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…..

Molecular Gastriconomy

Last Wednesday the esteemed three Michelin starred restaurant The Fat Duck closed its doors and sealed its reservations book. Heston’s decision came about due to customers complaining about dodgy stomachs and vomiting – the shits. Fair enough, happens all the time. I have been hit by the runs after a tuna steak at a restaurant and it’s pretty easy to do to yourself or someone else through the food we eat especially if you’re creating haute cuisine for hundreds of ingredients many of them raw.

The problems at the FD are potentially threefold. Loss of revenue after a weeks closure
(a minimum of approx. £150/cover x 80 covers/day x 11 services/week = £ 132,000). Loss of prestige and loss of future custom, all potentially ruinous for a gastro-hero in these tight times. Fortunately the Blumenthal breadwinner The Hind’s Head across the road is still open to paying customers but the financial dent must still be massive. Seemingly Heston has a big problem on this plate.

Maybe not so… how much press has the incident attracted, loads. The BBC, Independent etc. and these were the first two Google hits after the FD’s own site. The tone taken by most of the articles I have read are not particularly accusatory, some even sympathetic. Clearly immediate action was necessary to prevent further incidents of gastric irritation and nothing can change what has happened.

I fully believe the FD’s hygiene standards are of the very highest and negligence on this account probably wasn’t the cause. Hygiene tests will probably be returned unresolved and the case will never be solved. The eager, well rested thirty or so brigade will return to the kitchen itching to get the burners cranked. The public has been reminded what a good chap Blumenthal is, publicity has never been higher, the diners who spent a twenty four hours or so hugging the porcelain will hopefully still remember their dinner as being as magnificent as the bill and the kitchen will have never been cleaner.

See Heston explain