Food reviews and recipes

Dim Sum at the Dorchester

A few weeks ago I got a severe craving for soup dumplings, or xiaolongbao. I was a woman possessed – those broth filled dumplings dominated my every thought and for a few days, I could talk about little else. Back in New York I used to go to New Green Bo, (now named Nice Green Bo) for a plate of those delicious, succulent parcels of heaven, but I had yet to find anywhere in London to get my fix. Mr A finally succumbed to my incessant whining his curiosity and decided he had to try them for himself. And so we ended up going for dim sum at the Dorchester (lucky me).photo 5photo 2Afternoon tea at the Dorchester might be the most quintessentially English thing you could ever do. Until Mr. A sent over the website I had no idea that they also offer Dim Sum at their restaurant, China Tang. Always one for dumplings over scones, I was giddy with excitement.

photo photo 5 copyOnce you pass through the rather grand lobby, you go downstairs to a gorgeous bar where the atmosphere is quite different altogether.

photo 4photo 4 copyphoto 2 copyphoto 1 copy 3photo 1 copyphoto 1 copy 2 photo 2 copy 2We settled in, ordered a bottle of South African red and asked for the Dim Sum menu. The room was beautiful, and the atmosphere lovely – perfect for a date. I can’t say I behaved particularly well though, as I interrupted mid-conversation to ask if we could order. I think with all the dim sum flying around I was a bit overly excited…

photo 1 copy 4We ordered our dishes in waves, starting with, of course, soup dumplings (or Shanghai pork dumplings on the menu). We really enjoyed most of the dishes – the Shanghai fried dumplings, Siu Mai, beef dumplings and roast pork buns perfectly made. One dish we didn’t enjoy was the BBQ Pork Cannelloni (not pictured) – it looked as grim as it tasted, and in hindsight it sounded horrible so what were we thinking!?

photo 5 copy 3photo 4 copy 3 photo 3 copyphoto 1 copy 5 photo 2 copy 5 photo 2 copy 3The xiaolongbao arrived, and as I opened the lid on the basket Mr. A seemed disappointed. After all my fuss I think he was expecting something spectacular – and to be honest so was I. In New York you could get an order of 8 massive soup dumplings for $4.25 – these dumplings were about a quarter of the size for twice the price. Although tasty, they had nothing on their New York equivalent!

Dim SumDespite this, I had such a lovely time at China Tang. The room is lovely, and the interesting paintings on the wall gave us so much to talk about. Dim Sum is always perfect for a date as sharing meals family style is always so much more fun! Be prepared to flash the cash though – although I was treated to this lovely meal I know it must have set Mr.A back a pretty penny.  And although the other dishes were delicious, my hunt for the perfect soup dumplings in London continues…

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China Tang at the Dorchester is located on 53 Park Lane, Mayfair, London W1K 1QA.

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Brita, Thai iced tea and my first giveaway!

I was recently contacted by Brita to take part in their Better with Brita campaign. Brita products reduce unwanted substances found in tap water, like chlorine and heavy metals improving the taste and quality of water. This is great for cooking, and Brita have partnered with food magazine Delicious in the launch of their ‘Better with Brita’ competition! Brita and Delicious want to find people who are passionate about good quality food, made with filtered water and quality, local ingredients to participate in their competition. The competition invites people to submit their creations to win a chance to attend The Big Feastival to sell their creations and gain recognition. For more information about the competition, check it out here!Better with BRITA logoBrita sent me a Marella jug to try out, and I decided to make some Thai iced tea with some of the tea I purchased while I was in a market in Cambodia. Thai iced tea is deliciously sweet, with a vibrant orange colour and is perfect for a summer drink, if made with fresh and pure water.

photo 2Thai Iced TeaThai Iced Tea

Brita, Thai iced tea and my first giveaway!
 
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This Thai iced tea recipe is sweet, refreshing and the perfect summer drink.
Author:
Recipe type: Drinks
Cuisine: Thai
Serves: One Pot
Ingredients
  • Thai iced tea leaves
  • Condensed milk
  • Ice cubes
  • Boiled filtered water
Instructions
  1. Make the tea using the tea leaves, and set to stand until room temperature.
  2. In the meantime, put some condensed milk at the bottom of the glass and place ice cubes.
  3. Once the tea is at room temperature, pour over the tea and stir, adding sugar if desired.
  4. It is very sweet, with the addition of the condensed milk so be sure to taste the tea first!
Thai Iced TeaThai Iced TeaThai Iced TeaThai Iced TeaThai Iced Tea

As part of the campaign Brita are also offering the chance for one of my readers to win a Marella jug (RRP £21)! For the chance to win, simply  leave a comment, or follow me on Twitter and Bloglovin’ below and follow the link below:  This competition is UK only.

