Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Franco Manca



I took the rare opportunity of a day off in Brixton to sample the pizza at Franco Manca. After an in depth article in OFM a couple of months ago, the internet has been awash with chatter about this place. And I felt like it was my duty as a Brixton resident and foodie to see what all the fuss is about.

Foolishly I forgot to take a note of the address, assuming that it must be easy to find. But I found myself walking back and forth along Electric Avenue, dodging the market vendors, trying desperately to find this "hidden gem". It always helps of course if you are actually on the right road. A quick call to 118500 and I was back on track. I was put through to Franco Manca who then guided me into the restaurant which was about 18 yards from where I was standing. The charming chap on the phone even spotted me and came to greet me. Top class service from beginning to end.

Snuggled into the heart of Brixton Market, remember, if you can, that it's Unit 4, Electric Lane. The restaurant bridges both sides of the covered market alleyway which adds a great natural flow to environment. On either side are large pizza ovens that have been hand build over in Naples. They generate a temperature of 500'C which is the key to their sourdough pizzas having such a crispy crust and soft middle. I inspected them with great interest, taking notes for next year's big project where I am planning to build an outdoor earth oven in the garden. Should be epic. If anyone's got any advice, I'd love to hear from you.

I ordered the chorizo pizza which comes with dry and wet sausage from Brindisa. It arrived almost as soon as I had spoken. Given all the hype, I was determined not to be prejudiced and was hoping it would live up to all the noise. And it did. As promised it was gorgeously charred on the outside, with the appearance of tiger bread whilst the mozzarella, tomato and chorizo was perfectly cooked as well. The puffy crust was crisp on the outside and pillowy soft inside. A bit like a savoury, hot macaron!

The chorizo had a lick of char and otherwise was simply irresistible. I was tempted to add pepper and chilli oil but didn't want to tamper with something that had been thought through so clearly. The mozzarella made almost made me giggle as it unwound as I tried to eat it like some sort of practical joke. All this fatty, carby goodness was washed down by a jar of their delicious home made lemonade followed the best espresso I've ever had for £1!

All the ingredients are impeccably sourced with superb credentials. But the crowning glory is the sourdough base that takes 20 hours of careful nurturing before it meets its glorious fate in the super charged ovens.

I was amused when two gentlemen in suits arrived and loudly asked "are you the guys who make the best pizza in London". I felt like I stood out pretty badly in my brown cords and blue v-neck jumper, but I was a chameleon by comparison. It seems that word has spread and that this gem is fast becoming a lot less hidden.

Be warned that Franco Manca is only open on week days from 12-5. My pizza, lemonade and coffee came to well under a tenner.

Franco Manca on Urbanspoon

Butternut Squash and Goat's Cheese Risotto with Harissa Sausages

Feeling a bit creative at the weekend after the macaron class, I decided to create something fun and seriously savoury to counteract the mega sugar hit from the macarons.

I made a very straight forward risotto with a shallot and lardon base and a "stock" improvised from anchovy essence, mushroom ketchup, soy sauce and boiling water. Whilst I was stirring the rice, the butternut squash was roasting in a coat of olive oil and salt and a couple of cloves of garlic with their jackets on.

In an adjacent tray my sausages were sizzling in a rose harissa glaze. Crisping up and emitting a spicy, Middle Eastern aroma.

I'm not going to go into the details of cooking sausages and a risotto! So you'll just have to take my word for it that the combination worked brilliantly. Especially with a watercress and radicchio side salad dressed with a touch of balsamic vinegar. I can seriously recommend smearing sausages in harissa paste. It works like a dream

Butternut squash risotto with harissa sausages

Butternut squash risotto

Just the sort of spicy, meaty, sauvory antidote I needed given my massive macaron induced blood sugar spike.

Off to Kerala, India



Back in 2 weeks with loads of stories, a flatter tummy, sun kissed skin, gorgeous photos and a whole new palette.

Photo from Marco Bellucci.

L'Aletiers des Chefs Macaron Class with Trusted Places

Good old Trusted Places. Not only is their site brilliant, but they also look after their bloggers as if they are family. Niamh, the TP community manager, who also writes the fantastic Eat Like a Girl blog, organised an afternoon of macaron making at L'Atelier des Chefs on Wigmore Street.

