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Sunday 26 July 2015

Barrafina - Balls & Company - Luxardo at Obica

Three more lovely London eateries ticked off this week (only a few hundred to go):

Monday 20th July - Despite visiting 900 odd food & drink places in the last two and a bit years, my London restaurant wishlist still has some big hitters on it - The Clove Club, Typing Room, Restaurant Story, Kitchen Table and Gymkhana to name a few.  

And then there's Barrafina.  Not only have I not been to the Michelin-starred Soho institution, the Barrafina boys have kindly added two more to my list with outposts on Adelaide Street and Drury Lane (which opened last Friday).  All three have entirely different menus full of tempting tapas plates (except for their Classic Tortilla) so I can't even claim a hat-trick in one visit! In order to stop the rot, I went along to their latest opening for a light lunch with Dad The List.

To cut a long story short, it was excellent. The service was friendly with Eddie Hart milling around in the background, and the plates were superb.  You can't really go wrong, but you shouldn't leave without getting something from their Tortillas Y Huevos section.  Our Pheasant Egg & Morcilla de Burgos (flavoured with cumin) on Toast (£6.50) was outrageously tasty - perhaps the first sign of #BarrafinaBrunch? Order it.

Elsewhere Courgette Flowers stuffed with Cream Cheese & Goat’s Cheese (£7.80) and Baby Gem with Botarga, Walnuts, Pancetta & Manchego (£6.80) impressed, whilst Raba de Toro / Oxtail stuffed with Pine Nuts, Walnuts and Leeks (£9.50) and Milk Fed Lamb Sweetbreads (£12.80) kept my nose-to-tail fan of a father happy.

Pheasant Egg & Morcilla de Burgos on Toast

Pheasant Egg & Morcilla de Burgos on Toast

Courgette Flowers stuffed with Cream Cheese & Goat’s Cheese

Baby Gem, Botarga, Walnuts, Pancetta & Manchego

Baby Gem, Botarga, Walnuts, Pancetta & Manchego

Ordering an extra dessert is standard Dad The List practice. We diplomatically shared Leche Frita (Fried Custard) with Plum Jam (£6.50) and Torrijas (French Toast) soaked in Cinnamon & Orange with Pistachios & Creme Fraiche Ice Cream (£6.80) before diving in to Cuajada - a pot of milk curd served simply with hazeulnuts on top and honeycomb on the side. Glorious stuff, if not as memorable as Ollie Dabbous' curd creation.

Torrijas - French Toast soaked in Cinnamon & Orange with Pistachios & Creme Fraiche Ice Cream

Leche Frita - Fried Custard with Plum Jam

It's the usual no reservations stuff I'm afraid, but the Drury Lane site is your best bet for avoiding queues currently.  Get over there for lunch (Monday to Saturday) when it opens at 12pm and take whatever seats are going!  Alternatively, email to book a private dining area on the lower ground floor for up to 28 guests.  I'm to visit the other two before they open another one...

Barrafina Drury Lane -

43 Drury Lane, Covent Garden, London

Monday-Saturday - 12-3 // 5-11

Square Meal

Click to add a blog post for Barrafina on Zomato


Wednesday 22nd July - From Barrafina to Balls and Company - Timeout's restaurant of the week was unsurprisingly busy, so I popped down to look at their basement bar space that will look after hungry Londoners until a table is free (much like in Pitt Cue Co & Flat Iron).

Cocktails are well priced at £7 - Malt'N'Monkey is a dangerously drinkable Manhattan on ice with a chocolate bitter twist, whilst Gin Dilla is, well, gin and dill, with salt and fresh lemon balm for complexity.  And then there's Company Iced Tea - a bonkers mix of red wine, Early Grey and orange infused vodka, raspberry, strawberry, agave and orange brúlée.  It's surprisingly well-balanced!

For some moody Balls & Co. shots in Black & White, head to Matt The Tumblr

Malt'N'Monkey - Whisky, Sweet Vermouth, Chocolate Bitters, Cherry Liqueur, Citrus Twist (£7)

Gin Dilla - Gin, Dill, Lemon Juice, Cucumber, Salt, Fresh Lemon Balm (£7)

Back upstairs, a complimentary bowl of ultra-thin, moreish parsnip crisps is the first sign that Balls & Company isn't a gimmick. Owner and head chef Bonny Porter (2012 Australian MasterChef Finalist) is the second.

