Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Golden Couple Supperclub


If you follow E Cooks on Instagram, you'll know that E can indeed cook. Every Insta the dude posts results in a Pavlovian response of combined belly rumble and salivation. Miho is the luckiest wife ever (and clearly has an incredible metabolism to boot!) So it was that I was quite literally bouncing up and down at the prospect of dinner at their house with my fellow invitees: Yee, Honey and Thach


As all good foodies do, we kicked things off with a drink in Miho and E's charming back garden in west London, with delicious bellinis made up by our obliging resident French Gourmet/Sommelier.


And the best combination ever? Bellinis and blinis, of course. Especially when they're lovingly homemade with incredibly fresh taramasalata. We unanimously agreed that the latter was the best we've ever tried. I don't think I was a particularly huge fan of taramasalata before, but this stuff was addictive. If E's not going to open a restaurant, he should at the very least open a deli...one taste of his cooking is not enough! 


And the amuse bouches didn't stop at the blinis, oh no.


We were also treated to the most moreish little potatoes, topped with truffled scrambled eggs. A genuine once you pop, you just can't stop situation...


Smoked salmon sprinkled with fresh dill. Seasoned to perfection.


We all gasped when E brought out these amazing pissaladières. On the left, a traditional Southern French pissaladière niçoise with anchovies and olives, and on the right, topped with the most indulgent reblochon and lardons. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, all this before we even got to the first course. I really couldn't decide which one I liked more. Which was lucky because I got to have multiple pieces of each...


After gorging ourselves silly on the pissaladières, we relocated to M and E's living room to await our first course. Time to roll those foodie sleeves up, people...


I really can't help but lick my lips when I look at this photo of our plat principal: an incredibly generously stuffed lobster and langoustine raviolo perched atop minty pea purée, and swimming in a lobster bisque with a lemongrass and chervil velouté. Seriously tasty and complemented beautifully by the different sauces. I couldn't believe the work that went into this dish. When I try to count the manifold processes behind making this my head starts to spin. Something you never think about when you go to a restaurant!


Next up - the most prodigious beef wellington, baked inside - yes - a brioche. It was at this stage that I wondered if E might possibly be verging on insane. This man sets the bar incredibly high for himself!


Slicing the brioche open was almost like witnessing a birth - E, originally incredibly nervous that the meat inside might be overdone, cooed like a proud father at the beautifully rare beef nestled within. 


Golden Couple being golden. #perfecthosts


I'm proud to say that I demolished my portion of the beef wellington (otherwise known as the 'Beast Wellington'). Just look at that incredible pink meat. Paired with asparagus, cauliflower purée topped with 'microleaves' and a crispy potato millefeuille, this made for the perfect hearty main course. A meal truly worthy of Desperate Dan. 


A little photo break while the beef wellington was digesting. I love these people.


Grandma and Grandpa being creepy/cute as usual <3


The cutest Ba(n)ker Yee, who brought us all the most deliciously buttery starry shortbread cookies filled with Nutella and strawberry jam. I devoured mine in about two seconds flat with a cup of tea the next day - thank you, Yee!


Et finalement...E's pièce de résistance. An incredibly smooth tarte au citron with a raspberry coulis. Top marks for plating and taste. I absolutely loved the interplay between tart and sweet here. I can't stand it when a lemon tart is so acidic it sets my teeth on edge, but I'm happy to say that an ideal balance was struck here. And of course I expected no less of E!


The rightfully proud (and exhausted) face of the man of the night! 


This baby deserves a photo from every angle.


Second helpings, accompanied by an accurate depiction of how we were all feeling by this point in the evening.


Oh wait, did you think the supperclub ended with dessert? If you did then you clearly need to get over to E's Instagram and study it more carefully. Chef E is notorious for his crazy macaron skills, and this evening was no exception to the rule. In fact, it marked a special occasion: the début of E's Ispahan flavour, a celestial medley of rose, lychee and raspberry. 


What better way to round off an evening of excellent food and drink than with sinfully good macarons and an equally sinful game of Citizens Against Humanity? 

Thank you so, so much to E and Miho for inviting us into your home for a supperclub sans pareil - the most amazing food I've ever had cooked specially for me, with kind, attentive hosts, beautifully considered presentation and fantastic company. Superlatives aren't enough for this supperclub! All I can say is...bring on round two next month. I'm prepping myself physically and mentally for BBQ carnage...

