Homemade Ramen at Sozai Cooking School

Ramen is definitely a weakness of mine, and definitely something I find myself craving. Salty, flavourful broth, delicate slices of char siu pork, delicious noodles topped with a runny egg – what could be better?

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Yutaka invited a few of us down to the Sozai Cooking School in Aldgate to try our hand at making ramen – from scratch. Yutaka products are stocked in most UK Supermarkets, with products including soy sauce, miso paste, gyoza, and even kimchi, and are definitely responsible for saving a few dinners at mine!

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We were at Sozai for the ramen masterclass, which included making the noodles and the broth for three different types of ramen: miso ramen, hiyashichuka (a cold, summer ramen) and my favourite – a soy-based ramen.

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The whole experience was extremely therapeutic, especially making the noodles. Akemi, our instructor, was really great, packing in a lot of different techniques and flavours in a relatively short amount of time. It also turns out that she used to be TINA TURNER’S PRIVATE CHEF, which is possibly my new goal in life.

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The first ramen dish I finished making was the hiyashichuka, the taste of which reminds me of summer holidays as a little kid – cold noodles topped with cucumber, ham, egg, and sesame. It’s really refreshing, and great for a really hot day.

Ramen time! @ladiesblogging @yutakarecipes

A photo posted by Erin Longhurst (@erinniimi) on

Sozai Cooking School Ramen Masterclass

Next up was the miso ramen, which packed a lot more heat, especially with the pork mince added on top.

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The best part of the entire evening, though, was of course the shoyu ramen, which had a soy-sauce based broth. This was on another level – Ippudo, eat your heart out. While the entire process might require getting a few more gadgets and implements (a pasta maker and pressure cooker are now firmly on my Christmas wishlist), it could all be pretty much recreated at home.

Sozai Cooking School Ramen Masterclass

Have you ever made ramen from scratch? What are your thoughts? Be sure to comment below, or let me know on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram!

MexiFest

A month ago I was invited down to MexiFest – a celebration of Mexican food, drink, and culture, hosted in partnership with Yelp, The Mexican Chamber of Commerce and Kankun. If you haven’t heard of Yelp, you really need to get out more – it’s a platform where users can review restaurants, experiences, bars, events, and more. It’s a great tool for gauging whether a place is worth popping into or not, and saved me from many a bad meal, I’m sure.

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My favourite thing about Yelp in London, though, has to be the people behind the platform. Alex, Beth, and the rest of the Yelp team work really hard to build an engaged community, and have hosted some epic events – the Ice Cream Festival this summer being a massive highlight. Full disclosure – I’m a Yelp Elite – but I’ve met some wonderful people at their events, and they have a really varied selection so there’s something for everyone. A lot of their events are free, too, with the opportunity to sample – you’ll just need to check in on the app once you get there.

Unfortunately we were rained on for most of MexiFest, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying myself. A massive taco fan, I sampled most of the food on offer, and was surprised that I hadn’t come across any of the suppliers before.

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My personal highlights were the tacos from Lupita and Cafe Pacifico, neither of which I’d had before – they were really epic, as was the Kankun sauce.

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I also really enjoyed my black cherry and chilli mojito from Cafe Pacifico, and feel like I have a good use for all the Tajin my mom keeps sending me from the States!

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Most of all, I loved the focus on smaller, independent stalls and producers. We met a lady who makes her own queso in Peckham, and there wasn’t a Wahaca or an Old El Paso stand in sight, which for a free event is really great to bring so many independent stands together.

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We had a great time at MexiFest, and I look forward to the next big Yelp festival (here’s hoping they bring back the mulled wine festival again this year!)

Have you been to any Yelp events? Be sure to comment below, or let me know on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram!

A Mexican Street Feast with Jamie Oliver

I absolutely love Mexican food, and I make a mean guacamole, but other than the basics I hadn’t really experimented or tried making Mexican food myself. Which is surprising, because it’s definitely up there as one of my favourite cuisines – I tend to crave tacos a lot.

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So when I was invited along to the Jamie Oliver Cookery School in Shepherd’s Bush, I knew immediately which class I wanted to get stuck into. Based in the Jamie’s Italian at Westfield’s, the cookery school has a really wide variety of cooking classes, from Japanese to Indian, everything from gyoza to fresh pasta.

