Monkfish and Beet Tartare at the Blaggers' Banquet

Blaggers Banquet I clambered into the whites rolled out the knifes and pushed on to get the starter done. In collaboration with the Scandelicious Signe we decided that I would make monkfish and beet tartare and for this we managed to scoop the best monk tails available on this island.

Paul Trudgeon from Fish for Thought, based in Cornwall, heroically drove all the way London on a Sunday to make sure we had the freshest possible produce to give the banquet diners. He arrived at 2 pm with more than 4 kilos of gleaming fish. The recipe I was using (based heavily on this one) recommended that the fish marinades for 8 hours before the fish is sliced and diced; time I didn’t have. Having prepped the tomato, walnut oil and, sherry vinegar marinade in the morning I had no choice but to dice the fish and combine the two and leave it for as long a possible before plating.

I decided to ‘autumn-up’ the dish with the addition of a beetroot disk under the tartare stack and dress the plate with a zingier concasse than the recipe suggests, capers lemon juice helped here. This dish isn’t a molecular masterpice but the flavours are quite subtle and can’t be messed with too much, the freshest of fish is essential. It would have been improved had the fish been marinated whole overnight as the tails would have taken on more flavour and a drier mix would have produced a dish slicker in appearance.

A massive thank you to Fish for Thought who not only made the ten hour round trip to deliver the star ingredient for my starter but they also donated a £50 voucher for the auction. The night was a great success, lots of money was made for Action Against Aunger and it was a huge honour to be able to cook for fifty discerning paying guests. Hats of to everyone who helped out front and in the kitchen, but especially Signe and Niamh! more images of the BB available here

All Photographs by Mark N - -

more images of the BB available here

The Coach & Horses (pub grub proper)

The word gastropub no longer guarantees that the boozer in question will have a strong line of good beers, a relaxing environment in which to enjoy the delicious and fairly priced food. This is place that should cost less than the white tablecloth crew but a more than the ‘fry the lot’ standardised brewery pub.

More and more we see the so-called ‘gastro’ charging full-on restaurant prices coupled with a lacklustre booze list in an environment that is neither pub nor dining room. Pimping the menu seems like a good answer to a pub in a bad economic situation. Rebrand yourself as a gastro pub, crank up the food prices with an identikit menu, put jugs of Bloody Mary on the bar on a Sunday and hope the more affluent buggy brigade fill you to the rafters every weekend. But is it a pub? Is it a restaurant with ale on tap and a pubby vibe? What is going on? Sadly there are so many schizophrenic restopubs out there the outlook is often bleak.

I went to a restopub last week where the ‘business development manager’ had pompously told me that:

‘[he] came in got rid of all the old shit, changed the menu completely retrained the staff, redesigned the kitchen and just concentrated on simple, well sourced ingredients served with out messing them about’ and was ‘just trying to keep things honest’.

After I had puked my bland lamb cutlets all over his natty brown brogues, I remembered that I had actually been in there a year before and it seemed what he was telling me was the opposite of what had happened. It had been a charming local boozer that made lovely food that cost between ten and fourteen quid a main not the £16 plus; provenance justified ‘well hung’ hunk of meat served on a piece of reclaimed driftwood nor the Brakes Bro’s out the freezer into the fryer fayre.

One proper gastro pub that is getting it totally right is the Coach and Horses in Farringdon. The lack of gloss and pretence at the Coach and Horses makes it seem like boozer that has remained unchanged for years, certainly before the dawn of the gastropub. This place really gets a bulls eye every time; its cosy but big enough to be private and you feel like it’s a pub with really good food, this is definitely a gastropub.

Genial owner Giles explains that ‘he wants food to be fun, not sculpture on a plate, nothing silly, just fun’. Every few week they get in half a pig, butcher it, brine it, smoke it, hang it, press it, and slice it into something that you can really relish. Scotch eggs, that have been dubbed the best in London, sit along side pints of prawns, duck hearts, charcuterie platters (all home cured), perfectly cooked whole quails, and interesting cheeses intended to be mixed and matched. Ranging between £2-6 a plate you can get a bite for under a tenner or you can have a proper slap-up for more.

This is a proper pub with proper pints and wicked food that had been made great by care and attention and I’m going back… a lot!

