White Smoke feat. the Fork and Corset

With the clock fast approaching to a hopefully gloriously sunny extended weekend, I am sure you are all planning boozy events, park sessions and 3 days of non stop fun. If you are around the Clapton / Hackney area make sure you pop down to the White Smoke Pop Up Market packed with fashion gems, live music, fortune telling, drinks and food from yours truly! I will be serving a range of sweet and savoury treats from double Fili rolls and millionaries shortbread, so come down eat, drink, shop and generally get merry!

Menu first time round: the Onion Family Tart will be making a second appearance with new tasty treats!
A pictoral taster from last time: Salad with rdishes, beetroot crunch, cider vineagar and beer mustard dressing.
Scottish scotch eggs, flecked with haggis and rolled in Scottish oats.
Peanut Butter cups.
Onion Family Tart; fennel, leeks, spring onions and Spanish white onions.


Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley

Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley Wilton Place, Knightsbridge, London, SW1X 7RL - 0207 235 1200 

Nothing beats being lavished upon by knowing staff and fed by people who make it their mission to over deliver on food. Such meals need not be kept for celebratory occasions. There is nothing more indulgent than celebrating a Tuesday off and treating yourself to a damn good lunch. Especially when humbly priced at £38, for three courses.

A couple of turns round from Hyde Park's most classiest corner, through the gilded revolving doors of the Berkeley and passed the pinky raised afternoon tea drinkers, we were then led to a burgundy room of unassuming decadence. In the centre orchids towered over the diners and speared glass baubles form a decorative abacus wall separating us from the culinary craftsmen. The waiters and sommelier bridge the divide. And do so in an exemplary fashion; silent upon their approach and depositing plates and glasses with a peppering of descriptive knowledge. To accompany the pondering of the menu we were presented with gougères topped with tomato dust. Airy morsels that vanished in a whisper leaving only a momentary tang of tomato freshness.

From the bread basket I opted for the potato and honey which  had a satisfying bounce and well rounded sweetness. Notably the caramelised butter was flawlessly quenelled, anything other than a stroke with the butter knife would be bad form. It tasted as if it had fallen out of dairy heaven,  creamy and nutty. As disclosed by the waiter the perfect balance of creaminess was achieved by adding creme fraiche to the butter, he continued to swoon over the elderly couple beside us, lavishing them with a few more kitchen secrets. 

I have always thought the word sweetbreads to be a fanciful word, conjuring up a food embodying something delicate and otherworldly. From humble offal beginnings this incarnation encased in delicate pasta and reverberating with lemon verbena was every bit how I whimsically imagined it should be. The meat jus heightened the savouriness of the ravioli filling, as did the topping of sea purslane which I like to think of nature's savoury popping candy. Whilst the shards of toasted hazelnuts were a great crunchy contrast to the silken cauliflower cream and sweet cauliflower slithers. The classic combination of smoked fish and soft poached egg is always a pleasure, here the char from the caramelised leeks balanced out the purity of watercress sauce.

Belly pork is my downfall, fork shattering skin, semi molten fat fused loosely to tender meat, I just cannot resist. The two pork squares were flawless and the rest of the dish was hearty yet elegant. The cassouleted beans were rich, the potato foam had every essence of the earthy skin but was free from stodginess, pickled onions added welcome sharpness and a mild creaminess came from the turnip. Where my dish was bold the salmon dish was unassuming until the third mouthful where you then notice perfection in each component. The fish was confited to a blushed coral and skin bubbled to a crisp, quinoa sappy from the beurre blanc and texturally rooted with crunch from the broccoli. Minus the bells and whistles it delivered beyond in taste leaving you with a pleasing bergamot aura.

For me the desert was outstanding. I am not a white chocolate fan but took a pun on this being as far removed from anything I had before. And yes it was, supremely creamy tinged with vanilla. Served whipped to a fluff sitting on a wisp of sponge, ideal for soaking up the melting granita which was so bright and so refreshing you wouldn't want to miss a drop. The orange purée was concentrated and full of zing. Whilst you could have overlooked the two tarragon leaves angled proudly upright as just a nice touch of green. They breathed a faint aniseed flavour that transformed white chocolate and cleansed the palette.

