Latest Catch


Yesterday a 13kg fish landed on the beach, known locally as a Jolway. Any help in identifying the fish would be most helpful - the flesh is white with large flakes and quite meaty.


The kitchen crew take some time out to pose






Cato butchers the Jolway in under 8 minutes



Angelica e polvo

Crab (caranguejo) from the mangroves



Juicy claws



Samuel and ananas



Dinner menu (click on the image for an enlarged view)



Lastly, thought you might want to see the staff longdrop

Salama Guludo

Since leaving Pemba this time last week it’s been full on - new people, long hours, exceptional heat, amazing place. The four hour drive, some 50 kilometres along sandy tracks, takes you through a handful of Mozambiquan villages. Snapshots of people getting on with daily life show women washing, children filling buckets of water, people trying to balance far too many things on bicycles. Arriving at Guludo Beach Lodge (GBL) with its raked pathways and flowering shrubs is like breaking through to the other side. A haven on the East African coast, notwithstanding several ants and some malarial mosquitoes.





The restaurant

In work terms the days are long - the kitchen opens at 5.30 when the oven is lit for the breakfast loaves with shifts running between 6m and 2pm or 2pm until all guests have eaten dinner and we shut down the kitchen about 9.




The office



The kitchen team consists of 7 cooks, 3 on each shift with one taking a day off. This morning we have Awa and Izianna. Carlos is meant to be here too but is at his cousins funeral. Death and illness is large part of life for people in Guludo Village and absences from work due to deatha are an alarmingly regular occurrence.
The 4 other cooks include, Angelica, Cato, Gilli and Samuel. See proud Cato below striking a valiant pose, please note the American football boots, complete with studs. This team of 7 are very proficient cooks, some of them having worked at Guludo Lodge for 7 years. Whoever first trained these guys did an amazing job, elegant mango tarts, crab ravioli, chocolate muffins are all whipped up effortlessly without the use of a recipe or electric appliances. Cleaning and food storage could do with some work, especially since we only use gas powered chest fridges that quickly become overcrowded and disorderly. I introduced clingfilm which is still taking some getting used to.




Cato

Iziania
Carlos




Gilli



The lack of electricity and running water is a headache, but consequently we only use the bare minimum of water and gas for lighting, refrigeration and cooking is more than adequate. Amazingly, one large bucket (known in Portuguese as a 'baldi’) of water (50lt) will be enough for cooking and cleaning for one day, albeit during relatively low season.



Fish is available in abundance, local fisherman arrive on the beach with their catch. Squid known as 'lula' and crab is coming out of our ears. Roughly one good sized fish is bought in a day with some lobsters and huge prawns thrown in. Compared with the produce in Pemba, this wondrous seafood is a bargain. Squid costs 50mt a kilo (£1.20), Crab 30mt and any fish comes to £2.50 per kilo.



We are in the middle of kitchen renovations, working around builders had been dealt with without complaint and in a few days all works should be complete, the kitchen garden is also ready for planting. Fres herbs should grow well here with the onset if the rainy season. Dishes will love the addition of fragrant herbs. More on the food next time.

Shopping in Pemba

This morning involved looking around the key shops and main market in Pemba. All supplies that can't be sourced from Guludo Village can be found in Pemba. Large supermarkets sell most dry store stapes as well as imported products. Soy sauce and pastas are available but they cost.

In fact, Pamba is an expensive. At the open air market fruit and veg was much more costly than expected. The current exchange rate of meticais to sterling sits at forty to the pound.

Water melon is about £1 a kilo, onions are£1.75/kg and cucumbers at £1.5/kg. Tomatoes have apparently just shot up to 100mt/kg, weighing in a whopping £2.5o/kg. The honey you can see in the 25cl water bottles costs 310mt, about £7.75. apparently it's like rocking horse shit - rare as hell, but much tastier.

Fortunately village prices are much cheaper. Tomatoes are half the price at 50mt/kg and a dozen eggs are 40mt compared with about 110mt in Pemba.

Off to the lodge at 9am tomorrow with two guests and Cassiano who will be driving...