Alright, at the heart of it there's a list of balls to choose between (served in fours with a sauce for £8), but you've also got sides and specials like Ricotta, Summer Peas & Pangrattato (£4) vying for attention. Our simple but sensational salad of Heirloom Tomato, Oregano & Balsamic Pearls (£4) threatened to steal the show. Mac'N'Cheese Arancini was always going to be a winner, though £7 is steep for four cheesy rice croquettes, even if they are served in an adorable little pan.

Mac’n’Cheese Arancini (£7)

Mac’n’Cheese Arancini (£7)

Heirloom tomato, oregano & balsamic pearls (£4)

Back to the balls, we went for Wagyu (served medium rare - £1 supplement) with a Romesco sauce of red pepper, tomato, almond, hazelnuts and garlic and Salmon with Dill and Seeds with a Pesto sauce consisting of basil, lemon, garlic and cashew nuts.  The meat and fish were beautifully cooked and seasoned, and satisfying sauces left room for the balls to shine.  I'll be back for Bonny's Pork Balls (with ricotta, parmesan, milk bread, pine nuts, basil & sage) along with the Quinoa with beetroot and feta that a trusted source recommends.

Wagyu balls (+£1 - £9) served medium rare (+1), with a Romesco sauce (red pepper, tomato, almond, hazelnuts & garlic)

Salmon balls (£8) with dill and seeds, with a Pesto sauce (basil, lemon, garlic, cashew nuts)

But wait, the show's not over.  Do not leave without getting yourself Bonny's Brownie served with Purbeck Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Persian Fairy Floss (£5).  Once we finished playing with Gandalf's hair, a serious dessert emerged underneath and then quickly vanished.

Brownie with Persian Fairy Floss, Purbeck vanilla bean ice cream (£5)

Brownie with Persian Fairy Floss, Purbeck vanilla bean ice cream (£5)

Balls & Company is a fine addition to the increasingly exciting north end of Greek Street that also boasts Bo Drake and marvellous Milroy's. Stumble in to the shambolic New Evaristo Club at the end of it all and you've got yourself quite an evening!

Balls & Company -

58 Greek Street, Soho, London, W1D 3DY

Monday-Saturday // 12pm-11pm

Square Meal

Click to add a blog post for Balls & Company on Zomato


Tuesday 21st July - To finish, some snaps and words on a fun evening at Obica Mozzarella Bar, Pizza & Kitchen in Poland Street (one of four London branches, many more worldwide). 

I dropped in for a #NewSeasonFeast of Obica's finest and freshest produce, plus some original cocktails showcasing Luxardo liqueurs created by brand ambassador mixologist "G" Franklin.  I already knew the Luxardo team well having been on a memorable trip to the distillery in Padua but it was a first visit to Obica.

We started with a refreshing Luxardo Fresco (Luxardo Maraschino, tonic water, fresh lemon juice, cucumber, fresh rosemary, and a cheeky spray of absinthe) which was a great vehicle for their aromatic Maraschino.

Luxardo Fresco - Luxardo Maraschino, tonic water, fresh lemon juice, cucumber, fresh rosemary, absinthe spray

As the second cocktail was prepared, we tucked in to a buffet of burrata, bresaolo and more.  A whopping 1kg ball of classic mozzarella (£38) was the star of the show, ably supported by some outstanding hay-smoked affumicata mozzarella balls of a more manageable size served with various pestos and focaccia.  Seasonal salumi (Soppressata di Gioi, Salame Nero dei Nebrodi, Salame di Mora Romagnola, Capicollo di Azze Anca) and Caponata alla Siciliana (aubergine, pine nuts, almonds, raisins, capers and vinegar) were also in great supply which was dangerous.

We also tucked in to some superb pizzas (prepared with Petra flour) - most notably the special with Pomodorino di Piennolo (Tomatoes) from Mount Vesuvius National Park, plus buffalo mozzarella and olives.  Each month, Obica collaborate with Presidi Slow Food to showcase small, artisan Italian food producers and products, and the exotic Piennolo Tomatoes will be around until the end of August (when Prosciutto di Nebrodi with figs takes over) or a bit longer if you are lucky.