The Coach & Horses
26-28 Ray Street

The Blaggers’ Banquet 2009

So the Blaggers' Banquet this Sunday promises to be something quite special. In aid of Action Against Hunger an aggressive posse of seasoned blaggers have got their hustling on and managed to get hold of a mountain of tasty ingredients for the dinner, that will take place this Sunday 15th at Hawksmoor in the city.

We will be using prime ingredients ranging from buffalo steaks, wagyu beef, iberico jamon, organic fruit and veg, top grade chocolates, stunning biodynamic wine and loads of beer. The dinner will be gargantuan in scale, and with a tonne of booze it will be a great night. There will also be some really heavy goodie bags to take home, so many organisations, food producers, farms and publishers had given so much to the event. Another exciting part of the proceedings will be the auction, there are so many great things to get hold of such as a Kitchen aids, dinner at some of London best restaurants, unique opportunities to meet the greatest chefs in their kitchens, signed cookery books, wine, spirits and lots of other edible treats.

Ticket are on sale via this link, be sure not to miss out. It’s all for charity and you will not be disappointed with what we have to offer! Don’t be shy show us your pie…..

Come Dine Round Mine part II

We would all like to write our own reviews in an ideal world. Can you imagine the stained laminated boastings of the greasiest of spoons declaring their deep fried mix grill to be the 'best in town' a 'culinary triumph' a 'well balanced interpretation of an old classic'. It may make for a more level playing field; everyone could have a crack at the RP whip and it could be a case of 'who dares wins' - sadly there is never enough space for all the food outlets to get a fair percentage of the market and the better places are sure to reign.

I am rambling far from the point of the this post which is to outline the menu for Come Dine Round Mine part II (CDRM). In relation to the inane sentences above i am not going to shake my adjectives and get down with the similes as it would be most innapropiate and with any luck we will have a diner review coming soon.

The menu (partially pictorially illustrated):

Olives and sweet paprika almonds


Spanish duck rillettes (pepped up with loads of cumin seed, fennel and thyme) with purple radishes and crusty bread


Sea bream with a vierge sauce (olive oil, lemon, chilli, mint, cherry tomatoes & spring onion) blanched fennel and a beet smash


Poached peaches and a Cava granizado - the mulling liquid is reduced further frozen and stirred until a sweet boozy slush is achieved.... works so well and is refreshing enough to leave room for cheese.


Cheese - Gorgonzola dolce, Stilton, Comte,

Independent diner review to come....

Morgan M

Morgan M’s Paradise Park location contrasts with its interior of green serenity. Stiff but slick dickey-bowed waitrons bow and nod when necessary and leave you just enough alone. The rather odd tribal wall hangings that also adorn Morgan’s business cards serve as a motif that seems to depart from the rather classic theme; nevertheless we were there for the food and décor caused little distraction.

Chef patron Morgan Meunier has been cooking this side of the channel for a while, he aided Alex Bentley in achieving his star and headed up the brigade in the Admiralty Restaurant at Somerset House. In 2003 he headed to Highbury and has been flexing his modern French cooking that tends to nod in an occasional easterly direction.

The summer tasting menu has six courses, three of which have two options. First up was slightly chilled gazpacho with an olive oil and tomato sorbet and a wafer tuille. On first gulp I noticed a distinct lack of chill but when the sorbet and its sliky partner got together out came the perfect temperature.

An exact terrine foie gras came next supported by confit of cherry and perfectly pickled chanterelles. Rather than detracting from the flavour and feel of the liver the terrine upheld maintained the deluxe ingredient which one has to look upon as a great treat.

Seared fillet of Red Mullet, a poêlée of razor clam with braised fennel and a saffron broth was definitely the most attractive plate out of the six. Elegantly sliced razor clam and tomato hammocked in the razor shell crossing the red blaze below. As perfectly cooked at the mullet was there seemed no hustling in the dish for first place. All three major elements sat together with out any agro as is the case with dishes that promote three distinct main players.

The monumental portion of lamb came two ways; the shoulder confit and a rolled more refined cut accompanied by a barigoule source, a time-consumingly prepared artichoke and the most stunning Israeli couscous. Not only was this dish massive in tasting menu terms there was so much there that I kept on forgetting what was going on as to heap it all on to one forkful would have been to detract from the separate elements. The couscous deserves a special mention; its pearl like appearance was at odds with the creamy smooth texture that surprised the mouth with a citrus zing and just anough of a savoury bite to balance the heavy intensity of the lamb. Chef Meunier’s generosity here was only matched by his presence at our table, a real treat that to my embarrassment was not awarded to any of the other diners.

I would have liked to have suck my spoon in to another portion of the couscous from the previous course rather than the rice pudding that came as a pre-pud. It wasn’t that the rise pudding wasn’t up to scratch or in anyway unappetizing I have never been a lover of the starchy delight so oft coveted. Still its appearance wasn’t out of sync with the chef’s elegant but practical skills.

Macerated strawberries, vanilla cream a perfect and tiny madeleine and meringue sticks was a homely ending to summer tasting menu. Summery and simple, crisp, sweet and icy and warm in its different components all led to a warm feeling of contentment and familiar satisfaction of the basics done really well.

At £48 excluding wine we are looking at good value for money compared with more central eateries of this calibre especially when considering the portion size. To give the place a more styled and slick interior would make it seem lost and out of place, and for this reason Morgan M’s is accessible, accurate and will hopefully be around for a while longer.

Come Dine Round Mine Part I

Come Dine With Me has a huge following; everyone seems to be utterly seduced by the motley collective of strangers meeting at each others houses every night for a week and dining on hugely diverse types and quality food. Teens to octogenarians alike peer at the black box watching an often incohesive collective of competitors aim for the £1000 prize money; a reality TV game show like any other. But there is so much more to enjoy, the voyeuristic glimpse into a strangers home, the pressure and panic of the kitchen, the occasionally hilarious menu choices and potential for tremendous cock-ups all narrated by a frequently mocking voice. No wonder it maintains knockout ratings.

We wanted to try it for ourselves, no prizes, no video cameras, but four great food filled evenings cooked by enthusiastic and pretty knowledgeable foodies with liberal dose of competition to give the added edge of excitement and maintain the momentum.

First up was AH-H, with a few days off work and bijou residence in which to entertain he was up for the challenge. Eight of us feasted better than most if us had in a while and the effort was not wasted on anyone.

We sat down to a substantial spread of spiced rack of lamb with coriander and honey accompanied by a minty, ginger and chilli dressing. You could tell this lamb was the real deal, bought form one of Portabello’s finest flesh vendors.

Baked chicken portions rubbed with sumac, za'tar and lemon slices.

An enormous griddled peach, chard, watercress and speck salad with an orange blossom dressing. Sticky fruity and salty ham…

This belter couscous was heaped with the sweetest oven dried tomatoes, mograbiah, tarragon nigella seeds and bravely flavoured with saffron.

And lastly another more fresh salad of wafer thin slices of fennel, pomegranate seeds, parsley, feta and citrously electrified by lemon and sumac.

As if we needed more AH-H had lovingly baked perfect rounds of pistachio and cardamom shortbread.

This gutsy and extravagant Ottolenghi inspired dinner served in brimming dishes was a perfect August festival of flavours, bold and beautiful. Deep Middle Eastern colours and exotic tastes were heaped on us in an unfussy and unassuming way but underlying the casual front was lots work, lots of care and a bar set very high. I really hope round two matches the standard and I definitely look forward to three more dinners of this wickedness…

Charlie con Carne

The All Star Lanes Chill Cook Off press release was passed on to me via a colleague. Upon requesting some information or even an application form I was slammed on the list and I was almost entered by accident. It was a long way off so I put it to the back of my mind.

Suddenly remembering last Thursday that ‘game on’ in a week I got to work and knocked off a couple of practice rounds with a willing guinea at my side, Friday bowels flicked us the finger, still worth it I think.

Aided by the chilli genius of I put together a ‘seasoning’ mix. This is an ideal way to build a personal chilli recipe that can be added to an adapted as time goes on.

Mine includes:

Heap of dried Cumin a mound of dried Coriander, a tablespoon of cocoa powder, the same of paprika, splurge of cayenne pepper, large pinch of dried oregano, salt and pepper.

