Last Saturday we were invited by the lovely fellow foodie Sayuri to partecipate to a foodie event in Singapore all dedicate to bird’s nest. As the Italian half of Blender and Basil, I actually had never heard of bird’s nest, so I had to do some research to find out what it was all about. My friends and fellow foodies understood that I was talking about bird’s nest drink, which is very popular in Singapore and described it as a very sweet, very refreshing tonic with some gelatinous bits inside that makes its texture interesting. But when I visited the World of Birdnest Museum on Saturday, I soon found out there is a lot more to bird’s nest than just a derivative drink.
Nothing sets off the festive spirit and signals the approach of Christmas quite like mince pies, and that’s what we learned to make with Master Pâtissier Eric Lanlard at Cake Boy in order to celebrate the launch of Meantime‘s latest limited edition beer in The Pilot Series: Cake Boy Hazelnut Ale.
We found Eric Lanlard’s boutique patisserie by the river near Wandsworth Town on an evening in December, which, in London, means that it had been pitch black for several hours already. A step into the patisserie brought us into a different world, where the sofas were as colourful as the macarons. We sipped a glass of Meantime’s Cake Boy Hazelnut Ale as we stared at the mini Christmas trees and chocolate baubles on the counter. Fairy lights twinkled in the background – yes, it’s Christmas.
The nutty and smooth dark ale was created with Christmas in mind. But more than that, it is the spirit of experimentation that led Meantime’s Brewmaster Ciaran Giblin to incorporate hazelnut, an ingredient from baking and festive desserts, into an ale. The desire to create something exciting, different and unexpected sits at the heart of Meantime’s Pilot Series: 26 limited edition beers of which Cake Boy Hazelnut Ale is the latest addition.
It is, again, the spirit of experimentation that led Eric to incorporate the ale into these special mince pies. We soon donned aprons with the pink Cake Boy logo to find out how to make them. We gleamed a few top tips from the Master Pâtissier throughout the evening.
A recent entry to the list of local restaurants in North London, Sushi Heads is perfectly located amongst the other local finds on Philip lane. At perfect distance from both Tottenham Hale and Seven Sisters stations, Philip lane has revealed itself as a home for local potential, where new restaurants and cafes are making the most of the up and coming spirit of the neighbourhood, without breaking the sense of local community that’s so breathable around N15.
Every year the Christmas period starts a bit earlier. Fact. Isn’t it everyone’s favourite rant through the autumn months? Yet, when I received an invitation to sample the Christmas menuat Spaghetti House, I could feel nothing less than excitement. Only the mild weather at the end of September was stopping me from wearing a Christmas jumper!
From Friday 12th August, Kerb new food market will serve up an incredible variety of street food to their Camden Lock crowd. The events and catering company Kerb was founded on the principle of enriching street life through food: the Kerb Camden market is the epitome of this core.
35 food stalls, international menus and a fully equipped bar, opened seven days a week. I went to their opening night to get lost in this food wonderland. Please find below my findings, if I was you, I wouldn’t miss it! Continue reading Kerb: a New Food Market in Camden Lock
A new Italian restaurant has opened in the heart of the City. Except Gatti’s is really a veteran that has been serving traditional Italian food to its loyal London clienteles in Broadgate Circle for over 15 years. The new Gatti’s is in essence a rebirth of the restaurant, retaining the old team, at a new location – still walkable from Liverpool Street. The juxtaposition does not end here. Gatti’s City Point is a mere 2 minute walk from Moorgate Station, yet it manages to remain a little tucked away from the throngs of the city.
It was early evening and we were amongst the first in the cue at Red Market in Shoreditch, to attend the Just Eat Food Fest last night. The weather couldn’t have been more inviting, the sun was coming down leaving us in a warm atmosphere, made only better by the dj playing, the food-loving chilled crowd and a gorgeous selection of food stalls to select from. We were there to try it all (or most) – and I would like to say it was for your sake, but I would tell a lie: I enjoyed every single bite of it. Also with £4 for one token (which buys you a full portion of any food form the stalls) and £8 for three tokens, what can go wrong? But let’s start the food talk.
When I heard about the new exhibition Comics in the Kitchen at Orbital Comics, I pictured infinite possibilities. Would we see posters picturing the most shocking Chew‘s visions, after he’s eaten a soup of forbidden meat? Or would we be presented with one of Yukihira Soma‘s delicious recipes that would cause visionary ecstasy to whomever tries them? A Marvel themed lasagna feast or a super-powered noodle soup? My imagination went far, but didn’t stray from the comic-themed, as if by being at a comic book store the exhibit should have been about the favourite heroes their customers are familiar with. Instead, the main star was indeed food itself.
Grabbing a bunch of food loving illustrators, the Orbital staff asked them what they enjoy cooking these days, and the result is a collection of mouthwatering illustrations, complete with instructions for the recipe. The styles were various, from manga to monochrome, from water colours to graphic prints, real recipes with exact measurements and ingredients, like Gazpacho or Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe, to recipes and stories of imaginative nature only, like Cooking with the Bread Cat. “At Orbital most of the staff are foodies,” explains one of the organisers, Camila, “so we thought it would be a great idea to celebrate it with an exhibition.” Framed for the viewers, all illustrations are gratifying for fellow illustrators and comic connoisseurs like Orbital usual crowd, but also mouthwatering for the foodie who knows nothing about comics and enjoys good humour and that style of art, with a smile rather than a pretentious, serious face.
“Communication is the creative expression of all that’s within us (…) creativity combines will and consciousness and moves us forward into the future. When we create, we make something that has not existed before.” Forgive us the initial mindful quote, but I had to start with this because I believe that for the first time, during The Savannah opening party, I was asked a very important question: why the blog? Given the mundane occasion, I doubt the question was intended to create such deep thoughts in me. Yet, as I was sitting in the stunning surroundings of the newly opened Savannah restaurant, where everything around whispers introspection, where the relaxing décor and the video projections on the wall make time slow down, the simple truth came as an answer.
We write for self expression, we write because we are larger than life and we need a personal project, we write about food because we cook, and we cook – again – not only because we love eating but because it is another form of self expression. Yes, of course, the aim is to become a better and recognised version of ourselves, and we are aware of the effort and time that takes.
So today was the day when the Italian side of Blender and Basil got a good lesson on Asian cooking: armed with camera and excitement, I headed to the John Lewis quarters to meet the celebrity chef Ken Hom. Unsurprisingly, the first impression is the one of a calm, kind man whose love for food and healthy living is so obvious in his way of sharing it with others. Also, we have two very important things in common: just like me, he can’t drive a car, and his life philosophy is that “to enjoy life and be happy means to eat well”.
He’s the pioneer of the wok, being the one who actually designed one with a flat bottom in 1986, which works perfectly for western kitchens. In spite of his fame, he says that the dishes people ask him to cook the most are always the same: stir fries and egg fried rice. Perhaps because these famous dishes are the most difficult “to get right” for people who don’t know a few tricks, unlike Ken, who demonstrated his ability with the wok today at John Lewis, leaving the public amused with his tricks and sense of humour, but also delighted with the tasting of his spicy hot creations.