Food reviews and recipes

Kettner’s cocktail masterclass, Soho

Last Thursday evening I tagged along with Sherin from the HiFashion site to a cocktail masterclass at Kettner’s, on Romilly street.

Kettner's, Romilly Street

I am a massive fan of cocktails – particularly gin,  so a cocktail making class is my idea of a good time! We started off with a few nibbles, and got acquainted (or re-acquainted) with the other students for the night.

Kettner's, soho

Kettner's cocktail class

We went upstairs to the Apartment, which is one of their private dining rooms. I found out later that it was used by Edward VII to entertain his mistress, Lillie Langtry – he had a tunnel dug there from the Palace Theatre for their secret romps.

Kettner's cocktail classKettner's cocktail class

We started off with a Mojito – one of my all-time favorite cocktails. I picked up a few more tips, like putting a mint sprig behind the straws so you get the scent of mint while enjoying your cocktail.

Kettner's cocktail class Kettner's cocktail class

We moved on to an Old Fashioned – the best I’ve ever had, as I’m not usually a fan! We moved onto martinis: one dirty, one pornstar, the latter being my favourite. I can’t wait to go back to Cambodia where I’ll be using my new found skills to have them to accompany breakfast, lunch and dinner!

Kettner's cocktail class

Pornstar martiniMartini

HiFashion Sherin

I’m not usually a fan of competitive drinking (I’m not very good at it) but comparing my bartending skills to the others was so much fun that I made an exception! Definitely my type of workout.

Kettner's cocktail class Kettner's cocktail class

The highlight of the evening for me was definitely the cocktail competition at the end. Think of MasterChef, or Bake Off but with cocktails. Mine (imaginatively called The Erin – I blame my fuzzy, 4-cocktails-in brain for that one) was a mix of lychee juice, crushed mint, brown sugar, gin and soda water. It was actually really nice, and I’ll definitely be making it again! I lost out to someone with a watermelon-based concoction, and despite my wounded pride I do have to concede defeat as it was delicious.

The Erin cocktail

It was a great evening – although I wasn’t feeling it the next day! Thank you Kettner’s so much for a fabulous evening – I had a wonderful time.

Fabulous fish tacos & Mexican grilled corn

There’s been a bit of a chill in the air these past few days, but I’m not ready to let summer go just yet. Here’s hoping that we get another bout of good weather, so you can cook up the perfect summer feast!

fish tacos

I absolutely love cod, and this fish taco recipe feels really indulgent. Luckily it’s full of lots of lovely things with all sorts of good fats in. For the fish tacos, you will need:

Guacamole

Fabulous fish tacos & Mexican grilled corn
 
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This recipe could be brilliant for a barbecue, as it involves making a delicious guacamole to fill the tortilla wrap. By grilling the fish with some lemon juice over the BBQ, I bet the results would be divine! Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t on my side so I had to make do with kitchen stove.
Author:
Recipe type: Gluten-Free
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 4 portions
Ingredients
  • A fillet of cod (per person)
  • Two avocados
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Fresh coriander
  • Lemon
  • Cup of plain flour
  • Two eggs
  • Pepper and chilli powder
  • Oil
  • Tortilla wrap
  • One onion
  • Fresh chillies
  • Cheese (I used parmesan)
  • Dollop of soured cream
  • Lettuce (chopped)
Instructions
  1. To prepare the guacamole, chop the onion, cherry tomatoes and chillies (as many as you dare). Toss them lightly, and scoop out the contents of your avocado pears.
  2. I recommend chopping the avocados first into segments, and then into large, chunky cubes.
  3. Take a spoon, and stir the avocado into the mixture gently – don’t mash anything.
  4. Add the lemon juice, and set to one side, so the flavours develop.
  5. While your guacamole is getting tasty, start preparing the fish.
  6. Dip the fillet into a bowl of raw egg, and then onto a plate of flour, seasoned with pepper and chilli. Let the fish rest a minute, and heat up some oil in a frying pan.
  7. (If you want to be super healthy, skip the fish batter and bake the fish with a squirt of lemon juice).
  8. Once you’ve heated the oil, fry the fish until delicious and golden brown.
  9. Because we’re working with a flaky white fish, it might disintegrate a little but that’s okay!
  10. Make sure you get the crispy bits, and let the pieces drain on a plate lined with a paper towel.
GuacamoleFish tacos

Now it’s time to build the beast! On a lightly heated tortilla wrap, spoon some of that guac, as well as some fish and line with lettuce, a dollop of soured cream and a small shaving of cheese. Spicy, fresh, delicious.

fish tacos

Accompanying my fish taco was another favourite – Mexican grilled corn. Again, this one would be perfect for a barbecue! The first time I had this in a restaurant I refused to eat anything else, it was that good. I hope I can do it justice….