Be sure to mix it up stick it in a jar for a few days so that it relaxes and melds into a more homogeneous mix of spices rather than an angry hot bed of powdered bandits. Also make sure you make lots and add to it next time with more of what you like.

The biggest decision I had to make was what meat. Britons usually read chilli meat as ‘standard supermarket mince’, but upon closer inspection the discussion goes deep. I opted for braising steak for a more silky, less grainy texture. Actually chilli is such an age old recipe and there are so many variations, opinions, lore and even superstition why cant I just screw about a bit and use what I have close by and can get cheap.

I wanted to include chipotle chilli’s to add the smoky dimension but time was tight, so as a potentially blasphemous ruse I bought the finest chorizo I could get my hands on and added that to the mix. As far as chillies themselves were concerned I picked up a bunch of heart pumpingly hot Scotch bonnets and some more mild long sweet green chillies the type that often accompany your doner kebab.

The method (based on one kilo of meat):

Brown bite sized chunks of the steak and set aside, deglaze pan with red wine (pour over meat) fry two onions till golden, chuck in the cubed chorizo for three minutes, add about a tablespoon and a half of the seasoning, whatever chillies your using, don’t be shy - it will lose potency as time goes on. Add half a head of minced garlic and let the mixture bubble and fill the house with an eye watering, sweet and poky smell. Keep deglazing with rouge if the seasoning sticks. Add the meat after a few minutes along with two cans of chopped tomatoes and enough beef stock to cover the meat well. Let it bubble well for an hour then reduce it to low for four hours adding stock if it get too dry. When the meat is super tender stick in your beans and leave the wonder batch till tomorrow.

When ready to serve heat slowly, stir in a knob of salty butter to give it a slinky sheen. Loads of freshly chopped coriander and season. Serve it up with rice or over nachos grilled with some cheese on top and so on. I actually tried it cold in a baguette with some yogurt and cucumber, not bad...

(The esteemed panel)

The event itself was great, I met a load of passionate seasoned chilli gurus and had the fortune to win the peoples choice chilli and came third in the judges choice. Thanks everyone for the votes of confidence.

(hungry tasters)

Click Here for the Londonist review of the Chilli Cook-off 2009

Make Hay While The Sun Shines

Fortunately the bank holiday offered the opportunity to get out of town and disappear into one of the loveliest towns the other side of Offas Dyke. The Hay Literary festival is not like any festival that I normally frequent but with the lure of learned speakers, stand-up comedy, welsh countryside and a pale full of Old Rosie I was game. This was weekend of listening, sitting, thinking, eating and drinking. A good kind.

I stumbled across Su Perkins interviewing H. Blumenthal, Heston was elaborating on the range of olde sweets that he had been developing. Confectionary mock chewing tobacco, sweet shop scent and a modern take on the sherbet fountain in elegant traditional packaging were all in his deep bag of tricks. He next took to the larger stage in conversation with Jay Rayner who quizzed him on life at the Fat Duck, future proceedings, health and safety problems, the things that any firm follower of British chefs will have heard before.

One topic emerged that stood out, that is the potential for the ‘Hestonisation’ of restaurant food. Let me explain; Rayner said the he hoped that one day when sitting down to dinner somewhere when faced with some molecular disaster he would be forced to say ‘Heston this is all your fault, the Marie Rose ice cream is fucking butters” (not a direct quote). In food trend terms is molecular gastronomy going to become commonplace on all menus at high street chains? What will happen if it does and what does that really mean for the food that we eat when dining out? These questions are the first ones that pop into my mind and of course are the ones that are potentially very interesting in futurologists speak. Imagine a Green tomato gel, chipotle infused flat bread with avocado emulsion and triple-fried black bean puree sounds, my wanky burrito on a FD tip.

Are the realities are much more simple and as less astounding than the menus suggest? Take the snail porridge as a well known example; its dubbed ‘porridge’ because its oat based but made like risotto with knob of garlic parsley butter stirred through it for its vibrant green and savoury edge. Historically many savoury oat dishes were eaten and it is only in our minds that porridge be some treacle emblazoned sweet wintery breakfast. At another point on the molecular spectrum there is bread, the wheat based nourishment that for that for thousands of years has fed most of the non rice consuming cultures, when leavened is a complex science of active fungal fermentation combined with ground grain to produce a product so legendary it is literally biblical.

