"After years of continuous eating,'A Girl has to Eat', a self-confessed food lover and eat-aholic, has been spurred on to create her own food guide & blog. Read about her fabulous (and sometimes not so fabulous) culinary adventures in her restaurant reviews. This and more!"

Lurra

Posted on Thursday, 10th December 2015

LURRA

The team behind the wonderful Spanish tapas restaurant Donostia recently launched a new restaurant, Lurra, a few months ago. Located a few steps down from it’s big sister, Lurra is similarly a celebration of Basque food. Lurra means “land”, and draws its inspiration from the traditional charcoal and wood grills of the region.

Lurra is a sleek looking outfit. The entrance is small and initially leads into a narrow space. On the right were some refrigerators boasting an impressive range of 14 year Rubia Gallega “Galician Blond” Prime Rib which forms part of the menu (but more on this later). Thereafter you enter the main restaurant area on the ground floor, a well-proportioned, comfortable and airy space with a glass wall that looks out onto the courtyard. There is also another well-lit dining area on the first floor, but the ground floor offers much more charm.

Lurra - London Food Blog - Prime rib

Lurra – Prime rib

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Masterchef Tony Rodd – La Belle Assiette

Posted on Monday, 7th December 2015

I recently attended a La Belle Assiette validation dinner cooked by Masterchef Tony Rodd, one of the 2015 finalists. For those of you who haven’t heard of La Belle Assiette, it is a private chef service company, with the chefs registered on the website being available for hire to cook in your personal home. The chefs take care of everything: shopping, cooking, serving and cleaning up. But before the chefs can become available for hire, their skills are certified during a Validation Dinner where the chef cooks a four-course meal reviewed (and validated) by panel of judges.

On the night of Tony’s validation dinner we managed to get two masterchefs for the price of one. Assisting Tony was Luke Owen, himself a finalist of Masterchef 2014. Both gentlemen were lovely and so much fun to chat to. I love a little bit of harmless gossip, and they shared with us some of the behind-the-scenes action at Masterchef.

The validation dinner was held at the lovely south London home of London-Unattached.com, the acclaimed food blogger. We started the evening with a dish called Textures of Beetroot. This consisted of beetroot served four ways – roasted, pickled, pureed and raw. The dish was lovely, and lightly dressed with a refreshing vinaigrette. Helping to boost the salad were some broad beans, feta cheese and walnuts which gave the dish more texture and dimension.

Tony Rodd - La Belle Assiette - London Food Blog

Tony Rodd – La Belle Assiette – Textures of beetroot

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Tapas Revolution Shoreditch

Posted on Thursday, 3rd December 2015

TAPAS REVOLUTION SHOREDITCH

Chef Omar Allibhoy’s Tapas Revolution has locations in Shoreditch, Westfield, Bluewater and Grand Central, Birmingham. We recently visited the Shoreditch branch. The restaurant was about a third full, and had a pleasant buzz to it. Built around a central bar, the design of the restaurant embodies a modern Spanish wine and tapas bar.

Having eaten our fair share of Spanish food and visited a good handful of the acclaimed tapas restaurants in London, we have a good understanding of classic tapas. Staple dishes were therefore our primary focus as we feel a good tapas restaurant should be able to produce these to a high standard without breaking sweat.

Service was relaxed and friendly. We started with a glass of pleasant and affordable cava and a fresh and fruity Godello from Galicia. With these they brought us a small basket of bread sticks and sliced salchichon to snack on.

Tapas Revolution - London Food blog - Croquetas

Tapas Revolution – Croquetas

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Mamounia Lounge Mayfair

Posted on Monday, 30th November 2015

MAMOUNIA LOUNGE MAYFAIR

You can’t go past Mamounia Lounge Mayfair and not gawp. The heated terrace churns out continuous streams of shisha smokers – the young, beautiful and so Mayfair – languidly drinking mint tea or playing backgammon. Get through the door, and you are into hushed lights, squishy sofas and, during weekends, pan-Arabic music and belly dancers. Lounge, it certainly is.

But behind the boisterous façade, the kitchen serves up Middle Eastern food that clearly shows both the care with ingredients and attention to detail with presentation. A kind of food that can and should stand on its own.

Mamounia in Curzon Street (the second of two branches, the other being in Knightsbridge) positions itself as a Middle Eastern dining experience with ‘European fusion dishes’. Our lovely Russian-speaking waitress told us that in the past the food was more traditional but recently there’s been a change towards more adventurous interpretations with some European, Mediterranean touches. Indeed, the menu is a mix of classic Moroccan and Lebanese dishes such as falafel, tagines, grilled meats, with a few surprising additions (perhaps to allure the jet-setting palates?) like hommus with truffles or lobster and crab meat tagine.

The restaurant consists of two levels, the smaller space with a bar behind the shisha terrace and a large lounge room downstairs where live music and dancing happen. We were seated on the ground floor in a booth, perhaps most suited for a lively birthday party (what, with a giant flat screen and meshed curtains), but the two of us were slightly lost in the massive sofa facing crowds and staff toing and froing to the loos and kitchen lifts.

Mamounia offers a wide and enticing selection of cocktails, many with champagne and many non alcoholic. We went for the Gold Digger, apparently the top selling signature cocktail. Served in two parts – a short glass of passion fruit liquor with gold leaves and champagne, and a martini glass with more passion fruit and vodka – it was a fun and refreshing start to the meal.

We then selected a spread of cold and hot mezzes. The more traditional Moutabel (£6.75), pureed smoked aubergine with tahini and lemon juice, was delightfully creamy and served with home-made pitta bread, an admirable touch.

