Wednesday

technology update

I have entered the world of 'Facebook pages'... so therefore there are other ways of following my restaurant visits and adventures through food:

https://www.facebook.com/swfoodie

It's slowly getting there but will be putting more pics up and everyday musings that aren't easily uploaded on the blog. Not always one to 'Tweet' too regularly, I am slowly finding my way with the page a little easier. I'm sure that as soon as I'm used to it those tech. guys at Facebook HQ will change the format to confuse me more so - why do they do that?!

Happy hump day people...halfway to the weekend!!

xx


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Chicken, Leek and Mushroom pie...


A couple of you saw my pie on instagram and asked what recipe I used, it was a tweak to a Mary Berry pie and I cannot recommend it more. I made this mid week - hence using shop bought pastry and it takes approx 1.5hrs and is perfect for a freezer filler!!

To serve 4 hungry people or 6 delicate eaters:

500g cooked chicken breasts - organic preferable
300ml milk
50g plain flour
1 x roll of Puff Pastry
3 large x leeks, sliced
50g unsalted butter
150g mushrooms (I used chestnut)
300ml Chicken stock - hot
1tbsp tarragon fresh preferably
1 free range egg - beaten
1 tsp Dijon Mustard

Method:

Oven on to 200C/180C fan. Melt your butter in a pan - do not let it brown. 

Add Leeks and fry over a very low heat till soft (not browning) this should take approx 7-10mins.

Mix flour with a little of the milk to make a smooth paste. When leeks are soft turn up the heat and add the paste to the pan with the milk and chicken stock.

Bring to boil and stir constantly until thickened and smooth.

Add the herbs and mustard followed by the mushrooms simmer on low for 2 minutes. 

Season then remove pan from the heat. Add your cooked chicken. Pour into a 1.7 litre pie dish and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, on a floured surface roll out the pastry until larger than the dish edges. Cut 4 strips the width of the dishes lip, brush the lip with water and attach the strips on top. 

Brush the top of the strips with water and then lay the pastry lid on them and 'thumb' press the edges to seal. (freeze at this point once cooled)

Brush the pastry with the beaten egg and use any left over trimmings to decorate your topping.




MAKE SURE YOU PIERCE THE MIDDLE OF THE PIE TO RELEASE STEAM.

Bake in the oven for around 35 minutes or until the topping is crisp and golden brown. 

Voila! An easy mid week treat for these November nights... 

my versions the past few weeks:



served 2 (from freezer)

Served 4


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Monday

The Surprise... a fantastic Chelsea boozer


I was in two minds about posting my trip to The Surprise and below will explain why however I do think they excelled in service and therefore it warrants a write up.

It was Sunday afternoon and a birthday of one of my dearest and longest standing friends. 17 of us took over the upstairs dining room (which is fab by the way) and nestled in for a good feeding and curing of hangovers and tiredness. 

A Geronimo Inn pub, The Surprise is described as 'a little haven in the heart of Chelsea' and I don't think it could be said any better. Roaring fires and uniquely covered sofas and chairs make the place appear homely and quirky. Somewhere great to get stuck into a good bottle of read and decent conversation. 

Pic from design my night

Due to numbers we had pre ordered. Which is always dangerous when you do not know exactly what one's hangover will depict what it may feel like on the actual day. I however went with excitement in that fact that I still wanted exactly what I had ordered - no hangover this day #smug.

The Sunday lunch menu reads well. Roasts being the main attraction and deliciously British and light sounding starters.

I chose the Lobster, Devon crab and avocado 'Pannacotta'. This came with buttered brown toast and micro leaves. Packing full punch on flavour this was very different to what I was expecting but delicious. Crab came through strongly and the texture was exactly as one would expect of a pannacotta. Marvellous!





Mr D had the 'Celtic promise' Macaroni cheese which I must say was incredible and very. very cheesy. 



The main is sadly where my worry as to whether to write up at all comes into play. I ordered Salmon with, peas, broad beans (not present) and beure blanc (on the side as I don't often like too much sauce). This was sadly forgotten about and came rather late. It looked super but noticed the skin was not crispy. These thoughts aside I cut into it and realised it was totally uncooked - cry!!



The lovely waiter was extremely apologetic and came back with a chicken or a beef option 'on us' (I gave them the option of a roast over another fish, if it was easier and quicker for them). This was gigantic and extremely well cooked. The potatoes were crispy and fluffy on the inside and the chicken was delicious. Trimmings were a plenty and I even had envy of the people around me as they had given me two yorkies... So all in all a rather delicious meal. If they had not have been so wonderful with their (I assume rare) miss-hap, I probably wouldn't have bothered to write up. But it is good to know that when some restaurants make mistakes they are able to admit with dignity and replace in a flash. All other 16 meals were delicious, which is no easy feat on a Sunday. 