Guludo Beach Lodge


It's eight in the morning at Jomo Kenyatta International airport, flight KQ101 arrived from London Heathrow at 0610. I have nine hours to wait until flight TM4466 departs for Pemba, Mozambique, my new home for at least the next twelve months.

I will be working as Chef/Food and Beverage Manager at Guludo Beach Lodge in the Quirimbas National Park in Northern Mozambique. The lodge opened in 2002, set up by Amy and Neal Carter-James as a sustainable tourist destination and social enterprise. The lodge intends to have limited environmental impact and act as the key source of employment in the local area.

The Nema Foundation was set up alongside the lodge and receives 5% of all revenues to provide education, health initiatives and food programmes for 16 villages, currently reaching some 16,000 people.

Seafood from local fishermen and vegetables from farming co-operatives, set up by Nema, provide most of the supplies for Guludo's restaurant. Currently no mains water or electricity is available at the lodge, but last week we heard news that power had reached Guludo Village two kilometers away. Electricity should be up an running within the next six months.

In the meantime, its good-bye restaurant analyst office job and hello Guludo Beach Lodge. With any luck I'll have time for regular updates and eatmynels will become food blog and Guludo journal. Please like us on facebook and follow on twitter.

See you later London.

P.S. I love you.



Union Jacks: Oliver’s British Pizza

The latest Jamie Oliver concept, Union Jacks, has gone live online. Www.unionjacksrestaurants.com is the first glimpse of Oliver’s new Anglo-Italian concept, where ‘wood-fired flatbreads meet great British flavours’. Intriguing, but not as confusing as the bra advert on the homepage.

An excerpt from the site says: ‘At Union Jacks, [we] want to take you on a journey of discovery through Britain and reintroduce you to familiar flavours, cooked and presented the Union Jacks way. Our incredible flatbreads and wood-fired cooking methods nod to traditions that are universally loved, and nearly all of the ingredients for the toppings are unabashedly local.’

The Union Jacks concept is an interesting symbiosis of British food trends combined with long term consumer demand for Italian cuisine. Using of the word ‘flatbreads’ rather than pizza enables the concept to straddle two cuisine types effectively without alienating one another.

Chris Bianco, founder of the renowned Pizzeria Bianco in the US, has been helping Oliver mastermind the ‘flatbread’ offering at Union Jacks and is a Director of the new Jamie Bianco Ltd. Biancio opened his first Pizzeria in 1987 and has since received wide acclaim for his ‘world class’ food. The presence of Bianco on these shores demonstrates Oliver’s aspiration to compete with the major pizza players in the UK, albeit with a British twist.

The roll-out of Franco Manca and the out of London expansion for Rossopomodoro are all clear signs that the UK pizza market is entering a more mature phase where multiple operators are concerned. It seems that Jamie wants a piece of the pie.

I am certainly looking forward to seeing how the concept hangs together. With such an experienced management team, led by Simon Blagden, its hard to see the restaurant ding badly, its more a question of how quickly the roll-out occurs.

Union Jacks:
opening in November

Central St Giles
London WC1H 8AG

Meatballs at the Quality Chop House

The Quality Chop House at the top of Farringdon Road is an age old landmark nestled among the gastro-hub surrounding Exmouth Market. It started out as a 'Progressive Working Class Caterers' serving the local manual labourers in the 1870s. The grade two listed building has remained relatively unchanged ever since, although the previous tenants had let conditions slip. A full interior renovation has the place back to its former glory with many of the original fixtures in shiny working order. A magnificent wooden refrigerator made to fit in a narrow gap between the internal staircase and kitchen has been put back to work (see above right).

The work done at the Chop House could not have been undertaken by some motley start-up crew - this sensitive restoration and application of a cunningly thought out concept is surely the work of a seasoned pro. It was my intention to get to the bottom of this NYC inspired meatball concept where a portion of 3 balls is a mere £3.95.

Meatballs is a neatly branded package; a choice of five balls made of all the major meats and a courgette version come in portions of three, but you can add an extra bonus ball for a quid. Here is the clever bit - Sliders. Stick any of the above into a cutesy brioche bun bang, it's fun for everyone. Chunky sides like pappardelle (£2.95) and parmesan cream sauce (an extra £1) or creamed spinach make this diner so amenable it hurts (note: no chips). Tailoring to taste has never been so easy.