These two examples seem to highlight an interesting feature of food fashions. It seems to be play off between nomenclature and fundamentals of edible combinations. The porridge isn’t as wacky as it sounds, are verbose dressing up and wordy descriptions deviating from the more important aspects of what happens in the pan or the oven. Bread is bread and a beautiful thing but no one calls foccacia, fermented baked wheat powder with an olive oil suspension do they? But it could be interesting to see what happens...

My SPAM shame... Aporkalypse Now!

Sadly I will not be the SPAM cook of 2009. A damn shame. See my recipe here.

I did however win two SPAM pens! and seeing as though the Spammer's don't want me in their competition any more I have decided to set up my own SPAM competition. The Prize is a whole tin of SPAM and a SPAM pen.

All you have to do is post a comment below and the comment that contains the most interesting URL to SPAM related topic wins. The competition will run until a topic of genuine SPAM interest emerges.

National Sandwich Week

Hands down my favourite traditional sandwich has to be the Breakfast Sarnie, complete with sausage, bacon, fried egg and a liberal application of ketchup. In response to The Paunch’s request for sandwich reviews in light of British Sandwich Week this mighty classic makes an appearance.

Some say that the English breakfast is wasted when compacted between two slices. How can this be when with each mouthful each of the purest cooked breakfast elements meld into one warm comforting chomp of happiness. Evocations of home, time well spent relaxing, recuperating, and ruminating all fall together when a bite is taken.

Homeliness is the key factor. Having reproduced the layered legend abroad it seems impossible to recreate the distinct flavour and feeling of one made at home, the familiarity of ingredients runs deep!

N.B. Best served piping hot Saturday through Sunday at leisure.


Since my last post I have been maxing out on food orientated opportunities, so much so that the excesses created a metabolic pause and a scribing hiatus. But with my face in a metaphorical bucket of icy water and frosty trickles dribbling down the back of my neck I emerge shivering but spritely after the long weekend.

My four days of food started last Thursday when I lunched at Corrigan’s Mayfair, dinnered at Huong-Viet. While Friday Saturday and Sunday all revolved around alfresco coking. BBQ-esia, at this time of year, is fast becoming a pandemic, the neighbours spread the spores of char-meat over the garden fences and whole postcodes can become embroiled in a greasy fiesta.

Nevertheless, excited as I was about Corrigan’s, the £23.50 three course menu (including 250ml of wine) sounded too good to be true. Mr. Corrigan has been heaped with praise of late, apparently ‘the food reinvents tradition and move[s] it forward without ever seeming modern for the sake of it’….

The decor is reminiscent of a 1920’s ocean liner-cum-shooting lodge. Tectonic shiny surfaces duel with silhouettes of hunting gents and woodland creatures punctuated by feather laden lamp shades – not the sleekest or intimate of venues but it probably functions better at night. The service was attentive, relaxed and not pushy in upselling wine; as is common when diners have opted for the set menu. Mr. C was there and bounded through the restaurant at one point but I hear that it his erstwhile cohort Chris McGowan who heads the kitchen team in Mayfair.

I chose the parfait, the chicken and the blue cheese mousse. Nothing was gobsmacking, the chicken was wickedly poached and juicy and the peas were really fresh but I only had one bit of samphire! The others had the cod and was probably a better all-rounder more complicated with a bit more sex appeal. Really nothing worth a rousing torrent of prose and why should there be at under £25 a head?

The pudding of pear jelly and blue cheese mousse on the other hand does get some word count. Served in a v-shaped bowl and garnished with watercress this was the love child of Mr. Dolcelatte and Mrs. Airplane-jelly. In appearance it was deceptive; the peppery frilly cress and oaty biscuit tuile perched above a cloudy jelly suspending pear lumps seemed harmless enough; a passive jelly with an odd but attractive garnish. But lurking in wait was an incredibly salty squirt of blue cheese mousse with a bluish tinge. I can see that the attempt was to provide a more savoury alternative to the chocolate fondant (akin to a cheese plate) and indeed pear and blue cheese is a tried and tested partnership. But the collision and confusion baffled and was left unfinished. On an otherwise safe set menu the cheese and jelly serves as a quirky aside to add a (unsuccessful) twist and it was trying to be ‘modern for the sake of it’.