We looked on as other tables continued to extend their meals with cheese boards and another round of drinks, we were ready to ask for the bill and regretfully end our meal of restrained indulgence and then came the petit fours. A double act of house made chocolates, one was 67% Dominican cocoa with a ganache of the chocolate and spring water, the other was milk chocolate with insanely great salt caramel. Right till the last mouthful each plate delivered defiantly and crafted flawlessly. Each table served with nothing short of excellence. I suspected this would be the case since two Michelin stars are not given out willy nilly, it is wonderful to know that a leisurely set lunch is treated with equal importance as a la carte diners.
Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley on Urbanspoon


Feast at Tobacco Dock

All of London's current taste sensations are here, burgers by Patty & Bun, hot soothing ramen from Bone Daddies, rocking fried chicken from Rita's and temporary extensions from the trustworthy house of Hix, Fish dog's as well as spice from Dishoom and a chance to sample cooking from new gun Beagle, set to open in Shoreditch in April. Next to the city suit and the suede shoe and Barbour father son duo, New Balance and bomber politely queue for something tasty inbetween a bun, because as Brits we politely queue. We all seem to be hitting up the latest eating trend and embracing it with British spirit. Through the drizzle we search out a spare nook, because all the casual benches strewn with wild flowers and candles are taken, and tuck in with meat glazed faces and wooden cutlery. Until Sunday you can sample a broad selection of London's food and street food offer all under one roof or half a roof. Our interpretation is a far cry from a hawker stall or a NYC corner burrito joint, born out of necessity to eat in a hurry but theres no point picking at holes when food tastes this good.

Anna-Mae's Mac and Cheese
Excellent fried chicken sandwich with sweet potaro spread from Rita's
Burger du jour from Patty and Bun
Sweet treats from Meringue Girls



There is a three letter word that you really should be in the know about. It's a delectable little word, making a sizable impact in and around the Hackney area. A word coined by its three patrons to sum up what they do best, Bao. Which means buns, not the butty kind nor ones sticky with icing. But theirs are sweetly tinged clouds, split just so revealing their favoured filling of unctuous pork belly with home preserved mustard greens and peanut shavings.

Photo: baolondon.com/gallery.php
The menu is made up of dishes that are small yet perfectly formed, each milk bun is made from scratch, the bacon is home cured and even the soya milk for the chicken dredge is made in the Bao kitchen. The gua bao pork bun is naturally the signature dish with its own custom made clay holder to boot. Fried options easily win over the crowd in the form of soya milk fried chicken and more unusually daikon and cured bacon croquettes, which are delightfully sweet and savoury. Vegetarians, do not fear they have catered for you also, the pomelo salad with citrus nuggets, shredded carrot and red onion laced with fried wonton and vermicelli noodles is a highlight on its own. Other dishes like the tofu bao, "smacked" cucumbers and potato salad are rotated in and out of the menu too.

The food the trio conjure up from the fryer,giant bamboo steamer and slow cooker are in their blood, recipes and concoctions from their far eastern origins. Despite the unpredictability of our nations weather al fresco eating by way of the street continues to pull in the crowds. Original East-enders before our time were snacking on jellied eels and pies from street stalls, in Taiwan night markets xiao chi stalls litter the streets, each one specializing in their own substantial snack . Bao has hand picked a selection of authentic little bites to bring to a new throng of curious eaters, currently pitching up within local cafes and pubs but a more permanent outdoor spot firmly set in their horizons.

With two successful dining events under their belt the third is sure to be the same. Next Bao stop is tomorrow night at The Dalston Victoria, the menu will be made up again with ten or so dishes, specials have previously included pig's ear terrine, razor clams and confit garlic and some deserts chucked in for good measure like red bean crumble cake. So even if you have been before you will still be able to sample some new flavours or because of the tapas sized portions just fill up on a dozen of what you already know and love. Mark my words Bao is going to be big.

