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Henri, Le Chat Noir

April 15, 2012
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Where have the posts gone?

February 8, 2012

You may have noticed some posts no longer appear in this blog. This is because I have moved them all to my new blog

This is where all the new food-related posts will now appear, so I hope you follow me over šŸ™‚

Cookery Workshop at Busaba Eathai

February 6, 2012

This post has been moved to my new blog at Foodies Picnic. Enjoy!




Turnham Green Terrace Market Day

January 20, 2012

If you’re around the Chiswick area or looking for something to do on Saturday 21st January, then stop by the Turnham Green Terrace Market Day.

To promote the benefits of shopping locally, around 40 independant traders on Turnham Green Terrace in Chiswick will by putting on something special for the day.

A selection of those participating are: the fruit and veg shop Andreas Fruit and Veg, the butcher Macken Bros and the Deli Mortimer and Bennet.

Market Day

Getting There:

The closest station is Turnham Green, and there are plenty of buses run down Chiswick High Road.

Comfort and Spice – the book

August 28, 2011

Comfort and Spice Cookbook
Having read Niahm’s Eat Like a Girl blog for a few years now, I am now a very happy owner of her first cookbook ‘Comfort and Spice’

Flicking through it a few times, I cannot find a recipe I don’t want to cook.

I’ve decided to tackle the blaas recipe first, shortly followed by the lamb and smoky aubergine rolls….or maybe the chorizo and chickpea stew….

Oh, and order it on Amazon here…

I also cannot wait to see if there’s a follow up, where hopefully her recipe for bacon jam would make an appearance.

QVC Vacuum Disaster

June 12, 2011

One of my friends recently introduced me to the joys of late night shopping channel live demonstrations. The salesman was trying to show off his blender by shoving in a whole mango, expecting it to blend. Of course, this being live TV, it didn’t. And several aborted attempts were made to pulverise it by moving the contents with its official poking stick. After laughing at this for around half an hour, I was then directed to an infamous example of a QVC demonstration going wrong on youtube:

Chicken Liver Pate

May 6, 2011

This is so simple, and always tastes better than what you buy at the shops.pate


400g chicken livers (works well with duck liver as well)

4tbsp cognac

3 red onions

225g butter

1 clove garlic

bay leaves for garnish

Melt the butter in the fry pan and add the onions and chopped garlic. Fry over a medium heat until softened, then add the chicken livers. Cook these until brown all the way through, then add the cognac and season with the salt and pepper. Transfer the contents to a blender, and blend until you have a smooth consistency. Place the mixture into your preferred container, and garnish with bay leaves. For more buttery goodness, pour melted butter over the top. Refrigerate to cool and let set.

Sour Cream Bread

February 7, 2011

sour cream bread This bread is always a hit whenever I make it. The added sour cream gives it a delicate taste that keeps a lot of people guessing what that extra ingredient may be.

It’s so versatile that I serve it with anything, and is even better in the following days toasted.

You will need:
250g sour cream
1 tsp powdered yeast
550g flour (of your choice)
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp honey
100ml cold water
150ml boiling water
seeds for covering the loaf

  In a large bowl, mix the cream with 100ml cold water and 150ml boiling. Add the yeast and honey, and stir around until the honey dissolves.

  Mix in the flour, and knead until the dough starts to get a silky texture. Knead it into a ball, cover with a tea towel and let it sit for 10 minutes.

  Knead again, and roll over the seeds to cover the loaf. Place into a 2lb oiled bread tin, covering once more for a minimum of 10 minutes (the longer you leave it to rise in the tin, the lighter the bread will be).

  Dust the top with flour, and bake at 200C for around 45-60 minutes (depending on your oven quality).

  For extra flavouring, try adding your favourite herb or spice to the dough whilst kneading. I’ve always found fresh rosemary works really well.

