Friday

YOOBI... Brazillian temakeria...how have I not discovered this before?!


So, Miss R and I gathered for our (almost) daily gossip break and zoomed into Yoobi on Lexington street to try some of it's, now infamous, temaki (sushi hand rolls). They also serve up the hand rolls as maki and have a selection of salads, sashimi and soups to accompany your meal. It's been around a year now, and I'm kicking myself to not have discovered it sooner...

The modern, simplistic 20 seater restaurant also serves take-outs and on this particular day there was a small queue forming however all seemingly were being served quickly. We grabbed a menu, found a seat chose in under 30 seconds and went up to the counter to order. The menu is made up of a selection of around 12 different variations of temaki's, which can also be maki rolls for a small extra fee, tuna and salmon sashimi and the salads. There's a cold fridge for drinks and some snacks. 

We then were back at our seats and served within 5 minutes... perfect for us hungry girls with less than an hour to spare, and oh so much to catch up on! 

First up came my miso soup which was delicious and not over salty which some can be, a nice touch to this dish was that it had edamame beans and broccoli as well as the normal tofu and seaweed.



Minutes later my extremely pretty hand rolls arrived...



Spicy tuna, romaine lettuce, croutons, Yoobi spicy sauce and rice. Now, not always getting the main part it needs the rice in fact here is delicious. It's melt in your mouth kind of stuff and the vinegar is perfectly balanced. The main star of this is, of course, the protein... the tuna here was a fantastic maroon colour, a good slim slither of fat running though and was extremely tender and so super fresh. The croutons add a fab and welcome crunch, which was unexpected (mainly as I'd forgotten they were there). Another thing to point out is that all the fillings run through the whole hand roll...so, your last bite is as good as the first, if not better!



oh go on then..have a close up...



My second hand roll choice was the 'classic' crunchy prawn, served with the same as above but with Japanese mayo instead of the Yoobi spiced sauce. Just as delicious and just as fresh, the prawns being big, plump and juicy. Another pleasurable and yummy mouthful with every bite!



Miss R had the crunchy prawns as above however, in maki form, for an additional £2...




Followed by the highly recommended by the staff Citrus salmon with chives, orange tobiko and yuzu mayo. Its good to note here that their salmon is from good old Scotland, farmed lovingly so they get a proper swim and therefore are nice and lean, making for great tasting and tender salmon. 



Each hand roll is separated into sections which are either £3.20, £3.60 or £4, specials are a little more(there's yellow tail up on the menu at the moment for £6-8). My lunch came to £11. Which, being my pay day treat I find exceptionally reasonable. A thoroughly enjoyable lunch and one I will definitely be returning to on a regular (daily?!) basis...

Yoobi on Urbanspoon

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Wednesday

Slow Food UK charity evening at Corrigan's Mayfair


A rather special email invitation popped into my inbox from one of my favourite chef’s restaurants - Richard Corrigan. He was hosting an evening of celebrating forgotten foods, all in aid of a charity called ‘Slow Food’ at his Mayfair restaurant, of the same name. You can find out more on their website but a little insight is that they help support local producers and to counter the rise of fast foods – globally. They have also helped to support local communities in over 150 countries helping farmers/growers gain a fair price for their produce.

I immediately booked for the two of us.

Arriving at Corrigan’s we were greeted at the bar and served an aperitif where we were given nibbles and then shown to our seats.

Once seated, there was a small talk from the organiser and director of Slow Foods UK before we were taken through the upcoming feast. What I didn’t realise was each chef, some of whom are my absolute favourites, were there in person. For some reason, possibly due to then length of the menu, I thought they had only put the menus together. They individually spoke about their dishes with such passion it made us all even more eager to start.


