Archive for April 2013

Kudos, Vancouver, Part 3

When close friends complete a project that they have been working so hard on, it’s such a pleasure to say “Well Done”.

We can only give a big “thumbs up” to Burdock & Co. owners Andrea Carlson and her partner Kevin Bismanis.  They have created a restaurant that they should be very proud of.  All their hard work has paid off.   The menu is uniquely Andrea and Kevin created the stage to showcase her delicious, imaginative food.

Congratulations are definitely the order of the day.  We wish you every success, you deserve it!

 

 

Kudos Or Not, London, Part 2

If you happen to be in East London or Canterbury check out the Crown & Deeson’s.  We liked them both a lot.  They both serve well cooked English food, using local ingredients.

One sunny morning, we headed to Smithfield & Clerkenwell, to check things out. The area has been attracting a lot of designers & architects. It is a lot quieter and not that far from St. Paul’s. We were looking for a pub that had been recommended, but the menu for lunch did not appeal, so we went back down the block to The Crown Tavern, a gastropub, on Clerkenwell Green where customers who were leaving, having had lunch, said to go in, so we did! The “Apollo Lounge” upstairs, was once a renowned concert hall. The pub was full downstairs, so up to the Lounge we go. We both loved our craft beers and our lunch; smoked haddock risotto for the fish lover and a beef cheek pie for me. How can you go to England and not have a savoury pie? It was really good! The “pudding” we ordered, to share, was sticky toffee pudding with vanilla pod ice cream, absolutely gorgeous and not as sweet as you might think. The pudding was the beginning of our love affair with English desserts on the trip.

 

 

A trip to Canterbury had been planned for this trip and my husband, doing his due diligence, had come across a restaurant that he wanted to try. Deeson’s British Restaurant turned out to be a real find in Kent. Kent is well known as “the garden of England” and for their apples and a by-product of growing apples (OK maybe not a by-product) is cider and we couldn’t let down the locals by not sampling some! One was “Kentish Pip” and the other “Kent Bramley Seedling Cider”. Both were excellent and were totally different from the other. The Bramley Seedling was really dry, with an unusual (for us) flavour, the bubbles having almost a champagne quality to them. Fish lover guy had mussels in a cider sauce and said they were the most plump & tasty mussels he had ever had and “white fish only” me, ordered, just to see, their haddock & chips. Wonderful fish, perfectly cooked, moist & flaky, both of us had the chips and they were excellent, not the least bit greasy and they came unsalted! I detest the fact that here in Vancouver, cooks think we need our chips salted by them. NO WAY! Stop this practice now. I can salt if I wish, or not, thank you very much! Maybe they do it to hide lousy chips? Did I mention “pudding”? This time it was in the form of a warm Kentish Apple Crumble served with warm custard. Now I don’t know about you, but I have a thing for custard, I just love it! The Apple Crumble was good too!

 

Not a Kudo

Wandering about one day, we had no plans for a big lunch because we were going out for dinner. We trekked about all morning until we got hungry, then decided to get a bite to eat; ending up at Patisserie Valerie in Sicilian Street. These restaurants are all over the place in London. We ordered a Mediterranean Croque Monsieur sandwich and a Caesar Salad with grilled chicken. What a disappointment. When the meal arrived the sandwich was burnt all around the edges, the only way to eat any of it was to remove all the burnt edges. The salad was a complete disaster. It looked like the chicken had been precooked, sliced and then thrown on the flat top to grill up. There was what appeared to be supermarket bacon (this in a country that has fabulous bacon), and then the dressed romaine had a bunch more chopped up bacon mixed into it. I was really craving a salad but by the time I picked off the overcooked chicken, the cheap bacon and so on, I was pretty fed up. I am not a person who complains at restaurants, but this really got my dander up. When the waiter came to remove our half eaten food, he inquired how everything was; now’s my chance! I told my husband that if the waiter asked, I would tell him how bad it was and I did. We both felt that whoever is responsible for their food programme needs a good kick in the butt. If I was serving that food, I would be embarrassed to do so!