So who's behind it all? Hugh Fowler is the man with the plan, and this is just the latest ruse from the casual dining veteran whose CV is as long as your arm. Hugh's restaurant career started in the mid 70s whilst working for the global chain Pizzaland; he then assisted on the first attempt to import the Wendy's brand into the UK. After running two businesses near Tower Bridge, one cafe and ice-cream parlour and a baked potato business, he opened Cafe Pasta in 1987 with his wife Shelly. Cafe Pasta was a huge success and ten years later Fowler sold the chain to Pizza Express for a tidy sum. In 2003 he started Hamburger Union then became MD of CG Restaurants who own Tutton's in Covent Garden and the Fire & Stone pizza brand. Fair to say that this is a man who has earned his stripes.

Meatballs at the Quality Chop House is pretty recession proof with cheap eats offered in a location that will surely have it packed from noon till night. Possibly ripe for a roll out but given the truly magnificent setting it's hard to see it working as well somewhere with less unique character.

Meatballs at The Quality Chop House
92-94 Farringdon Road
London. EC1R 3EA
T: 020 3490 6228
www.meatballs.co.uk

Go to map

Opening Friday 26 August 2011

Some swell shots of the food on Sarah Kemp's blog here

Gusta - Supperclub Web Platform

An exciting new platform has been launched that can help discover less traditional eating out experiences. Gusta is a website that presents supper-clubs, home restaurants and underground dining across the world. Currently operating in 16 cities including New York, Buenos Aires, London, Barcelona, Singapore, Berlin, Copenhagen and Paris residents and visitors can easily access the world of alternative dining.

While the site is very much in its infancy, with only 40 underground restaurants so far, Gusta is destined for big things.
High quality images taken by professional photographers free of charge highlight the restaurant descriptions and diner reviews. Fully facebook integrated, with recommendation and sharing capabilities, Gusta will surely go some way towards the mass popularisation of underground dining worldwide.

I asked Carly Chamberlain, Founder of Gusta, if making the
underground dining scene so accessible might it not detract from the appeal and excitement of more illicit eating out experiences, she the commented that: "Every underground dining experience is unique and mysterious, the act of getting there doesn't have to be. We intend to bring new and international audiences to the supper clubs on Gusta with a strong emphasis on SEO and online marketing at scale that would not be feasible for an individual club."

Cash generated through bookings via the site is the main revenue source for owners Carly and Chris. The aim is to provide a meeting place for both cooks and diners where everyone wins also meaning that the supperclub is here to stay. Explore Gusta at www.gusta.com

The Capability at Syon House

In the 1760s The Duke of Northumberland commissioned architect Robert Adam and and landscape designer Lancelot 'Capability' Brown to redesign the house and gardens of his London residence. Syon Park sits opposite Kew Gardens on the North side of the river Thames sprawling over 200 acres of elegant parkland and is still occupied by The Duke of Northumberland, Ralph Percy.

Modernisation has inevitably come in to play at Syon, with the most significant change being the building of a new state-of-the-art hotel in the parkland. The Waldorf Astoria group's latest hotel hides behind Syon House in stark contrast to the 18th Century pile. The new hotel has a box fresh feel, with dark building materials and long horizontal lines reminding of traditional Japanese architecture, miles away from the neo-classic 'Adam Style' of the estate.

As is fitting for a new hotel, five restaurants and bars have been created, all with quirky USPs intended to confirm the '
destination' status. Named after the landscape architect who sculpted Syon Park back in 1762 The Capability is the hotel's fine dining option and is headed up by Chef Lee Streeton.

It's all about the produce at The Capability; Chef Streeton has made impressive use of the grounds and its purpose built growing areas to gather the best ingredients. He says that "Every chef dreams about a restaurant with the facility to grow their own ingredients; I even have a trout lake, meat and fish smoker, not to mention five beehives to work with.” Lee says he is dedicated to using as much produce as possible from the hotel’s own orchard, herb and kitchen gardens. He will grow 24 different types of vegetables picked daily, and what he can't use will be pickled and preserved. In an inspired setting, the Chef's Table is in the greenhouse where tomatoes, peppers, melons and a variety of other fruits are cultivated.