In their honour, G created the Obica Spritz - a mix of Luxardo Aperitivo, Piennolo tomatoes, lemon, and basil, topped up with prosecco; quite the opposite of a Bloody Mary!  It will be available at Obica in August and September.

Hay-smoked mozzarella with basil, tomatoes and focaccia at Obica

Luxardo Aperitivo, Piennolo tomatoes, lemon, and basil, topped up with prosecco

For dessert, we shared out Obica's Torta di Capri (a warm almond and chocolate cake) which was the perfect partner to G's third drink of the evening, the Fashionista - a boozy Boulevardier twist with Luxardo Sangue Morlacco Cherry Liqueuer in place of sweet vermouth, and a generous splash of salty smoked mozzarella water. Ingenious!

Fashionista - Luxardo Sangue Morlacco, Bulleit Rye, Campari, Smoked Mozzarella Water

Torta di Capri - Warm Almond & Chocolate Cake

To finish, G went all festive with a Venetian Christmas - Luxardo Sangue Morlacco, Hot Americano Coffee, Christmas Spice and Double Cream.  I'm still not sold on hot cocktails but Irish coffee fans would enjoy this Italian twist.  Scroll down to see my current favourite Luxardo serve.

Venetian Christmas - Luxardo Sangue Morlacco, Hot Americano Coffee, Christmas Spice and Double Cream

Obica & Luxardo worked very well together, and they are both especially appealing in the Summer months.  I suggest you get yourself over to Obica from 5pm-7pm every day for Aperitivo Hour for free taster plates with drinks - an Italian tradition that really should have taken off here by now.  Don't miss the smoked mozzarella, and get yourself a Pomodorino di Piennolo pizza before it's too late!

Obica Poland Street - // Luxardo Liqueurs -

19-20 Poland Street, London, W1F 8QF 

Mon-Sat - 12pm-11pm / Sun 12pm-10pm

Matt The Luxardo / Luxardo The List

0.75 Lime Juice

A.K.A Division Bell (created by Philip Ward at Mayahuel NYC)
Usually made with a smoky Del Maguey Mezcal and Aperol

Shake with ice and strain into chilled coupe - garnish with a grapefruit twist

Monday 20 July 2015

City Academy : Lifestyle Photography

When I started blogging two years ago, I had no idea how long I was going to do it for, and I definitely went for quantity not quality on all fronts.  Despite owning a Canon 500D, I trusted in my mighty Samsung Galaxy for photography to begin with (first world problems).  

Many bloggers and Instagrammers stick by their phones (for very understandable ease of use and efficiency reasons - Clerkenwell Boy seems to be doing alright eh?) but I caved after a couple of months and switched over to my DSLR camera.  

Since then, progress has been slow but steady, and Matt The Tumblr was set up a year ago primarily to showcase food & drink photos following the purchase of my now most trusted lens, "the nifty fifty" Canon 50mm f1.8.  If you want to make the step up from your starter kit lens, look no further.

Two years on I'm definitely still winging it, so I jumped at the chance to take part in a photography course run by City Academy.  They currently run six different £110 day-long courses:

City Academy Photography Classes

I riskily skipped the beginners course and went straight for Lifestyle Photography on the grounds that I could already fake "a good understanding of aperture, shutter speed and ISO".  Have a read of these handy beginner guides on (Aperture / Shutter Speed / ISO) if you want to be top of the class.  They are the three key settings (the "exposure triangle" if you will) that you should play around with to sort out the exposure.

For example, if you are shooting in really low light, you need to whack up the ISO (light sensitivity) which will lead to some grain ("noise"), and drop to a low "f stop" (which is confusingly a high aperture - this will reduce the depth of field / amount in focus) - then see what shutter speed you can get away with depending on how mobile your subject is!  If you are mostly taking hand held shots, you can't have too slow a shutter speed (say below 1/40) unless you have zen-like steady hands.

I'm often shooting right on the limit of my lens' capability with an aperture / f-stop of f1.8 and ISO of 3200 as London's bartenders are afraid of daylight, but ideally I like to get back to f2.8 so that I can keep more in focus / get a sharper image.  I don't mind the odd noisy photo (from a high ISO) as it lends a certain atmosphere, and a blurry background ("bokeh") from the high aperture can be really effective in certain lighting.