Mr D's pork loin, for example, was perfect and we had 16.5 very happy tummies. 



Mess up aside it is a gorgeous pub,fantastic atmosphere, a wonderful wine list and impeccable staff. I am desperate to find an excuse to use that wonderful upstairs room for sole purpose. A hidden gem and one I hope to visit more often. 

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The Surprise on Urbanspoon




  1. Address: 6 Christchurch Terrace, Chelsea, London, Greater London SW3 4AJ
    Phone:020 7351 6954





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Thursday

Quest for the best Ramen...Koya bar



Koya on Frith Street seems to have a huge following so much so that it's opened the 'Koya Bar' two doors down to cope with the success of the original. 

Now, this can't really be counted under my quest for the best Ramen as it's a udon noodle soup and therefore it would be unfair to compare the light miso soup with that of a punchy pork broth. But what I can tell you is that the noodles here are outstanding. Slowly but surely my love of Wagamama's from years ago is creeping further away and I find myself paying the same price for something more authentic and delicious.

Koya bar is small, possibly seating 20 or so hungry Londoners at a bar surrounding the 'kitchen'. This is something I enjoy when sat with ones own company as you can interact with the staff and are never once ignored. 



Slightly confused by the several options of either hot noodles in hot broth, cold noodles in hot broth, cold noodles with cold dipping in sauce, or cold noodles with a cold pouring sauce. Decisions, decisions, I ordered the Tori Atsu-Atsu (chicken in a hot broth - noodles in the broth) purely for ease and also as I was unsure of what to do if presented with noodles on a plate, broth and other bits - do you add it all in? Dip it as you go? Eat it separately? I've never had food-scare but this could have been a first. I sadly did not notice the specials board until I was leaving, I am told these are always extremely delicious (session two calls already) and sell out quickly. So if you do go, make sure you ask to see the board if it is not up yet. 

The bowl of goodness arrived. Simple, honest... goodness. 


The chicken sadly was a little chewy and slightly unappetising so I left most of this. But the broth had a really cleansing taste to it and certainly not overwhelming in taste at all more soothing and warming, a really pleasant dish to slurp on. The main element to the dish were the hand made noodles which were excellent and had the perfect textured bite to them and it was obvious they have done their Udon homework. I left feeling satisfied, healthy and only £11 lighter. 

Address: 50 Frith Street, London, W1D 4SQ
No reservations

Koya Bar on Urbanspoon

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Wednesday

Eating in Berlin...


Having literally just step off the plane from a girls city break I can honestly say Berlin was nothing of what I was expecting - I actually don't know what I thought it would be like. 

It's vast, spacious, clean, green and not once packed with tourists (like London) - even at the bigger tourist sites we moved around freely, had no issues seating all six of us in busy recommended restaurants and genuinely had a blast. The architecture is a total mix of ultra modern designs and traditional, colossal buildings which house many of its museums.  




A city which never seems to stop. Restaurants being packed from 6pm through till midnight. Clubs and bars often close at six or seven in the morning and even then there's somewhere to go after this some don't close till Monday morning. During the day, the city is quiet, we walked around spacious streets with hardly anyone on them. It's super clean and had a very safe feeling about it which is always refreshing being in a City of which I now absolutely nothing about. Being a group of six girls we rented an apartment in the center of Mitte and this gave us every opportunity to get around easily (once we had mastered the complicated U and S Bahn AKA their train) and see most sites with them being on our doorsteps. 

Friday evening we popped over the river to KaterHolzig/Kater Schmaus which is an experience in itself, and one you have to go to. If you can get a table for dinner this saves you the wrath of the strict doormen. It's on the top floor of an old basically run down warehouse, with different themed rooms to take you into the night and covered in graffiti, artefacts and any other bits of strange items they could get their hands on. Centred around a courtyard with fire-pit,  disco 'sheds' and a hut selling noodle soups with herrings - in other words it's very 'trendy' Berlin and very hard to describe without it sounding... odd - see pics below. 






Upstairs is a fabulous restaurant, themed in the same way serving delicious food and one of the best 'DIY' steak tartar's I have ever eaten. Please excuse photos as they're prohibited so I was being a little sneaky!








Fresh Bread

Amazingly good steak tartar
The tartar was so tender it melted in your mouth. I loved the addition of fresh anchovies and pickles which I preceded to add all in and give it a good mix around before gobbling it up straight away. 



