Archive | December, 2010

Friday Feasting – Part 1

19 Dec

Stumbling through Borough Market at the crack of dawn I wondered whose bright idea it was to have breakfast at 9.30am – a whole half hour before my usual working day would start. And that is what I announced loudly as I positioned myself at the head of the table so that I could have a clear view of my work colleague’s breakfast choices and thus being able to aptly judge their character (MUESLI! They’ll never go far).  

This was the first of two work Christmas socials I would be having that day. Breakfast at Roast followed by dinner at RSJ (after our original plans to go to Baltic fell through). Working in two different departments can be tough. I found it necessary to take charge of where we should eat on at least one of these occasions, you know, just in case they were both awful, so Roast was my idea. I had been about a year before with my mother and we both thoroughly enjoyed a Full English, but I strongly remember the stab of food envy as I noticed a glistening pile of orangey yellow scrambled eggs on another person’s plate.

With that image imprinted in my mind I skimmed through the menu not wanting to be tempted by anything else, but of course I was. Not bread sauce this time but the promise of hollandaise sauce that would come with Eggs Benedict. “Small or large?” the waiter asked. I thought the most appropriate way to answer this question would be to throw my cup of scalding English Breakfast tea in his face, but being merciful I said “Does anyone ever actually really order the small?” He took my point and moved on.

Two baskets of toast were positioned on the table with a selection of jams presented on mini dishes. As lovely as this idea was it meant that I could only have one slice with marmalade. Disaster. Luckily my breakfast didn’t take long to arrive and as soon as it was placed in front of me I dipped the tip of my knife into the hollandaise and transferred the sauce to my tongue. Delight! It was sharp yet creamy and light and full of air! With the precision of a surgeon with a scalpel, I slit open one of the plump poached eggs and the bright yolk literally ejaculated on to my plate – I almost did with it.

Within minutes I had cleared my plate and my index finger made quick work of any drops left on the china. I took a moment to survey the rest of the party – no one was even near finished! Almost everyone else had gone for a tattie scone option which did look pretty good, but I am pleased to say that I was able to sit back in my seat with a superior feeling of smugness.

 I am also pleased to say that the only judging I had to do was confined to the one vegetarian at the table who did redeem herself somewhat by choosing the breakfast which included the most food.

Roast
Borough Market
Borough High Street London SE1 1TL
http://www.roast-restaurant.com/

The Florence – Herne Hill

16 Dec

Last week it was a friend’s birthday and this friend thought that the best way to celebrate this birthday would be to eat food. I like the way you think, I thought, as I received an email inviting me to join her at The Florence for a nice bit of pub grub. So with that I found myself on Sunday afternoon in Herne Hill opening the door of The Prince Regent and wondering why I couldn’t see her sat anywhere (just a small example of my poor sense of direction). Waving goodbye to the drunk man sat outside I walked further down the road to be greeted by a far more personable kind of pub – flattering lighting and attractive people in their early 30s. It still took a lap and a half round the room and a scouring of a sort of family communal eating area before I managed to find the birthday girl – hello!

I settled down by a radiator and a waitress quickly took my drink order. With the promise of some home-brewed beer I demanded that she bring me a pint. She informed me that they brewed some ale called Weasel. Or Beaver. I don’t remember. Not because I drank too much of it, no. There is something about ale that means I find it near impossible to finish a glass. I enjoy drinking it but it seems to take on the quality of a magical bottomless drink so that after an hour I am left with three quarters of a glass of luke warm amber liquid. I’ll take three generous gulps and yet it doesn’t seem to make a difference – the cup will always be three quarters full. So I just don’t remember the name because I forgot to remember it.

