Monday, 30 June 2014

Recipe - Okra and Lentil

I'd completely forgotten about clothes shopping as an activity. Part of my drive to be less spoilt and save more money included 'for every garment you buy, you throw one away and you should throw away more than you buy'. I've actually stuck to this one reasonably rigidly but this means that my clothes are all woefully out of date kind of ugly. Except I only realised this when I went clothes shopping and realised my fashions couldn't be described as that. Anyway, it was a thoroughly pleasant experience even though I was stuck with the thankless task of buying swimwear for my upcoming holiday. I barely managed it - it's all terribly unflattering and unbearably skimpy but whatever. After my little evening trip, I was to go and eat some vegetables for dinner in a vain attempt to make my swimwear more flattering. But then I had a moment where what I wanted to eat crystallised in my mind: the umami of a crispy sausage sandwich with lots of ketchup. And you know, I was tired and I always preach to people that you should enjoy your food and your life. So I went home and had a (bloody gourmet) sandwich even though I'm going to Nice in less than a week. You can suck it, society's obsession with image. However, I'm going to tell you about another bean recipe instead.

Okra and lentil
350g trimmed okra
1 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp dried chilli flakes

Heat the oven to 200C. Spread out the okra on a baking tray. Pour over the oil and sprinkle with the chilli flakes and salt. Roast for 10-15 minutes, until cooked through and starting to colour. Remove and set aside.

½ tsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp mixed spice
250g green lentils, rinsed well
Veg oil
1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
5cm piece ginger, peeled and finely diced
A large bunch of coriander 
1 large tomato, peeled and diced
1 lime, cut into 4 wedges, to serve

In a saucepan fry the onion, garlic and ginger over a medium heat in vegetable oil for around 10 mins until very soft and aromatic.
Transfer half of the onion mixture into a different saucepan. 
To one saucepan, add the lentils and 800ml water, turmeric and mixed spice. Simmer for around 30 minutes until the lentils are cooked and liquid.
To the other, add garam masala and coriander bundle, and fry for three minutes more. 
Add the tomato, salt and a cup of water, and cook until the tomato and onion are soft, and the mixture has thickened. Stir in the roast okra and cook for two minutes, just to heat through, then remove and discard the coriander.
Serve with chopped fresh coriander and lime wedges.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Review - Boundary Rooftop

Blog-wise we're back on guilt again. I have a coupla friends who (inspired by mocking someone else) always refer to/make jokes about the 1%. That kinda joke has recently become really unpalatable to me because I'm haunted (and that's only slight melodrama) by the fact that I'm so well off in life. Wait I just read back on that sentence - it sounds terrible. Let's rephrase. When I'm out of work, I try to catch up on the news. When I read the news, I feel sad about the state of the world and that rapidly descends into overwhelming guilt, sometimes ending in me giving £65 to the International Red Cross (you should give too!) or offering to organise a charity auction which subsequently ruins my life. And then I feel even guiltier for feeling stressed or bitching about anything because really, what do I have to complain about? Even the most stressful bit of my life still involves free lunches at Boundary Rooftop...
After a typically long deliberation, I settled on the pan bagnat. I don't know what I was expecting but I got a burger. A heavy, greasy burger overwhelmed by goat's cheese and barely sweetened by the roasted vegetables. The chips that accompanied them were crisp enough but completely not what I wanted with a burger that rich. But I won't complain, not because I feel guilty about it but because the sweet location overlooking the city in the sun more than makes up for what was lacking in those vegetables. Zing!