Home cured bacon and daikon croquettes
Pomelo Salad
Smacked Cucumbers
Heavy duty bamboo steamer 
Black sesame ice cream and peanut shaving, mildly sweet and delicately creamy
An East meets West desert, red bean crumble and cream.
Congee with hundred year egg, topped with tongue and pig crackling.



9 Duke Street, London W1U 3EG - 020 7486 9699

It has almost been five years since I had gorged on Argentina's finest red stuffs for a month and the same amount of time since such epic meat sweats! Eating experiences in situ naturally out run their distant exported cousins. So I have abstained at length from particular cuisines back in London because of this until now. It was the draw of the hand on heart words of promise from trusted individuals coupled with the promise of my beloved Torrentes that swayed me to try Zoilo.
From the outside it looked like an ideal place to thaw out with a bottle of Mendoza's finest. We peeled apart the chill proof curtains and noticed we were the first to arrive, all eyes and smiles were on us as we were led downstairs to the fish bowl bar. I am a sucker for watching chefs work, their movements so precise, agile to the finger tips, and chose our position at this bar below because of this - although there is another bar on the first floor if you prefer watching mixologists at work. Central to the kitchen and in fact Argentinian cooking is the parilla, the grill. Priding themselves on the quality of their meat, particularly their prized cattle characteristically tender due to the countries flat herbaceous plains for easy, relaxed movement and tasty diet. Argentinians like nothing more than simple charred quality meat. Other signature ingredients such as blood sausage and offal appeared. As does their infamous empanadas, like miniature Cornish pasties but invigorated with spices, sure to be a crowd pleasers. We sampled all three, the two meat options clearly fell from the same tasty tree, super savoury and spiked with cumin, although the spinach was the dark horse sweet with jewels of raisins and pine nuts.
Then came the small plate of gnocchi, with roast pumpkin and sage which was saved from being a tad run of the mill with crunch and a nutty bitterness from the crushed amaretti biscuits on top. We had a moment of madness and ordered a dish currently gracing a vast majority of eateries around the country in one guise or another, beetroot and goats curd. Thankfully as with the rest of the menu there was an Argentine twist, from garrapiñada, caramelized peanuts that were ground then incorporated in the coating of the deep fried cheese, adding texture and another level of sweetness.
We noticed many a little frying pan packed with cubes of white cheese go in the oven then topped with thyme which turned out to be a version of the Italian cheese provolone. As we chatted away to the chef, he explained quite vividly origins of dishes which mirrored flavours from across the Atlantic, chorizo, polenta and various cheeses had a stable home amongst Argentinian cuisine. For the meat dishes we went for the asado flank steak with creamy celeriac and bone marrow gravy, which was a mini plate of a hearty richness. For me it was  the pork, chorizo and prawn al ajo dish that brought me back. Each meat cooked to maximise their flavour, the belly sous vided for optimum succulence, chorizo pan fried to ignite it's mild fieriness and the prawns flamed on the grill all topped with a herby garlic mix.To finish we opted for the three in one desert of dulce de leche creme bruleé, silken and sweet with a perfect crust, and banana split ice cream complete with dark chocolate chunks. 

I would quite happily return and exhaust the menu completely, the sweetbread dish and "humita" crab soup are next on the list. The only reason I would not rush to do so is the price tag the meal comes with. I am a "small plates" fan. In theory, you can sample double the amount of dishes at a lower price, win win. However following the recommended three to four options per person you will end up with a dishes decreased in size with a price that doesn't follow suit. But come back I will for another throwback to the country built on great meat, even better wine and all the other delicious things inbetween.

