Visit Stellenbosch at TheLondonFoodie

VISIT STELLENBOSCH

Stellenbosch Wines and TheLondonFoodie hosted a special #VisitStellenbosch evening recently to celebrate the wines from Stellenbosch. The evening demonstrated the quality of the wines from this famous South African wine region, and its diversity in pairing with a range of flavours. TheLondonFoodie – chef, author and supperclub host – is also extremely well known on the London food scene, having graduated from Le Cordon Bleu to run his own highly successful supperclubs to publishing his acclaimed cookbook “Nikkei Cuisine: Japanese Food the South American Way”. TheLondonFoodie provided a specially selected Japanese and Nikkei menu to pair with the Stellenbosch wines that we had the opportunity to sample. The combination of amazing food and incredible wines made for an exceptional event.

Visit Stellenbosch & TheLondonFoodie - Selection of Stellenbosch wines

Visit Stellenbosch & TheLondonFoodie – Selection of Stellenbosch wines

The evening kicked off with a reception with canapés of pan-fried leek and tofu gyoza, and wasabi and butter flavoured popcorn. This was served with L’Avenir MCC Blanc de Blanc 2011, a blanc de blanc which was exceptionally creamy with rich flavours of nuts, biscuit and citrus. It had a superb crispness, and the delicate titillation of tiny bubbles left a lingering impression. This was an attractive bottle and incredibly easy to drink.

Starter 1 was a tasty salmon and Sicilian prawn with a fennel Nikkei ceviche in a passion fruit and aji amarillo tiger’s milk. This was served with a Kleine Zalze Chenin Blanc, a delicious and easy drinking wine with concentrated aromas of guava, lychee and sweet melon, and subtle oaky notes which gave the wine a full and elegant finish.

Visit Stellenbosch & TheLondonFoodie - London Food Blog - Prawn & salmon ceviche

Visit Stellenbosch & TheLondonFoodie – Prawn & salmon ceviche

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‘Nikkei Cuisine: Japanese Food the South American Way’ by Luiz Hara

‘NIKKEI CUISINE: JAPANESE FOOD THE SOUTH AMERICAN WAY’ BY LUIZ HARA

One of my favourite food bloggers / supper club chefs / cookery writer is none other than Luiz Hara from TheLondonFoodie who cooks some of the most extraordinary Nikkei food imaginable. I have had the the opportunity to sample his cooking on numerous occasions at his supper club events in his East London home, and following on from the success of his supper clubs, Luiz has recently brought out his first cookbook. Called ‘Nikkei Cuisine: Japanese Food the South American Way’, the book is a celebration of the best that South American inspired Japanese cooking can offer.

I strongly urge you to try one of his supper clubs which you can book through his website. Failing that, you can try and replicate some of his recipes, one of which, I had the opportunity to help prepare at his cookery class. The dish was salmon and passion fruit tiradito which I love because it is so fresh, lively on the palate, tangy and visually appealing. I am featuring the recipe below and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Nikkei Cuisine: Japanese Food the South American Way

Nikkei Cuisine: Japanese Food the South American Way

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Umu

Umu is a one Michelin-starred Japanese restaurant located in Mayfair. The executive chef behind Umu is Yoshinori Ishii, a chef with 20 years of high end cooking experience. Chef Ishii previously spent nine years at Japan’s three Michelin-starred Kyoto Kitcho. This was followed by postings as the head chef at the Japanese Embassies in both Geneva and New York and as the omakase chef at New York’s Morimoto Restaurant.

Umu offers an à la carte selection of cold and hot starters, traditional and modern sushi as well as main courses. But Umu is perhaps best known for offering a kaiseki menu, a multi-course Japanese dinner which draws on traditional Japanese cooking skills and techniques to harmoniously balance the taste, texture, colour and presentation of the best seasonal ingredients that are used in the preparation of this meal. As well as the standard kaiseki menu, Umu also has a sushi kaiseki menu option, both priced at £100.

We eased into our meal with an amuse bouche of turnip with an unusual pairing of espoisse cheese, wasabi and a balsamic vinegar reduction which proved to be very tasty. It was an unusual concept but it worked surprisingly well.

Turnip with espoisse cheese

Turnip with espoisse cheese

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Nizuni

Nizuni opened its doors at the back end of last year. Owned by the same people as nearby Korean restaurant Koba, it faces stiff competition with its location on Charlotte Street. Not only is this part of Fitzrovia one of the eating hotspots of London, Nizuni also has to contend with Roka and Tsunami, two other well-known Japanese restaurants within walking distance.

The restaurant is pretty funky and has ample seating space. Covering three floors, the basement also houses an intimate bar. The food came thick and fast, almost all at once, which was surprising considering our discussion with the waitress about what were going to be our starters and what were going to be our mains. Trying to eat four dishes at once was difficult, especially as our table was small. It also meant that the cooked food went cold quite quickly.

Still we enjoyed what we had. A nasu dengaku (£4.50), aubergine with a miso sauce, was lovely. The aubergine was soft and gooey, and the miso sauce was sweet and nicely caramelised.

Nasu dengaku

Nasu dengaku

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Feng Sushi – Masterclass in Sushi Making

I went to a sushi making masterclass at Feng Sushi a couple of weeks ago. The class was run by Feng Sushi co-founder Silla Bjerrum. Her CV is impressive. She was the first woman to be invited to the prestigious 7 Samurai Sushi Competition in 2008, and she has regularly travelled to Japan to study sushi making.

