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4 posts from September 2009

17 September 2009

Rosh Hashanah 2009

A happy and healthy new year to everyone reading - and those not reading as well of course.

If you've not got a clue why you are receiving these felicitations at this time of year you should read this and then this.

And of course, well over the fast.

I'll update on the home-brined salt beef next week - let's just hope I haven't poisoned anyone and / or it hasn't gone off before I cook it.

13 September 2009

Not letting sleeping dogs lie

To rehash an old argument, if a blogger had got a top chef to cook for them for the sole purpose of writing a review on a restaurant that isn't yet in existence, it would have caused a right hoo-ha. There is no way any of us could replicate this meal as it is a one off specifically requested by Giles so he could write a review.  It also reignites the hoary issue of the anonymity of reviewers. 

Nonetheless, it did suitably whet my appetite for my imminent dinner at La Tainte Claire so I guess everyone wins: Giles for getting the master's attention and what sounds like a fantastic meal, the restaurant for the PR and the diner for being on tenterhooks. 

It reminds me that yes reviewers on national papers are in a priveleged position and no they may not experience the same meal as us.  But it doesn't make their copy worthless or any less interesting.

11 September 2009

Apple & black pepper sorbet

This sorbet is a very good foil to a rich Rosh Hashanah lunch - or any time you've eaten far too much rich dense food.  At the end of such a large meal you want something refreshing.  The spiciness of the pepper helps remind your tongue to wake-up.

Makes just under 1L of sorbet.

  • 1L medium / dry apple juice (I quite like Duskin Farm's Bramley apple juice)
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 1 lemon - juiced
  • 200 ml water
  • 5 peppercorns crushed - I find ground peppercorns just disappear

As with all sorbets it's pretty darn easy.

Combine all the ingredients in a pan and heat for about 20mins.  It will come to a boil, but try to keep it at a simmer rather than rolling boil - you don't want too much to evaporate.

Place it in the fridge to cool thoroughly.

Then if you're using an ice-cream machine, follow its instructions for making sorbet.  With my machine, that basically means turning the freezer unit on to get it cold, then putting the syrup in the bowl to churn for around 30-40 minutes.

If you don't have an ice-cream machine, put the cooled syrup in a container that can go in the freezer and keep an eye on it - every hour or so - and scrape the surface with a fork to break-up the ice-crystals.  Eventually the whole lot will freeze, but not into a solid block, which will happen if you don't scrape. 

I find this method ends up more like granita than sorbet, that is, larger chunks of ice.  My preference is for a smoother sorbet, but each to their own.

02 September 2009

Ginger & White

Hampstead.  As place names go, it's pretty evocative: money, culture, the Heath, swimming ponds, miscreant ministers, European fishermen.

Yet this money and culture does not buy good food.  Jin Kichi does fairly good sushi and The Horseshoe is a solid gastropub.  But the majority of the restaurants in 'the village' are chains, ditto for the cafes. 

I can't help but feel ever so slightly embarrassed eating in Hampstead.  It's like farting at a dinner party.  Whilst the act itself might make you feel a bit better, you feel dirty and sullied and frankly you've darkened an otherwise enjoyable occasion.  Restaurants are Hampstead's festering, suppurating wart that lie hidden beneath the Hermes scarf.

It was with a high degree of certainty therefore that I was able to argue with Gemma at BouTea (very good tea by the way, in Covent Garden, not Hampstead) that no, there wasn't a really good new coffee shop in Perrin's Walk that sold handmade cakes and Square Mile Coffee.  I pointed out that she was confusing a rather non-descript greasy spoon on Perrin's Walk and Gail's, the very commercial purveyor-of-excellent-chelsea-buns on Hampstead High Street. 

Turns out Gemma was spot-on.  It's not often I'm so catastraphocially wrong and it's rather depressing when I am.  But she was right.

Ginger & White is, it has to be said, an almost perfect, relaxing, if rather self-consciously trendy cafe on Perrin's Walk.  And they serve Square Mile coffee and Montezuma chocolate. 

Writing this I'm suddenly struck by a mixture of guilt and reticence.  I realise I've only had toast and coffee there - lots of both, but still that's it - and a bit of yoghurt and fruit.  Can I give the place a fair outing?  Maybe the cakes taste like poo.  The home-smoked baked beans might just be Heinz a la fag. 

But the coffee was very good and the toast was pretty fine as toast goes.  And there's the peanut butter.  It's homemade.  They add some honey.  And kids turn away now, it's FUCKING AMAZING.  Seriously good.  There is no bread on this earth that can't be improved with lashings of the stuff.  Actually, sod the toast and ignore anyone watching you, just use your pinkie.

I imagine making peanut butter is not tricky, but how many people go to the effort?  It says a lot that the Ginger & White bods do, almost enough to allow me to stop here and ignore the fact I haven't worked my way through the menu.

At last, there is somewhere in Hampstead that is not an embarrassment. Sir Arthur would have approved.

Google maps

Ginger & White, 4a Perrins Court, London, NW3 1QS, UK
Tel: +44 (0)20 7431 9098