Lee cooked us a tasting men
u that showcased some of the parks produce and dishes that explain the ideology behind The Capability.

Starters included a chilled watercress soup. This was followed by Dorset snails with black pudding, wild boar bacon and garlic butter. The flavour was full-on but texturally not 100% accessible to all.

The ‘Waldorf Salad’ of celery,
apple and pickled walnuts was a casual take on the mayo heavy kitsch number letting the freshness of the fuit and veg ring out.

A Heritage tomato salad was my favourite dish of all, effortless. acidic and honest.

Streeton’s smoked salmon with shaved fennel was extremely oaky and thick cut. Two wines were paired along side the starters; a Sauvignon Blanc Domaine du Pont de Livier 2010 went with all the dishes except the snails, and a Spy Valley Marlborough Pinot Noir 2009 held up against the boar bacon and black pudding.

The mains were Cornish silver mullet with mussels and samphire. Aberdeenshire sirloin and pigeon with chargrilled marrow and zesty gooseberries - an Alamos Malbec 2010 was lined up for this. The meat had been deftly lain on the broiler and had the smoky char of a grown up piece of meat.

Puddings were Bakewell tart then a selection of British cheeses with Meantime beer syrup along side a Maury Grenat 2007.

Being just seven miles from central London, Chef Lee Streeton is lucky enough to have unbridled access to fresh home-grown produce; I hope that he is able to continue to take full advantage.

The Capability

Syon Park,

Brentford,
Middlesex ,
TW8 8JF





Trends and Forcasting

Recessionary behavior, increasingly sophisticated technology, advanced urban dwelling and savvy consumerism are among the factors affecting the the way we run our lives but what affect do these have on food and restaurants? See below for a few top tips on whats hot and what we can expect to see coming our way:

On Food & Cooking:

  • Urban farming and its associated produce will be seen on menus
  • New and alternative cooking methods – sous vide, oil-less frying, char-broiling, smoking
  • Healthfulness – free-from ranges (gluten free, lactose free, veganism)
  • Hand-held foods – greater innovation in Grab-and-Go formats for on-the-go lifestyles
  • Food by post – subscription based food delivery especially in the workplace
  • Ice – frozen items will rise in popularity from iced desserts to carved ice balls in drinks
  • Popcorn in a variety of weird and wonderful flavours to become the new super-snack
  • Bugs – snacking on insects will become commonplace as a sustainable and protein rich food
  • Tea time – a boom in tea drinking spurred on by new exotic and interesting types and origins, not least Bubble Tea
  • Modern meat – ultimate transparency and traceability in meat production, supply and preparation
  • Artisan Pizza, cost effective, simple and authentic
  • Proper BBQ – low and slow

Tech:

  • Cashless payments – contactless, Smart phone payment, Paypal apps, QR scanners, POS touch screens, Square, Google wallet
  • Smartphone apps will become increasingly more sophisticated, restaurant locations, food ordering, deals etc.
Marketing and Innovation:
  • Use of the ‘embedded story’ to add authenticity to restaurant concepts
  • Personalisation – greater connectivity with the ‘individual’ via social media
  • Micro dining – smaller more cost effective outlets (including pop-ups and mobile units) and smaller portion sizes as people eat less but more often
  • Generosity and Gifting – operators will attract custom and loyalty by creating a perception of kindliness, even greater attention paid to reputation, not least with a heightening of green credentials and corporate responsibility
  • Usefulness – multifunctional operations, E.G. coffee shop/diner/roastery or cafe/bike shop, endless permutations Location, location, location – despite the proliferation of big brands they will work harder to be site specific and unique by location, creating uniqueness within wide coverage

Intangibles:

  • Planned spontaneity – greater variety of dining options at lower prices allows for more spontaneous and flexible choices
  • Fun – the importance of eating out as entertainment will be taken further
Sources: www.trendwatching.com, www.lostincatering.com, www.morgainegaye.com

Q&A With Sefano Ispani CEO of Ponti's Group


New Beginnings for Ponti's with the re-launch of their Italian Kitchen, I talk to Stefano Ispani about food, family and salame felino.