Thank God for the wonderful dinner we had later, it made up for such a dreadful lunch.

Click here to see more of what we ate in London!

Kudos or Not, London, Part 1

We have never claimed to be restaurant critics! However, as the saying goes, we know what we like, so here are four restaurants/pubs that we would recommend if you are in London.

We enjoyed two visits to the Harwood Arms. They‘re the only gastropub in London to have a Michelin star and are known for their wild game, of course, we had to go. Check out harwoodgame.co.uk if you would like to see more.

We dropped in on a Saturday, no reservations, oops. You need to make a reservation 2 to 4 months ahead for weekends. Who knew! So we sat at a table in front of the bar and ordered a selection of their “bar snacks”. Not a bad thing as we got to talk with the guys behind the bar and they offered us samples of ale and their homemade Bloody Mary mix. I adore Bloody Marys and the mix was fabulous! He said it would be a lot better with the vodka, but it was pretty darned good without! The ale was great too! We ordered rabbit shoulder served with Oxford sauce, cauliflower cheese croquettes with housemade picallilli, their famous “Scotch” egg made with deer meat. Wonderful bread and butter was all that we needed. It was all fabulous and we were determined to go back during the week for lunch.

Lunch at the Harwood Arms, woo hoo! When we walked in, the staff remembered us from the previous Saturday (always a nice welcome). As soon as we were seated at our table, our waiter, Ed, presented us each with a half pint of their wonderful ale. What a nice gesture and what a deliciouis ale! To start, we shared Roe Deer terrine with house pickled walnuts and prune compote. Then followed with two mains: short rib red ruby beef served with oxheart and smoked bone marrow, girolle mushrooms and parsnips and for me Herdwick lamb neck with artichokes and rosemary goat cheese curds. We are in England, so of course, are committed to ordering a pudding! A wonderful vanilla pearl barley pudding served with stewed plums and yogurt sorbet and quince, sherry trifle. The entire lunch was delicious, the service excellent all in a casual, rustic English setting. We would go back in a heartbeat!

The Henry Root was very close to our flat and seemed like a good choice for dinner after a day spent at museums, wine tasting on Kensington Church Street at the Kensington Wine Rooms (a great place where you can sample different wines using a pre-loaded credit card), certainly worth a visit! The Henry Root is a really busy place, both the bar and the restaurant is crowded, luckily we made a reservation! We treated ourselves to a glass each of Prosecco; then shared a smoked duck starter served with a frisee salad tossed with a delicious hazelnut oil vinaigrette, toasted hazelnuts & pomegranate seeds; very, very good. The duck was really creamy and mildly smoked; a winner! For our mains: medium-rare venison accompanied with braised red cabbage, caramelized apple & madeira jus and for me the roast partridge served with Alsace style cabbage with bits of bacon. We really liked both our mains, they were perfectly cooked and delicious. Like I said earlier, “pudding” is a must in England so we “suck it up” and order a Treacle tart (against our better judgment). The tart was absolutely fabulous, lemony and not as sweet as we thought it would be, served with a nice dollop of clotted cream. The English know a thing or two about cream!

Click here to read Part 2 of London, Kudos or not.

About Bolognese Sauce

No, I am not being a Bolognese Sauce snob, so there!

There are many ideas on making a “proper” Bolognese sauce and the “correct” pasta to be used. Firstly, the sauce is a rather refined and delicate one. However, over time, it has become rather corrupted. It’s not a heavy, messy, stogy, tomato-meat sauce thrown on top of some overcooked spaghetti! In England it has become known as Spag Bol! What’s the world coming too!