First up was the fabulous, and a chef whom i've always had a crush on, Valentine Warner’s starter of ‘Berkshire pig with mackerel mayonnaise (Tonnato style). Leaning on the supper of Angela Hartnett for a quick explanation of what Tonnato style actually was (a creamy tangy sauce, usually made with anchovies). It arrived extremely pink which was something Valentine warned us of before, however he explained that seriously good pork can be served rare… it was awesome and extremely tender. The mackerel sauce was a perfect umami hit, tangy, salty and not over powering but complemented the meat.


Next up was one of my favourite chefs of the moment Emily Watkins, whom is the proud owner of a GBM 2014 medal for her ‘Normandy Beach’ fish course. She served ‘smoked bath chaps, jersey royals, broad beans, radish remoulade’ this happened to be one of our stand out dishes of the evening, although all were incredibly delicious it just had the wow factor, the flavours were spot on and the little side potato salad of sorts was really refreshing and totally more-ish.


The first fish course followed which was an incredible Hampshire grown watercress and smoked haddock risotto by the highly acclaimed Angela Hartnett. The risotto rice cooked to perfection and was such a great green colour due to it being only cooked with watercress (no watered down stock if I understood correctly). The flaked fish, as ever with Angela’s dishes, was faultless. 


A second fish course (they’re spoiling us now…) by Shaun Hill whom seems to have the Midas touch with stars wherever he goes, currently at The Walnut Tree, in Wales, since 2008. This was a bourride with einkorn flour (a UK grown flour) bread. The bourride (a type of fish stew) had a lovely flavour to it which was slightly curry-esque, a great creamy texture and looking round the room we were all mopping this up with our perfectly round, light, crisp rolls. The red mullet, cooked to precision, had a slight crisp skin and nice iridescent flesh.  


The main man of the evening Richard Corrigan stepped up for the meat course serving North Ronaldsay lamb, sweetbreads, prune and artichoke. The lamb loin (?!), served pink was tender and deliciously sweet. There was another cut of lamb shown rolled which, again, was simply scrummy especially when paired with the prune and artichoke. One of my favourite things at the moment is sweetbreads and these still had a good bounce and creaminess to them.



Atul Kotchhar sadly couldn’t be with us on the evening however he sent his head chef from Benares to cook our first dessert which was really refreshing after what has been a pretty epic feast. It was a very pretty ‘Bhapa Doi with rose, cobnut burfi’. The bhapa doi, a type of steamed yoghurt, was served with a sweet and tangy fruit compote.  The cobnut (a UK grown hazelnut) ‘burfi’ is an Indian sweet, it brought another flavour element and was quite unusual, but in a good way!



Ross Lewis finished off our meal with a set cream cheese, soda bread mousse and a whiskey and lemon glaze, pin head stone-ground Irish oatmeal crunch and milk ice cream. The milk ice cream was one thing that stood out as I wasn’t expecting to like it, at all! It was so refreshing I could have had a tub of this stuff and left a happy customer. The main element of the dessert was similar to a cheesecake however exceptionally light and fluffy. The oatmeal crunch packed a punch in both flavour and texture.

We were presented with coffees and macaroons which we asked to take home.


It was an exceptional evening; one I imagine will always stick in our minds. On leaving we said a quick thank you to Chef Corrigan whom is such a charming man and headed home. Full, happy and wanting to support local producers as much as possible.


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Tuesday

INTERVIEW - Masterchef Finalist Adam Handling...


SO, WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN UP TO SINCE MASTERCHEF?

It’s been an absolute whirlwind since it aired late last year! There have been a number of competitions that I’ve taken part in and I’ve recently been named as British Chef of the year by the British Culinary Federation which is a huge honour. I’m currently taking part in another competition where I’ve been called through to the next round so I’m preparing for that alongside launching a new a la carte menu which equals a lot of fun but a lot of experimenting for me.
Scottish Salmon
Adam's Scottish Salmon with fennel Pollen, Pea, Dill and Apple

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR NEW-FOUND FAME? DOES A CAREER AS A TV CHEF BECKON?