Noisy night shots at Doodle Bar in Battersea - 1/2000 // f 1.8 // ISO 3200

Noisy night shots at Doodle Bar in Battersea - 1/1000 // f 1.8 // ISO 3200

Blurry background "bokeh" at Peg + Patriot - 1/100 // f 1.8 // ISO 3200

Blurry lights on a rainy bus ride - 1/50 // f 2.0-2.8 // ISO 200

If I've lost you already, don't worry - have a read of the beginner stuff linked above and then play around with your camera, only changing one of the three core settings at a time until you get the hang of it. As with practicing your scales, I'm afraid you've just got to go and do it.  If the idea of manual really scares you, shoot on full-auto but look at what settings it chose for the shot (if you like it!) and work back to manual from there.

Anyway, back to City Academy.  So Lifestyle Photography is all about capturing the art of the everyday - the aim is to tell a story with each shot.  Easier said than done. Our teacher for the day was the wonderful Carole Edrich who specialises in dance photography (and has learnt 65 different types of dance along the way!) - her wealth of experience shooting fast motion in low light would definitely come in handy at Rematch Beeyatch!  

After a quick chat about some basics to gauge our levels, Carole sent us around the building to work on a couple of things. My mission was to pay closer to attention to light sources and play with the white balance settings designed to correct pesky lighting problems - I'd been largely ignoring it, assuming that AWB was an obscure reference to a Scottish funk band from the 70s, rather than Auto White Balance.

I've got Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten Light and White Fluorescent Light options to play with on my Canon 500D.  Rather than using them to get an image closer to what I was seeing with my eyes, Carole encouraged me to mess around and tell a different story. Game on. 

First of many meta shots + some funky "shade" white balance

Trying out different white balance settings - can't resist musical shots

Scroll down for some outdoor rain shots turned blue (shiny & chrome) by my new favourite Tungsten Light WB setting.  Learn more about white balance here.

It's worth saying at this point that you can obviously do a fair amount white balance-wise in post-production with the likes of Lightroom, especially if you have been shooting in RAW mode rather than JPEG, which is a whole other debate - RAW vs JPEG.  Basically JPEGs are easier to use and store, but RAW gives you way more flexibility in post, especially if you miscalculated the shot. Carole told us of a trip where she ran out of memory and was forced to abandon shooting in RAW and instead had to reply on JPEGs that compress and diminish in quality over time, making them hard to use professionally a few years down the line.

If in doubt (and if you have the space), set your camera to save both RAW and JPEG until you figure out what's going on! I could go in to some more detail, but you are better off reading the article on it (link above) - that's what I'm doing right now!

After some RAW chat, we took to the streets of London.  The four of us (a small group) were keen to look at food so we dropped in to Patisserie Valerie to get stuck in to composition.  In this case, the shots were fully under our control so we could compose them by moving the subjects themselves, changing the placement of neighbouring items, and by altering our own position, all in an effort to guide the viewer's eye towards the most important elements of our story, and to show off our individual style. 

A good place to start is with the old rule of thirds / golden ratio and leading lines (big fan).  As a former mathmo and Fibonacci fanboy, I should probably pay more attention to the rule of thirds, but I tend to frame things quickly on instinct rather than mathematically - the benefits of having a 5-second countdown from hungry friends wanting to eat their photogenic food. You can always crop it later (bit risky!). Then there's depth of field to think about - a lowish f-stop (f2.5-3.5) should get the key dish in focus and some nice background blur, but you might want take a different approach if you are shooting a feast! Oh and don't forget lighting, and loads of other stuff. It's complicated, this photography lark.

Obviously, when you aren't in control of the subject / scene (as is usually the case in street photography), then you need to do what you can with your own positioning.  Carole's rule of thumb is "do the opposite of what tourist photographers are doing" - i.e. change your angles, get up close and personal, don't compose centrally etc! She's also a firm believer in something red being in every shot, hence the umbrella.

Next stop was Itsu for some motion blur practice (and lunch).  Product placement alert! We took turns shooting a can of DIET COKE whilst someone walked up and down behind it, confusing Itsu customers no end. With a slower (but still manageable) shutter speed of around 1/15 / 1/20, balanced by a higher f-stop (lower aperture), we made the can appear frozen in time whilst the world carried on behind it.  