For the spicy corn, you will need:

Corn on the cob

100ml soured cream

50ml mayonnaise

Chilli powder (to taste)

Pepper

Parmesan (grated)

Lime

First, mix together the soured cream, mayo and chilli powder. Taste as you go, and be sparing with the chilli powder. I tend to go overboard with spice, and it was a bit too much for the others! Let the marinade develop, and pop the corn under a grill for 20 minutes, turning every five minutes or so, until each side has darkened a shade or two.Mexican corn marinadeMexican corn marinadeMexican corn

Once the corn is cooked, coat in the chilli marinade, and sprinkle some parmesan on top. Serve with a squeeze of lime, and a chilled glass of white wine or beer!

Mexican corn

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Matsuri St James, Mayfair

Matsuri St. James has some of the best Japanese food in London.  It’s a stones throw from the Ritz, and in my experience is one of the most authentic Japanese places to dine in the UK.

Matsuri St JamesMatsuri St James Matsuri St James

The dining area is situated in the basement, and is full of hibachi (grill) tables. I opted for the Matsuri course menu, which had a little bit of everything.   We started off with some seasonal appetisers – a delicate salmon tartar flavoured with yuzu, a Japanese citrus.  Yuzu is used frequently in Japanese cuisine – while it looks like an orange grapefruit in appearance, it’s slightly more lemon/lime-like in flavour, but without some of the tartness.

salmon tar tar

Followed by a chicken appetiser with leeks, and a clear broth soup,  or Dobin Mushi, served in a teapot. Dobin Mushi is a clear broth, flavoured with matsutake mushrooms, limes, chicken, shrimp and soy sauce.

ChickenDobin MushiDobin MushiDobin Mushi

Given a choice between raw food and fried, I will always go for the raw option, and had sashimi while the others had tempura.

Sashimi

For the main course we were given a choice of lobster with black cod, fillet or sirloin steak, which is cooked in front of you on the hibachi tables. I went for a sirloin steak, barely seared and as rare as possible.   It was exquisitely flavoured and seasoned, and was accompanied by a side of rice and a wasabi mayonnaise sauce.

HibachiHibachijapanese steak

All the flavours of Matsuri were quintessentially Japanese – delicate and complex, and without the clumsy seasoning of the fake-Japanese chains you are frequently served in London. It was all delicious,  and presented beautifully (bonus points from me).  To finish off a perfect meal, I went for a kinako (soybean flour) ice cream, while others opted for the green tea (matcha) tiramisu, or something called a dragon ball, which seems to be ice cream which has been set on fire.

dragon ballkinako ice creamgreen tea tiramisu

It is always an absolute pleasure to dine at Matsuri St James and this time was no exception!

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Simple Korean-style BBQ Recipe

Kimchi is a traditional Korean side dish, usually made with fermented cabbage. I lived in Seoul from the age of 1 to 3, and so this deliciously spicy and sour dish has always been a staple in my family – our fridge is rarely without it. Kimchi is low in calories and full of fiber (a winning combination), and has the added bonus of being addictively delicious. The first time I made this meal for Mr. A, I woke up in the middle of night to find him raiding the fridge for the leftovers – it’s that good.

Kimchi

Despite having lived in South Korea, the only words that still remain with me (besides the first word I ever spoke, which was 고양이, the Korean word for ‘cat’) are off a menu. If you have never tried Korean food, you should – get yourself down to a restaurant and get yourself an order of kimchi, with pajeon (a Korean seafood pancake) and Bulgogi (Korean marinated beef). I’d recommend those dishes for a newbie – but definitely not for a first date, as Korean cuisine is very garlic-heavy!