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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A Silver Anniversary Lunch at Grain Store


My parents celebrated their silver anniversary recently! (Wait, does that make me old...?) After they'd enjoyed a whirlwind trip to India, the whole family gathered for lunch at Bruno Loubet's Grain Store to celebrate 25 years of Mama and Papa Lim.


Grain Store is housed, as the name might suggest, in the old Granary building behind King's Cross (alongside Caravan and Central St. Martin's), formerly a repository of Lincolnshire wheat for London's bakers in the 19th century. Like Caravan and Dishoom (two of my favourites on the same square), it's got a wonderfully airy, industrial vibe. Basically it's the kind of place I'd love to hang out all day in with a chai latte and laptop, in typical yuppie fashion. 


Grain Store has been around for a while now, but just in case you hadn't heard about it, the concept here revolves around (rightfully) making vegetables the star of the show. Which is why I loved the dual significance behind this neon in the bathroom...and kind of wanted to take it home with me.


Vegetables even come to the fore on the drinks menu, with tipples on offer ranging from green tomato margaritas to a campari cooler featuring carrot and a champagne cocktail perked up with oregano bitters. I thought the sweet potato bellini, above, was surprisingly pleasant-tasting and smooth. Though my own choice of drink was just the cutest thing...


Presenting the Heidi Smoothie, an utterly kawaii concoction of bee pollen, honey, banana, buttermilk and oats. I definitely felt like letting out a wholesome yodel after a sip of this baby. Delicious.


The beauty of veggie dishes is that they can be prepared incredibly quickly. For starters we ordered wild garlic and silken tofu soup (just seen, above)...


Pea tartlets with Parmesan 'crackling' and truffle...


And my choice, compressed watermelon, padrón peppers, pecorino and olive 'truffles'. I'd heard great things about this dish in the numerous reviews I'd read (all part of the research package, naturally) and it really didn't disappoint. The padrón peppers had the perfect amount of bite and a smoky taste from being grilled, which went perfectly with the 'truffles'. The watermelon, meanwhile, definitely took centre stage - each little cube so concentrated that it was almost reminiscent of the texture of meat. 


And next, mains! I ordered the potato pancake topped with sour cream leeks, a poached duck egg, and a sprinkling of tobiko wasabi caviar. 


For the patriarch: Korean slaw, a kaffir lime chicken burger and fried egg on muffin. Of course the man of the family had to opt for the meatiest dish on the menu at a vegetarian concept restaurant!


Yoghurt and chickpea pancake, avocado, tomato and jalapeño salad for...someone. (Cursing my sieve-like memory.)


And a little family tradition: chips for the table. Adhering to the theme with this adorable flowerpot presentation and accompanied by a seriously delicious herby aïoli. 


My potato pancake was utterly gorgeous (check the #eggporn above), but truth be told, it was way too big for me to finish, not helped by the fact that the inside of the pancake was a little more monotonous to eat than the top. 


For dessert: rice pudding pannacotta, chilli pineapple with miso fudge. Sadly I wasn't overly impressed with this dish either - the whole hunk of pineapple was way too big for dessert (in my opinion), making it hard to eat, and the rice in the pannacotta was a little too hard for my liking. I loved the ideas behind this pudding on paper though, and had the pineapple been presented in little glazed chunks (like the watermelon of my earlier dish) I'd have found the dish far more palatable. 


Lyonnaise 'bugnes', matcha tea crème brûlée, raspberry sorbet. I didn't get to try much of this one but apparently it was very good, with a subtle green tea flavour. 


Beetroot and chocolate cake, pink grapefruit and orange gel. As you may be aware, I'm a massive fan of beetroot chocolate cake, and this one was excellent - fudgy and rich, and complemented perfectly by a generous dollop of crème fraîche. I ended up being the one to finish this dish off (proud).

Overall, a meal not without its flaws, but a wonderful concept with some great dishes (that watermelon will stick in my mind until I cave and make a special trip back to order it again...) and a really lovely place to ring in my parents' silver wedding anniversary. I'm currently trying to lead a semi-pescetarian diet, so vegging out at restaurants like these is ideal for me. Any other veggie restaurant recommendations would be greatly appreciated! 

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