In a similar vein, we attempted to follow moving objects (cyclists, cars), panning the camera smoothly at a similar speed to keep them in focus - tricky.  Snipers / clay pigeon pros would no doubt find it all rather easy.  There's a lot of fun to be had with long exposure (very slow shutter speed) - trying to capture lightning, making waterfalls look magical, adding ghosts to images, making patterns with glow sticks etc, but you'll need a tripod / surface to sort most of that out.

Motion blur with stationary subject - 1/15 // f 14 // ISO 800

Motion blur with moving subject - 1/20 // f 14 // ISO 100

Here's a random, purposefully overexposed shot I took outside - apparently I can claim this as chiaroscuro (a term commonly associated with Rembrandt) since it features high-contrast, distinct areas of light and dark (not so sure about the latter). Perhaps I need some more shadows in there too. I don't really know what I'm talking about, let's be honest. Still - it's a cool shot. Moving on.

Overexposed? Chiaroscuro? Who knows? 1/50 // f 4 // ISO 100

To finish, Carole sent us off with a bunch of tasks to keep our eyes open and test our ability to adapt and compose quickly.  In search of funky shoes, I went all tungsten white balance on my Vans next to a puddle.

Our travels took us across Waterloo Bridge where I really struggled to take any interesting landscape shots, even with the shapely London Eye and Big Ben in view.  A wide-angle lens might have helped but it was mostly down to the dull, cloudy lighting - I needed to take it in a gritty direction, but was unsure of how to go about it.  Carole might regret giving me her email address...

The Southbank skate park was more my scene, with great potential for silhouettes (or more chiaroscuro?) looking out towards the river. Inevitably I ended up shooting the photographers instead as usual.  This is probably my favourite shot from the day:

Skate park silhouette - 1/1000 // f 1.8 //  ISO 100

We ended in the Royal Festival Hall for prize-giving and a debrief.  The day flew-by and everyone on the course was in high spirits after several hours of pointing and clicking which is a testament to Carole's approach.  We were lucky to have such a small group, but I'm sure it would work well with more students too.  

What now? I'm eyeing up my next City Academy photography course (probably Street Photography), ideally with another teacher for a different perspective, and a trip to Fixation / Calumet is in order to check out some wide angle prime lenses ahead of a trip to the incredibly photogenic US West Coast.  

Aside: If anyone from Canon is reading, please send me some expensive kit, or I'll switch to Nikon. If anyone from Nikon is reading, I'm very happy with my Canon set-up - make me an offer I can't refuse and we'll talk.

A late entry for the funky shoes contest

Some more useful / interesting articles from


How to photograph food with a camera phone

Food photography tips // Photographing food outdoors

Black and White Photography // Low Light Photography

Photographing Waterfalls // Photoshop vs Lightroom


My favourite London photographers:

Charlotte Hu / Chris Coulson / Gaztronome / Addie Chinn / Seb Roberts / MKJLB


Of course, there's more to City Academy than photography workshops. From Diva Dance Classes to Film Making Workshops on remaking the bullet-time scene from The Matrix, they've probably got what you are after, plus a whole lot more that you didn't realise you wanted to learn until you saw it on their list.  Check out the full list of City Academy classes on the website -

Friday 17 July 2015

Berber & Q - Grain Store Unleashed - The Shed - Baja California at Wahaca - Bull in a China Shop - Wine & Music at Terroirs

Time for a super speedy round-up of some delicious things I've eaten (or imbibed) but haven't managed to mention over the last two months


1. Cauliflower Shawarma & All The Meat at Berber & Q in Haggerston

After falling in love with entire grilled cauliflowers at Miznon in Paris, I was delighted to see it on a menu again so soon.  Berber & Qs version with tahini and rose is a fine example of the genre.  Be sure to get a load of Middle Eastern BBQ meat too - some Joojeh chicken thighs, smoked short-rib with date syrup glaze, smoked pork belly with pomegranate molasses BBQ sauce; that kind of thing.

Wash it down with a bespoke Crate brewery golden ale with za'atar, sumac, thyme and orange, or one of their fine cocktails.  Sumac Habit with mezcal, chilli-infused aperol, dried lime and sumac is a good place to start.

I'll be back soon for weekend brunch - Turkish eggs with paprika butter, a Full Israeli, Tunisian shakshuka with red pepper jam and smoked beans with burnt-ends & merguez. 11am-3pm. Yes please.