The menu had a selection of roast meats on offer. Usually I would aim for something that was once a cow and would potentially arrive on my plate rare and oozing blood. But something else caught my eye. Something too good to turn down. Those magic words – BREAD SAUCE. Like a souffle or lobster bisque, if bread sauce is on the menu I have to order it. I know it is isn’t even the main part of the dish but when something can be as comforting and delicious as bread sauce always is, who cares? So the fact that it came with roast chicken was a non issue. I rarely see the point of ordering chicken when the other meats on offer are generally far more exciting, but with bread sauce it would be like opening the doors to Narnia in my mouth.

The food arrived quite quickly. I had a yorkshire pudding about the size of my head balancing precariously on the top of my plate. Good start so far. As soon as I could get a hold of it I took the yorkshire in one hand looked for the bread sauce. There was a rather disconcerting lump of dry crumbs and onion lurking in the corner of the plate – although definitely made out of bread there was a distinct lack of sauce like quality to it. Holding back tears I realised this was my lot. Emitting loud sighs I ate my yorkshire like I would an apple while I prodded at the mound of dry with a fork. When I finally brought myself round to trying it I was pleased with the flavour, but the missing wet did mean that I was unable to enjoy it as I should.

The real winner of this dish was the chicken. They gave me a portion which I struggled to finish (always a win in my book) and it was moist allllll the way through. Despite it being under seasoned, the meat was full of flavour and tender.

Never one to turn down a pudding I was ready to order some apple and blackberry crumble with custard but everyone else seemed to be ordering coffee or putting on their coats and leaving. Not to risk feeling self-conscious by stuffing my face and probably making odd groaning sounds, my boyfriend and I decided to head off in search of another dessert. We went to Gail’s in Clapham Junction which sells the best chocolate chip cookies this world has ever seen. Rather than go with the familiar, we spent £7 on a coconut and chocolate loaf cake. Accompanied by a nice hot mug of tea it didn’t stop being as dry as the proverbial bone and nothing could wash away the overriding taste of sugar. At least the tea was good.

If I have learnt anything about the Sunday just past it is not to order a dish just because bread sauce is part of it. Saying that, old habits die hard. I can’t ever imagine changing my ways.

The Florence
131-133 Dulwich Road London SE24 0NG
http://www.capitalpubcompany.com/the-florence/

Feed me.

8 Dec

After a pretty depressing day at work, which involved a 20 minute phone conversation to a man who wanted to  book two tickets to a play whilst discussing his drinking problem at length, I trundled home feeling rather sorry for myself. On the short walk to my house from the tube station, my feet began to take me the long route home past the various restaurants that adorn Stroud Green Road. As always when I am feeling low, I will automatically find myself at a place that sells food that is ready to jump straight into my mouth and digest happily in my stomach. Today I popped into a local pizza place and ordered an Americana and took a few extra moments to choose a side dish of deep-fried mozzarella balls. I rushed my hot goodies home and tucked into my soggy pizza and slurped on the scalding oil that burst from the centre of the under seasoned mozzarella balls. Mmm. All the same, my spirits were lifted because buying food and eating it is my favourite pastime.

A couple of hours later I found myself having a moan over Facebook with a friend about how unmotivated I am at the moment and he told me to start a food blog. He is not the only person who has told me to do this actually – I appear to talk about food a lot it seems – but even so, for reasons unknown to me, his were the words which has actually got me to do it. So here I am at 11.54 on a cold Wednesday night typing up my first entry and wondering how on earth I change my blog title (and what a blog title is even?). So here is my attempt to share with you my thoughts on the food that I eat and the places I choose to eat food in. I might even thrown in a grainy photo of a delectable desert or mundane main from time to time.

There isn’t much more to say about my earlier meal other than I ate most of the pizza rather too quickly and fed rest of the mozzarella balls to my mother, but as Christmas comes up I am booked up with various social events all to take place in different restaurants so I will leave you with a teaser of what is to come…

The Florence Pub in Herne Hill – will Naomi drink too much of their home-brewed ale to remember to blog about it the next day?

AND

Breakfast at Roast followed by dinner at Baltic – when two work socials collide on one day – will Naomi be able to finish her meal? (Probably.)