Silla, and the beginnings of a roll

Silla, and the beginnings of a roll

Silla is an advocate of sustainable fishing, and this is evident in the choice of seafood used at Feng sushi: Loch Duart sustainable salmon, line caught mackerel, local crabs and hand dived scallops from The Ethical Shellfish Company. I previously knew little about the sourcing of the ingredients at Feng Sushi, but this session provided me with assurance that Feng Sushi operates on a sustainable and ethical basis.

The class provided me with some insights into the art of sushi making. Getting the rice just right is one of the most important aspects of making sushi, and a critical tip I picked up was to wash the sushi rice for ten times to get rid of the starch, and letting it rest for half an hour before cooking. Another good tip I learnt was to cover the bamboo rolling mats with cling film to protect them.

Avocado & ginger maki

Avocado & ginger maki

Crab and avocado iso maki

Crab and avocado iso maki

During the class we made cucumber maki, avocado maki with pickled ginger, crab and avocado iso maki, iso maki with hand-dived scallop, prawn tempura hand roll and salmon nigiri. We also watched Silla fillet, marinate and cut mackerel sashimi, and cut salmon sashimi. The class was very interesting, although I must confess that my sushi and maki making skills need some work. As they say, practice makes perfect.

Iso maki with hand-dived scallop

Iso maki with hand-dived scallop

Salmon sashimi

Salmon sashimi

Marinated mackerel sashimi

Marinated mackerel sashimi

If you are interested in attending one of Silla’s masterclasses, click on the link here. Silla also teaches at Leith’s, Divertimenti and Billingsgate and speaks regularly about sushi and sustainability, (most recently at The Sustainable Seafood Awards 2009 at Billingsgate).


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Roka – Charlotte Street

Japanese Restaurant Roka on Charlotte Street (there is a new branch in Canary Wharf) is one of those places where it can be really difficult to get a reservation, especially on those ‘going out’ nights like Friday. I’ve tried booking on a number of times, and on each occasion I was told it was full. But I managed to achieve the seemingly impossible task of getting a table when I discovered that there is a bar seating area called the sushi and robatayaki counter which is open to customers on a first-come-first-served-no-booking basis. It’s located right in front of the chefs who cook on the open grill, and the best time to go to ensure a counter seat seems to be before 7.30pm. So for those who want to eat at Roka and can’t get a reservation, this is the route to try.

In fact, when I turned up just after 7pm looking for a counter table, I managed to secure a table for 8pm.. This allowed time for a detour to the affiliated Shochu Lounge Bar in the basement area downstairs (shochu is a type of Japanese spirit, typically containing about 25% alcohol). They have an abundance of fabulous cocktails, a number of which contain shochu.

Black cod marinated in yuzu miso & hajikami

Black cod marinated in yuzu miso & hajikami

The food menu is full of choices, but it’s always hard to pass up on a black cod marinated in yuzu (a citrus fruit) miso and homemade hajikami (ginger pickled in vinegar) (£22.60). This was a lovely rendition of the classic ‘Nobu’ dish, with the cod being succulent and flaky. It oozed with lots of sweet, slightly sticky yuzu miso sauce.

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Atari-ya Sushi Bar

Mixed selection of sushi and sashimi at Atariya

Mixed selection of sushi and sashimi at Atariya

Atariya is a little hole-in-the-way Japanese sushi place nestled amongst a string of restaurants along James Street, just north of the shopping pulse of Oxford Street. Actually, it’s part of a chain, although I’ve only been to the one on James Street. The great draw card of Atariya is that the sushi is resoundingly fresh. Just ask Jason Atherton, chef of one star Michelin restaurant Maze and his adjoining Maze Grill. I did, when I bumped into him at Atariya last year and got chatting to him. Apparently he’s a bit of a regular for the simple reason that the sushi is so fresh. And Atariya, being a stone’s throw away from his restaurants on Grosvenor Square, means it is all quite accessible when he’s taking a break.

I too have visited Atariya many times. It’s where I go when I’m in need of a sushi fix, and I’ve never been disappointed with its freshness, although the most stringent and rigorous of sushi connoisseurs might challenge the slight inconsistencies in the sizing of the sashimi pieces which occasionally seem to change from time to time. But this is a minor detail. It’s the freshness of the seafood that counts the most, and this is pretty assured. Furthermore, the vinegary sushi rice is authentic, with that required level of stickiness and sweetness.

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Abeno Too – Okonomiyaki delights

Okonomiyaki at Abeno Too

Okonomiyaki at Abeno Too

Last week, a fellow food blogger, 5 Star Foodie, contacted me to ask if I would guest post on her blog and I immediately jumped at the chance. Its always great to be able to share your love of food with other food lovers, but also extremely satisfying to be considered worthy enough to feature on another person’s blog. For this purpose, I wrote about Abeno Too, an okonomiyaki restaurant. So without further ado, please click on Abeno Too Review to read my post…



Abeno Too at:
17-18 Great Newport Street
London WC2H 7JE
Tel: +44 (0)20 7379 1160
http://www.abeno.co.uk/index_too.html

Abeno Too on Urbanspoon


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