Posts for the 'Overseas locations' Category


Cinnamon Kitchen

CINNAMON KITCHEN

Cinnamon Kitchen is an upmarket Indian fusion restaurant in the Liverpool Street area. Bearing the word “Cinnamon” in its name, it is part of the Cinnamon Collection, a group of Indian restaurants run by Vivek Singh, restauranteur, and a celebrity chef regular on a number of television cookery shows such as BBC’s Saturday Kitchen. Vivek first made his name with his flagship restaurant Cinnamon Club by championing a brand of modern, innovative Indian cooking. His contemporary approach has further translated into his other restaurants including Cinnamon Soho and Cinnamon Bazaar.

As we walked into Cinnamon Kitchen, we were immediately seduced by both the aroma of the tantalising smells wafting through the restaurant, as well as by the excited murmur of happily munching clients. The interior is both smart and trendy, and gave both a happening vibe with a balanced sense of a cozy intimacy.

To begin our meal we were offered some miniature spiced potato fritters on a curly bamboo stick as the complimentary amuse-bouche from the chef. Usually, such throw-ins are an opportunity to showcase the chef’s best skills or new, novel ideas, to dazzle and intrigue customers into coming to try more next time. This one was a little bland and unassuming and tasted like a deep-fried ball made of faintly curried mashed potatoes.

Next we tried a variety of chutneys with naan. Of the three chutneys that arrived, the most memorable was the tomato one. With just the right level of hotness, it treated tomato as what it technically is: a fruit, which is that it was intensely rich with flavour and naturally sweet. The naan that accompanied the chutneys was pleasantly spliced with fennel seeds.

Cinnamon Kitchen - London Food Blog - Naans & chutneys

Cinnamon Kitchen – Naans & chutneys

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Bella Cosa

BELLA COSA

Bella Cosa is an Italian restaurant located within a few minutes walk of South Quays DLR station, close to the heart of Canary Wharf. It’s an elegant venue, split over two floors, with the first floor offering a fine dining service, and the ground floor reserved for a more casual Italian experience of antipastas, cold cuts and pastas.

Japanese born Executive Chef Kentaro Torii graduated from culinary school in Tokyo after which he made a move to Italy to follow his passion of Italian cookery. Chef Kentaro has also worked at various Michelin restaurants including Bvlgari il Ristorante in Tokyo, Els Casals in Barcelona and Keisuke Matsushima in Nice. And so it is the combination of his roots, his Italian cookery training and his grounding in fine dining that defines the elegant ‘Italian with a Japanese twist’ menu at Bella Cosa.

I attended a bloggers’ dinner at Bella Cosa recently and we were firstly treated to some excellent canapes including some delightfully fine and crispy black ink chips filled with mascarpone and salmon roe which offered an interesting contrast in flavours. Also very tasty was the cannoli with ricotta, walnut and beetroot powder, with the cheese pairing well with the nuttiness of the walnut.

The amuse bouche was cooked scallop, with cannellini puree, truffle, lardo and olive oil powder. The scallop had been beautifully cooked and contrasted well with the creaminess of the puree and the fattiness of the lardo.

Bella Cosa - London Food Blog - Scallop amuse bouche

Bella Cosa – Scallop amuse bouche

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Zima Russian Street Food & Bar

ZIMA

When Zima ‘Russian street food and bar’ opened next to Ronnie Scotts in Soho, we were very hopeful. Russian cuisine has struggled to break onto London scene up until now. Maybe this is because it has taken Russia a couple of decades (after the fall of communism ) to start growing its own chef talent. But right now, the Moscow restaurant scene is frothing with people and places that dig into their Slavic roots, combining them with the techniques of the brave new world (just look at ‘White Rabbit’ in the top 100 restaurants this year).

Zima - London Food Blog

Zima – The menu

The man behind the Zima menu is Alexei Zimin, a known chef on the Moscow restaurant scene. With a bushy beard, kindly intense eyes and just a smudge of a smile, he fronts the brand perfectly –a kinda 21st century style Russian bear. Zima is located in a Grade II listed building. Originally Zima was only a bar that occupied the tiny basement, but it has since expanded and taken over the ground and the first floor in the building– a sure sign the guys were doing something right.

We sat on the first floor, which was all starched white table cloths and understated colours , with the ‘Russianness’ of the place only being hinted by some (well curated) hip and happening Russian art. The ground floor ryumochnaya (vodka bar) had a livelier vibe of mainly Russian speaking youngsters. Russian rock music and vintagy enamel bowls of homely food boded well in the bar, but upstairs seemed out of place (and was frankly a tad boring as there were so few customers – we are in Soho prime estate after all).