Cauliflower Shawarma - photo from Berber & Q

Cauliflower Shawarma, Tahini, Rose

Cauliflower Shawarma, Tahini, Rose

Blackened Aubergine Salad, Tomato Seed, Garlic Yoghurt

Berber & Q

Berber & Q

Sumac Habit - Mezcal, Chilli-Infused Aperol, Dried Lime, Sumac

Half pints of house beer brewed by Crate - also available in 1.7 litre growlers

Berber & Q -

Arch 338, Acton Mews, Haggerston, London, E8 4EA

2. Funky vegetables and rhubarb negronis at Grain Store Unleashed at The Zetter Hotel

You haven't got long to get over to Bruno Loubet's adventurous vegetable-fest at The Zetter Hotel - it's due to close on July 31st though I'm sure something else equally exciting will take it's place. Plus you've got the original Grain Store in King's Cross to keep you company, a new Grain Store Café & Bar coming soon to Gatwick, and Zetter Townhouse Marylebone arriving on 14th August. 

But you should still rush over to Clerkenwell before the end of the month to get your hands on Bruno's corn brioche with avocado butter and all manner of other delights (see below).  In the evening, it's tasting menus only. 8 courses for £39? Don't mind if I do. It's right up there with The Dairy & co. for affordable, high-end, innovative dining.  Speaking of which, Robin Gill's Paradise Garage is opening up in Bethnal Green any day now.

Bruno Loubet's Grain Store Unleashed is at The Zetter Hotel until July 31st

Ginger Bread Iced Coffee

Rhubarb Negroni

Pickled Flowers & Rhubarb, Green Apple Purée, Bergamot Emulsion, Wild Sea Trout

Pickled Flowers & Rhubarb, Green Apple Purée, Bergamot Emulsion, Wild Sea Trout

Wild Trout Ceviche wrapped in Lettuce with Basil Oil & Avocado Sorbet

The remains of a colourful ceviche

Red Vegetables, Spiced Bread Sauce, Salted Lemon & Orange Purée, Wood Pigeon, Chilli Chocolate

Lemon & Strawberries Petit Pot, Rosemary Crumble

Chocolate Pie, Caramel & Miso Ice Cream

Parsnips & White Chocolate Cream, Matcha Tea, Pink Grapefruit & Passionfruit Gel, Caramelised Puffed Oat

Grain Store Unleashed -

St John's Square, 86-88 Clerkenwell Road, London EC1M 5RJ

3. The Entire Menu at The Shed in Notting Hill .... again

Well, almost.  They are only small plates though, right? The Gladwin Bros. delivered yet again, from farm to plate to face. We powered through this lovely lot below (some of them twice) before finishing off with an entire bottle of Somerset Cider Brandy Kingston Black aperitif. I didn't get much done after that. I've highlighted my Top 3:

- ruby gem, red leicester, pistachio, radish, dill, leek bubbles 8.0
- pan fried goat’s cheese, hazelnuts, honey, thyme 6.5
- nutbourne heritage tomatoes, shed yoghurt, sumac, basil, red onion 8.5
- raw scallop, black summer truffle, garlic, kohlrabi 12.0
- wood pigeon, cauliflower, malt, pickled sultanas 9.0
- nutbourne grilled lamb, jersey royal gnocchi, peas, mint, dill 12.0
- the summer sparks magnum vienetta parfait 7.0
- honeycomb crunchy, chocolate, mascarpone, tarragon sugar 6.0
- chocolate, hazelnut butter, cherry pastille 6.0
- set cream, strawberries, tomatoes, meringue 6.0

Pan fried goat’s cheese, hazelnuts, honey, thyme

Ruby gem, red leicester, pistachio, radish, dill, leek bubbles

Raw scallop, black summer truffle, garlic, kohlrabi

Wood pigeon, cauliflower, malt, pickled sultanas

Nutbourne grilled lamb, jersey royal gnocchi, peas, mint, dill

Set cream, strawberries, tomatoes, meringue

Honeycomb crunchy, chocolate, mascarpone, tarragon sugar

122 Palace Gardens Terrace, London, W8 4RT

4. Spinach Chlorophyll & Venison in Embers at Wahaca's Baja California supper club

Throughout 2015 Wahaca are inviting the most exciting and influential chefs from across Mexico to cook with Tommi Miers in the Covent Garden kitchen. I went along to a supper club run by Diego Hernandez (Head Chef of Corazon de Tierra, Ensenada) who came over to Wahaca for one-night only.

