Sunday, 26 September 2010

Claire Clark afternoon tea - Harvey Nics

JD had noticed an article about Claire Clark in the Metro around a month ago which mentioned that she would be opening a pop-up patisserie in Harvey Nics for a limited period of time, as well as offering afternoon tea for 2 weeks only. I got on the phone "toute suite" and managed to bag us a table for tea on the final day on offer. For those who might not know who Claire Clark is, she is a renowned pastry chef and probably most famous for having been the head pastry chef at the French Laundry. 

I have to admit that I was toying with the idea of cancelling our reservation in the week leading up to afternoon tea, mainly due to the fact that the last and only time I had tried afternoon tea before (Pret a Portea at the Berkeley Hotel), I had been served stale sandwiches and didn't fancy handing out 35 squid per head for a similar experience. After a little bit of coaxing from my boss, we decided to go and try and Claire Clark's creations in the end :)

It was a lovely experience and contrary to what I thought before, the afternoon tea was replenishable (we looked like we were the only table in the whole dining room who asked for seconds of stuff!! We shared a 2nd plate of savoury sandwiches). Some of the pastries were pretty good whilst others didn't really hit the mark. Still, I did leave feeling a bit more inspired.......perhaps it was down to seeing the chef herself, who knows? :)

Platter of savoury sandwiches inspired by different cities around the world (apparently!)

Paris: Oven dried tomatoes and blue cheese on sourdough - not bad but you couldn't really taste the bread

London: Egg and watercress in a soft roll bun

New York: mini poppy seed bagel with smoked salmon and cream cheese - talk about stingy with the cream cheese, that can't even be called a smear!!

Our favourite sandwich of the day - focaccia with tuna and tapenade, think this was called Milan?

 Tray of sweet goodies

 Praline roulade - tasty but large chocolate disc base was not very necessary

Jaffa cake macaron - nice flavour but pretty disappointed that we were served hollow(!!!!) shells!

 Chocolate cherry cake - a biteful of Black Forest

Battenburg cake - never been a fan and still remain unconvinced

Lemon madeira cake - one of my favourites of the afternoon

Rose and raspberry eclair - a bit on the soggy side, the influence of PH is far-reaching!!

Sesame opera - a twist on a classic which didn't add much

Pistachio, passion fruit pain de gene - another fav of the afternoon - lots of flavours I liked!

Peanut butter s'more

 Biggest dud of the afternoon - bubblegum pavlova, looked nice but tasted revolting......worse than Parma violets!!

Biggest highlight of the afternoon - feather-like, flaky scones.....if I wasn't so full, I would've had another plate :)

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Los Molinos

JD and I headed to an old haunt after a night out at the flicks ("The Other Guys", promised so much but wasn't all that great) for a spot of grub, Los Molinos, a tapas restaurant on Shepherds Bush Road. Luckily, we managed to bag a table and had a yummy meal. Los Molinos is no Barrafina but a decent enough option if you don't feel like traipsing into town :)

Boquerones - anchovies marinated in vinegar, these were massive and much, much tastier than at Salt Yard

 Toasted bread with sobrasada (chorizo spread, Mallorcan speciality) - a special of the day and very tasty it was too :)

Deep fried whitebait 

Squid a la plancha 

 Grilled lamb cutlet with couscous and spicy sauce - nice but sauce was not spicy at all!

Ribs in BBQ sauce - not very typical but not bad! 

 Ham croquettes with romesco sauce - full of lovely chunks of ham :)

 Our one dud dish of the night: patatas bravas, normally fried potatoes with spicy sauce - this boiled concoction didn't really hit the mark

Friday, 24 September 2010

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Baking experiment - salt caramel macarons

After a week long delay, I finally got off my lazy behind and attempted to make macarons......the first time since attempting them at school! I was more than a little apprehensive of the task ahead......especially making the Italian meringue school, I had my "partner in crime" to give me a helping, I'm on my tod :(

I decided to have a go at making one of our favourite flavours, salt caramel and attempted a half batch of a recipe given to us by our chef. Making the shells turned out OK and I literally jumped up with joy in my kitchen when I peeped through the oven door and saw that my macarons had "feet"!! My confidence was knocked a little when I realised that some of them were a little undercooked :(

I tried a couple of fillings......first, the ganache as per recipe and second, bought in dulce de leche and both with a sprinkling of sea salt. The caramel infused ganache got more thumbs up than the dulce de leche by my "guinea pigs" but I now need to sort out the tecture of the ganache since its a little on the runny side. I will also need to figure out how to make the shells a darker colour......but all in all, I can't complain......not bad for a first attempt! 

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Sunday treat - Gelupo

Strawberry sorbet and fresh mint stracciatella ice cream

Chocolate sorbet and pistachio ice cream

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Lupita - avoid at all costs!

After reading a positive review about new Mexican joint, Lupita in Time Out, JD and I decided to head there for dinner after a night out at the flicks ("Inception" at the IMAX, highly recommended). I had booked a table earlier in the week but upon arrival, it wasn't ready so we  sat at the bar briefly. That was OK as we managed to bag a table in the end but things were already to look dubious when we were told that all "Mexican" drinks (ie. agua de jamaica, horchata, tamarind juice) were not available.

We finally placed our food order of guacamole, torta de pastor, steak burrito and chorizo quesadilla. The guacamole pretty swiftly and followed by the torta. The burrito came as I was half way through eating the torta and the quesadilla was nowhere in sight after we had finished  all our food. When a waitress came to collect our plates, she asked if we wanted anything else to which I replied that we were still waiting for our quesadilla. She then informed us that it was sold out......which would've been fine had she told when we placed our order. I then questioned why she didn't bother telling us earlier and was told that the chorizo had ran out when they were making the order of a large table directly before us...... had they not decided to clear out plates, we wouldn't have even known cos no-one bothered their ass to tell us. We had to ask for the bill twice at which point there was a lame apology for the quesadilla - not good enough when they had the cheek to slap on 12.5% service charge. Bad service, bad food.......not worth trying......they should be embarassed by the fact that Chipotle Grill has better Mexican food than them! 
  Guacamole with chips - overpowered by too much onion

Torta with pork pastor - pretty bland and nothing like tortas in DF!

They had the audacity to call this a burrito?? It was advertised as having rice inside......we found a mere couple of grains......unbelievable! 

Friday, 17 September 2010


JD and I have reverted to our "normal" eating out at weekend habits, which meant a perfect excuse to try out the much-praised burger chain, Byron (JD had a craving for a burger and my boss had recommended this place previously).

They were pretty good burgers and they also serve some yummy cream soda too! :)
We both went for the Byron - burger with cheese, bacon, and salad. Pickle on the side was a nice addition.

Sides of onion rings and hand-cut chips 

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

生意兴隆! 财源广进!

A regular reader (and chum) of my blog has just survived opening week of his new resto in HK....the website isn't up and running yet but here is a nice little article about the swanky place and even a quote-unquote from the man himself! :)

Clearly, I needed a bit of help from Ma and Ba Chan on the Cantonese title but wishing all the best with the new venture JB!!

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Phat Phuc - unfortunate name, forgettable food

Having spotted an Orla Kiely sample sale on DailyCandy for the weekend, I dragged JD with me to Chelsea Old Town Hall to check it out. After a bit of retail therapy, we crossed the road for a spot of lunch at Phat Phuc Noodle Bar which claimed to be an authentic Vietnamese outfit. There were some nice smells wafting out as we entered but unfortunately, the pho was sub-sub-standard........JD's duck salad wasn't much better and was mostly salad and not much duck. I felt a bit guilty for dragging him to try this place out and offered to buy him a coffee on the way back to the tube station - popped into an Italian place along the way thinking we would get a good brew but that ended in disaster as well, poo! :(
I guess Sloanies priority is not food.......

Friday, 10 September 2010

Salt Yard

JD and I met up with one of his old colleagues (who's recently started a fab job in Canary Wharf!) for a spot of dinner at Salt Yard, a tapas restaurant on Goodge Street. We managed to book a table for Thursday night and on arrival, the place was already heaving despite it only being 7pm?? 

Its a lovely resto with a small bar area, tables on both the ground  and basement floors (I would try and get a table in the basement the next time!) with a buzzy atmosphere. The food was also pretty good as well but just a bit peeved that portions were not exactly generous. The tapas are more exciting here than Barrafina and definitely worth making the trip here, at least you can book a table in advance! Puddings were OK but I definitely picked the worst one out of the trio we ordered, buttermilk pannacotta.......silly of me to think that I wouldn't be served something that wasn't sour!! (JD insists that I was being a drama queen on the sourness, believe me, it was sour!)
Love the logo - tres cute!

Charcuterie platter - all very tasty, especially the jamon nestling at the back of the pic!

Boquerones - one of JD's favs but failed to hit the mark this time

Grilled bread with olive oil - deceptively simple but oh so good

Squid with ham and broad beans - yum!

Special of lobster with some sort of pulse (barley, spelt?), quails eggs and wild mushrooms - a lot going on but not bad

Ham croquettes - another JD fav and again, he was disappointed :(

One of my favourite dishes of the night - cod with shrimps and fried greens, could've eaten a whole plate of this......ON MY OWN never mind having to share a "morsel"amongst 3 peeps!!!

A recom from my boss - pork belly with white beans......not great sadly!

Patatas bravas - was not a fan of the brava sauce but the aioli was tasty

My other fav dish of the night - skirt steak with purple artichokes

JD's pud - cold chocolate fondant with honeycomb and black cherries. Honeycomb was the highlight for me, JD liked the whole thing!

Ms Shah's lemon and cinnamon doughnuts with cocoa nib ice cream - lovely.......the ice cream was spoilt a little by the bitter nibs :(

The dreaded "sour" pannacotta with "madalines" (spelt as per menu, char!)