Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lounge Lover restaurant review

For those of you who don't know it, Lounge Lover is a cocktail bar in Shoreditch.  It also does food but cocktails are what it's really all about. 

We went last night, to make use of a half price offer.  Useful in these credit-crunchy times.

Walking into the bar is like entering another world.  A slightly crazy world at that.  Part antique shop, part boudoir, part 70s living room and wholly flamboyant.

The decor consists of (amongst other things): oversized champagne flutes, a giant disco ball, chandeliers, random taxidermy and some rather unnerving anatomy posters.  Check out the pics on the website.

In spite of all this, the cocktails still manage to take centre stage.  After much deliberation (there are pages to choose from) I plumped for the eponymous Lounge Lover.  Described on the menu as,
"A tantalising combination of Loungelover fig liqueur, sweet vanilla and zesty lemon oil finished with Loungelover Champagne".  Refreshing, well-balanced and extremely more-ish.

Next up was an Eastern Promise: vodka, rose, lychees and a squeeze of lime.  Perhaps slightly overly floral but delicious nonetheless.

I'd love to work my way through the entire cocktail list but, as the drinks are £££, that may take me some time.

The Japanese food on offer was good, if not great.  It's certainly not as inspired, or as well executed, as the cocktails.

We started with edamame, a very generous portion served warm and sprinkled with sea salt.  Prawn tempura rolls were tasty, with decent size prawns running through them.  Spicy tuna rolls were pretty average and tasted like they'd been made well in advance.  Spring rolls were light and crispy.  The highlight for me was the japanese croquettes.  Light fluffy, sweet pumpkin encased in crunchy, fine panko breadcrumbs and served with a sweet chili mayonnaise (which was so tasty we dipped various other bits of sushi in it too!).

Lounge Lover: totally eccentric, totally decadent.  An excellent date spot.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

what to do with jerusalem artichokes? (recipe)

I've never actually cooked with jerusalem artichokes but when I saw them at Greensmiths, I couldn't resist buying them.

My plan was to try and recreate an amazing amuse bouche we had at Auberge du Lac recently (incidentally, probably the best meal of my life).  The dish in question was a jerusalem artichoke cream soup with grated truffle.

I have to admit, my soup didn't taste quite as good as the Auberge du Lac version, but it was yummy and very simple.  Jerusalem artichokes have a slight sweetness and a slight nuttiness to them, which goes really well with truffles.  I used a drizzle of truffle oil instead of fresh truffle.

Jerusalem artichoke soup recipe (serves 2 generous portions)

500g jerusalem artichokes, peeled and finely cubed
1/2 a medium sized white onion, chopped
Knob of butter, or glug of olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 litre veg stock (you may need a little more if your soup is too thick)
100ml double cream (less likely to split than single cream)

To garnish:
Handful of chopped, fresh parsley
Drizzle of truffle oil

Gently fry the onions in the butter or olive oil until soft
Add the garlic and fry for a couple of minutes longer - without allowing the garlic to colour
Add the jerusalem artichokes and stock and bring to the boil
Boil for around 30 minutes, until the jerusalem artichokes are soft
Stir in the cream and season with salt and black pepper
Blend in food processor, or using a hand held blender
Garnish with parsley and drizzle with truffle oil

Thursday, March 24, 2011

In Waterloo. Really.

Popped out at lunchtime to enjoy the glorious sunshine and made an extremely exciting discovery.  In the deadlands of 'behind Waterloo station' - otherwise known as Lower Marsh - there is the most fantastic food shop.  Random place, awesome shop!

The shop, Greensmiths, is really four shops in one: the Ginger Pig butchers, The Old Post Office Bakery, Solstice greengrocers and the Waterloo Wine Company. and all conveniently under one roof, just down the road from my office.

I didn't have time to properly explore but there was a fantastic fruit and veg selection, a yummy cheese section and all sorts of interesting looking jars, bottles and packages. 

As a famous robot once said: i'll be back!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Loving Meryl Streep as Julia

I've been wanting to watch the film 'Julie & Julia' for absolutely ages.  I missed it at the cinema so was super happy when it appeared on Sky Movies last night.   

The film intertwines two true stories.  It contrasts the life of Julia Child, as she embarks on her cooking career in Paris, with the life of young New Yorker Julie Powell, who challenges herself to cook all the recipes in Julia Child's first book and chart her progress in a blog.

Loved the film, not least for the food scenes and the locations.

Meryl Streep is utterly endearing and quite hilarious as Julia.  I enjoyed every second of her portrayal.  The Julie story was a bit ho hum and I'd probably have preferred it if the entire film had focused on Julia Child.

If you haven't seen it, I'd defo recommend it.

Bon appétit!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What's your favourite cheese? (recipe)

I think this question is an excellent conversation starter - it really sorts the sheep from the goats.

If someone answers a) mild cheddar or b) babybel they're probably not going to be my kind of person.  

Personally, I can't quite make my mind up.  Right now, I'm dreaming of fondue, having just returned from the snowy French alps. I guess this means my current favourite cheese is actually three cheeses: comté, beaufort and emmental.  

We borrowed a fondue set from the local patisserie and had an awesome evening in our cosy alpine chalet, gathered round the big wooden dining table - fuelled by several bottles of local plonk and a big pot of bubbling cheese.  heaven.  

We improvised and made our fondue with white wine, instead of traditional kirsch.  Tasted amazeballs.

Easy cheese fondue recipe:

1 clove garlic
210g of cheese per person, cut into small cubes (comté, beaufort and emmental are traditional but you can experiment)
1 glass of white wine

Cubes of bread to serve - this works better if the bread is slightly stale. (we got through two baguettes between four but we're greedy!)

Rub the garlic round the inside of the fondue pan then throw away.

Add the wine and place the pot on the stove.  Bring the wine to the boil.

Reduce the heat slightly and add the cubes of cheese.

Keep stirring until all the cheese is melted, at which point you can transfer to the burner on the table.

Spear a cube of bread on your fondue fork and dunk into the melted cheese.