The menu is how I like menu's to be - 4 choices for each course and every one delicious. I toyed with the idea of having gnocchi however settled upon the cod with spelt risotto (that explains the slight bite) of which I was seriously happy with. The flavour was outstandingly rich and moreish. The fish and octopus was cooked to perfection, an overall success. 





Beef tenderloin, rosemary jus, potatoes, veg and pancetta
We finished our meal at KaterSchmaus around 11:45pm just as the club Kater Holzig below was warming up - perfect timing. 

Saturday brought a new day and we hit the various sights - highly recommend one of the boat tours of the river to see some of the older buildings and use as an excuse to put your feet up for an hour or so! 

Breakfast and brunch are a big thing in Berlin with many places serving up buffets for 9-15€ not including drinks. Almost always good value and not once did we come across one we didn't enjoy. 

not the prettiest but super tasty eggs with speck
Lunch brought something which Miss K and I has been looking forward to all trip - Currywurst. German sausage, steamed then fried. Cut into slices then smothered in a curried ketchup, Worcester sauce and curry powder. It's actually delicious, cheap (€2-3) and sold all over Berlin out of small shacks. I only wish I was more hungover as this would have been an excellent hangover cure.




The night saw a more sophisticated dinner at Aigner.



Here I chose the Salmon with blinis and caviar. Super light blinis, sashimi salmon slithers were set off well against the salty caviar and soured cream. A great starter to have with what is possibly some of the biggest main portions I have had in my foodie history... 



Other starters around the table:


Traditional German meatball soup
Salad of walnut, mozzarella and ham 
My main was weiner schnitzel (properly done with veal) was enormous. Very very thinly sliced veal was battered lightly in a crispy breadcrumbed coating. Served with a warm potato salad as it should be this sadly beat me in size, and also won in taste. The veal was tender and still juicy and beat many of the other sorry schnitzels I have had before back home. Mr M however, still does the best I know!! 


Not the prettiest of dishes but one I had to post due to size was the crispy chicken... It was delicious in taste however just totally huge in size - almost half a chickens worth if not more!!



The duck dish is highly recommended but one I didn't photograph.

This is a very small snippet of my three days. Berlin has so many places to see, do, eat and relax. It's a wonderfully diverse city, with so much space you can find yourself sometimes being the only people on the street - never in London! A city I would definitely recommend to go in a group as we did, there's some brilliant places to go out in and areas which most definitely need to be explored by night. 


KaterSchmaus:
Call 004930 51 05 21 34 
or by email to katerschmaus@katerholzig.de
Reservation Hours Tue - Sat 12:00 - 18:00 I recommend getting a taxi as it is near on impossible to find. 


Aigner:
Address: Französische Straße 25, 10117, Germany
Phone:+49 30 203751850


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Thursday

Quest for the best Ramen...Tonkotsu


My ramen quest continues...for this weeks treat I found myself popping through China Town and heading into the widely acclaimed Tonkotsu on Dean Street. 

The restaurant is a small, two story, 30 or so seater with both table and bar seating. I settled in at the Ramen bar at the front and was greeted by helpful staff, whom encouraged me to try the gyoza after a friend had told me they a an 'absolute must' - naturally, I ordered some of the pork filled ones to arrive ASAP and settled into the noodle menu.



Good ramen is hard to come by purely as it takes hours and hours to extract the flavour from the bones to make the pork broth. So, when you come across a goodie you know they've put in time and effort to get it right.

Approx 15mins later my gyoza arrived which took a little longer than imagined, but hey, they're home made so don't expect fast food!! Five plump crispy bottomed parcels arrived and looked delicious. The dough was of perfect consistency and the pork, succulent. My only issue was the filling was rather pink and therefore reminded me a little of German sausage, but pinkness aside these were rather good


I went for the namesake broth, 'Tonkotsu' which is a rich, sea salt-based pork stock and thin noodles topped with slices of melt-in-the-mouth pork belly, half a seasoned soft-boiled egg, menma (fermented bamboo shoots), bean sprouts and spring onions. 



The thin noodles for one were excellent and cooked with the perfect bite to them. In fact I would go as far to say that these were some of the better noodles I have had. The broth was silky and a rich meaty flavour was certainly apparent, hugely enjoyable. The pork belly slices were a little too chewy and fatty for my liking in comparison to Shoryu where the fat was more palatable and sweeter, but they were far more generous in portion here than in other places. For £11 it's a fantastically tasty tummy filler.  



Tonkotsu is a great contender for London's Ramen scene and there is obvious reasons as to why it's so popular. The broth is super tasty and punchy and sides come with reasonable price tags, a great place for a casual supper.  

meal for one = £17 inc tip. 

Tonkotsu on Urbanspoon

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