As with all my recipes, this isn’t a strictly traditional recipe for Korean BBQ. In my family, we usually have this for Sunday lunch – it’s perfect for eating family style, and can get quite messy.

Simple Korean-style BBQ Recipe
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
As with all my recipes, this isn’t a strictly traditional recipe for Korean BBQ. In my family, we usually have this for Sunday lunch – it’s perfect for eating family style, and can get quite messy.
Author:
Recipe type: BBQ
Cuisine: Korean
Serves: One Portion
Ingredients
  • Some steak, or good-quality beef
  • Sesame oil
  • Coarse salt (I use kosher salt)
  • Lettuce
  • Rice
  • Tongs
  • Frying pan and camp stove, or hot plate
  • Kimchi (one packet)
  • A lot of napkins
Instructions
  1. You really can’t get more simple than this – prepare all the trimmings.
  2. Cook the rice, wash the lettuce, decant the kimchi into bowls.
  3. Put sesame oil in a small dish with a small heap of the coarse salt (around 5 tablespoons of oil).
  4. Once you are ready to eat, turn on the hob to a high heat and start frying the beef.
  5. There’s no need to oil the pan, and I recommend cutting the beef into small, bite-sized strips.
  6. Take a lettuce leaf, and fill with a small spoonful of rice and some kimchi.
  7. Once the beef has cooked, pop that in as well, and wrap it up into a deliciously crunchy bundle.
  8. Dip the parcel into the salty sesame oil, and enjoy the different textures and flavours.
Korean BBQKorean BBQKorean BBQKorean BBQKorean BBQKorean BBQKorean BBQ

It’s fresh, but also feels indulgent – and is a fairly fuss free meal, too! Perfect for having friends round, as everyone can take part, and is a great for a dinner party, especially if the guests don’t all know each other.

Korean BBQServe with a nice red wine, or even some sake or soju!

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RA Blogger Preview Event | Dennis Hopper: The Lost Album and Le Relais de Venise Entrecote

This week has been one of the busiest and most exciting I’ve had in a while. I attended my first two blogger events, the second of which was a blogger’s viewing event at the Royal Academy of Arts for their new exhibition – Dennis Hopper: The Lost Album. Dennis Hopper is better known for his cinematic work, in Rebel without a Cause (1955), Blue Velvet (1989) and Easy Rider (1969). He was also a keen photographer, and The Lost Album presents photographs he took between 1961 and 1967 in America.

Dennis Hopper Irving Blum and Peggy Moffitt, 1964 Photograph, 16.69 x 24.92 cm The Hopper Art Trust © Dennis Hopper, courtesy The Hopper Art Trust. www.dennishopper.com

Dennis Hopper
Irving Blum and Peggy Moffitt, 1964
Photograph, 16.69 x 24.92 cm
The Hopper Art Trust
© Dennis Hopper, courtesy The Hopper Art Trust. www.dennishopper.com

Dennis Hopper Andy Warhol, Henry Geldzahler, David Hockney and Jeff Goodman, 1963 Photograph, 17.25 x 24.74 cm The Hopper Art Trust © Dennis Hopper, courtesy The Hopper Art Trust. www.dennishopper.com

Dennis Hopper
Andy Warhol, Henry Geldzahler, David Hockney and Jeff Goodman, 1963
Photograph, 17.25 x 24.74 cm
The Hopper Art Trust
© Dennis Hopper, courtesy The Hopper Art Trust. www.dennishopper.com

As a child of the 90s, this event and the exhibition really made clear to me what a confusing, frightening and exciting times the 60s were. Through the lens of Dennis Hopper, all the different aspects of the 60’s we are all familiar with came together for me. In the Lost Album you see the decade in all its glamour, with portraits of models, artists and actors like Paul Newman, Andy Warhol and Jane Fonda, as well as struggle, which you can see in the photographs he took at the height of the American Civil Rights Movement. It took all the events that I had only understood previously as these discrete events or moments of history and visually presented them to us within the context of the time. As a former anthropology student I was far more fascinated in these images, of people during the civil rights movement and of the artists then I was at some of the photographs later on in the exhibit.