On your behalf, I have conducted a bit of research. What a good girl! I have tested two recipes and both are prettyDSCN3304 nx2 pt2much on the same page. Mario Battali’s and Lidia Bastianich’s seem to fall into line, more or less, with the “Designated Official Recipe for Bolognese Sauce” by the Bolognese chapter of the Academia Italiana della Cucina.  Bon Appetit’s “Classic Ragu Bolognese”, uses ground beef, ground veal, pancetta, red wine, beef or chicken stock and a bit of tomato paste, as well as the traditional, milk.

Check it out! By the way, make fresh tagliatelle or fettuccine** or you will get the Italiana della Cucina police showing up at your door!

**If you are in the mood for tagliatelle with Bolognese Sauce, please see “Official” Bolognese Sauce.

**If you would like to make your own tagliatelle/fettuccine, please go to Food Processor/Stand Mixer Pasta Dough.

Phyllis Signature_01

Our Visit To Pigneto

We headed out one morning to visit the Vatican. No tickets, no plans on going in…maybe??? It was just after Easter and when we got to St. Peter’s Square, it was jammed. So, we sat at the base of a column looking at all the statues, etc. wondering what to do next. Perhaps we’ll go in?? You should have seen the line-up! I am not up for standing in line for tickets on a quite warm, sunny day! Guess we should have pre-bought those tickets after all! But then, it seems like a good excuse, among others,  to go back to Rome.

Before we go on vacation, I make a “wish-list” booklet of things we would like to see. It’s a good reminder, so I carry it with me. This day, we looked over the list and thought, let’s go to Pigneto! We had read a review of a restaurant (what else) there, so why not give it a go; off to the tram stop!

It seemed further than we thought! We arrived, probably got off at the wrong stop, as per usual and started our wanderings. Found that a lot of places were not open, probably more action in the evenings. It seemed sort of sketchy or at least not pretty. The neighbourhood was historically working-class-communist but has morphed into Rome’s latest alternative hot spot; attracting young professionals, artists, directors & architects. So far, it is relatively “undiscovered” by tourists.

Our quest for the restaurant paid off. Primo al Pigneto is on Via del Pigneto at #46. The via is a pedestrian only strip and in the early mornings has a fresh fruit & vegetable market. Of course, as usual, by the time we get there all that’s left are some scraps of veggies strewn about! Never mind…we had a great lunch; sat outside on the tree lined street under an umbrella’d table. To start, we shared a rabbit breast rolled in herbs traditionally used to make porchetta (rosemary & fennel), served with greens drizzled with balsamic and EVO. My partner in crime ordered fresh tagliolini with artichokes (it was artichoke season) & bottarga (salted and cured roe of grey mullet) and I ordered fresh fettuccine with cherry tomatoes, eggplant & smoked ricotta. We loved our pasta’s! Our wait person, a lovely, friendly, young woman, thought we should try the locally made artisanal goat cheese; she was right, fabulous! With the lunch we had a bottle of red made in Lazio by a young winemaker. Definitely two thumbs up!

It’s time to head back to the apartment, unfortunately. On the way to Pigneto we noticed a Roman ruin; turned out to be the Porta Maggiore built by the Emperor Claudius. Took the #19 tram back to Rome; not without incident, though; about halfway through the journey, our driver stopped the tram and told everyone they had to get off! Yikes…my Italian is not great now and was worse then. There we all are standing around the tram stop wondering what to do next. Another tram with the same #19 comes along in the next few minutes and the same thing happens to those passengers? Like what’s going on? After a number of minutes, our driver says we now can re-board the tram! When we get on the tram I say to the driver “andiamo” (we go) and he nods, si. It’s a mystery!

Speaking of “porchetta”, Anthony Bordain, in his new programme called “The Layover” travels to Pignetto to sample the “best” porchetta at I Porchettoni at #68 Via del Pignetto only a short distance from where we had our fab. lunch! Next time!

If you have never had the opportunity to sample Italian porchetta, what can I say? My favourite so far is at Macelleria Cecchini in Panzano, Chianti, Tuscany. As I am writing this, my mouth is watering!