Its difficult to feel hard done by after only spending £150 for four including service in one of London’s newer food spots. But this was trumped by my visit to Huong-Vioet the very same calorific day. Next post to come….

Jupiter Rising

Chocstar gave me a bell on Wednesday after two of her friends had dropped out of the date at The Secret Ingredient. Living nearby I was straight down to Horton’s place for a six course veggie Japanese dinner for fifteen bucks. Fair going for an impromptu Wednesday evening.

We wound off Newington green into the surrounding overgrown urban jungle; a mixture of medium density low and high-rise blocks brought to us by what is now the loving LHA. It was an exciting build up as we wandered around trying to penetrate the blocks set in perpendicular labyrinthine fashion.

We were booked into the second sitting at nine o’clock meaning that we would not be rushed at the end of our sei piatti or more appropriately, 6つの版, as the Japanese would have it. Having said that, the first sitters didn’t have to rush either as we all bunked up in the small living room together and chatted away until they had finished up and departed. We had been seated by about ten and along came the fayre:

Mixed Japanese crackers on the table to nibble until the first course arrived. It was a salad of fish and plum sauce. A combination of dried fish, sliced onion, sapped of their intense power, leaving a more subtle taste and cracking crunch and a chilled sour plum sauce. The tiny portions left me wanting and wondering.

Next came a plate that wouldn’t have been out of place horizontally in the back room of a heady house party, namely that it was a mirror but bedecked with more wholesome stuffs. A parcel of green beans and carrot batons tied with nori, a splayed open radish topped with what seemed to be lemon soaked Granny Smith apple, the sweet and sour balancing well and preventing the grim discolouration. Two green spinachy rolls with something else unidentifiable, but both fresh clean and well seasoned. Finally to end the ensemble a spinach leaf held a powerful wasabi laced grated daikon salad.

More comes; a warm potato baton and red pepper platter dressed with the Paunch and I decided was dashi, all served on elegant elongated ceramic platters.

Next – a sharing frame, yes a picture frame. This was the best of the six courses I thought. On it was a warm marinated mushroom, fragrant broccoli florets and a deep fried morsel bound with egg containing carrots various seasonings. It was at this point, as you can tell, that my brain was subject to overload and recollections become rather dim. But I do remember in the centre on the frame, where the hole is, a bowl of wasabi punctuated daikon a little less punchy that the version on the mirror course.

Now verging on full, having had in total about twenty good mouthfuls, we had a bowl of steaming rice another of exceptionally good and sweet miso and crunchy pickled cucumbers. Upon investigation Horton divulged that his miso was lacking in the paste department but was mostly the vegetable cooking waters from the previous courses. It was really spot on and it shows up the powdered supermarket sachet versions for what they are, imposters.

Pudding was the least inspiring of the six, Strawberry slices, chocolate and a sweet miso, which was interesting as a salty combatant to the sweet of fruit and chocolate and there was piping Sake unless we hadn't boozed enough.

Mr. Jupiter must spend on average six to seven hours cooking and preparing each Wednesday and he still had the energy to crack jovial anecdotes and genial quips with us after he had finished dervishing about in his small fridge-less kitchen. He told us that he got into Japanese cooking after stealing a book on the matter from his local library while bored in his early twenties….. A Cook, a Thief, don’t know if he has a wife or a lover but I salute him!

(Disclaimer: please be aware that my knowledge of Japanese cuisine is limited and may be chatting shit - excuse for lack of images is that i forgot my camera -lose)


At Ms. Marmite's on Saturday I cooked the starter of mushroom Ravioli with an onion cappuccino. If found the recipe on caterersearch and it’s by Michael Bedford the chef proprietor of the Chefs Table in Gloucestershire. Click through or see below for the recipe.

I spent the previous week force feeding my flatmates second rate pasta. My pasta machine seemed to have been swallowed by my last place of residence and has not since surfaced. Fortunately by Saturday I had honed the recipe and with the help of Marmites mini pasta machine we were good to go.

I worked out that when making fresh pasta the ratio of egg to flour isn’t as important as I first thought. Unlike pastry where measurements are key pasta dough is refreshingly simple. Mound up the flour and whack in roughly one egg per hundred grams of flour and off you go incorporating the flour gently to start with then with vigor. The eggs kind of welcome only as much flour as they need and just stop when you have the pasta consistency you want – its all in the feel. Make sure it well rested before you roll and kneed like hell till springy.

