Sunday, 22 March 2015

A few around the home

I'm going to ramble about having many selves and having to cultivate them but also having to have boundaries between them so that you don't send emails like 'so it's this person's surprise party, can you please action the following:...' in your personal life. In the past four months, I've been indulging work self in order to embody and channel more easily the things I need to be at work. Hence the eating out and ubering and spending every weekend being lavish and lazy and consuming nothing of value because it's too exhausting to think in free time. Now, that time has come to a close for a few months and it's time to indulge the home, cooks and sleeps a lot side for a while. (Also known as the better rounded, more culturally active side that is also a halfway passable girlfriend and has energy to READ.) I'm particularly looking forward to seeing more of London again. In recent months, virtually everything has revolved around the following locations:

- Shoreditch - work (drinks)
- Kings Cross - plasticky breakfasts, 7am trains
- Leeds - red wine, stuffy hotel rooms, trying to come across as older than 23
- Brixton - friends, no moderation, chance encounters with people you don't expect to see (c.f. ex-boyfriend Acre Lane Tesco)
- Bow - dinners, sleeping and sweeping on a Saturday morning, safety, occasional arguments, self, recalibration, tea, comfort

The last post focused on the food places spanning KGX, LDS and Shoreditch so this will cover the Brixton and Bow features of the past couple of weeks. And then there will be a new age of blog where I manage to leave the mile radius around my house and my office!
Right, so, Casa Morita. Little Mexican place in one of the markets. We went for the 'tasting menu' i.e. a platter of different dishes from around the menu. The unfortunate bit is that all of those bits involve tortillas so it was an unfortunate time to realise that I can't abide corn tortillas. All flour, all the way. Then what sticks out to me? The vegetarian taco mix was delicate and sweet. The pork (pulled, I guess) was pleasant. As were the cocktails. But my overall impression of the place was I could take or leave it. I'm unlikely to return unless I really have to. This is the complete opposite of my attitude to the George on Bethnal Green Road and its wonderful Jerusalem artichoke 'chips'. I have half a mind to look up when they're in season and go every week to get my fill. Later on Jerusalem artichoke day, we had cheese and ham and fruit time.

Lessons learnt: grilled peaches, prosciutto and honey go together well. Ricotta baked with figs and honey is great. I need to be less liberal about throwing together ingredients for devilled eggs as my first attempt were much too pungent. Lessons learnt from paella a week on: something about the lemons made it bitter. I forgot to put mustard in the chicory orange red onion salad. The Explorer makes a mean banoffee pie.

Monday, 9 March 2015

A few around the office

I bookended last week with Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots. It was playing at Three Crowns as I was breakfasting on Monday and again as I was celebrating on Friday evening. I've been there a year. This isn't what I was celebrating but it's notable nonetheless. A whole year of corporate culture and working life, making the Flaming Lips feature particularly notable. I've certainly changed in that strange way that people do when they spend most of their time with not their friends. I'm trying to think of a pop culture reference to make my ping nicely but after this particular 14 hour day, I have no words or energy. But it's still been a good day. The main lifestyle changes (apart from the boozing and consequent skin repercussions that I've heavily alluded to) are less sleep, more cabs and more meals out. You can try all you like to pretend that more money won't change you and you'll save it oh the really most restrained manage it. Some (most) days, the money vs time trade off that happens is worth it. It's not like you don't get something in return. Last week, I ate at no fewer than four new places.
At Three Crowns, I breakfasted (another occasional lifestyle change) on black pudding and fingerling potatoes. Perfectly buttery. Meatliquor in Leeds - oh yeah, work travelling and the weirdly intimate things you share - was less good. Greasy, heavy, meaty and just not what you want before sleeping in a chemical hotel room with the beginnings of a light red wine hangover. (That's Leeds in a nutshell.) The flip side is lovely lunches like at the Post Office in Leeds. The nice corporate places have probably changed my appetite for the scuzzier meals, like Peppers n Spice with housemates on Thursday that fell flat. I'm more used now to breakfasts like Friday morning at Dishoom - bacon naan is not heresy to me anymore. The chai was disappointing but sweetened (ha ha) by the news that I'd been promoted. And to finish, a deluxe meal at 8 Hoxton Square paid for by the kindness of the richer to make you reflect upon the fact that the line doesn't between friends and colleagues needn't be as rigid internally, even if some boundaries are best kept as they are. That's all, folks.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Review - Rita's

I found my way to Rita's finally! I feel that this is the start of a new phase, or at least a few months, where I'm calm, relaxed and generally an all round together person. (Ha.) I found time to tidy my room and invest in a coat stand, new sofa covers and a drying rack (though not an ISA, unfortunately). Most importantly, I went outside in daylight! It was so springy and crisp and only minorly buzz-harshed by the Explorer asking if we were there yet because he was hungry. The silver lining to that was that we got to Rita's. And bar some weird interactions with the waitress and generally slow service, it was excellent.
So, my first chicken waffle! I may never eat anything else again. Except for that gloriously gluey, sticky, cheesy mac n cheese. Alive with chilli and with a hint of limey avocado on top. A special shout out for that sausage gravy - this is what it's all about.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Recipe - Bean Burgers, Plum and Blackberry Crumble

The by product of everyone being busy and stressed and unable to find a time to eat together is that it's necessary to book in 'house dinner' a month in advance. Seriously, just to eat in the same expanse of space. We had our time booked in for the end of the weekend where I was finding it incredibly difficult to switch off. (Case in point: I just clicked off this to read a text and clicked back onto work emails instead of blog.) I was keen to find another mode of distraction from screwing over my body and mind and hating self for it the next day so thought to myself that I should cook since I haven't done that in a while. But I went a bit overboard and ended up whirring around the kitchen like a manic mechanical toy for three hours. Possibly not the slow, steady cooking I had in mind. However, we came out with: sweet potato and black bean burgers, sweet potato and pepper salad, Mexican rice, juevos rancheros, guacamole, salad, plum and blackberry crumble and thyme custard. I feel tired even thinking about writing it out. Here's a couple of the choice recipes.

Plum and blackberry crumble
I stewed 3 punnets of blackberries and 7 plums in the oven with probably around 50 - 75g of sugar and a couple of cinnamon sticks. The crumble was made of equal parts butter and flour and then 50g or so each of sugar and oats. One went on top of the other and it was baked for 30 mins or so.
Served with my first ever home made custard using this recipe

Bean burgers
I largely stuck to good old Cloakey's recipe but used sweet potato instead of potato and a tablespoon of polenta in the mixture to bind.

Beef hotpot
I made a super rich beef hotpot. Too rich. Dizzying! I browned about a kilo of stewing beef over a high heat then removed from the heat. Then, I softened an onion, a leek, two carrots until browned. Then, it was time to add the meat back in, turn the heat up slightly then added wine, bay, thyme and stock and let it bubble for 5 minutes. We topped the mixture with 3 large potatoes that were sliced to the thickness of a pound coin - scattering a little goose fat, salt and rosemary over each layer. This was all placed in the oven for 2 hours covered and an hour uncovered - it served 8 portions.