Pastilla of Chicken (£7), an iconic Moroccan pie, historically made with pigeon meat, was a scrumptious combination of chicken cooked with saffron and almonds, wrapped in filo pastry and icing sugar. A combination of savoury and sweet which is so common to Northern Africa but could be a love it or hate it pairing for those not in the habit. We loved the crunchy pastry with moist filling, a meal in itself really.

Mamounia Lounge - London Food Blog - Pastilla

Mamounia Lounge – Pastilla

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Quilon – Indian Wine Event

Posted on Thursday, 26th November 2015

QUILON – INDIAN WINE EVENT

A guest post by ‘O&M’ *

We were thrilled to be invited to Quilon recently to take part in a press event showcasing Indian Wine, with the focus being on two particular vineyards, Grover Zampa and Sula.

Quilon - London Food Blog

Quilon – Indian wine event

Indian Wine is relatively unknown in our supermarket shelves or wine shops. India’s APEDA (Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority) is leading a brand promotion of Indian Wine to raise publicity in Europe and particularly in the United Kingdom.

Quilon - London Food Blog

Quilon – Indian wine event

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Konditor and Cook – Curly Whirly Experience

Posted on Monday, 23rd November 2015

KONDITOR AND COOK

Konditor and Cook, the boutique bakery, is best known for its brownies and its Curly Whirly cake, a decadent chocolate cake with a vanilla mascarpone icing. The Konditor & Cook chocolate cake has always been one of the biggest sellers for the bakery, and the story goes, when Mrs Simon of Sloane Square requested a vanilla filling instead of the customary ganache one Thanksgiving, the Curly Whirly was born.

In addition to the delectable delights that you can buy from the six Konditor & Cook stores throughout London, Konditor & Cook also run a cake school and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to try the Curly Whirly Experience one Saturday afternoon, a baking class where we learned to make the Curly Whirly Cake with a Vanilla mascarpone frosting and some Curly Whirly Brownies with Cream Cheese Swirl.

Konditor and Cook - London Food Blog - Brownies & cupcakes

Konditor and Cook – Brownies & cupcakes

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Hakkasan Hanway Place – Dim Sum Sundays

Posted on Friday, 20th November 2015

HAKKASAN HANWAY PLACE

Hakkasan Hanway Place needs little introduction and is the first of the Hakkasan restaurants to open. Hakkasan was designed by famed interior designer Christian Liaigre and embodies the height of sensuality with its wooden screens intertwined with black and gold traditionally-drawn panels. Opening in 2001, in 2003 Hakkasan was awarded a Michelin star, which it has retained to this day.

Hakkasan offers both an a la carte menu as well as a dim sum menu. On Sundays, it has a special ‘Dim Sum Sundays’ menu which is priced at £58 per person (with a minimum of two people sharing) and which I thought to be really good value. The menu included a selection of dim sum as well as cooked dishes. Moreover, the menu included a choice of a starter cocktail, half a bottle of Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV Champagne each, and a choice of after dinner cocktail. We all agreed it was a great way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon, enjoying some good food with good company and with lots of booze.

Hakkasan - London Food Blog - Louis Roederer champagne

Hakkasan – Louis Roederer champagne

The menu begins with a crispy duck salad with pomelo, pine nut and shallot. The salad was really lovely. The duck was, as the menu suggested, nice and crispy, and it worked well with the sweetness of the pomelo.

Hakkasan - London Food Blog - Crispy duck salad

Hakkasan – Crispy duck salad

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Mexico by Kitchen Theory

Posted on Wednesday, 18th November 2015

MEXICO BY KITCHEN THEORY

Mexico by Kitchen Theory is a collaborative gastronomic project founded by Jozef Youssef who has worked at the Fat Duck, Helene Darroze at The Connaught, The Dorchester Hotel and is also the author of Molecular Gastronomy at Home. Kitchen Theory began as a website aimed at sharing knowledge in the field of gastronomy covering topics such as food science, food culture, food history, multisensory flavour perception, neurogastronomy and molecular gastronomy which has now manifested into experimental dinners, workshops and guest talks.

Mexico by Kitchen Theory is a labour of love, with Chef Youssef having spent over a month in Mexico researching the project, delving into the country’s rich culinary history and working with top Mexican chefs. He has also teamed up with Oxford University’s Professor Charles Spence, the head of the Crossmodal Research Laboratory. Professor Spence is interested in how people perceive the world around them, particularly, how our brains process the information from each of our different senses (such as smell, taste, sight, hearing, and touch) to form the extraordinarily rich multisensory experiences that fill our daily lives. Together the pair is working towards a remarkable sensory dining experience as part of ‘the chef and the scientist’. With Mexico by Kitchen Theory, the idea is to shatter the UK perception that Mexican cuisine is mostly based on Tex-Mex and rather, it can be a sophisticated Central American fare with a refined, modern, multisensory twist.

We tried a beautiful four-course lunch menu which began with the ‘Holy Trinity’ of corn, beans, and chilli. The starter was so called as corn, beans and chilli have historically formed the ‘holy trinity’ of the Mexican diet, providing a balance of proteins and vitamins. This course was delightful, with a beautifully textured refried bean puree topped with grilled corn in husks, some soaked guajillo chilli chiffonade and huitlacoche which is similar to corn fungus or Mexican truffle.

Mexico by Kitchen Theory - London Food Blog - Holy Trinity

Mexico by Kitchen Theory – Holy Trinity

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