Loved meeting Ben Mackinnon founder of E5 Bakehouse today with Vanessa Kimbell (of www.sourdough.co.uk). Ben started out preparing dough at home and borrowing a wood-fired oven from a pizzeria each night to bake. Now prepares Hackney Wild sourdough in batches of 30 kilo dough with 72 hour fermentation of wild yeast. Bakes up to 1000 loaves a week. Fascinating too tasting their sourdough made with British heritage wheat milled by Gilchester’s Organics in Northumbria – far more moist dough with real bite and distinct flavour. Sets the bar for properly sustainable loaf with high mineral content and low food miles. Delicious chickpea & kale stew with British sheep’s cheese too for lunch in cafe.
How refreshing to visit a restaurant in first week of January that delivers far more than expected. I was impressed by the depth of The Green RoomSE1 sustainable commitment in every aspect of the restaurant from construction through to aprons (made from used hessian coffee sacks from Mozzo). It’s a collaboration between The National Theatre and Coin Street Community Builders. The service was incredibly knowledgeable and sweet (roll call for Canadian waitress Alison). Best of all the food is delicious, earthy, seasonal and impeccably cooked especially the fish dishes and pitch perfect al dente pumpkin risotto. Though choice beyond is limited to ribs and burgers. Desserts are indulgent and made from scratch too, even the jelly for Knickerbocker Glory and equally nostalgic Baked Alaska devoured with alacrity by my son. I was most impressed by the recommendation of Brew by Numbers elderflower and lime wheat beer too. Designed by a recent graduate Benjamin Marks, it is a transparent box with views to The National Theatre, its columns are made from repurposed paving stones, its tables from Unto This Last from FSC certified forest birch plywood, crockery by Dudson who have the lowest carbon emissions of any ceramic hospitality tableware and use lead-free glazes, green glassware is made from recycled wine bottles, even the menu is printed on up cycled National Theatre menus. Such attention to detail is truly admirable. And, we checked waste food is taken by Paper Round and compressed into compost or used as fuel and 25p per package of food donated to Fareshare. True care in the community.
This week Sudi sampled:
Far too many juices from Press. Though, I enjoyed the green juice especially: kale, spinach, cucumber, ginger and more, an all liquid diet is not for me. I missed masticating far too much, though managed 36 hours and really did feel good, clear and energised from it.
A memorable mouthful of melt-in-the-mouth authentic Japanese kobe beef 10 ** rating, the highest quality ever imported to Europe by Martin Williams of ambitious, new city restaurant M. My USDA rib-eye was juicily superlative too, especially with buttermilk potato puree.
Appreciated the steaks and starters/accompaniments from six countries menu approach devised with Mike also of Vue de Monde. February 3 I will be hosting a Sudi Food Quiz Mistress event at M Restaurant based on their global menu and current culinary trends.
Breakfasted with the private bankers and owners of Caudelie at Cecconi’s. Eagerly anticipating the opening of their newest hotel, a complete re-design of The Royal Champagne
Tickled by marmite and eclair and other bites at Rabbit on King’s Road which offers the kind of creative, yet affordable eating the area has long needed. Squid and black ink gnocchi with wood sorrel especially impressed me. Nutbourne wines especially sparkling notably good.
Wowed by soft opening lunch at The Manor Clapham which delivered a hugely enjoyable and palate tantalising menu with tremendous depth and complexity of flavour and technique yet delivered with no pretence. Roast cauliflower has never tasted so special. Winning dish daringly pink pigeon breast with powerful sauce of black pudding, spice and tomato with parsnip. Exceptionally moreish bread in hessian bags made by chef-proprietor Robin Gill’s mother with chicken skin whipped butter. Loved my birthday dessert of iced chocolate fondant with milk snow ice cream and chocolate soil. Former Fera and Murano dessert chef, Guila is exceptionally talented.
Sipped Perrier-Jouet Rose Champagne with unerringly charming Chinese culinary legend Ken Hom and discussed his book on truffles, his latest restaurant in Rio, Brazil and his zen approach to life.
Created canapes for my birthday party: baked wonton skins with celeriac slaw with soy/mirin, Lancashire smoked duck from Brompton Food Market and Asma (@DarjeelingExpress) Khan’s tamarind sauce a delectable hit as were ricotta and spinanch boreks even though my triangles a bit dodgy and my salted brownie with pecan birthday cake from Gail’s Kitchen recipe was divine. Maria Elia’s winter bellini idea of pears (tinned) pureed with fresh lychee was considered wonderfully exotic even though it did fizz everywhere dramatically.
Massimo Bottura is simply unlike any other chef I’ve ever met. He effervesces with creativity and talks quickly and passionately mixing art, jazz, memories , families and humour in a way that is utterly mesmerising. So I knew I was in for a treat when he cooked lunch for lucky press last Monday before doing a one-off dinner in the evening too. It could never quite capture the magic of eating at Osteria Franciscana among their incredible collection of modern art with Massimo darting out of the kitchen and Lara Gilmore, Massimo’s brilliantly incisive wife interpreting the dishes, though it came close…. Highlights were my favourite An Eel Swimming Up the River Po – lacquered with the most incredible grape must and the delectable Oops I Dropped the Lemon Tart with the zing of Sorrento lemon off-set with the saltiness of capers from Pantelleria, hot pepper, bergamot and oregano plus sheer decadence of croccantino of foie served with a glass of Sauternes mixed with Massimo’s Villa Mandori balsamico traditionale.
In search of a new treat whilst visiting my son in Cambridge as an alternative to Fitzbillie’s and The Anchor (and Midsummer House strictly for birthdays), we ventured to d’Arry’s – a sound move. Creative dishes in good-sized portions: a sizeable hunk of salmon cured in vodka with horseradish and beetroot prettily arranged, preceded mains of black bass with mussels, squid and samphire and sea bass with smoked cauliflower and shallot. Fresh from gin tonic obsessed San Sebastian, I enjoyed too a cardamom and orange Plymouth gin & tonic. www.darrys.co.uk