What was more interesting was the so called cappuccino that I flooded the raviolis with and seemed to go down well. It was smooth, creamy and properly unhealthy.

You have to sweat the onion in loads of butter for ages on low (longer then the recipe suggests) until soft gooey the add in equal parts double cream, milk and stock. Slowly reduce for half an hour, blitz, strain and just heat it up again when needed and blitz to a snazzy froth.

The Basil puree didn’t work as I expected it to. I think a professional grade pacojet would have been useful. But blanch and refresh basil leaves squeeze out as much water as possible then liquidize with some Parmesan and pine kernels. Probably easier to do a massive batch and freeze as it will liquidize better in bulk.

A mushroom filling speaks for itself but stick in anything you want but with the onion froth (calling it a cappuccino is a bit poncy) it works really well.

Will hopefully be producing more stand alone courses at Marmites soon so watch this space…

Ingredients (serves four)

200g pasta dough
1 egg yolk
60g basil purée

For the onion cappuccino
2 onions
100g butter

1/2 pint of double cream

1/2 pint of milk

1/2 pint of

For the mushroom filling
18 shrooms chopped coarsely
5 shallots, chopped
50g unsalted butter
1 bunch of flat parsley, chopped
2 cloves garlic crushed
Salt and pepper

For the filling, heat oil in a pan until very hot then add the mushrooms and sear for a few minutes. Add the shallots and butter. When the shallots have softened add the parsley, garlic, salt and pepper. Leave to cool.

Callooh Callay


"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

I am almost loath to share what I am about to share. This is mainly due to a selfish desire to keep this gem under wraps, like many good things over exposure may just be its downfall. Nevermind its only Bar!

This was my second visit to Callooh Callay on Rivington Street, London’s East end. The first time I went there was to meet manager and curator Richard Wynn (formerly of Lounge Lover and less exotically Pitcher & Piano). At ten in the morning after the opening press night one can excuse the state of the place and the stench of spilled spirits. I can also therefore be excused my conclusion jumping; surmising that this would be just another faddy Shoreditch booze hole with too many Nathan Barley’s who would probably only go twice.

Maybe it was my mood by I got it really wrong. Last Friday I went straight from work arriving at the worst time for bar frequentation, the weekly drinking equivalent of Diwali. Luckily was there to meet someone much more knowledgeable about drinks than most and he advised my drinks choices and had secured us some seating. But it was the decor that hit me first before the alcool. As suggested by the name Callooh Callay, made up words by Lewis Carol in the poem Jabberwocky, I entered in to a bizarre mashup of furniture and nick-knackery, but not the really standard oh so common mismatched school room chairs oft seen these days. This stuff has clearly been chosen with more of an eye for style and some cash. The tape wall, cassettes set into resin makeup a whole wall and tile the lav. Half a bath makes a cosy two seater, and an army of gramophones line the bar awaiting to be filled with the signature house cocktail (see menu). The nonsensical nature of Lewis poem has been successively translated into interior architecture, smooth.

Drinkwise I first sipped on the ingeniously named Anise ‘N’ Nephew (ingredients: Wray and Nephew overproof rum, Absinthe, Velvet Falnernum, pineapple and lime with a star anise garnish), no idea what Velvet Falnernum is but the mixture of the overproof rum, with its musky outlandish smell beaten down by the freshness of the fruit and polished by the anise in an awesome concoction built upon by the strength of the absinth. And what a great name, using the Wray and Nephew rum and star anise – its worthy of a tabloid hack.

The Ale of Two Cities was probably the most wacky liquid to have ever passed my lips. Served in a baby tankard it is the colour of a milky ale with a generous head to match. No hops in sight however as this sweet velvety innovation is vodka based! (ingredients: 42 Below Vodka, Punt e Mes, Angostura Bitters, apple, lime, Wild nettle cordial and malt syrup) nutty.

The food I have yet to sample but as the light bites and bar snacks do look appealing although not as technically compiled as the drinks list. I will definitely be returning but I suggest you don’t tell too many other people about it…..