The class I was there for was the Mexican Street Food Feast – and it was one of the most enjoyable afternoons I’ve had in a long time!

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I’m a firm believer in the fact that nothing bad ever starts with a glass of prosecco handed to you at the door – I feel like that’s a pretty safe bet, right?

A photo posted by Erin Longhurst (@erinniimi) on

Prosecco in hand, we were introduced to Gabby, our lovely instructor for the day, who talked us through the structure of the afternoon.

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The thing I love about Jamie’s food is that it it’s delicious, but it’s so simple – fresh flavours that are quick and relatively easy. The afternoon had such a chilled, fun, and relaxing vibe, and even though you’re in a room with a bunch of strangers, it was a lovely setting for a date.

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So what did we make? Well… Everything, really. We made three types of salsa – roasted corn, tomato, and guacamole.

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We made our own corn tortillas, which I hadn’t done before, but were so simple and delicious to make that I’d definitely be doing again (and buying myself a tortilla press as a housewarming gift!)

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We topped our mini corn tortillas with chipotle chicken and a feta and spinach filling, and it was all unbelievably delicious and fresh tasting.

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Each class costs around £45 to attend, which I think is great value given the fact that you get a delicious meal out of it, and learn some great skills, too!

To find out more, you can check out their Facebook page, and be sure to follow them on Twitter, too!

Have you ever been to the Jamie Oliver Cookery School? Be sure to comment below, or let me know on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram!

Riga, Latvia

After a wonderful stay in Tallinn, we bundled into our hire car to continue our tour of the Baltics – next stop, Riga.

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The Latvian capital was only just under a four hour’s drive from Tallinn. We had arrived at quite an eventful time – there was so much going on as the city was preparing for midsummer. One of the things I immediately loved about Riga was the attention to detail on all the buildings – the architecture was stunning.

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The midsummer celebrations were a lot of fun – I was probably the only person without flowers in my hair, and they lit a massive bonfire.

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My favourite part of the city was without a doubt the Art Nouveau district – streets after streets of incredible architecture, really stunning.

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Not having had the inside knowledge we’d managed to get for Tallinn, a lot of our meals out were a bit hit-and-miss, but we had one really nice one at 1221 Restorans.

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The few days we spent in Riga were lovely, although Midsummer meant that a lot of the places we would’ve liked to see were closed. Luckily, its a lovely city for walking around in, and really easy to get around. They also seem to have the most well-managed Twitter account of any tourism board I’ve come across, who were super helpful and quick to respond!

My only disappointment of the trip was the old aerodrome. Having seen photos all over Pinterest and fallen in love, I’d enquired (via Twitter) whether or not it was open. Having made everyone get in the car and drive for 45 minutes, we arrived and open it most certainly was not – it was boarded up completely, and looked like it had been for some time. Oops.

Other than that, I had a great time in Riga, and would love to go back to explore further!

Have you ever been to Latvia? Be sure to comment below, or let me know on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram!

Bankside

Until Bastille Day, I had no idea that Borough Market was in Bankside, despite having worked in the neighbourhood for almost a year. East of Charing Cross, and West of Black Friars Bridge – the Southern bank of the River Thames, just before London Bridge, is technically the District of Bankside. Who knew?

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I spend most of my days hanging around Borough Market, but my favourite day had to be when the team at Better Bankside invited me down for their Bastille Day celebrations. The market was open on a Sunday (which it never is), and the whole day was a celebration of cheese and wine. What’s not to love?

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As part of the Bastille Day celebrations, I got to go up to the Borough Market Kitchen and be part of a group getting a cookery demonstration from the lovely Katherine Frelon, chef and author of Shop. Cook. Eat. I’ve attended many a class at the kitchen, but Katherine’s was on another level – her Croque Monsieur was unlike anything else I’d ever had – a hint of mustard in the sauce, it was divine.

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The recipe is in her cookbook, which I’ve been pouring over – it’s full of recipes you’d use for a fancy dinner party with friends, but is really approachable (and not at all terrifying, as I assume French-style cooking can be).

It was a wonderful day, and makes me feel so grateful that I get to work in such an amazing neighbourhood!

Have you ever been to Bankside? Be sure to comment below, or let me know on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram!