Saturday, 31 July 2010

The Butcher and Grill, Battersea

The Butcher and Grill

I have to admit that usually, any eatery with '... and grill' in the title would have be running for the hills. Happily, this is not the case for the 'Butcher and Grill' located in Battersea, London. Hailed as a 'modern butcher shop and informal restaurant', it's a unique combination of butcher, deli and dining room- with a bar, terrace for coffee and patisserie all in situ.

To reach the restaurant, you are lead past the meat counters that flag the door and through the deli before ascending steps up to the simple, spacious white and blue decked restaurant and waterside terrace. Smart move. Delis have the tendency to get my heart racing- even more so when I know that its locally sourced stock will be gracing the menu I will soon be examining.


The menu was a little different to the online version that I had read and memorised with military precision, so ordering turned out not to be as streamlined and flippant as I had envisaged. After painful deliberation, I opted for the half pint of prawns, drawn in by the promise of aioli,which seems to be frequenting every menu ever right now. My partner in crime went for the minted pea soup.

Upon ordering, the table was laid with thick cloth napkins, heavy carved knives and a wooden box of rolls- half white and floury, half small, round and stuffed with olives- and was, before the food had even arrived, looking good enough to eat.

The prawns arrive, looking simple and appealing piled into a pint glass. No 80's style cocktail glass throwbacks to be found here. Relief. The aoli doesn't disappoint, especially alongside the scone-like olive bread. Having a little taster of the soup I have fleeting food envy- the mint to pea balance is just right and tastes fresh and light.

When it comes to menus, there are always certain ingredients that I gravitate towards. If there is scallops as a starter for example, then it is inevitable that I will find myself with scallops. When it comes to mains, I'm always drawn to seafood, so when I saw the fish stew I was very tempted. But, just like I wouldn't order a steak in Loch Fyne, I had to order tactically and it seemed a waste to not order meat in a restaurant with its own butcher on site.
So we ordered the 7oz rump steak (for the lady) a 10oz rib eye steak, green peppercorn sauce and two sides of spinach and puy lentils.

We both ordered the steaks medium rare. I don't approve of a steak that is one colour the whole way through- especially if that colour is brown. I like a bit of pink. Its worth noting that they are cooked medium rare 'English style'- browned, with a thick pink hue and a bit of juice- as opposed to medium rare European style. This is fact rather than complaint, as we were after all, in an English butcher's... But remember this if you like your meat to moo.

The meat was served simply with a grilled tomato and two flat mushrooms and the chips came separately in a little brown garden pot. Being an very synesthetic person, I got a distinct feel of the seaside from the thick cut and crispy chips, but without any of the greasiness, guilt and self loathing that is so often part of the seaside experience. I was delighted with the small, well presented portion but my male companion, though approving of the chunky British cut, was less than impressed by the meagre quantity that could be stuffed into a Bill and Ben sized pot.

And the extras? The sauce came in a jug and if I am going to be pinikity,could have done with a little more green peppercorn But could all too easily be forgiven by the richness of flavour it still imparted.
The spinach was- spinach really.
The lentils however stole the (side) show. As someone who almost always cooks lentils African style with plenty of cumin and sweet spices, I found the fresh spring flavours of lentils cooked instead with carrot and garlic to feel light and healthy and quite delicate for what is generally a fairly inelegant pulse.

By the time our plates were cleared away, I was feeling full without being stuffed or feeling weighed down. I find that as a self confessed glut, it is a rare thing to find that elusive but ever-so satisfying fine balance between feeling slightly unsatisfied and the awful and all too common restaurant experience- stuffed like fois gras and sick with regret.
I found myself feeling full, but comfortable. Usually at this point in the meal I face the pudding menu with all the fierce conviction of a martyr, fully prepared to suffer for my art. On this occasion, I could have left without a dessert (could have, but wouldn't have) but felt comfortable enough to study the menu without it being overshadowed by a sense of impending doom.

Again, with puddings I have my classic choices, for classic menus. I cannot say no to a cheesecake. The menu had all the usual suspects; tarte tatin, cheesecake (my two old friends) and chocolate brownie- although the white chocolate and orange cheesecake did at least make an effort to inject some variety into the well versed formula.
I resist my natural urges and decided to try something new (it is, after all, my first review) and so I resolutely went for the peach and champagne sorbet that had caught my eye online earlier (alongside the almond or honeycomb ice-cream and elderflower and limencello sorbet).

A cheeseboard is the kind of course that can present quite a hurdle for a restaurant- either excelling in an abundance of cheeses in a variety of textures or failing dismally; too many water biscuits in ratio to a few paltry slices of cheddar. So I was intrigued to see theirs, and pleased when it was ordered.

Despite a fleeting pang of cheesecake related regret, I was soothed by the light, peachy sorbet. Though somewhat lacking in presentation (especially in comparison to previous courses. It had so much potential.) it was perfect to slowly lick away at whilst the meal drew to an unhurried close. The texture was sticky and bubbly, the syrup it melted into, sweet and fruity.

The cheeseboard by comparison, was everything I had hoped for my sorbet and more. On a long slab of slate, the portion was generous, with elegantly sliced apple, locally sourced oat biscuits from the deli and a lovely, tangy chutney that beautifully compliment the good variety of cheese, including brie and wax coated cheddar (though there was a distinct lack of blue vein.)

Final thought:

I love the open plan deli/butchers at the front and large spacious restaurant above. From the white/blue theme and views of the river to the huge cattle prints and wooden carved knives, the decor really worked to create an elegant but laid back and ultimately relaxing atmosphere.
The food was beautifully presented and consistently good- made more enjoyable knowing ingredients had been sourced from the meat counter on site. I would particularly recommend the cheeseboard- and try get a table by the large windows. If you eat early, the light is lovely. A good British eatery for dinner out with family or friends.
I left feeling well fed and satisfied- without any heaviness or regret. A rare and happy phenomenon!

The Butcher and grill, 39-41 Parkgate Road, Battersea, London, SW11 4NP
020 7924 3999


Goodbye Food and Travel Magazine

I'm going to sorely miss having my finger on the pulse of London's food scene.
And having some purpose to my life.
I'm going to miss the bisuit testing too...

Thursday night I had a big baking session and took some of the produce into the lovely people at the Magazine. Keya had shared my love of Ottolenghi, so I made Orange Polenta cake (you may have seen this beautiful pudding on my blog before) and a Nigel Slater Lemon and Thyme cake.

If you can get your hands on 'Ottolenghi' then get it... Its worth it for this cake alone. Wth a caramel layer between the orange and marmalade topping and polenta base, it involves more prep than your average sponge cake, but by no means hard work, it is worth the extra effort. The polenta makes it thick and gooey and textured, and the flavours are both strong and delicate and complex. To put it simply, it's to die for.
Oh, and even if you don't eat cake, its worth making just for the photos. Isn't it a work of art?

This cake made me nearly cry. Super super moist and very lemony. The bits of thyme, when you stumble across them, compliment it perfectly. It will be happening again.


Porridge of the Week #10

Porridge of the Week #10
American Pancake Porridge

Category: Flavoured

Soak the oats overnight with a hollowed vanillia pod. Peel a banana and cut one slice off, putting it aside. Squash with the side of a knife into a paste. Tip this into the porridge. Stir in a tablespoon of maple syrup. Warm through. Pour into a bowl and top with a sprinkle of flax seed and goji mix. Drizzle with a teaspoon of golden syrup and top with the reserved banana. Finally, scatter with a handful of fresh blueberries.

Breakfast American style!
Had to do a good one for P.O.T.W's tenth anniversary! This isn't as weird as it sounds- there are no pancakes involved.. It's more an abstract principle. But it's still more than a little but yummy.


Monday, 26 July 2010

Recipe: courgette, caper and black olive cake


I made this to take into work for my lunch tomorrow, to make the day a little more interesting. Its hard for me to get recipes down as I pretty much just throw in whatever I want without really looking at quantities... But this is the gist of it-

It's salty and strong from the olive and capers, and with the mixed herbs and rosemary, very fragrant. It tastes french and rustic and basically pretty yummy.

Preheat the oven to Gas mark 4/180C/160C fan assisted.

Melt 150g butter in a large bowl. Stir in two egg yolks, saving the whites. Then, tip in 150g self raising flour. Beat together, adding a handful* of capers, sliced black or kalamata olives, two crushed garlic cloves and plenty of mixed herbs. I also added fresh chopped rosemary from the garden and fresh torn basil.
Slice a small courgette in half. Grate half using a cheese grater, and then use the zest grater to grate the rest into a green gooey mush (Let me know if they come up with a culinary term for that...)

Whisk the egg whites until stiff and forming peaks, then fold into the mixture. Tip the mixture into a greased loaf tin, scatter the top with cubes of goats cheese and season with black pepper.

Place lovingly into the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Leave to cool for ten before turning out. Eat warm... Or wrap it up and take it into work!

* ... A handful, a sprinkle, 1 tbsp... whatever. I don't know! Do whatever feels natural to you.

Food Fact of the Day.

Wander into any number of coffee shops, delis and cafes anywhere and they will offer you a panini. Technically, this is not possible. Panini is actually the plural for panino.
You can buy a panino, or two panini... But not a panini.

The same also applies to cappuccino and espresso!

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Boho Gelato!

Its ice cream weather! Head down to Brighton and get yourself an icecream to take down to the sea front... I recently found myself open mouthed in Boho Gelato.

They have a great range of unusual and tempting flavours including Birthday Cake, Ginger Snap and Popcorn all made in store.

We went for sour cherry, white chocolate and almond, chilli chocolate, pink lemonade, and mojito and they all passed with flying colours, tasting not only genuinely like the name on the label (Though Birthday Cake not so much...) but also tasting distinctly home made.

Pink lemonade

Sour Cherry

My personal favourites? Chilli chocolate, which has a real kick (the cold tongue and warm throat combo is a winner) and Mojito, which actually tastes like a frozen mojito. Perfect for a sunny afternoon.

New flavours now out... Hazlenut ("our best flavour yet?") and pink grapefruit!
They also do icecream milkshakes...

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Food Fact of the Day.


'Carnival' comes from the latin 'farewell meat', in reference to the last few days of meat-eating decadence before lent...


Thursday, 22 July 2010

Dinner 22.07.10

Papa's Stuffed Fish

For the broad bean salad
Simples. Tip fresh broad beans, peas and torn mint leaves into a bowl. Stir in a spoonful of creme fraiche, black pepper and a splash of lemon juice. Done.

For the stuffed Sea Bass.
Get a fresh whole sea bass and slice open its little tummy. In a bowl, mix chopped gherkins, red onion, chopped beetroot, chilli olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Stuff into the belly. Drizzle the fish with a bit of extra chilli oil and cook in the oven for 30 minutes.

Serve with wholegrain seeded loaf. Well... I did.


Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Porridge of the Week # 9

Porridge of the Week # 9
Chocolate Truffles and Kahlua

Category: Evening

I feel another evening porridge is in order! Certainly not for breakfast, unless you have a strong stomach... This would be an ideal piece de resistance pudding for a dinner party, if you are catering for fellow porridge enthusiasts (or maybe Scots..?)
Try it with anyone else and they may well think you are mental.
There is also room for experimentation with this- try Bailey's truffles and a shot of Bailey's for an extra creamy intense Porridge. The possibilities are endless.

Heat the porridge with milk or cream. I would advice adding the liqueur once it is done to avoid burning off the alcohol (no one would want that). Once the porridge is heated through and the liqueur is stirred in, drop in the chocolate truffles. Stir lightly so that it leaves trails of chocolate but does not completely dissolve. Tip into bowls and add another drizzle of liqueur.
To continue with the coffee flavours of the Kahlua, decorate with a chocolate covered cocoa bean and a sprinkling of coca powder.

Tastes as good as it looks ^_^


Food Fact of the Day: Cabbage


The word cabbage is Anglicised from the Norman french 'caboche', meaning head.


Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Tom's Deli- afternoon tea!

I was having a glum day before I heard news through my special sources that Tom's Deli (previously mentioned in my Notting Hill post) will soon be serving Afternoon Tea, daily from 3pm.

This afternoon treat includes hand made sandwiches, British ham, cheese and chutney as well as a slice of their famous hand baked cakes.
Served with pots of tea for the grown-ups and lemonade or juice- home made of course- for the kids.

How very English, how very Tom's.

Photos courtesy of Toms-

I concur.

I'm the kind of lass that will eat pretty much anything, but there are a few sites that turn even my fairly undiscerning stomach. One of these are McDonalds ads (They don't even try to make it look good, do they?) and the other is prepackaged sliced white bread.
(You just have to look at it to know that somewhere along the line, we went drastically wrong.)
There's a part of me that resents myself for this, but that is largely down to having to admit that in doing so, my parents attempts to educate me have to some degree, worked.

I remember as a child begrudging the brown whole-meal bread I found in my lunch-box, and even have a strong memory of being highly embarrassed one day at primary school when I found myself with Pita bread as an alternative (If you're reading this Maman, please feel free to go buy me Pita bread, those days are long gone).

Along with not being allowed crisps for my daily snack like the other children, it is something I may not have understood or appreciated at the time, but probably played a large part in shaping me into the healthy, well fed little lady I am today. Its a decision I now respect, and enforce upon myself now that I am unshackled by parental supervision.

My Papa in particular has always dispproved of white sliced. And for every painful school memory of craving pappy peanut butter cardboard sandwiches and buttery toast, and I have just as many (if not many more) of our Weekend Bread, from the baker.

All the cheese toasties in the world cannot compare to the smell of bakery bread- a smell that is the cornerstone of my childhood... I'm sure I'm not the only one.

So these days I always bee line straight for the whole grain bread, preferably those stuffed with seeds. I'm also a sucker for speciality breads, and pretty much anything that hasn't come out of a plastic wrapper screaming their faux homely credentials.

Knowing this, my aforementioned Father flagged up the article by Oliver Thring, below, from the Guardian Online Food blog.
The article discusses why we are eating something that resembles a 'fungus, a pappy, vaguely elastic, glutinous, gluey foam'. The appearance of white sliced is described further- "the wheaten tan of the uncrusty crust. The white, resilient sponge. The zombie-like, yeasty odour. The bleached and puffy crumb."
Harsh, but true.
Its possible that Thring does in this one article what my parents did in a school span of unappreciated packed lunches. Read on.

Thanks Papa- and not just for the article.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Food Porn.

You foodies will know what I'm talking about. Sometimes you cook something (and then photograph it- naturally...) and its just so damn good, you feel you should keep it under the mattress.

Here are last nights offerings; some of the best food I've ever eaten, with one of the best cooks I know.
... No words, just pure food porno.

Food includes recipes by Rick Stein and Ottolenghi. Chocolates are from Theobromo-cocoa and porridge is vanilla and mixed berries.

Porridge of the Week #8

Porridge of the week #8
Rødgrød med fløde

Category: Pudding
This recipe is influenced by research I've been doing at work on cuisine from Copenhagen. So P.O.T.W #8 is a take on the Danish recipe 'rødgrød med fløde', a pudding made typically from cornstarch, red berries and custard. My ode to Denmark...

Mix the porridge with milk and leave overnight for an extra creamy consistency. If possible, soak a vanilla pod in with the milk. Add mixed red berries- but make sure one of them is redcurrants. Stir in whilst warming through. Pour into a bowl and top with warm vanilla custard, or cream with a dash of vanilla essence. Scatter with a handful more redcurrants. Mmmm.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Food fact of the Day...


Gosh, its been a while...

When tomatoes first came to England, they were known as Love Apples.



Sunday, 11 July 2010

For Rufus.



Real Bruschetta...

My Italian greengrocer Nick showed me the proper way to do bruschetta and I must admit, it really made a difference. Bruschetta is not just pate on toast. To get it just perfect you need freshly toasted slices of ciabatta, super ripe tomatoes that feel 'loose' and almost on the turn, and finally a good aromatic bulb of garlic. I used new season garlic which has a softer more aromatic flavour. The wet garlic season lasts for barely a few weeks so I tend to use it as much as I can. Cut a garlic clove in half and rub it over the surface of the toasted ciabatta, then rub half of the tomato over the same area, and finally throw on some torn basil leaves which you have rubbed between your fingers to release the flavour. You'll be amazed at how perfect this simple concotion feels in the mouth. Thanks Nick!

Content donated by Aaron.


Simon's Birthday

Did a bit of last minute catering for Simon's birthday present. (For the rest of time, my poor friends and family will recieve nothing but food and art. You have been warned!)
As it was a boys thing, I decided to go with a theme of simple, spicy BBQ style food.
Here's a few of the bits I did~

Home made Chilli and Paprika tortilla chips with tomato and spring onion refried beans.

Home made vegetable crisps- parsnip, carrot, potato and beetroot.

Spicy courgette fritatta.
White chocolate and cherry cheesecake

This second pudding I made leftover filo from my filo pasties. I had lots of scraps I didn't want to waste, and a bit of excess cheesecake filling. And with a base of cherry Brandy preserve... Voila, cherry tart is born!

Also made but not photographed-

Fruit layered Pimm's Jelly
Feta, spring and red onion filo triangles

Various chutneys

Saturday, 3 July 2010

The BBQ.

BBQs don't have to just be a pile of sausages and pappy white bread rolls. Regard.

Artichoke, garlic and cumin dip
burnt aubergine with tahini and pomegranate molasses
asparagus wrapped in sesame filo

I think this would be nice with a thin layer of proscutto...

Sweet peppers stuffed with holloumi, tomato and black olive

Orange of apricot sausages. Well... no need to shun them completely.

Home made wholemeal rolls courtesy of Ian- very impressed!

Homemade caremelised red onion chutney
Home made spicy tomato relish

Strawberry Meringue stacks with balsamic strawberry coulis, pomegranate seeds and frosted mock-orange blossom

It wouldn't be a BBQ without it...

Chocolate dipped strawberries. Summery and easy and always popular.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Porridge of the Week #7


Porridge of the week #7
Mixed berries topped with milled flaxseed, linseed and gogi berries

Category: Healthy
And I mean super healthy. Sweetened only by fruit and given great texture by the flaxseed mix- it is one of the most nutritiously rich foods you can find, packed with fibre, vitamin B, omega 3 and anti-oxidants.
Mix the porridge with milk, water or fruit juice. Tip in chopped (I find this releases the juices, and the flavour) blueberries, blackberries and strawberries. Stir till cooked through. Spoon into your bowl and top with the flaxseed mix. It sounds fancy, but its very basic. You can buy the mixes at good supermarkets and health food shops.