Honestly I am overwhelmed by the positivity and the response that I’ve received to everything that I have done- everyone that I have spoken to and had contact with has wished me every success in everything that I do and are fully supportive of me which is fantastic. As for a TV chef- who knows? Never say never!

WHAT’S THE ETHOS BEHIND THE DISHES YOU CREATE AT CAXTON GRILL?

I love dishes that are big on flavour- I’m all about clever flavours working together and creating surprising combinations for my guests, my style is evolving and for my new menu I’m using more Asian flavours which are an absolute passion of mine. The style of cooking is having the “wow” factor for my dishes and using all of my toys in the kitchen to emphasise this

TELL US HOW YOU WENT ABOUT CREATING CAXTON GRILL’S NEW A LA CARTE MENU?

I wanted to strip back flavours and create dishes which were simple but big on flavour and visually stunning. The preparation takes a little longer but the ultimate flavour combinations are so worth it

ARE THERE ANY PARTICULAR HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MENU YOU’D LIKE TO EARMARK AS MUST-TRIES?

I’m biased… but all of them! The new appetiser snacks are amazing… the perfect entrĂ©e to meal & the Chef’s G&T using dill is to die for…!
For more information, or for bookings: www.caxtongrill.co.uk

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Monday

Comensal, a new Mexican in Clapham


Now, you may have worked out, I am a BIG fan of the lovely Abbeville Road, nothing as yet quite compares within its vicinity. More recently a surge of new rather snazzy restaurants have opened up. Comensal is one of these newbies, and fits the bill perfectly.

Ran by a charming ‘his and her’ team. She, from Mexico. He, (you guessed it) from... Bonnie Scotland. It’s a vibrant little bar and restaurant which was bustling with walk-ins on night two of its grand opening. In place of what was a rather dingy dark restaurant the walls are fresh and colourful. Which, will soon be adorned with photos of their time in Mexico creating a more welcoming and adding a personal touch, the place is refreshing without trying too hard. There’s also a fantastic ‘tequila’ bar up front made with gorgeous hand painted tiles (imported from Mexico) great for a quick bite to eat with a drink mid week.


Miss K and I booked to go for its soft opening week. Being warned that there has already been noted of a few ‘minor’ glitches which are in hand we settled in well and instantly ordered two of their (bloomin' fantastic) margaritas.  


We decided against ordering the mains off the menu and instead opted to share lots of the street food snacks and sharers.

First up is what I imagine will become their signature dish, guacamole… nothing special eh? Well… it gets made up at your table from scratch. Leaving you with a huge mortar full of the stuff, along with home made tortillas to scoop it up with.





From then on our food arrived in quick succession filling the table completely…


Taquitos Dorados, five little rolled up tacos filled with chicken breast then fried to give a crisp shell. These are then topped with cheese, lettuce, salsa and sour cream. A great concept just needed a little bit of seasoning/kick for them to be perfect, it just needed a bit more flavour.


Pastor Taco, pork marinated in chilli spices, served with cilantro (coriander), onion and pineapple. This was our favourite by far however it just needed that extra chilli kick. I certainly could have taken more spice and Miss K being a well-travelled Mexican-er (?!) said spice would be more apparent in the original dishes – maybe some sauce on the table would be good to suit all?


Taco Tulum, another favourite of mine for the evening and I recommend you trying this. Soft tortilla, with crispy cod pieces, house made crunchy slaw (lots of!), chilli and coriander mayo and lime salsa. The only issue with this is that the top tortilla gets all the flavour from the sauce which has now seeped into it, therefore making it a hard fair-sharing dish. The fish was fresh and crisp and the vast (maybe too much?) amount of coleslaw was certainly very crunchy and gorgeous in colour!



Ceviche de 3 pescados. The three types of fish, salmon, cod and tilapia were very, very fresh and a joy to eat. It simply needed a little more zing and punch to it, however, this could be a matter of taste. For ceviche I like mine really sharp-tasting. So, a little more lime would have been perfection to me. A good dollop of guacamole and a chipotle infused oil – yum! Served with tostadas for scooping which delivered a good mix of texture.


