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9 posts from September 2008

29 September 2008

High Tea of Highgate

High Tea is one of those rare things - a simple concept, mixed with a bit of conceit, that works very well. 

The concept is that everyone loves a decent cuppa and great cake.  The conceit is the 1930s theme that runs from the staff's dress through to the website (ooh the irony) and the music being played on the very funky speaker system - shouldn't that be a gramophone?

Could be very naff, but as I say, it all works well. 

The cakes are made fresh every day by proprietor Georgina Worthington. Georgina can do things with a bit of sponge and butter icing that the rest of can only dream about.  Over the last few months I have tasted a disturbingly wide variety of her produce, including cupcakes (hmm), fruit cake (hmmm), and millionaire's short bread (hmmmm). 

I'm not simply trying to do a Homer Simpson impression.  The produce is seriously good.

I hope that the current financial crisis, which will inevitably hit the restaurant trade badly, will only prove to be a positive for Georgina and her team.  First, there's the theory that in times of economic hardship we revert to comfort food?  It doesn't get much more comforting than this.

Second, there's much less probability of a chancer waving a wodge of readies in Georgina's face and convincing her that what she really needs to do is roll-out the concept.  I appreciate that like any business, she's there to make a profit, but turning it into a chain would make High Tea a very different beast.  That we know all the cakes are made daily by the lady serving us, makes it all the more enjoyable, especially as they're as good as this. 

Google Maps

High Tea, 50 Highgate High St, Highgate, London, N6 5HX, UK
Tel: +44 (0)20 8348 3162

What others think

At the moment, I can't find anything relevant, will update when I do.

28 September 2008

Rosh Hashanah 2008

A happy and healthy New Year to all my readers - Jewish or otherwise.  And well over the fast - I'm guessing that bit will only be relevant for my Jewish readers!

Browning onions

This is a brilliant video - amusing and informative - that explains how a pinch of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) can make all the difference when frying onions. It's a useul lesson in the importance of the Maillard Reaction.

You can read the full post relating to the video at blog.khymos.org.

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26 September 2008

Baking Friday / Sourdough September

I'm attending a sourdough baking class being given by Dan Lepard today.

Dan rarely holds classes in the UK so it seemed like a fantastic opportunity - especially as it was bought for me as a very generous birthday present.

Long-time readers will know the high esteem I hold Dan in - listen to my podcast with him here - and so I'm really excited by the prospect of the day ahead. I was thinking about trying to live blog or twitter the day, but swiftly nixed the idea as I just want to learn. I'll try to write it up later.

23 September 2008

Bea's free coffee

Next Tuesday, 30 September you can get the shakes for free at Bea's of Bloomsbury. Bea's is a very pretty cafe and bakery on an otherwise non-descript stretch of Theobald's Road.

It is notable because they are one of a few outlets that sells (or in this case gives away) coffee from Square Mile Roasters.

I've now had a chance to taste Square Mile Roasters' coffee and it's pretty special. I've had both the bog standard espresso at Bea's and the espresso blend they produce just for Flat White/The Milk Bar, and both were very good. I particularly enjoyed the fruitiness of the Flat White version. I can't actually remember the one from Bea's that well - I had it sometime last week. Nonetheless, I reckon free coffee's from Square Mile is a winner, whichever blend you're being offered.

16 September 2008

Aiden Byrne's book & web TV show

The highlight of a recent book buying bonanza was getting my mits on Aiden Byrne's Made in Great BritainI ate at his restaurant earlier this year and had a fantastic time.  He is great chef and a lovely guy, very down to earth.  According to his biog he was the youngest chef to a win a Michelin star in the UK.  Having met him a couple of times and eaten his food, I'm fairly certain this won't be the last of his accolades.

Tonight was the launch of the book and his publshers have done him proud.  The book looks lovely, is sturdy and is well laid out.

The essays on producers are de rigeur these days, but it's not so common to get such good recipes.  They read beautifully and thankfully are not dumbed-down viz Cod with Borlotti Beans and Vanilla or Loin of Lamb with Curried Lambs' Kidneys and Mangoes.  However, some are pretty straightforward, such as the Braised Veal Shin with only eight ingredients - including salt and pepper.  This is a book to own if you aspire to be, or are, a good cook - home or professional.

I learned tonight that Byrne is walking a well trodden path of the book being a TV tie-in, but with a twist.  The TV programme is going to be published on the internet and availble as a video podcast on iTunes. 

It's a genius of an idea.  I'm sure he'd have wanted a full on TV deal, but I think this is a great step forward.  Users can watch the bits of the podcast they want, they can skip to relevant recipes, they can forward content to friends and comment on it.  I hope more chefs follow his lead so that those of us cooking at home aren't tied to our TV screens to consume decent food programmes. 

You can download the full first the first show here.  The clip below is a 3 min excerpt from the programme.

12 September 2008

Ferran Adrià comes to London

Ferran Adrià. Spanish chef in

Image via Wikipedia

As part of the tour for his forthcoming book, A Day at elBulli, Ferran Adrià is subjecting himself to a grilling from Observer restaurant critic, Jay Rayner. 

The talk, followed by questions from the audience, is being held at the Southbank Centre on Monday 24th November.  Tickets are now available to purchase here.