London Dining

21 03 2008

Some new restaurants (affordable) to try:

Al Waha (Lebanese): 75 Westbourne Grove. 020-7229-0806. Tube: Royal Oak, Bayswater

Amaya (South Indian cosmopolitan): Halkin Arcade, Motcomb St. 020-7823-116. Tube: Knightsbridge

Bar Shu (Sichuan): 28 Frith St. 020-7287-6688. Tube: Baker Street

Baltic (Polish): 74 Blackfriars Rd. 020-7928-1111. Tube: Southwark





Londontown Vegetarian

10 03 2008

Some recommendations if you feel peckish.

Upscale Indian: Chowki in SoHo (tube: Pic Circus) – 2 Denman St, 020-7439-1330

Indian vegetarian chain: Woodlands Marylebone (tube: Bond st) – 77 Marylebone Ln. 020-7486-3862

Authentic Indian – anything in Brick Lane. The names are generic so just enter something that does not look quite as dodgy as it’s neighbours!

For Indian fusion, Mantra in SoHo (tube: Leic sqr). 48 Dean St. 0871-971-7678

For a quick veggie bite in Covent Garden (tube: Covent garden), Food for Thought. 31 Neal St, 020-7836-9072

For a vegetarian treat, Maoz (tube: Leic Sqr), 43 Old Compton St. 020-7851-1586

For purely vegan (some nights only), Mildred’s in Soho (tube: Oxford Circus). 45 Lexington St, 0871-971-4308





New York Dining

18 02 2008
  1. Artichoke Pie (Di Fara Pizza, 1424 Avenue J at 15th St, Midwood, Brooklyn. 718.258-1367). Interminable wait. Irresistible pizza pie. US$24
  2. Warm Roasted-Duck Salad -(Sripraphai, 64-13 39th Ave between 64th and 65th Streets, Woodside, Queens. 718-899-9599). Peppers and cilantro. US$9
  3. Foie gras Brulee (Jean Georges, 1 Central Park West at Columbus Circle. 212-299-3900). Crisp caramel creme illegal in Chicagoland. US$19.
  4. Chocolate chip walnut cookie (Levain Bakery, 167 W 74th St at Amsterdam Ave. 212.874-6080) Buttery sunshine. US$3.75
  5. Dandan Noodles (Sichuan Chengdu, Inside J&L Mall, 41-82 Main St, Flushing, Queens). Fiery chili oil and Sichuan peppercorns. US$3




Rangpur Lemon

30 01 2008

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In FY2006, Tanqueray introduced Tanqueray Rangpur. Simply put, my favourite fruit had arrived in a British gin. Erroneously known as Canton lemon, Hime Lemon (Japan), Cravo Lemon (Brazil) and Mandarin Lime (with me, yet?) Stateside, the majestic Rangpur is simply neither a lemon nor a mandarin, it is a true lemanderin, acid with an orange peel and flesh. You could use it to sub for limes in a pinch or as a decorative orange – so unique stands my Rangpur. Certainly of Indian origin (bias alert), it was introduced to Florida by Reasoner Brothers of Oneco and is used predominately as an ornamental or potted plant (Stateside) or as rootstock (UK). So imagine my utter delight when S&P500 decided to give me some. Just give away. And it is Christmas. Also, I am easily bought.

The quintessential Rangpur Margarita (omit the word lime – it is educational) is had by combining 1 oz tequila, 1 tsp Rangpur juice, juice of half a Meyer lemon, and 0.5C ice till slushy in a blender. Rim your glass with a lime wedge and dip in rock salt. For rationing/rational purposes, I also prepare a Rangpur Syrup, same principle as a simple syrup, store in freezer unless you edge with a few citrate crystals as preservative, for emergency lemonades, lemon/limeade, ginger fizz or simply with Canada Dry ginger ale. Rangpurs, in moderation, make a smashing addition to fruit punch and white sangria but zest them first. You could use the zest to freshen up your sitting room or mix into the wash.

How thankful I am for my Rangpurs! Of course, this is no way diminishes its importance as an essential archeological site (second only to Lothal in NW Gujarat) from where the Indus Valley Civilization sprung.