Comensal is a great, fun fixture for Clapham’s hungry villagers. The food was good, the cocktails, even better – try their tequila, pop in for a nibble or a full on meal and enjoy! My only gripe was that they could be braver with the bold and punchy flavours that I associate with Mexican foods. It’s opening week, therefore expect a few mishaps (these will always be ironed out by second visit) and enjoy the atmosphere and wonderful smiley staff.

A: 32 Abbeville Road, Clapham, London SW4 9NG
T: 0208 673 7272

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Tuesday

Weekend on The Test and The Dundas Arms, Kintbury

Photo from Wikipedia
We wanted a quite weekend getaway and Hampshire is always our go to spot. Surrounded by gorgeous countryside, quaint villages and wonderful traditional pubs - a lot are now of Michelin starred standards (The Wellington). Hampshire is fast becoming a foodie destination, and perfect to get to for us Londoner's as it took us just over an hour from Clapham. This Bank Holiday weekend was the perfect amount of time to get some good food in our tummies and fresh air in our lungs and for me to learn a thing of two about fishing!

We drove down on the very wet Saturday and went straight to The Dundas Arms, in Kintbury. This has been recommended by a friend whom moved into the village recently. They have rooms which are simple, cosy and everything you need for a weekend escape and we'd heard good things about the food, plus they happily take dogs.



The Dundas is nestled on the banks of the river Kennet - perfect for you sporting types! It's extremely picturesque and perched on the edge of Kintbury village, which is a lovely old town filled with desirable homes and chocolate box cottages, and as an added bonus it's right by the train station. If only it had stopped teaming it down we could have taken advantage of a long river walk by the tow path. Instead, we took full advantage of having a pub on our doorstep and, once the weather had stopped, took a cider onto our balcony which was blissful... 


From the pub website 
Supper was booked at 8pm where we were seated and asked if we wanted a glass of prosecco, yes for moi, beer for Mr D and nestled into the menu. A good variety shown for both starters and mains and an extremely decent wine list also. 


Mr D chose the asparagus and poached egg to start, with quite 'gloopy' hollandaise.


I opted for the chicken liver parfait, pan fried foie gras, spiced chutney and brioche toast. The foie gras was quite heavily charred which did over power any other flavour when eaten with the parfait so I chose to eat this on it's own with the brioche and the same again with the parfait which was delicious and perfectly smooth, and made even better when combined with the chutney. It was all well seasoned.



Predictably, Mr D had steak cooked med-rare.


Sea bass, crushed new potato, green beans and a light tomato sauce was my choice of a main and this was well cooked, perfectly seasoned and the sauce was delicious. 



Wanting to make our evening here last as long as possible we paused for a while and finished our wine, before ordering pudding and digestifs (of sorts). Our sticky toffee pudding (to share) was yummy. We plodded off to our wonderfully comfortable bed, content and happy around 11pm with more amaretto's and whiskies (!!).


Needing to get on the road, to see the cousin's babies, I completely forgot to picture the breakfast. We both had a lovely full English with two fried eggs, sausage, bacon, black pudding and toms. All delicious, my only niggle was that the bacon could have been a little more crisp! There's a table with juices, teas and Dorset cereals for you to help yourself and staff were attentive throughout. Sat over looking the wonderful beer garden which was now flooded with sunlight it was a shame we had such miserable weather the day before!



The next day, after a lovely evening with family, Mr D and I headed into Longparish, home of the Plough Inn from the Great British Menu, to do a spot of fishing. Me bring a TOTAL novice seemingly got the hang of it and I've been converted, although not catching a single thing (I can blame the weather!) I absolutely loved it. 



The scenery was pretty awesome too...





A: 53 Station Rd, Kintbury, Hungerford RG17 9UT
P: 01488 658263


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