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Review - Laxeiro

Yeahhh it's World Cup season! I really care. (Not.) To kick off (ha, ha) the action, we had planned to go to the Old George. In fact, we still went but didn't eat there. What a hidden gem! It looks like a scrubby, gross old man pub from the outside. Inside, it's all funky chairs and polished oak and seasonal menu. A lovely looking seasonal menu! But its ever changing nature meant that we had our heart set on dishes that were no longer in season that we'd seen online. Incidentally, I had a great business idea. Why doesn't set up a service so that you can text your order to the bar? It would really suit gluttons like me who are too slovenly to move but still need their fill of pies. (By the way, I really do try to spur myself into activity by walking long distances at the weekend in an attempt to counteract the pies.) ANYWAY, we wanted snacky tapas - Laxeiro!
Oh my God, I'm so glad I finally got here. We went a bit mad and ordered everything: garlic chicken, patatas bravas, ham croquettes, pisto, green beans, sardines. Was there something else? I feel like there was more fish somewhere. Everything was bloody excellent. The sardines we're so just done, tender with a hint of rocky saltiness. I am so glad we ordered both the potato dishes (there was a chance of us not) - both classics, perfectly executed. Green beans were fresh and crunchy, satisfying the craving left by Andina. The garlic chicken I think was my favourite: well coated in a garlicky crumb with stringy, moist chicken thigh within. Pisto was sweet and luxurious with a gooey egg on top.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Review - Andina

Remember how back in the university days I harped on about having no self control and getting drunk and then feeling guilty? It appears that it's just in my nature to be completely unable to resist any temptation ever. It just manifests itself in different ways now: I've shifted to having no control with money and food. So what prompted this shift? Well, I really don't handle discomfort well. So you can see how being hungover or tired at work on any day but Friday would not work out well for me. This displaces my self indulgent side to food (and consequently money). So much food (even more money - I quite like buying clothes too). That's why I'm stuck with this blog. The condition is that something good is born of this disgusting overindulgence - and that is that I always, always write about it and strive to get better. So let's chat about Andina.

Actually, this meal didn't make me feel so guilty. It was all very fresh and gave the illusion of health (and I didn't pay). We had a few people at the table and had the set menu. But it's not set up so that you have to choose between options: they bring sharing plates of everything. Everything being lots of ceviche and quinoa. The ceviche Andina was hands down my favourite: sharp, acidic sea bass on a bed of creamy avocado and warming sweet potato. The sea trout was almost as enjoyable but the vermicelli crunch went less well with it in my opinion. Sato I can't remember as well but I think positioned as my middle favourite. This was my first time trying quinoa and boy, was I pleasantly surprised. Pearly grains sitting on fresh spinach with a sweet jam. Quinoa was  involved in the dessert too - a crumbly, rich chocolate brownie. The green incha beans had me craving them for the rest of the week. My only other criticism is that amongst all the delicious fish, the meat skewers fade into insignificance. But I suppose they have to have an offering for people less into raw fish and quinoa...

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Review - Dean Street Townhouse

I am exhausted. When I consider if it's much too lame to have given up on a weekday social life aged 22, I will remember this feeling of sheer exhaustion and conclude that sleep is better than a social life. It's also better for my bank balance and my health - fish and bean diet prior to Nice is not going well. Indeed, it's gone the opposite way: I've devoured a gargantuan burrito from BLT, katsu curry, a Hache burger and am off the charts on the units calculator (this is not a serious statement, in case it wasn't clear). Oh no, I've just realised that I had 5 meals yesterday. I'm going to die a horrible gouty death. But maybe it'll be worth it? Dean Street Townhouse was a lot of fun...
We went pre-theatre (Book of Mormon!!) and had the pea and mint broth, cured salmon, fish and chips and pork chop. I cannot fathom how people make it through three courses. While my one course approach is currently influenced more by my purse, I really struggle to see a time when more than a course will be necessary. And that's coming from a well-established glutton! I was full halfway through my soup - a bright green salty potion with pearls of sweet pea respite at the bottom. The salmon was, as expected, very fresh and luxurious with creamy, just-set quail eggs interjecting.
The pork was the star of the show. So flavoursome and pressed with rosemary and char. The crackling crisp was teethbreakingly hard and it was very amusing to watch the Explorer attempt to eat it with cutlery. Use your hands, man! The mash was my favourite. There is nothing quite as comforting as a well done mash. And this mash was exceptionally well done. Unfortunately, I was already so full that I barely dented it. And most of the fish and chips were left even though we both put our best foot forward at eating it. Probably because the fish itself was much too salty, a real shame because the texture was perfect. Even the amazing tartare and mushy peas couldn't make it bearable.