Ponti's has been around since the early 1960s, why is now the time for a revamped Ponti's Italian Kitchen?




My father, with the help of his uncle “Zio” Johnny, opened the first caffe in 1963 at a time when London was experiencing an invasion of Italian culture, with many Italians coming to the city to open caf├ęs and
restaurants. Ponti's rode the wave and did well, however, we realised by the mid 90’s that the old counter concept was becoming tired and outmoded.

Sadly in September 2001 my Father passed away and a new MD took over. In 2007, understanding that customers wanted a very different experience to what the old tray style operation was able to of
fer, we decided to make more radical changes. The previous MD left and I took charge. With a re-invigorated team we started the process of reclaiming the brand, focusing our efforts on what we were good at rather than trying to compete within an already crowded market. Food was the first thing we knew we could do well – so we concentrated on the brilliant produce and culinary heritage of Emilia Romagna, the region of Italy where my family comes from. The idea is to celebrate the family heritage of the business through the provenance of the food. Secondly, we knew that we had to offer a remarkable service at a level our customers would not be able to find anywhere else. We really hope that these core values shine through at Ponti's Italian Kitchen.



Ponti's Italian Kitchen is all about a more premium offering,
what makes it special?


I've already mentioned the attention we pay to the provenance of the food we serve. Produce from Emilia Romagna is exceptional; we don't serve Grana Padana
parmesan but a superior Parmigiano Reggiano and the Salame Fellino comes from a particular producer near to where the family originates in Piacenza (the hometown of Giorgio Armani!). Our Tortelli Piacentini are also individually hand-made in Piacenza. This makes all the difference, as the local water, eggs and flour that go into the pasta are totally distinctive and not something you can replicate here in the UK.

We have close ties to one of the most respected restaurants in the area, called “Il Falco di Riva Alta” with whom we exchange recipes and swap ideas - Sabrina, their head chef comes over to help with new recipes. We are creating new dishes too, new generation twists on the classics - our Italian Kitchen Burger uses award winning beef but comes with provolone cheese and Pancetta on a handmade roll specially imported for us from Italy. All our desserts and cakes are either hand-made on the premises by our chefs or by one of London’s top bakeries to our own special recipes and delivered daily. We really feel that there is no other upper mid-market Italian eatery providing the same quality of food at the prices we offer. 



Tell me what else is on the menu?




Obviously we have great Pizza; the toppings are limited to classic and authentic
choices. Our Antipasti comes on olive wood boards with mixed meats like salame felino, mortadella, coppa, prosciutto crudo all from Emilia Romagna of course and carefully chosen. We have kept things simple and hope that the quality of the ingredients speak for themselves. We have tried to offer something for everyone. I know that Italian food can be carb heavy so we have lighter salads, soups and some freshly made sandwiches. We recognise that to be successful we have to get as much trade out of each day as possible so we serve breakfasts. You can get Italian style pancakes, our take on more classic full cooked choices, fresh pastries etc…



Ponti's Italian Kitchen isn't just a restaurant, what else is available for customers?



Ther
e is the open kitchen with its wood-stone oven and all the produce we use on display. We also sell lots of ingredients and products that are not available from supermarkets - cheese, wine, meat and olive oil can all be bought here. Sales have far surpassed our original expectations. Our Lavazza Tierra coffee bar is also a great feature, we do take-away coffee all day. We really are a multi-functional outfit, that can be used by customers for whatever purpose. If you want a full service dining experience of the highest quality with wine and a Grappa to finish, great, but equally, we want to serve those who want a cappuccino and pastry in the morning. Our ‘Scuola Pizza’ is very exciting, we run sessions teaching people how to make pizza our way and they get hands-on with the dough and toppings.



What's next for Ponti's, can we expect a roll-out of Ponti's Italian Kitchens?



