Monday, 20 July 2015

Review - Hakkasan

I decided to live by my principles and replace my bitchin' with action. Hooray! This means that I had a weekend which almost passed for eventful! So, after months of examining the frankly dull question of 'shit what am I doing with my life / twenties are any of these decisions the right decision?', I have concluded no. So it's worth gambling on something else. Will I think it was the right call in six months? Probably, on balance. ('Eventually') It might be a trite, cliched way of phrasing it but I feel lighter now that I've thrown the weight of two unmade decisions. I will strive to hold onto the lightness through the fear of the months to come. Oh! And I don't need to feel guilty about how samey and pedestrian my leisure activities are because I've embarked upon a path of great change (I hope). Which is great since I went to Hakkasan on Sunday and day-drank over a gluttonous, expensive meal! And what? (Balls, I didn't take a picture which really would have cemented the 'and what' there.) 

Let's start at the start, with duck salad. It was plummy and stringy and tossed with fresh leaves. It didn't look particularly impressive but tasted rich. Then came the dim sum, first steamed then fried. Did you know that it's an insult to the chef to not eat dim sum in one bite? Well, I ate them all in several bites because I wanted the flavour to taste. They all had that subtle, almost watery, umami undercurrent. Fried dim sum was less my cup of tea but still artfully done. My favourite was the venison puff which I think lent itself to the crispy crunchy pastry better than seafood. Then came the starter, the only disappointment of the meal. It was calamari and, while fine, there was nothing that made it pop. But the sea bass which followed for a main was an amazing lurid yellow that tasted as good as it looked. The rice that came with it was perfectly sticky and the pak choi light and salty at the same time. By this point, I'd eaten enough to sustain myself for the week. But the macaroons! They were so delicately put together and obviously I had to try them all. As I'm writing this a week after eating and haven't had breakfast, I wish I had those macaroons for my tea.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Recipe - Beans and Rice

I recall a recentish conversation with Contrary where we commented that there's no understanding how many different kinds of shit there are when you're at school and think most shit revolves around wearing a uniform and learning about osmosis. Through all five years at a mentally scarring girls' school (plus an extra two at a sexist, under par mixed sixth form - suck it if you think I'm ever adding you to LinkedIn, Mr Robson) followed by three years at a high pressure university doing an uninspiring degree did not prepare me for the low point of the nausea in an un-air-conditioned cab to my parents' house from Coventry contemplating what I'm going to do with my life ('he's a little worried about his future') and how running away to see my parents' shows a real lack of progress and growing up while battling a hangover-triggered sunstroke. But hey, life goes on. Degrees end. Break-ups pass. Careers work out. Meanwhile, I can still rely on my parents to do nice, if babying, things like laden me with food and also have to do mad things around them like yelp and jump out of bed when my mother comes into my room lest she find cigarettes or realise there was bacon in the lunch that I meant to throw away. OK, so while you're all wondering, what possible segue is there to food here? Well, the bacon containing dish is the recipe detailed below. #nailedit

Beans and rice 
1 onion
A few stalks of celery 
1 carrot 
1 red chilli
4 garlic cloves 

Chop the above and fry, gently, over medium heat until browned.

4 rashers bacon, chopped 
200g mushrooms, chopped

Add the bacon and mushrooms, turn the heat up and dry until the bacon is Browns and there's no water.

A couple of sprigs of thyme 
Level tsp cumin
Heaped tsp chilli powder 
2 bay leaves 
4 portions rice 
1 tin of plum tomatoes
1 tin of black beans

Add the herbs, rice, beans and a couple of cans of water. Bring to a simmer over a low heat and simmer until the rice is cooked. I didn't think it needed any salt but it did well with a liberal squeeze of the juice of a lime. I served this (to myself) with roasted tenderstem broccoli tossed in garlic powder, cayenne and salt.