The service was warm and friendly, with recommendations on what to choose given with a genuine twinkle.

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ferdiesfoodlab

FERDIESFOODLAB

Simon Fernandez, the man behind ferdiesfoodlab, burst onto the supper club scene some seven years ago, with his then legendary fernandezandleluu supper club. His latest pop up being a project sees him in collaboration with the London Kitchen Project in Battersea. A non-profit community centre that started life about six months ago, the London Kitchen Project seats 40 and devotes itself to food, sustainability and the use of 100% renewable energy.

The collaborative project sees ferdiesfoodlab running a series of pop up dinners at the London Kitchen Project approximately every four weeks, serving a six course-tasting menu priced at £45. P and I popped along recently and found the dinner to be well considered and cleverly constructed. The first course was a 5hr slow roast rib of lamb, pulled, pressed, cubed and coated in breadcrumbs, served with garlic Turkish bread and a dip of fresh herbs and lime. The lamb was delicious, moist and moreish, and went swimmingly with the accompanying bread and dip. But the crumbing on the lamb could have been crispier which would have really elevated the dish.

Ferdies Food Lab - London Food Blog - Slow cooked lamb

Ferdies Food Lab – Slow cooked lamb

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Street XO Madrid

STREET XO MADRID

Street XO in Madrid is the casual eatery by David Munoz, the chef of the highly acclaimed DiverXO, the only restaurant in Madrid with three Michelin stars. David Munoz has long tantalised diners far and wide with his extraordinary renegade approach to fine dining. When Anthony Bourdain visited DiverXO on his show No Reservations in 2010 (and I particularly loved the programme on Madrid and DiverXO), he declared that Munoz’s food was “something that should probably suck”, yet he ended up proclaiming his love for it. Back then in 2010, DiverXO only had one Michelin Star. Now DiverXO has three.

Munoz’s approach to food is designed to shock and delight, and with Street XO his approach to cooking is no less electrifying. Street XO is a temple to Asian fusion gastronomy, and draws upon an incredibly bold use of ingredients, seamlessly weaving together Western techniques with inspirations from across Asia to produce food that is colourful, delicious and different.

The décor of Street XO is no less daring. The grungy ‘street’ look of the restaurant is completed with ‘graffiti’ on the walls, neon signs and bright red colours. Diners can choose to sit on bar stools around the open kitchen or dine al fresco on the balcony, waited on by waiting staff dressed in straitjackets. This is clearly no run-of-the-mill restaurant.

One of the signatures at Street XO is the Pekingese ‘dumplings’ (€12.50) with pork, crunchy pig’s ear, strawberry hoisin sauce, togarashi aioli and gherkins. These did not resemble traditional Chinese dumplings, with the presentation representing a piece of modern art. Yet the dumplings thrilled with their exquisite flavours and arresting ingredient combinations. The meat was beautifully moist, the pig’s ear was lusciously crunchy and there was a nice touch of spiciness in the creamy aioli. The gorgeous dumplings were simultaneously creamy, fatty and crunchy, tempered by a touch of acidity from the gherkins.

Street XO - London Food Blog - Pekingese ‘dumplings’

Street XO – Pekingese ‘dumplings’

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Al Trapo, Madrid

AL TRAPO MADRID

Al Trapo Restaurant in Madrid is a slick operation serving a fun-filled, modern menu by renowned Spanish chef Paco Morales. With Al Trapo, Paco Morales’ vision was to give diners complete freedom to mix and choose so that they could personalise their own sharing experience. In 2011 Paco Morales was awarded a Michelin star for his Restaurant “Ferrero-Paco Morales” which closed in 2013. With his Michelin star background, Paco Morales brings a level of refinement to the quirky menu.

Situated on the ground floor of the IBEROSTAR Las Letras Gran Vía, the concept behind Al Trapo’s menu revolves around different inspirations, each of which are originally titled. The inspirations begin with ‘To eat with your hands and lick your fingers’, a section devoted to small canapé sized tasters. From there it moves on to ‘Gentle And Classy’ for something subtle and then to ‘Roguish and zingy’ for something more bold. ‘Meseta and sea’ are for all things swimmingly delicious, and then there is ‘From just around the corner’ which provides diners with a taste of traditional Spanish flavours. For a touch of the international there is ‘So far and yet so near’. A selection of ‘Cheeses from far and near’ and ‘Desserts, little indulgences’ round off the choice of culinary delights to be savoured at Al Trapo. Each section features about four to six dishes.

