Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Oh dear lord

Is this article food writing or food porn? There is a very fine line. Whatever, I'm going home to make me some cake...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Sunday Roast at The Lexington

This was actually at The Castle where we went afterwards, but who doesn't love a bit of jenga??
Waking up on Sunday morning after Saturday's picnic, I realised why having your cake and eating it might not always be a great idea. It feels great at the time, but the next day you are left with a wooly head and an inability to fit into your favourite pair of jeans.

Most weekends, this combination alone would be enough to send me scurrying back to bed for another few hours kip but this Sunday there were more important things to be done - namely Sunday roast at The Lexington.

It was Farzana's birthday, and like the true food lover she is, she picked a cracking culinary destination to gather her nearest and dearest. The Lexington's Sunday Roast had been on my hit list for a while but I hadnt made it until now.

Lets cut to the chase. The roast is what I signed up for and the roast is what we're interested in. Although myself and Alex were slightly disappointed by our supposedly rare beef that erred well on the side of 'medium' the rest of the meal was faultless. The beef was meltingly tender and accompanied by crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside roast potatoes, crackily yorkshire puds and enough fennily spiced red cabbage and pumpkin to satisfy the most ardent veggie lover. Plus there was lashings of gravy ready and waiting to be soaked up by the duck-fat roasted potatoes.

The vegetarians out there will be delighted to hear that the sweet potato and cashew nut roast won an accolade of mmmns and aahs from the three veggies at the table - unlike other 'veggie' roasts, it too comes with all the trimmings, so you're not missing out.

I have a feeling the guys at The Lexington know a thing or two about the day after the having your cake and eating it day as they've cannily called their Sunday session the Hangover Lounge. Punters can nurse their heads and stomachs to the DJed sounds of super-chilled reggae, ska and other gentle tunes whilst reading the Sunday papers. We like muchly.

Waiting rating: OK - You order at the bar, and it was fairly quiet when we arrived so not much potential for terrible service. Food was served quite quickly and extra gravy requests were met obligingly
Scoffing potential: Very high. Vegetarians and meat devourers are in their element here.
Wallet buddy: Standard - between £9 to £13 for the roasts
The crowd: Everyone and anyone - Islington's cool crowd and those who have dragged themselves from their beds to cure their hangover
Entertainment: A DJ with chilled out choons and Sunday papers. Bliss.

96-98 Pentonville Road, London, N1 9JB
020 7837 5371

How do you feel about Giles Coren's article - do you get incredibly annoyed when people take photographs of their food in a restaurant? Is it the kind of thing that makes you see red and spit fire?

Giles Coren slates food bloggers

I'll have my cake and eat it thanks: Lemon cupcake big cake

Eddie looks like he made the cake non?

In some kind of freak miracle, anyone living in the UK would have noticed that two out of the last three weekends were sunny. Not just sunny but quite hot - and what better reason than hot weather to create another picnic in the park situation?
Fun as the five hour picnic food cooking marathon of two weeks ago was, I was feeling a little fragile this Saturday. Thanks to a late night (read midnight) barbie down at General Kershaws and many many cocktails at our fave bar Anam the night before and an early morning spent hauling my wardobe into the new pad, the idea of cooking up a massive feast made me feel a little queasy. Plus I was feeling so grim that it was touch and go whether I would actually want to eat any food anyway.

And then I clapped my eyes on the Primrose cupcake recipe book I had been given for my birthday. Here was the perfect solution - something with not too much slaving in the kitchen but that would promise a dliciously sweet, delectable treat that would go down fantastically in the summer sun.

The promise was delivered - an hour later we were basking in the sun having filled our stomachs with Jessica's highly recommended daal and pitta and nibbling on small slices of lemony delight. These go perfectly with a thirst-quenchingly cold g&t with lots of lime - a veritable citrus explosion.

Thing's hadnt gone quite as swimmingly as I'd anticipated - when do they ever - the rescent move saw me make the unforgiveable transgression of leaving my cupcake tray back at the 'rents, something that I only realised after I'd whipped up the mixture. Hence the cupcakes became a big cake.