The event marked the start of an 8 week regional Baji California Menu that will feature the likes of Octopus Tostada with Peanut Chilli Oil and Clam, Mussels and Prawn Arroz Rojo. It should run til at least August 7th.

These dishes were the highlights (yes, including the last one):

- Tamal Colada (steamed corn parcel) with Wood Pigeon, Mole Amarillito, Rocket, Sour Cream and Dehydrated Parsnip

- Venison in Embers with Caldillo de Carne, Aubergine Puree, and Jersey Royal New Potatoes in Vegetable Infused Stock

- Truffled Cream with Spinach Chlorophyll, Radish, Caramel Panna Cotta and Balsamic - a classic from the Corazon de Tierra dessert list

Tommi's next visitor will be Enrique Olvera from Pujol which was recently named as the 16th best restaurant in the world.

One-off menu from Diego Hernandez at Wahaca

Pre-drinks in the Wahaca Covent Garden bar

Tamal Colada (steamed corn parcel) with Wood Pigeon, Mole Amarillito, Rocket, Sour Cream and Dehydrated Parsnip
- Photo from Wahaca website -

Venison in Embers with Caldillo de Carne, Aubergine Puree, and Jersey Royal New Potatoes in Vegetable Infused Stock
- Photo from Wahaca website -

Baja California regional menu at Wahaca -

66 Chandos Place, Covent Garden, London WC2N 4HG

5. Cocktails & Japanese Whisky at Bull in a China Shop in Shoreditch

We dropped in to Bull in a China Shop soon after it had opened, and the food menu has changed a fair amount since our visit, but I can vouch for the booze (and the atmospheric lighting). 

They've got a great selection of Japanese whiskies and an appealing cocktail list to match. Go for a Wabi / Sabi with Hakushu Single Malt Distiller's Reserve, Cocchi di Torino, Matcha green tea syrup, Black walnut bitters, or a Chamomile & Charcoal Old Fashioned with Nikka Yoichi, home made chamomile syrup, bitters, coconut, and charcoal, finished with an orange twist.  Or treat yourself to a £55 25ml dram of Karuizawa 1981 (bottled in 2014).

You can't far wrong with the rotisserie chicken (brined with ginger, and marinated overnight in Asian yoghurt with a Nikka whisky glaze), or the Cinnamon bread & butter pudding with chamomile spiced rum custard. The Panko crusted chicken burger with pickled ginger, Japanese mayonnaise, and mango & lime chutney is also worth a look. Skip the salads.

Bull in a China Shop -

196 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6LG

6. Snails, wine & vinyl at Terroirs Wine Bar in the West End

Ben Adamo & Darren Smith from Wine and Vinyl have teamed up with Terroirs wine bar & restaurant in Charing Cross to put on "Wine and Music" evenings on the first Wednesday of every month in the cosy cellar space (£3 entry).

N.B. The next #WineWednesday will be in September

To kick off the series, on the hottest day of the year, Ben & Darren put together a set list drawing from the sound tracks of cult movies such as Pulp Fiction and Full Metal Jacket, whilst classic wine moments from film history were projected on to the walls.

A condensed version of Terroirs’ 200 bin wine list has been carefully compiled for the event, showcasing five whites and five reds by the bottle as well as ten wines by the glass and a couple of bottles of sparkling.  It's a quirky list with a real range of styles on offer - Amphibolite Nature, Jo Landon was ideal for the 36° heat, as was the Magnum of Casa Coste Piane Prosecco, whilst the Pinot Blanc, Gerrard Shueller is a must for sour beer fans.

Head Chef, Dale Osbourne, has put together a seasonally-focused tapas menu, comprising a selection of Terroirs’ signature dishes. I was really impressed with all of our plates, but particularly the Jamón de Bellota, Salt Croquetas & Aioli, Snails on Toast with Garlic, Parsley & Bacon and the unusual Black Pudding & Beets.

It's a great date spot, especially on Wine & Music Wednesdays - check @Terroirs on Twitter for #WineWednesdays updates.

Wine & Vinyl -

5 William IV Street, London, WC2N 4DW


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