We are focusing very much on the now with what we have here, rolling out an idea doesn't always work in every location, we are taking it one step at a time. The old style Ponti's will be getting a makeover, we have launched the new style Caffe Italia branding that will be gradually upgrading the old stock. But ultimately it’s the customers who decide whether we rise or fall, they are the people we want to impress with the quality of what's on offer. We hope that what we have done with Ponti's Italian Kitchen will provide customers with that genuine Italian experience and make us the place to go for exceptional food from the food heart of Italy, Emilia Romagna.


Ponti's Italian Kitchen

54 Duke Street
London W1K 6JN


Tel: 020 7629 3174


Ponti's Italian Kitchen

5-7 John Princes Street
Oxford Circus
London
W1G 0JN


Tel: 020 3230 3018


www.p-i-k.co.uk


Pho

Food service is a shitty term with horrid connotations. I live within spitting distance of most major fast-food chain restaurants and some days the combined smell is enough to turn my stomach. But a surprising number of chain operators exist that buck the trend of producing unhealthy pallid scrot. Home-grown concepts that are lovingly attended and produce food that is affordable, healthy and properly cooked. Pho (pronounced 'fer' FYI), the brainchild of Stephen and Juliette Wall, is one such emerging brand.

Always an admirer of going out on a limb and risking it all, I was impressed to hear that in 2004 the couple resigned from their jobs, stuck everything in storage, rented out their flat and left the country to go traveling around South East Asia with the simple plan of researching a new restaurant concept.

Stephen told me that they weren't certain what cuisine they had in mind so set out to discover whatever was out there. Falling in love with the national dish of Vietnam confirmed their choice. He explained to me that: 'we had to choose pho because of its utter addictiveness, as well as being the soul of the nation and a source of national pride; it's so much more than just a dish'.

Pho is a noodle soup that comes piping hot in a generously sized bowl. Most commonly pho contains beef or chicken and rice noodles in a delicious broth. Accompaniments like basil, bean sprouts and limes come with the dish and are added by the diner. Pho is said to have originated from Vietnamese, French and Chinese origins, one theory being that the classic French pot-au-feu was a European precursor.

I asked Stephen how he feels their concept fits into the UK market with such a strong representation of Vietnamese restaurants run by a large Vietnamese community and whether there is much lost in translation when adapting a traditional cuisine to western palettes. In reply he made it clear that Pho does 'not want to compete with the likes of those on the pho mile (Kingsland Road) but instead occupy the mass market, sitting alongside the Wahacas, Busabas and Wagamamas. We see Pho as a concise operation with a specialised menu that appeals to a wide audience. The only adaptation we have had to make for western tastes is improve the quality of the meat we use. On the street in Hanoi its not unusual to get big lumps of unidentifiable meat in your bowl of pho and we have had to tweak this.'

The Menu at Pho is short and to the point, they concentrate on a few things and do them well. The starters are mainly spring and summer rolls, pork and lemongrass meatballs and Bahn Xeo, a traditional Vietnamese crepe. Mains consist of Gio, a hearty crunchy salad in a variety of flavours and Pho Xao, wok fried flat noodles served with a choice of three toppings - beef, prawn and chicken or tofu and mushroom. Pho, the main event, can be ordered in a variety of combinations and with a load of additional extras, lime, chilli, basil etc. to tweak and customise the pho according to preference. Another noodle dish called Bun Noodles, is a deep filled bowl that comes with fresh herbs, crunchy carrot, mooli and a choice of hot toppings, garnished with roasted peanuts, fried shallots and a veggie spring roll. The last on the list of main courses is a mild and creamy Cari or curry that comes with chicken, prawn or tofu. Prices of all mains are around the £7-9 mark and are ample in size.

The first Pho outpost opened in Clerkenwell in June 2005 but it was not until regulars, Tom and Ed Martin, gastro-pub gurus joined Pho as investors in April 2007 having heard of the Wall's planned roll-out. Their investment enabled the opening of the second site at Great Titchfield Street. Pho now have 5 outlets, with one in Brighton and 2 more units planned to open by the end of the 2011. If Mr and Mrs Wall stick to the original vision and maintain standards there is no reason why Pho can't become a household name with food that is not at all reminiscent of the bilious toot evoked by the sound of food service.

www.phocafe.co.uk