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Everything posted by clb

  1. Well, the espresso at Le Carre aux Feuillants (Alain Dutournier's restaurant just off the Place Vendome) has stayed in my memory for perhaps five years now. No, I agree, that's not a very current recommendation, is it? c
  2. clb

    Knife Storage

    Oh Vanessa, I knew I wanted that Eva Solo knife block as soon as I saw it but now I have a reason (other than aesthetic). At last, at last, the possibility of ditching the horrible pine block. But can I give it to my husband for his birthday? clb
  3. Thank you, bee. It was once lovely, wasn't it? I went a few times in the early 1990s, I think: food pretty much on a par with its sibling Kensington Place but a comfortable, quiet, smart, middle-aged atmosphere (I may have enjoyed this last rather more when I was still the youngest in the room...). I think my visits were winter ones: terrines, game, cod with egg sauce. clb
  4. Yes. I know I said that everywhere changes, but it changes verrry slowly in that part of London. clb
  5. Well, I too thought it was one of those places which never really change (see this thread) but, of course, everywhere does, doesn't it? Mediocre, really, and pretty expensive given that. Still a pleasant place in one of the prettiest and quietest streets in London but goodness, what dull food. Started with linguine with crab (one tiny fragment), mussels, clams and chilli. Lukewarm; inadequate chilli as well as crab. Swapped with husband who made his usual belated realisation that foie gras is actually liver and he doesn't like liver. He'd ordered it remembering his one wonderful foie gras experience at Gordon Ramsay RHR. It became very clear why one place has three stars and the other doesn't. Thin slices of overcooked foie with rough and ready quadrillage (it is a good word, isn't it?) dumped rather than draped over a rather good Yorkshire pudding. Then John Dory fillet with Morecambe Bay shrimps and some very good broccoli on a cream sauce. OK. A lot of it. Too full for pudding. Was taken out so have no very exact idea of how much it cost. Drank a perfectly pleasant bottle of Windy Ridge Californian Merlot. clb
  6. A note on a disappointing lunch today at eCapital: confessed Chinese food novice gets it wrong again. Was with parents who had to be steered away from chicken with cashew nuts and the basic set menu and I suppose part of the disappointment was that my attempts to do better weren't actually worth the effort. I wasn't expecting to eat in Chinatown and hadn't checked to see what was recommended here but did, in any event, stick largely to the Shanghainese specialities. The good things were the juicy buns Stephen T mentioned above, the very similar Peking dumplings (we should really have been steered away from ordering both but, in the end, they were far the best things we ate) and the hot and also very juicy stir-fried choy sum. The bad things, alas, included the crispy chilli eels. I think either the preparation has changed considerably since JD had the same dish in late 1992 or, more probably, it was all too obvious that we knew nothing. There was no chilli heat and the sweetness meant that there was no taste of eel at all. Result was something which tasted remarkably like strips of chewy protein in a standard High Street sweet-and-sour sauce. Other failures: salt and pepper fried squid and scallops and hand-pulled noodles with king prawns. I pointed out how disappointed I had been with the eel (and we had only eaten perhaps a third of the dish) but there was no apology or deduction from the bill which amounted, I think, to £68 for three. clb
  7. clb

    Postpartum Meals

    LBNoble, what generosity! When I'd just had a baby, friends sent a big fish pie, a quiche, a shepherd's pie etc. These were very welcome and should be just the thing if your friend has a lot of people to feed. But another thought: I hope the family and friends visiting will also be helping and cooking. Perhaps it would be good to concentrate on the few weeks the mother and baby will be alone. It's exhausting looking after a baby alone and it's important that the mother eat properly. Some treats for her then would probably be very welcome. clb
  8. clb

    Maple syrup...