A Tour of The Dorchester

October 25, 2010

The penthouse balcony view

The penthouse balcony view

It’s a rare occasion for one of London’s top 5 star deluxe hotels to throw open its doors for public tours. As part of the London Open House Weekend, The Dorchester took part in allowing a small group of people around the back and front of house rooms.

London Open House weekend is an annual event, with over 700 buildings in London opening their doors to visitors for tours and talks over a weekend. It promotes the appreciation of architecture, with some buildings usually not open to the public. The buildings involved include the BT Tower and the London Underground HQ Building.

Pavillion Suite

The tour of The Dorchester started with coffee, pastries, and of course champagne in the Park Suite which is one of its many conference rooms.

It was then onto our next stop of the day – the Penthouse Suite on the 8th floor. With its own private balcony including a view of more than 180 degree of the London rooftops, this suite is the place to be for weddings and banquets.

This leads through to the Pavillion Suite, designed by the theatre designer Oliver Messel whose miniture stage designs are displayed on the walls.

Harlequin bathroom

The famous Harlequin suite was next, where Elizabeth Taylor was staying when she received word of her multi-million pound deal to star in Cleopatra. And it still has the original pink marble bathroom that was installed for her. There are great views over the terrace to Hyde Park, where you can also spot Battersea Power Station in the distance.

florist todo

A winding stroll down the staircase to the florist was next, where Paul described how he prepares the individual flowers required for each room. He insists they are all fresh, and very real.

His department does all the flowers apart from select arrangements in the promenade, ballroom and other select locations.

We then met Henry Brosi, the executive chef, who gave us a tour around the kitchens. This included the Krug Room, which is the chef’s table developed with Krug for private dining.

cake preperation

We were shown through the various kitchens where they prepare the sandwiches, patisseries, etc.


As it was a Sunday, and the restaurant was closed, the tour group was then led through the 3 Michelin-starred kitchen of Alain Ducasse (which was a rare treat).


Alain Ducasse Kitchen

There are a total of 18 chefs in the kitchen who work a 5 day week – having Sunday and Monday off. So it is not a very common schedule to have in British kitchens.


We were then led to the front of house, where we were shown the gorgeous modern layout and decor.

spot the ladybugs

A quick tour of the birdcage room was next, which is used as an anti-room for the ballroom. The notable thing about this room is the birdcage located on the ceiling in the middle of the room. Painted vines on the ceiling dominate, and if you look closely to one of the leaves there you see two ladybugs with doc martins in a suggestible position.



A look at the ballroom was next. You can do almost anything with this room to make your event stand out. People can be suspended from the ceiling, a car can be driven into the room due to the design of a wall which can open up. And if you see here, it has even been turfed for an awards ceremony.



Promenade Bar

And then the tour had to end sometime with a glass of well-earned champagne in The Bar. If you ever find yourself here, I highly recommend a glass of The Dorchester 75 – a champagne cocktail created for the 75th anniversary of The Dorchester.



The Bar Bar

There were many other rooms that we went through that would really over-extend the length of this blog post. If you would like to have a look at the gallery, please go to my Flickr account here.

Franco Manca in Chiswick – A Dining Experience

September 12, 2010

The pizza from Franco Manca’s Brixton establishment has been getting rave reviews ever since it opened, with it’s 20 hour sour dough base being described as better than the Napolese can make themselves. Extending the same formula to their Chiswick eatery has been getting mixed reviews, so I decided to check it out myself.

The location of the restaurant is not as well positioned as many eateries along the high road of Chiswick. It is slightly out the way, a few doors up from High Road Brasserie. Myself and a friend went on a Saturday night and the restaurant was not full at all which was not a great sign.

