Monthly Archives: July 2009

The humble baked potato

Delicious baked potato

Delicious baked potato

Pretty gloomy day at work. Needed carbohydrates when I got home. Did baked potatoes the proper way, an hour and a half in a medium oven. Squeezed it and I thought it wasn’t done as it was rock hard but as the skin cracked I realised that it was just the crisp carapace that was hard, inside was poetically fluffy. Served it with butter and maldon salt. Cheered me up a bit…

Louis Patisserie Hampstead

Cakes at Louis

Cakes at Louis

Prepare yourself for a treat! If you have been to Louis in Hampstead then you will know what I’m talking about but if you have never been before like I hadn’t on Saturday you are in for a wonderful experience. Louis Patisserie is on Heath Street in Hamstead. It’s a Hungarian Patisserie, wood panelled and leather benched bursting with character. We ordered tea for three which came in lovely silver teapots with extra hot water and the tea is proper leaf tea which tasted wonderful. The choice of cakes is brought for your perusal on a crowded tray with the cakes slotted together neatly. The waitress seemed to know all the choices though my friends vanilla slice turned out to be solid cream in the middle rather than the expected custard. My caramel gateau was really good. Layers of chocolate cake with chocolate butter cream in between and sticky caramel on the top. Service was unhurried and friendly and its the sort of place thats nice to linger and enjoy the hushed conversations. Can’t wait to go back.

Score 9/10

Base Bistro in Hampstead

Halloumi at Base

Halloumi at Base

On Saturday went with two friends for a wander to Hampstead Heath. Caught the tube from Angel to Hampstead and felt immediately peckish. I was angling for Dim Sum and had already googled the address for Dim-T but my friends wanted a panini and we almost ended up in Starbucks but across the road was a friendly looking bistro with lots of gorgeous looking Hampsteadites sitting outside so we compromised there. We entered the impossibly narrow entrance dodging waitress with plates laden with beautifully fresh looking salads and took our seats. Looking at the menu nothing looked as good as the fresh salads piled temptingly on the counter so we opted for them. I had insalata tricolore, asparagus with soft boiled eggs and lovely squeaky halloumi cheese with tomato. This was washed down with a nice chilled sauvingnon blanc and a basket of bread. Cost was about £12 a head, excellent, we will be back

Score 8/10

Le Sacre Coeur Islington

My Entrecote Diane (sorry about the picture, terrible lighting and stupid iphone camera)

My Entrecote Diane (sorry about the picture, terrible lighting and stupid iphone camera)

Ive passed this bistro a couple of times on Theberton Street whilst trolling around the multitude of dining choices in Islington. On Friday night, a late train forced a late meal so we grabbed a table near the large opening windows and checked out the menu. The food was not was very traditional french classics such as snails, french onion soup with hearty meat and fish main courses. I had the entrecote diane whilst Rich had the lamb. Service was brisk and vaguely friendly, the food arrived worryingly quickly but it was actually very good. My entrecote was cut very thin but was cooked extremely well and the sauce wasnt too rich to overpower. Sides were green beans, roast potatoes and spinach, all very well cooked. Not much of a review I’m afraid, we came, we had a main course, we left. Not even a pud. When I got home I scoffed half a box of Leonidas truffles so I guess I’m not that much of a saint. Will have to return to the restaurant to give it a proper work out but it looks quite promising.

Score 7.5/10

Wednesday Night Tuna

Defrosted a tuna steak last night and tried to decide what to do with it. Mad with myself as I left my sandwiches in the fridge again today. Baked a baguette and put dolcelatte, parma ham, spinach and olive oil dressing. Ended up with a Sainsburys meal deal. Anyway remembered a recipe I did once in Sheffield for friends which accompanied the tuna steak with pasta and a twangy salsa.