    As with so many things (sigh), maple syrup costs about the same in pounds sterling as in dollars. Waitrose (a moderately upscale supermarket chain) Amber No.2 costs £2.69 for approximately 12oz. clb
  9. Over the bridge into Primrose Hill? Quite big and white with a lot of potted plants? If so, Lemonia on Regent's Park Road. clb
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    Dinner! 2003

    Went for Fuchsia Dunlop's fish with chillies and Sichuan pepper (la zi yu) with more stirfried bok choy and garlic. Another fantastic dish, utterly unlike anything I've cooked before. Masses of chillies - I used about 25g of chillies to 400g of fish (at the bottom end of Dunlop's recommendation, which itself marks a big reduction on the original served, she says, at the Converging Rivers Fish restaurant in Chengdu. They use up to 75-100g of dried chillies to approximately this amount of fish). Lots of oil, lots of chillies and lots of whole Sichuan peppercorns made for a beautiful and aromatic dish. Each mouthful had a different flavour. And it was quick. clb
  11. clb

    Dinner! 2003

    Let's go for a Dunlop takeover of the Dinner thread... Well, I considered home-style beancurd last night but was put off by the deep frying (though maybe I should have done the bear's paw beancurd variation, which is shallow fried). Instead, traditional dan dan noodles which was pretty good but too salty (should have rinsed the Tianjin preserved vegetables more thoroughly). Stirfried pak choy with garlic. Greek yoghurt with maple syrup. Tonight? Considering fish with chillies and Sichuan pepper (got some good fresh whiting fillets this morning), fish-fragrant beancurd (but no pickled chilli paste - any views on where to get the approved vinegar-free variety in NW London?), maybe strange-flavour chicken, more pak choy. I think I'm addicted. clb
  12. clb

    Dinner! 2003

    Saturday: roasted sweet potato and tomato soup. Bread (Baker & Spice baguette) and cheese (a cheddar with a vg crystalline texture, Durrus and a new to Neal's Yard mild goat's cheese log). Purple sprouting broccoli salad with EVOO, lemon juice and anchovy dressing. Sunday lunch (yes, I know...): leg of lamb with garlic, anchovy, rosemary, white wine and lemon. Roast potatoes and parsnips. Steamed purple sprouting broc. Sunday supper: linguine with Wealden Round, roasted fennel and cherry tomatoes (from Tamasin Day-Lewis, as was the soup on Saturday). Rocket, spinach and avocado salad. Monday: ma po dou fu (beancurd cooked in stock with chilli bean paste, fermented black beans, spring onions, ground Sichuan pepper), cold red pepper in a rice vinegar, sugar and sesame oil dressing, dry-fried green beans and rice. Oranges. This was a revelation. All from Fuchsia Dunlop's Sichuan Cookery which I've been reading on and off for a couple of months. Finally spent the morning at Wing Yip and Oriental City buying the ingredients. I _think_ the Sichuan peppercorns were the business (see the Sichuan peppercorn thread). Bought them at the Spice Shop in Portobello. Excellent aromas when I roasted and ground some of them. My only previous attempt at Chinese food, inspired by Barbara Tropp's China Moon Cookbook, had come to an end with the horrible smell created when roasting another batch of doubtless manky Sichuan peppercorns for her Sichuan pepper-salt. And I've never had a wholly satisfactory meal in a Chinese restaurant - horrible sweet gloopy sauces blah, blah, blah. But goodness I enjoyed this. clb
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    Returning briefly to the matter of pipli, the Spice Shop in Notting Hill had a couple of bags of Sarawak Long Pepper for sale at lunchtime today (and I don't imagine there'll be a sudden surge in demand). Something like £2.50 for 50g? They'll send a minimum order of £10. The Spice Shop clb
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    Yes, that lovely name's wrong. Ticklemore clb
  15. clb

    Scallops [Merged Topic]

