetings and Salutations from a "newbie" who has been hovering around eGullet and these forums for some months no. After having spent some time exploring and learning in this very exciting and unique corner of cyberspace, a suitable topic for posting has finally made it into my feeble CPU. Not sure if some background would be appropriate but I'll try to keep it brief: I'm an Australian, living & working in London (reverse immigration they call it, but I don't think it applies to ethnic Chinese), with a family history of gluttony (I'm campaigning for the world to understand the positives behind that word), and have undergone stints in various kitchens (Japanese, Italian in Tuscany, French) when I was studying and am now a Facade Designer (yep, I'm superficial). Anyhow... Cassoulet... I've been enjoying at least once a week for the past month a tasty and easily digested rendition of the grand dish, and am on the verge of attempting one at home. Problem is, my Larousse was lost in transit a couple months ago, and they're not on sale anymore so I've left off replacing my (sentimentally) lost copy. I've trawled around for recipes and even checked out the one posted on eGullet by loufood... but a couple of questions remain: 1. Stock: some recipes I've seen call for chicken stock or white veal. The one I've been eating at a little wine bar seems to have a meaty emulsion as its base liquid but its difficult to tell if its the result of days of simmering with constant additions of sausage, belly pork and confit. loufood's doesn't include stock. I guess it comes down to cleanliness of flavors? 2. Lamb: The one I've been eating does not contain lamb. The meat component of the dish is typically sliced belly pork, confit, sausage and smoked bacon chunks. Forgive my ignorance, but does the classic recipe call for lamb or is exclusive to the Toulouse version? If proceeding with the Navarin, is it okay to omit the brown roux? With the onset of autumn in London, after a distressingly hot summer (we had a 3 week heatwave where temperatures topped 100 for the first time!), it's time for civilised hearty dining!
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