Recipe follows Care of Independent Newspapers

Tuna steak with sweet peppers, tomatoes and lime

Main course: Serves 4

Tuna with Sweet Peppers and Lime

Tuna with Sweet Peppers and Lime

2 tbsp olive oil
4 shallots, finely chopped
1 red pepper and 1 yellow pepper, stem, ribs and seeds removed
1tbsp red wine vinegar
1 firm dark green lime, grated rind (no pith) and 2tsp juice
2tsp sugar
4 firm, ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tuna steaks, weighing about 175g each
about 16 basil leaves, torn up

Heat half the oil in a medium saucepan and soften the shallots in it for 5 minutes. Cut the peppers into 1cm dice, add to the pan and cook gently, covered, for 10 minutes. Add the vinegar, lime rind, lime juice and sugar. Cook a further 5 minutes, uncover and let the liquid evaporate. This should only take 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook under the lid for a further 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and season lightly with salt. You can make this ahead up to this point.

Meanwhile, heat the grilling pan to very hot. Brush the steaks with some of the remaining oil, season with salt and pepper, and cook for a couple of minutes each side, depending on how thick they are. This would be sufficient for a thickness of 15mm. Tuna is much better cooked rare, like (beef) steak.

Have the sauce very hot and stir in the basil leaves. Place a tuna steak on each of 4 plates and pour the sauce around, finishing off with the remaining olive oil.

Plain pasta tossed in olive oil would be good with this.

The Humble Harrods Pie

** Update ** Lots of pastry so mash would be an overload. Ended up stir frying mushrooms and baby courgettes with plenty of salt pepper and flat leaf parsley. Was yummy. Made a dry martini as well. Making a cocktail for one is so goddamn decadent!  Hmm wheres that Green and Black white chocolate ice cream with raspberries.

Cor! What a beauty! Tonights meal will be built around this wonderful Steak and Damson pie from Harrods. *TIP* head down there on a Sunday as they price them all down. Yes! I was shocked too, even Harrods do end of day pricedowns. I hovered around a whole Fois Gras too but the counter assistant wouldn’t budge. Am not sure what to put with this crisp crusted delight but going by previous constructions it will probably involve a big dollop of mash, some asparagus and some carrots.

Harrods Pie

Harrods Steak and Damson Pie

Yo Sushi Leicester

So, my first restaurant post. It seems apt to choose Yo Sushi as in some ways it marks how the dining scene in Leicester has taken a step up in the last year. I first ate at Yo Sushi about eight years ago in Harvey Nichols. I had watched with curiosity several times before taking the plunge and seating myself up at the bar. I had memorised the required etiquette and set out my little dishes with pickled ginger, soy and the addictive wasabi.

In some ways its the etiquette and spectacle of Yo Sushi that keeps me coming back. Sushi is one of those foodstuffs that along with guacamole, roasted belly pork and sour cream Pringles that cause cravings. And when the craving arises sometimes the anonymity of Yo Sushi is the best way to satisfy that craving.

Yo Sushi Leicester

Yo Sushi in Leicester is one of their typical small outlets. Designed around the central food preparation area with bar stool seating around half of the conveyor belt and half with booth seating. Upstairs are the restrooms. Service was friendly initially, my friends took a while to arrive but I was invited to sit up at the conveyor belt whilst I waited.

It was a Blue Monday special offer day so all plates on the conveyor belt were the blue plate price of £2.20. I couldn’t help noticing that a lot of green plate stuff was going around which was  a bit cheeky as the normal price is £1.85. We started with some lovely Miso soup and ordered some beer, wine and some hot items from the kitchen. The choice on the conveyor belt was a bit disappointing but we did try a very tasty seaweed salad, prawn nigiri, tuna sashimi and duck sushi with hoi sin sauce. All very acceptable, though a some salmon skin rolls were rather thick and impenetrable and weren’t very pleasant.

Service was rather slow, it looked like they weren’t ready for so many people as there was only one server. All in all a pretty ok small meal before we headed to the cinema but as always the cost spiraled up to about £20 a head even though we felt we just had a few snacks. Not bad though.

Score 5.5/10