But it all worked out in the end - judging from the speed with which the cake was consumed. After that, there wasnt much to do but listen to the more talented members of the group strum and sing, play a shambolic attempt at frisbee (shambolic on my part anyway), gossip and remember what it is that makes weekends so damned fabulous.

Here is the recipe!

This is supposed to make 12 cupcakes but it made one larger cake pretty ok!

For the cake
110g unsalted butter at room temperature
225g caster sugar
2 large eggs
150g self raising flour
125g plain flour
90ml semi skimmed milk at room temperature
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
grated zest lemon

For the icing
110g unsalted butter at room temperature
2 tablespoons lemon juice
grated zest of lemon zest
500g icing sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees celsius (fan) or 180 degrees sans fan

Cream the butter and sugar until the pale and smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking for a few minutes each time.

Combine the two flours in a seperate bowl and combine the milk, lemon juice. Add one third of the flour to the butter and sugar mix, beat well, add one third of the milk and lemon juice and beat well. Repeat until all the flour and milk have been added, pop the grated lemon zest at the last minute.

Divide the mixture between the 12 cupcakes, filling them up to 2/3 mark. bake for 25 mins until slightly raised and golden brown.

Remove from the oven and take out and leave to cool. While leaving to cool, prepare the buttercream.

Mix the butter, lemon juice, lemon zest and half the icing sugar smooth - it can take a while, persist!

You can go two ways with the icing - you can ice in a manner fitting of a bakery i.e. gorgeous swirly pile of deliciousness or you can splodge on, it still tastes fabbo...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Anam: My favourite cocktail bar.

Courtesy of Shane

'All good things come in small packages' or so the saying goes. Normally I scoff at this age-old adage, dismissing it as a get-out clause frequently rolled out by short people. It's like saying I'm small so I must be good. Snigger.

When it comes to my favourite cocktail bar, tucked away on Chapel Market in Angel, I have to admit it's a point well made. With seating for only 15 people upstairs and around 20 downstairs, Anam is small but perfectly formed. This alone isn't anything special - what makes it my favourite cocktail bar is the amazing barman. Winter or summer, rain, snow or shine he will greet you with a smile, a friendly 'how are you', some excellent banter and proceed to make your favourite cocktail with minimum fuss and maximum efficiency.

Last week was a bit of a shocker; I saw the new SATC movie and it was awful. No matter how much I loved the series, even maybe the first movie, there is no escaping the fact that the second one is a shocker. I was heartbroken.

As if that wasn't enough, the boy I was dating mysteriously disappeared off of the face of the earth, which is always a bit gutting. What do you do in that situation? When you go on your fifth date, which you think went quite well and then nothing? Not even a courteous It's not you, it's me message?

So far as I can see, there are only a number of options available to you. If you give him a call and he picks up the phone do you say - err so I was just wondering what happened to you for the last 8 days?

If you call and he doesn't pick up do you take it a step further and call from a friend's number to see if he picks up then and quickly hang up the phone (in the manner of a semi-stalker) if he does? Or do you not call and instead blindly hope that he has been struck down by a bus and is currently in the throes of amnesia but is mumbling your name whilst in hospital and his mother is trying to figure out who this mysterious Julianna girl is?

I opted for the latter, and a catchup over cocktails - the best salve to love life problems I've discovered to date. There is nothing that a good gossip and a sip of something fruity cannot cure... So Anam it was. Browsing through the gargantuan menu is half the fun here - there are drinks on this list you would never have dreamt of as well as old favourites.

Dubious as it sounds, they also make the best Long Island Iced Tea, turning it from a horrible confection of gut-rotting spirits savoured by fake-burburry lovers in the local 'Spoons into a far classier (who'd have thought?) balance of flavours deliciously offset by a generous squeeze of lime. And there's an outdoor seating area in the summer, which is great for watching the rather random life of Chapel Market go by. Boy, what boy?

3 Chapel Market
Islington, London N1 9EZ
020 7278 1001

This is the first of three posts - watch out for the next two tomorrow!