    In total agreement with Adam, here. But maybe it's a Scottish thing. I watched the divers go down into Loch Eriboll for the scallops last spring and ate them an hour or so later. Nothing fancy, but not deep-fried either (English on holiday on the north coast). Unbelievably good. clb
  16. Here's the first review I've seen. You may need to register. clb
  17. I think Ibla (top of Marylebone High Street) would be pushing it a bit from the RAH. Second the idea of Launceston Place. Haven't been there for ages but it's the kind of restaurant that never really changes. Very comfortable, very comforting. A nice walk from the RAH. clb
  18. Another first-time visitor to La Trompette. Another good report (this place, The Capital and St John must be about the most frequently written-up restaurants in London). The menu's not changed much since Matthew's visit three weeks ago. We were a party of four and duplicated several of his choices. It seemed to me from the starters on that the restaurant was well above the standard I would expect from a London neighbourhood place - partly a question of presentation, mainly one of taste. The pumpkin risotto came inside a tiny pumpkin with the sweetbreads perched on top. I make squash risotto quite often but this dish showed that I've still got a way to go. The persillade of Devon cockles and mussels with shellfish broth and basil, which I was expecting to be in a large bowl, came as a grid of individual cockles and mussels, each covered in a thin, crunchy layer of persillade and accompanied with an espresso cup of broth. Deconstructed fish soup. The truffled creamed potatoes with the grilled quail were particularly appreciated. But the stand-out dish was definitely the cote de boeuf; something which I would never have ordered without having read reports here. I've never eaten such good steak; I was sort of expecting such a large slab of protein to be boring but each mouthful was different. Perfectly seasoned, too. One thing which interests me: is it served in the classic New York steakhouse manner (as must be obvious, I've never been to a NYC steakhouse)? The waiter presents the massive raw chunk of meat and briefly - and pretty inaudibly: the restaurant's noisy - describes how it will be cooked. The steak then returns,sliced, in a copper dish and is distributed between the two people who've ordered it. With it are tiny, sweet shallots, a small bunch of watercress, some spinach (underneath the meat), a red wine sauce and, separately, a bowl of thin frites and a smaller bowl of bearnaise. The desserts are definitely inferior to the starters and main courses. We had an assiette of fig desserts (OK; I tried a little of some fairly good fig ice cream and a baked fig which had had a little too much rosewater poured over it), a Gateau Basque with lemon curd ice cream and blueberries (goodish egg and vanilla gateau but too heavy after the preceding courses; not enough tang to the ice or the blueberries to counteract the tendency to stodge), a prune and armagnac ice cream (I wish I'd read the criticisms of that on this thread first) and - the winner by a mile - a white peach sorbet. The restaurant is, as noted, a bit too noisy and also a bit too hot but these are trivial complaints. The atmosphere is, for me, ideal: good lighting, elegant but not look-at-me design, staff who really know what they're doing. The £30 set menu still feels like a good deal but, of course, by the time we'd had a half-bottle of Leflaive Montagny and a bottle of Dolcetto, paid a few £5 supplements, bought water, coffee and paid 12.5% service, the total was something over £220. I'd go again in a flash. clb
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    Le Maquis? Hammersmith? Moro offshoot? clb
  20. The Kelly Bronzes from Lidgate are appallingly expensive but definitely worth it. We had one for Christmas two years ago and it was not only the best turkey I've ever eaten but the best roast poultry of any sort. Gamey flavour and excellent texture. Lidgate are quite good at advising how to cook the turkeys and may be able to help if the tin does turn out too small. As to canned pumpkin, the deli Miss J mentioned is, I think, the Rosslyn Deli on Haverstock Hill. Haven't checked but they almost certainly stock it. Their back room is full of American imports. clb
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    Dinner! 2002

    Spice Shop, Portobello Market = good Borough Market = in my dreams (NW to SE London with two very small children - NO). Thank you, Miss J. clb
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    Dinner! 2002

    That sounds good. Where did you get the tortillas? clb
  23. clb

    Dinner! 2002

    Inspired by Adam B on the Fettucine al caviale e ricotta thread, fresh tagliatelle made with my excited and greedy almost-three-year-old. Well, she did a bit of kneading, anyway. With a sort of Alfredo sauce: double cream, butter, snippets of crisp streaky bacon and diced shallots. Very delicious. Fresh figs. clb
  24. There was an interview with the owner and chef at Oasis on the Food Programme last month - click. clb
  25. clb

    Hard-boiling eggs

    I've read (and experience confirms this) that ease of peeling has to do with the freshness of the eggs. The fresher the egg, the harder it is to peel. clb
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