WIN A MARELLA JUG: ISLANDBELL

I’m also a contributor over at the Fitzrovian – everything you’ll need to know about Fitzrovia in London. If you’re interested, check it out!

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Restaurant Review: Sushi Mania, Golders Green

I’ve found it close to impossible to find affordable, tasty and good quality sushi in London. Having grown up in New York and Tokyo, where it’s so easy to get nice sushi I’ve found that it’s one of the only downsides to living here (that, and the fact that the tube doesn’t run all night). I’m usually pretty open to fusion cuisines, but I can’t stomach the ‘Western’ twists places like Yo! Sushi or itsu do – sushi doesn’t need cream cheese or mayonnaise, and miso soup definitely doesn’t need sugar, in my opinion!

Which is why when a friend told me about Sushi Mania in Golders Green I was sceptical. All you can eat sushi for £15? Considering the only place I’d had nice sushi in London up until this point was Matsuri St. James, which is incredible, but not cheap, my guard was definitely up. But I love being proved wrong, and Sushi Mania definitely exceeded my expectations. It’s definitely worth booking ahead, and going early as this place gets pretty packed! sushi mania

We were one of the first customers at half six, but the place was fully packed by the time our first dishes arrived.

photo 2 Sushi Maniaphoto 3

When you book, you are given a timeframe – around an hour and forty five minutes for your table, so it’s good to arrive promptly. Sushi Mania offers an ‘all you can eat’ menu for £15.80. Usually, all you can eat places are buffet style, which I’m not a fan of. But at Sushi Mania you are given a menu, where you can mark off six dishes at a time. Once you’ve finished six dishes, you can order six more items off of the menu, as many times as you want. There are no restrictions on how many you can order, but some dishes do have supplementary charges. There is one catch though – any wasted or unfinished dishes are charged extra, and you can’t take any leftovers home, so it’s good to pace yourself!

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Mr. A and I usually make it three rounds before we are ready to explode. It is delicious though – all the fish is fresh, and the selection is great! You can get sushi, katsu curry, and even more traditional items like nasu dengaku, which Mr. A had here for the first time. It’s an aubergine dish roasted with miso sauce and they do it really well at Sushi Mania.Sushi maniaSalmon avocado temaki (handroll)

photo 2 copy 2Nasu dengaku

photo 3 copy 2Agedashi tofu (deep fried tofu)

photo 3 copySalmon and tuna avocado rolls
photo 4 copyGyoza

With service and soft drinks (I had a pot of green tea), the meal set us back £35 for the two of us. Considering the quality and the amount of food we had, I think it’s the best value f or money for sushi in London by far! Another ex-pat New Yorker also mentioned that this place having the best sushi in London – so between the two of us – the fussy New Yorker and the picky Japanese girl this place gets our seal of approval.

Sushi Mania is located at 130 Golders Green Road, London, NW11 8HB.

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Cooking with Maille: Fried Pickles and Baked Pork Schnitzel with Mustard Cream

Just before I left for Cambodia I was approached by Maille to develop a recipe as part of the Maille Culinary Challenge. I’m a fan of mustard, and especially Maille products so I jumped at the chance!

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Maille sent me two ingredients with which to come up with a recipe: pickled gherkins and mustard with white wine, lemon and garlic*.

Maille mustardMaille mustard

Although Maille is a French brand, I went back to my American roots for my appetiser: fried pickles, a popular dish in the American South.