Zoilo on Urbanspoon


Katz Orange

Bergstrasse 22, 10115 Berlin, Mitte   Tel: 0049 30 983208430 
Berlin, like London is flooded with openings of restaurants, bars and new hangouts every week and Katz Orange looked like the city's newest gem. Promising inventive organic gourmet dishes in Wallpaper worthy surroundings, all killim rugs and wild flowers. We turned off the main strip at Torstrasse into a courtyard tipped with snow and followed the sound of jazz to the far end illuminated by an ambient amber glow.

Inside was a trove of collected treasures, an elaborate display of a well travelled person, skulls of horned beasts and floor length embroidered wall hangings. Katz Orange was a dreamy split level space, good looking and charming. On paper the menu too read like a sure fire hit, familiar flavours like homely chicken cassoulet and equally comforting banana chocolate bread, something for everyone. Surely a place so beautiful would have food to match, expectations were high as we placed our order and waited to see what was between the Katz' ears.
It was a bad start as the waiting staff seemed to have disappeared entirely from the mezzanine level. After taking our food and drink requests we were left to our own devices, we were left thinking that we were maybe supposed to quench our thirst with the water in the flower vase or subdue our hunger by biting our nails as opposed to bread like folk on the surrounding tables.
After much head turning our yearning looks were finally met with something edible. A canoe like bowl filled to the brim with golden crunchy chips and our two sauces. Although we had to coax our waiter into coming round to the fact that one was in fact not what we ordered, anyway they were both tasty, a heady curry and saffron mayo and creamy remoulade. Despite the very hearty portion of chips our mains were leaning towards dainty with my dining companions looking questionably patched together by a heavy handed waiter. Although no negatives were used to describe the dish no words of sweet amour either, I always think it a shame in any circumstance to just provoke a ho hum response. My champignon mousse and tatsoi salad, admittedly looked a picture, jellies of earthy mushrooms and twirls of enoki, a pleasant mix of textures and flavours.

We were now half way through our meal and still without wine, when pointing this out my most loathed response followed; a blank stare with an empty line of words with a distinct lack of an apology. It did however make it in perfect timing as a digestif. There was a questionable amount of substance to Katz Orange's style. The food was a mixed bag, nothing urkingly disconcerting but it did seem odd to get chips as a side to a dehydrated crumb and micro herbed main. But the main flaw was Katz Orange's choice of company, no matter of your beauty the company you keep can define you, that night we were subjected to service laced in irreverence and tardiness.   Saying that like a butterfly to the flame I would chance it all again, to be amongst beautiful things but will just come with the knowledge that the dishes may not come with a smile and the drinks may not come at all.


B L N - Bread and Butter

It's tradeshow season in the fashion world. First stop for me was Berlin, visiting the monster of a show Bread and Butter and taking in as many of the myriad of boutiques and concept stores of the city, with an essential coffee stop or two in order to thaw out. What we enjoyed less was being delayed by 11 hours on our return to the snow ridden Heathrow, thank God for Green and Black's hazelnut and raisin and the simple pleasures of Playmobil! Here's my trip in pictures...
Kicking off the day the best way possible at Cafe Hilde.
Cafe Hilde florals.
Bread and Butter time. In typical Berlin style utilizing their incredible disused buildings,
the show is bi annually held in this old airport.
Loved these porcelain animal rings by Nach Jewellery.
Show lights.
Cool kicks from new season Adidas.
Whilst doing the shops we stumbled across a local glasses shop, with THE best glasses, check out the pterodactyl at the back!
Loved the new collection by Julian Zigerli. Marble print neoprene, yes please!
Show snackette.
Innovative installation by Dominic Wilcox

Insane glasses.
Unresistable stripes by Orcival.
Tasty cakes at Kaffee Mitte, defrosting stop.
Outside the show.
Best shop in Berlin; a local corner shop selling Coca Cola, instant coffee and life size dog statues.
S- bahn station colour palette
Dizzying heights at the Holiday Inn!
Cosy corner at Katz Orange, a debatable dinner  but incredible surrounding, review to come...
Hours of entertainment sorted at Tegel Airport!