In 2006, Diageo, Plc, introduced a rangpur-flavored version of Tanqueray gin, known simply as Tanqueray Rangpur.





Champagne Tasting

30 12 2007

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Last night’s champagne tasting event was quite beloved. Besides the salsi bar (with its shocking result reversals!), the following were poured:

  • J Cuvee 20 (brought by K, was the most popular)
  • Moet and Chandon White Star
  • Elliston (a welcome drink)
  • Korbel Rouge (a surprising favorite as palate cleanser)
  • Domaine Carneros Taittinger 2003 (starters)
  • Roederer Estate Brut (before the actual tasting started)
  • Bollinger Special Cuvee
  • Moet and Chandon Brut
  • Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin
  • Veuve Cliquot Grande Dame (thanks D! what a surprise)
  • Scharffenberger Brut (why did 6 people all have this great thought – more to pour around)
  • Perrier Jouet
  • Billecart-Salmon Brut Rose (S, this is new to me)
  • Little Valley Raspberry (to clean up for dessert, which was Vince Arroyo port in chocolate cups – not anyone’s favourite)

Happy New Year to all who came and, if you still have a hang over, make a banana smoothie with milk and honey. Magic and healthy for you.





Salsa Recipe

28 12 2007

For tomorrow night, the salsi have to be just right as they have been increasing in specificity and popularity more than I had imagined. Plus, two shockingly hot salsi for O and M are being thought of.

Pico de Gallo

This is the basis for all further red salsi so I make a good batch of this and let it marinade overnight. This is a Mexican sauce. Finely dice 10 large Roma tomatoes. Finely dice one large white or yellow onion (yellow gives it colour). Sprinkle two tablespoons of sea salt flakes and stir until evenly mixed. Take four garlic cloves and smash up with the flat part of a chef’s knife to remove the skins, then mince with the sharp end and stir in to mix evenly. Now you will begin to smell quite atrocious. Deal with it. Cut two limes and ream the juice into the mixing bowl. Small bubbles will appear – this is “pico flaming”. Take freshly chopped cilantro.  This is a rate limiting step when you shop for fresh cilantro – smell it in the farmers’ market: cilantro smells Mexican and parsley smells Italian, know it well. Wash under running water, rinse and pat dry between tissues. Destem and chop as finely as you can without bleeding too much into the mixture. Stir again and then add a bit of smoked sea salt. Let this refrigerate over night.

Salsa Verde

This is the basis for all further green salsi. This is an Italian sauce. As this requires heat processing, you have to make this the afternoon of the party and let it cool down, settle in. It will degenerate rapidly so it cannot be stored for past three days despite vacuum sealing as it utilizes the aromatic volatile oils for its sharp tangy taste. Remove the husks of 15 tomatilloes and 3 large chillies. The type of chilli you use depends on how much heat you wish to generate. The following are rated in increasing order of heat index (using Scoville heat units): bell pepper (0, no heat but use it for the body of all the salsi; you can use red or orange bell peppers for red salsi); pepperoncini, they look like elongated bell peppers (100),  Anaheim pepper (500),  Poblano pepper (1000),  Rocotillo (1500),  Jalapeno (2500),  Habanero (7000),  Serrano pepper (10 000),  Aji pepper (30 000) and Thai pepper (50 000). There are higher rated peppers which I have never used. However, I have served soup with 0.1 mL of pure capsicum oil (15 000 000) – this is ridiculously expensive and I am bemoaning that I did not buy more of it in Italy. As you boil the chillis you choose in already hot water (use the hot tea dispenser for the right temperature), chop up some parsley (NOT cilantro), capers, garlic and onions. To this mixture ad olive oil and a bit of mustard. I cheat a bit by adding Roma tomatoes to the boiling water for more body and a bit of sweetness to the flavour. Remove the limp peppers with tongs and shock them in a mixing bowl with ice cold water (or, better, ice). Deskin the tomatoes (the pulp will be palm-numbingly hot) and add to the mixture. Don’t bother macerating. Blend in a food processor for desired consistency and let stand at room temperature for at least six (6) hours. Sometimes, I add a bit of slivered almonds or chopped walnuts for a crunchy flavour.





Canned Prosecco

12 12 2007

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Sign the end of the world is nigh #344