We’re shown to a table of two which is uncomfortably positioned far too close to the next table, with pairs positioned so they take up the same amount of space as a table for four. This meant that the next table was not more than a two-inch gap away. This of course made room for personal space limited and any thought of personal conversation not an option. We thankfully lead the waitress to an empty corner.

turpentine 2008 served in water tumbler glass

Sitting down to the paper menu already being on the table, I was hoping to get some sort of introduction and instruction on how the menu works having not been there previously. Unfortuantely the waitress turned away quite quickly and we were left to look amongst ourselves. I had just put my head down to read the menu when the waitress came back and asked for our order. A puzzled look was given back when we said that we did need a few minutes, and ordered some drinks. My friend started by ordering a lemonade and a beer, and before I could order mine she quickly walked away. I gave her the benefit of the doubt as she must have assumed one of those drinks was mine. By then I could tell that we were just a distraction to her night.

The ordered drinks came in a timely fashion without glasses, with the lemonade at room temperature. The disappearing act was done once more before we could ask for glasses and ice, so we ended up getting the glasses off the table next to us and putting up with warm lemonade.

When I finally got the opportunity to order wine, I chose the mid-priced San Vito white. When delivered, the already-opened bottle of wine was plonked on the table with two very warm water glasses that I correctly assumed were going to act as the wine glasses for the night. Firstly, I do not think that you can ever have an authentic experience drinking wine out of tumblers so give me a proper wine glass any day. Secondly, having been stung in the past by the cheaper bottle of wine being placed in the more expensive bottle of wine trick before, I am immediately suspicious of any bottle that’s not opened at the table. A tasting was also not offered, and a request for a wine cooler was just another disruption to the waitress’ night.

I pour myself a glass, take two sips and think OK – this may be better when it breathes a bit. I leave this for a moment whilst I order my pizza, and try to take a few more sips. This doesn’t improve things, so I decide to order some soda water to water down the taste. I call over the waitress and ask for some soda water. “Still or sparkling” she says, in which I reply “no, sorry – soda water, not normal water”. “Yes, still or sparkling” she asks once more. I could tell I wasn’t going to get anywhere with this, so I gave up on my original plan and reply back with “fine, sparkling water then”. She does the quick turnaround once more and a few moments later a bottle of sparkling water was placed on the table with no glasses, and no sight of the deliverer. So another field trip was taken for us to steal the bounty of another empty table’s glasses.

I fill about a third of my wine glass with the sparkling water to try to disguise the awfulĀ turpentine-esque taste, although unfortunately this does not do the trick and I place the wine glass and wine bottle on the table next to me. After some explanation to the manager when I get his attention, the wine is then swapped with another not-opened-at-the-table bottle, with the sameĀ turpentine-esque results. I leave the wine as it is now giving me a headache after not even 4 sips. This cannot be good – a hangover already starting to happen.

baked Gloucester old spot sausage served on a burnt serving dish

The starter arrives – a shared baked Gloucester old spot sausage with tomato. It is served in a dish which has burnt debris on the outside, making the dish taste burnt as well. I eat half a bite before giving up. My friend says that it was quite nice, and finishes the dish so at least one of us enjoyed it.

number 4 salt pizza

The pizza is next to arrive, which looks lovely so I hope that this is where things finally pick up and where I think the restaurant’s strengths lay. I ordered the number 4, which was the tomato, garlic, oregano, capers, olives, anchovies and mozzarella pizza. Unfortunately this was like eating a salt pizza, so I’m quite disappointed that even this is not good. There seemed no ingredient (apart from the pizza base itself) which cancelled out the salt of the capers and anchovies. It also tasted like there was an extra layer of salt sprinkled on the pizza for extra measure. I thought that there was a burnt taste throughout as well, although I could see no evidence. Although the underside of my companion’s pizza was quite charred, which made most of it inedible.

We quickly ask for the bill to get this experience over with. We explain to the manager, who is now aware of our non-wine drinking non-pizza eating troubles, and he takes the burnt pizza and wine off the bill. This was far more than we were expecting, as we were quite prepared to pay for everything and cut our losses. So at least there was some glimmer of above-average service for the night.

So that was my experience of Franco Manca. I was thinking it through, and really wanted it to be put down to the fact that they may of just been having an off night. But the problems seemed more ingrained than that. My dining parter summed it up quite well by saying it was as though everybody working there was on their first night.