Our first stop was ‘To Eat With Your Hands And Lick Your Fingers’ where we tried a number of different items, the first of which was the Spanish tortilla soufflé bites with green bell peppers and anchovies (€5 – 4 pieces). These were really interesting. Inside the thin crispy aerated bread shell was a ‘cream’ filling that tasted like an eggy tortilla. The filling was a little salty, but was otherwise really tasty with a beautifully smooth texture.

Al Trapo - London Food Blog - Spanish tortilla

Al Trapo – Spanish tortilla

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The Bridge Room Sydney

THE BRIDGE ROOM

The Bridge Room in Sydney is located within the heart of the Sydney Central Business District (CBD) and is within walking distance of key landmarks such as the Opera House and Circular Quay. Owned by Chef Ross Lusted and his partner and Sunny, The Bridge Room is recognised as one of the best restaurants in Sydney, receiving many glowing reviews and high critical acclaim. The Bridge Room holds a Two-Hat distinction (out of a possible three) as awarded by the prestigious Sydney Morning Good Food Guide. In 2014 Chef Lusted himself was also recognised as The Chef of The Year by the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide and as the Hottest Chef in Australia by the Weekend Australian Magazine Hot 50 Restaurants.

Chef Ross Lusted has had an illustrious cooking career, previously holding the positions of Executive Chef at Sydney’s Rockpool, Park Hyatt Sydney’s Harbour Kitchen & Bar and Singapore’s Mezza9. Chef Lusted then went on to become the Head of Food & Beverage Development for Aman Resorts before returning to Australia and opening The Bridge Room in 2011. The Bridge Room serves Modern Australian cuisine, drawing inspiration from European and Asian influences cooked with the best of local, seasonal Australian produce.

Housed in an art deco building, The Bridge Room features an open kitchen with a custom built charcoal grill. The dining room is rectangular in shape and is modern and airy in its design, with a key feature being the hand-made ceramics designed by Chef Lusted himself.

We had an amazing experience at The Bridge Room, starting with some Smoky Bay Pacific (on the right) and Port Stephens Rock oysters ($4.50 each – £2.10), both of which were gorgeous. Meaty and tasty with a rich sea flavour, the oysters were served with a shallot and red wine vinegar as well as a white miso dressing with chives that was fabulous.

The Bridge Room - London Food Blog - Oysters

The Bridge Room – Oysters

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Top Eats in Luang Prabang

TOP EATS IN LUANG PRABANG

Wat Sene Luang Prabang

Wat Sene Luang Prabang

The ancient town of Luang Prabang in Northern Laos is without a doubt one of the most beautiful spots in South East Asia. Abundant in natural beauty, Luang Prabang sits at the confluence of the Nam Khan and Mekong Rivers and is surrounded by lush green hills. Also cementing Luang Prabang’s title as the premier tourist destination in Laos is its blend of French colonial architecture and timeless Laotian temples. In 1995 Luang Prabang was designated as a World Unesco Heritage Site.

Luang Prabang is also the foodie capital of Laos, and I had a fabulous time trying some of its delightful food offerings and restaurants. I was in Luang Prabang for only four days, but the TheLondonFoodie spent almost two weeks there. He has written two excellent and extensive blog posts on his food experiences in Luang Prabang, so I highly recommend that you read these should you intend to visit Luang Prabang (post one and post two).

L’Elephant

But I’d also like to share with you my top eat experiences in Luang Prabang, beginning with L’Elephant Restaurant. This is often cited as one of the best restaurants in Luang Prabang and I would concur as L’Elephant Restaurant proved to be my best meals in Luang Prabang. L’Elephant is part of a group of restaurants in Luang Prabang owned by a French and Laotian pair. L’Elephant serves both French and Laotian cuisine, and we decided upon the Laotian set menu, the “Saveurs du Laos” (145,000 KIP – £11) which we loved. The menu began with an exquisite clear soup of tender delicious beef with betel leaves, galangal and lemongrass. The soup was wonderfully tasty with a clean, fresh and fragrant flavour.

L'Elephant Restaurant - London Food Blog - Clear soup

L’Elephant Restaurant – Clear soup

This was followed by a main plate consisting of a number of different dishes, all of which were delicious. Particularly delightful was the Mekong fish with lemongrass, rice powder and kaffir lime. This had been steamed in a banana leaf papillote and was delightfully fragrant and moist. Also on the plate was a tender and tasty piece of grilled pork marinated in lemongrass, a wonderful steamed piece of pork on a lemongrass stalk and a local specialty of crispy Luang Prabang weeds with sesame seeds.

L'Elephant Restaurant - London Food Blog - Main plate

L’Elephant Restaurant – Main plate

Accompanying the main plate was some sticky rice, a fabulous chicken laap (salad) with coriander, spring onions, mint and chilli that was fresh and full of flavour, and some delicious sauteed vegetables with mushrooms. The dessert was a fruit salad topped with a delightful ginger ice cream.