Cooking with Maille: Fried Pickles and Baked Pork Schnitzel with Mustard Cream
 
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Using some classic French ingredients, I've taken some inspiration from the American South with this fried pickle recipe.
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4 Portions
Ingredients
  • 105g (or half a jar) of Maille ‘le Mini Recette Gourmande’ extra small gherkins
  • 100g plain flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. First, drain the pickles from the water and set to one side.
  2. Crack the eggs in a cup and whisk briefly, and season a plate full of flour with salt and pepper.
  3. Dip each pickle and onion into the egg mixture, before coating with the flour and setting on the plate. This will create the batter for the pickles.
  4. There is no need to overly season as the pickles already have quite a strong flavour.
  5. Once that is complete, heat the olive oil in a frying pan to a medium heat, and fry each pickle.
  6. Fry each pickle for no longer than 8 minutes, or until the batter becomes golden.
  7. The richer in colour the better, as it will have more flavour and be crispier – similar to tempura batter. Once golden, place each pickle on a paper towel to drain the excess oil.
  8. Serve dipped with mayonnaise.

Fried picklesFried pickles2014-04-19 08.19.44Fried Pickles

This dish is a real crowd-pleaser as the batter takes the sour edge off of the pickles – even those who aren’t a fan of gherkins can’t resist how delicious and flavourful these are, especially when dipped in creamy mayo! These will be great for any superbowl party or summer barbecue, and are best served hot. I had mine with a glass of rosé, but they are also good with pint of beer!

For the main course I went down a German route with a baked pork schnitzel with mustard cream. I decided to go for the healthier option of baking the pork, but if you want to be extra naughty you can fry these too.

For this recipe, which serves four,  you will need:

* 4 pork chops

* 100g plain flour

* 2 -3 eggs

* 100g golden breadcrumbs

*150 ml double cream

* 2 tablespoons of Maille Ail et Citron Mustard

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees (with fan). Prepare a similar assembly line as you did for the fried pickle recipe: a plate of egg, seasoned flour and a third plate of golden breadcrumbs.

Baked pork schnitzel

Take each pork chop and coat with flour, before dipping it into the egg. Once the chop is coated with egg, roll it into the breadcrumb mixture until it is well coated. Repeat for all the pork chops, and set to one side.

baked pork schnitzelbaked pork schnitzel

Grease a baking tray with butter, and pop the chops into the oven, giving 15-20 minutes to each side. While the chops are baking, start preparing the mustard cream sauce. Add two tablespoons of mustard and the cream into a saucepan on a low heat, and mix slowly until smooth. My favourite thing about this mustard was the fact that it is already seasoned with lemon and white wine, so all you needed to add was some ground black pepper – really simple and really delicious. Keep stirring the sauce, making sure it doesn’t burn – there is no need to add anything to thicken it as it will do so on its own.

mustard cream

Take the pork chops out of the oven, and serve with a dollop of the mustard cream. This is a really rich sauce so a little goes a long way. If you are like your food saucy, substitute the cream for some creme fraiche.

baked pork schnitzel mustard creambaked pork schnitzel mustard creamServe with broccoli and mashed potato, and a glass of white or rosé! See what the other bloggers have come up with on Twitter with #Mailleflavours.

* Products provided by Maille.

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Cocktails in the Shard

On Sunday evening, a few of us went down to the Aqua Shard bar on the 31st floor of the Shard to celebrate a birthday.

The Shard

I’m not the most confident with heights, but even I couldn’t resist going up and having a look for myself! As you can’t book ahead at the bar, we were taking a massive gamble by arriving with a group of 11. When I told my friend later on about the evening, he pictured the scene just like this:

Which was fairly accurate.

Luckily they were able to accommodate us all, (without queueing!) and we put a few little tables together. The floor to ceiling glass in the Aqua Shard bar reminded me of an apartment I used to live in when I was in New York.

photo 2 photo 3 Aqua shard

Still longing for Cambodia, I ordered a passionfruit filled drink, but they were out!  I ended up settling  for ‘No Money for Butter’, a champagne cocktail with lavender syrup. It was really lovely, and each cocktail cost around £12 a pop (London prices!). They also give you a little pot of salty, truffle-oil popcorn. It was delicious.

cocktails in the shard

The view really was breathtaking, and by ordering a cocktail you get to miss most of the tourists going up to see the View. By opting for the Aqua Bar over the View, you save around £17 (if you get one cocktail) as the tickets to go up to the view are £29. Definitely my kind of deal.

We were a bit awkwardly placed for food, and unfortunately the some of the reviews aren’t great so we headed further down river for the rest of our evening.

London

I’m definitely coming back for the Afternoon Tea though – it looks amazing!