Dennis Hopper Jane Fonda and Roger Vadim at Their Wedding in Las Vegas, 1965 Photograph, 17.02 x 24.87 cm The Hopper Art Trust © Dennis Hopper, courtesy The Hopper Art Trust. www.dennishopper.com

Dennis Hopper
Jane Fonda and Roger Vadim at Their Wedding in Las Vegas, 1965
Photograph, 17.02 x 24.87 cm
The Hopper Art Trust
© Dennis Hopper, courtesy The Hopper Art Trust. www.dennishopper.com

Dennis Hopper Untitled (Blue Chip Stamps), 1961-67 Photograph, 24.97 x 17.12 cm The Hopper Art Trust © Dennis Hopper, courtesy The Hopper Art Trust. www.dennishopper.com

Dennis Hopper
Untitled (Blue Chip Stamps), 1961-67
Photograph, 24.97 x 17.12 cm
The Hopper Art Trust
© Dennis Hopper, courtesy The Hopper Art Trust. www.dennishopper.com

Aside from the dramatic and moving photos of these events the photograph that really drove it home for me was a picture of Roy Lichtenstein in front of one of his pieces. When I was in high school in New York, I lived in a group of apartment buildings connected to a plaza by the river, which had a couple of diners and cafes attached to it. We used to hang around there and eat onion bagels coated with butter on our lunchbreaks at the diner, which was decorated with large scale Lichtenstein imitations on the walls – the whole place was yellow and red and it just seemed so tacky, loud and almost pedestrian. I hated it. But in the Lost Album, seeing Lichtenstein sitting in front of his work, and in the context of the whole exhibition it was so incredible to see how fresh and new his work was in its time.

Dennis Hopper Double Standard, 1961 Photograph, 17.45 x 24.87 cm The Hopper Art Trust © Dennis Hopper, courtesy The Hopper Art Trust. www.dennishopper.com

Dennis Hopper
Double Standard, 1961
Photograph, 17.45 x 24.87 cm
The Hopper Art Trust
© Dennis Hopper, courtesy The Hopper Art Trust. www.dennishopper.com

The exhibition took place in the Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington Gardens in Piccadilly. We arrived a little early so we got a glass of wine before we went in to the bloggers preview area. The cocktails for the event (a deliciously summery fruit mojito) were provided by the Atelier cafe, in the lobby of the Royal Academy. The cafe is gorgeous, and looks like how I’d like my kitchen to look – I’ll definitely be back for a spot of lunch!

Dennis Hopper: The Lost Album Royal Academy Dennis Hopper Royal Academy Wine Dennis Hopper: The Lost Album 2014-06-27 13.49.14 Atelier Royal Academy Royal Academy Dennis Hopper: The Lost Album

Wine Atelier mojito

After the event, I took Mr A to somewhere I’d wanted to take him for a long time – Le Relais de Venise Entrecote. I almost don’t even want to write about this place as I don’t want more people to go! Le Relais de Venise have several branches internationally, in New York, Manchester and France. We arrived around 8.30 on a Friday night, and waited 45 minutes to get in – they don’t take reservations, but boy is it worth it.

Le Relais de Venise

Le Relais de Venise only has one item on the menu – so if you are a vegetarian or not a fan of steak then this place isn’t for you. The first item that arrives is a gorgeous walnut salad with a lemon-y dressing with some french bread. It is absolutely divine, and a lot more exciting than it might sound!

Walnut salad le relais de venise

The main is a gorgeous steak cooked to your liking – blue, red right up to well done. A fan of all things raw I took mine blue, and it just melts in your mouth. It comes with a side of fries and coated in the most incredible sauce. The first time I went to Le Relais de Venise a colleague of mine claimed he wanted to bathe in it, it’s that good. It’s almost a curry like flavour to it, but it’s creamy and delicious and a well-guarded secret. A few years ago a French newspaper claimed they had cracked the sauce, which they claim contains chicken livers so I’ll have to try it out for myself soon!

le relais de venise

We washed it down with a bottle of their house red, and the waitress came by again with seconds after we had cleared our plates. It was absolutely divine – I only wish they’d open up a branch in Muswell Hill! At this point I was so full and an incredibly happy girl, but Mr. A wanted to got a tarte au citron after all that queuing which was also delicious.

tarte au citron It was also lovely to see the lovely lady behind the Wonderlusting blog at the RA bloggers event, who I had met at the BGO blogger meetup event the night before, which I’ll be covering in my next post!

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