L'Elephant Restaurant - London Food Blog - Fruit with ginger ice cream

L’Elephant Restaurant – Fruit with ginger ice cream

I thought the food at L’Elephant was excellent. It was fresh and refined with wonderful authentic flavours. The cooking was very strong technically and I would thoroughly recommend it as the one must try restaurant in Luang Prabang.

Website: http://elephant-restau.com/

Tamarind

Tamarind is both a restaurant and a very known Laotian cookery school. I didn’t have the opportunity to do any of the cookery courses as you need to book these in advance. However we tried the Pun Pa (110,000 Kip – £8.50) on Friday night, a colourful evening which began with a tasting platter of Tamarind’s delicious savoury Laotion dips (jeow) including tomato, smoky eggplant, buffalo skin with peppers as well as a chilli paste. These were served with Mekong weed with sesame.

Tamarind Restaurant - London Food Blog - Laotian dips

Tamarind Restaurant – Laotian dips

The dips were followed by a whole tilapia marinated with herbs and lemongrass, wrapped in banana leaves and then barbequed over charcoal. The fish was perfectly cooked and very moist. The fish was eaten wrapped in leaves with a selection of noodles, vegetables, herbs and savoury sauces.

Tamarind Restaurant - London Food Blog - Whole tilapia

Tamarind Restaurant – Whole tilapia

To finish we had a really tasty tamarind and coconut sticky rice and a selection of fresh fruit. The Pun Pa evening was really fun, being a sharing experience where we sat with other diners at a communal table and got our fingers really dirty. The food was really homely and yummy and well worth trying.

Tamarind Restaurant - London Food Blog - Sticky rice

Tamarind Restaurant – Sticky rice

Website: http://www.tamarind-laos.com/

3 Nagas

3 Nagas is a boutique hotel in Luang Prabang with a very fine restaurant. We had lunch here and enjoyed a dish of minced pork in banana leaf with fresh herbs (60,000KIP – £4.65) and Laotian omelette (60,000KIP – £3.90) with herbs, Mekong riverweed and tomato sauce. The pork was good, but the omelette was outstanding and delightfully with lots of lovely dill. The tomato sauce was sweet and lovely and worked a treat with the eggs. It was worth going to 3 Nagas just for this dish. Note you can get 20% off voucher from the Tourism Office for use at 3 Nagas.

3 Nagas - London Food Blog - Minced pork

3 Nagas – Minced pork

3 Nagas - London Food Blog - Laotian omelette

3 Nagas – Laotian omelette

Website: http://3-nagas-luang-prabang

The Morning Food Market

The Morning Food Market is without a doubt one of the highlights of any visit to Luang Prabang. Here you can try some delightful spicy Laotian sausage and some delicious, if somewhat fatty, skewered pork (both 10,000KIP – 80p). I recommend buying the sausages and the pork from the vendor featured in the photo. She cooks the sausages and the pork right in front of your eyes. I walked up and down the length of the market and her products were by far the best.

Luang Prabang food market - London Food Blog - Laotian sausage

Luang Prabang food market – Laotian sausage

Luang Prabang Food Market - London Food Blog - Skewered pork

Luang Prabang Food Market – London Food Blog – Skewered pork

Grilled meat vendor

Grilled meat vendor

One of my most favourite Laotian treats was the coconut cakes, ‘khao nom kok’ (5,000KIP – 40p). These were a delight with a crunchy outside and soft creamy inside and very addictive. I tried these from a number of different vendors and liked the ones sold by the lady featured in this photo the best. If you go at the right time of the day to the morning food markets she’ll make these hot for you. And if you buy from her regularly she’ll probably give you extras like she did for me!

Luang Prabang Food Market - London Food Blog - Coconut cakes

Luang Prabang Food Market – Coconut cakes

The Bamboo Bridge

One of the tourist highlights in Luang Prabang is the Bamboo Bridge which sits over the Nam Khan River. This bridge only exists for six months of the year. During rainy season the bridge has to be taken down as the water levels are too high and the current is too strong. The bridge is then rebuilt after the rainy season. What a quirky labour of love! It’s worth crossing the bridge for the views, and on the other side of the bridge there is a cool little hangout spot, the Dyen Sabai Restaurant. Set in a bamboo garden and surrounded by greenery, it was a great place to chill out and enjoy some cocktails.

The Bamboo Bridge - London Food Blog

The Bamboo Bridge

Website: https://dyen-sabai-restaurant.com/


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