Just discovered Europe’s first popcorn boutique. It’s called POP and the flavours look amazing! It’s just off Portobello Road in London… and I can’t wait to get myself down there. Watch this space for some popcorn reviews!
I’m rather partial to a bit of smoked salmon (it also tends to feature heavily in my starter choices in restaurants) and I indulged recently with some elaborate sounding smokes from Marks and Spencer: Single Malt Whisky Scottish Lochmuir Smoked Salmon and Oak and Applewood Smoked Salmon. With them both in my possession, it would have been wrong not to conduct a little taste testing session of my own…
First up was the Single Malt Whisky smoke and it was de-LISH-us! It had an elegant smokey taste and an unusual depth of flavour, which I can only imagine comes from the whisky (I am no expert). It felt light, had a mild dryness texture (which I see as a good thing, rather than greasy, wet, flabbiness) and a lovely colour. It wasn’t perfection but it was pretty bang on for a supermarket buy.
Next up was the Oak and Applewood Smoked Salmon… pinker in colour, it lacked the depth of flavour of the Single Malt Whisky Smoked Salmon and also had just a small tinge of flabbiness to it. It was a little thicker and chewier than its cohort, but overall it was ok and I would still definitely buy it again over some of the rubbish that you find in supermarkets.
So, next time you’re in M&S and faced with the choice of which salmon to buy – definitely go for the Single Malt Whisky Smoked Salmon – and then slap some on a sesame bagel with some butter, pepper and lemon juice – mmmm.
So after a Christmas full of overindulgence at every angle, I’m now on a mission to eat a bit healthier and lighter – for January at least (and maybe only on weekdays). I recently turned to Nigel (Slater) for a bit of inspiration – not that he is exactly known for his fat-busting recipes, but I thought he may have some good ideas on making simplicity and lightness taste good. And as always, Nigel came through with a winter salad which I have taken, amended (for quicker cooking and for fat reduction) and am handing to you now. Good and healthy and long may it continue (until February at any rate).
Frozen soya beans
Smoked mackerel (I prefer the peppered version)
Spring onion (1-2 per person)
I’m not putting quantities here because it’s effectively a salad, a load of fresh ingredients thrown together, and it seems ridiculous to weigh it all out. So defrost in the microwave as many soya beans and peas as you fancy eating (put them in the same bowl – they’ll defrost at the same time and although the soya beans are bigger, they will retain a little ‘bite’ if they are cooked for the same time as the peas), shred as much smoked mackerel as you fancy eating, chop the spring onion, soften it in a little olive oil, when this is done, add the beans, peas and smoked mackerel to heat through, tip it all out on a plate and there you go.
New Year’s Eve was spent at Shoreditch House in London with my group of friends tucking into, amongst other things, a superb example of how roast rib of beef should be done.
I’ve been on a break. It’s been a bit of a long break and although I could make excuses, I won’t. However I’ve been inspired to return to my blogging ways, and the source of my inspiration was a certain new restaurant in town – Flat Iron.
Flat Iron started life as a pop up in London this summer, and after a successful stint in this format, has found itself a more permanent home on Beak Street in Soho. The concept behind Charlie Carroll’s (ex-Wahaca adviser), Flat Iron, is that good steak shouldn’t have to be expensive. And to this end, after scouring the country for decent cuts of meat from decent animals from decent suppliers, Flat Iron hit on their namesake – the flat iron steak – which is a cut of steak (a little bit of desktop research tells me) that has, up until recently, been relatively unknown and relatively unused – due to the way that it is cut (with the grain, rather than cross grain) and tough connective tissue that runs through it. Universities in the US have spent time looking into the best way of cutting and presenting the meat – the conclusion of their research being what we now know as the flat iron steak (but AKA butlers’ steak in the UK and oyster blade steak in the lands of the Antipodes) – so called because of its resemblance in shape and size to an old fashioned flat iron. The flat iron cut is becoming popular because it can be used to sell a less expensive steak, from a more expensive animal (e.g. kobe or Wagyu). At Flat Iron they serve rare British beef breeds such as the Devon Red and White Park.
Anyway, butchery lesson over, the menu at Flat Iron is a lesson in simplicity. For £10 you can have a flat iron steak and salad (lambs leaf with dressing, served in a small glass), a choice of 4 £3 sides and a choice of 4 £1 sauces. It’s recommended that the steak is cooked medium rare – requests to have it rarer than that were ignored (and quite rightly so it turns out).
I’d like to say that the star of the show was the steak itself. However I feel it has to share the stage with the side of chips fried in duck fat, which were AH-MAY-ZING – quite honestly the best chips I’ve had in a long time (I’d like to say, ever, but I might not be doing triple-cooked chips of Heston-fame enough justice).
We also had a side of roasted aubergine (good) and a side of salad with blue cheese, pecan nuts and candied lemon (really good). But the main event was obviously the steak that presented before us and to be eaten with a mini butcher’s knife (which was actually unessential as it had been sliced into bite sized pieces anyway). The meat, however, was lovely – maybe it had a bit of chewiness/toughness to it that you wouldn’t get off, say, arump steak, but there was pleasure in chewing this steak, because every chew emitted another burst of steaky loveliness into your mouth. And this was all washed down by a carafe of delicious red wine.
I really cannot fault the food here – hence why I’ve been inspired into blogging again. Not only that, but I’ve been recommending this place to everyone since I’ve been and I’m beginning to sound like a broken record. So here at least I can say it once, and tell you all.
As is the current trend in London at the moment, you can’t book a table at Flat Iron and given that I went on a Monday, not that many people have heard about the joint yet and it was 90% full, I think there will be times when a bit of queuing action will be needed. Having said that, there is a bar in the basement for you to refresh yourself whilst you wait. And it’s definitely worth the wait.