Latelier des chefs

I must confess I had to lie to most of my friends about what I was doing... it was only on Friday evening that the penny dropped that the macaron class clashed with the England vs Australia rugby match. Whoops. My house mate found out and I suspect it is going to take some time before I'm allowed to live it down! Not only is he now doubting my sexuality, but a bunch of the great food bloggers I met thought that Cowie is a man!!! I can assure you all that Cowie is very much a girl!

Gaggle of food bloggers

So a whole bunch of keeno food bloggers (me included) rocked up on Saturday afternoon to get stuck in. I was in a cracking team of 4 tasked with making foie gras macarons died with squid ink. Rather than tell you how to do it, just have a look at the pictures below.

Squid ink macaron

Foie grois macaron

There was something very amusing about the environment with around 2,000 pictures being taken! You can see from the picture below that it wasn't your normal cooking environment!

Pressure cooking

Here's some of the photographic highlights...

Waiting

Red macaron

Green macaron blob

Thumping

Rose and raspberry macaron

Mmm Green macaron

Caramel macaron

It was great to meet such fun and passionate people. For instance I had a fascinating chat with Shuna about bread, sandwiches, The French Laundry and sourdough... who you can see masterfully piping the scarlet macarons below

Shuna piping

Here's a round up of the team - it was great to meet you all. I can't wait to do something fun as a group again. Food blogging is a funny old thing. It's great to meet so many like minded souls.

World Foodie Guide
Eat Like a Girl
Hollow Legs
Cooking the Books
An American in London
Food Rambler
London Eater
Food Flunky
The Princess and the Recipe
Food by Mark
Tamarind and Thyme
Londonelicious
Trusted Places Blog

TP

So a massive thank you to Trusted Places... and specifically to Niamh. You're a star.

Laura filming

And to Laura for being the chief videographer.

Head chef

And also to L'Ateliers des Chefs which offers a great experience. I can't wait to return for more fun and games.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Kreativ Blogger Award



We were humbled last week to be awarded the Kreativ Blogger Award by Fiona from Cottage Smallholder. It's not often someone takes the time to write nice things about you "Witty, urbane and well worth a visit, Around Britain with a Paunch is fun and educationalish." It really made my day.

So it is now my turn to pick out 6 blogs that I think deserve an award. I know that some bloggers aren't that keen on awards so if I nominate you and you're not into it, don't worry. We'll just never speak of it again, like some sort of childhood disaster.

In absolutely no particular order...

Helen Graves over at Food Stories. I love the look of her blog and want to find out where she learnt to take such brilliant photos with rounded edges! And I'm very excited about having a fellow sandwich enthusiast to have fun with.

Lizzie at Hollow Legs always has loads of cool stories and cooks up some very interesting things. Plus she recommended that Cowie and I went to Peninsula for some dim sum on Cowie's birthday.

Douglas Blyde writes the Oscar Wildean wine and restaurant blog Intoxicating Prose. I'm terrible envious of the places Douglas eats at and his relatively mysterious foodie job. I'm looking forward to us going for dinner in early December. If you get a chance check out his excellent review of Restaurant Gordon Ramsay.

If it's not too nepotistic, I'm delighted that my amazing Mum has taken to writing her gardening blog like the world to Obama. I love seeing our garden evolve and mature. I love seeing the frost on our topiary; the yellowing leaves on our wind swept trees. I've got a funny feeling that she'll be a lot better at it than me. Have at look at Kathy Browns Garden Blog.

Following a similar theme, Hannah's blog never ceases to inspire me. I love catching up on what Hannah and Sacha are up to. Hannah, I know you are a bit down at the moment, so I hope this helps a little bit to cheer you up.

And finally, but not at all least, Niamh's brilliant Eat Like a Girl. Her photos are gorgeous. Her recipes are a delight. And to top it all off she is the brilliant network community manager of Trusted Places. Yesterday she organised a brilliant macaron making lesson at l'atelier des chefs which was huge fun. I'll write about it when I manage to get the photos off my camera. So in the meantime you can check out the pictures here on Foodie Guides Flickr stream.

Well done everyone.

And the 6 things I like doing best...

1. Reading Observer Food Monthly
2. Finding somewhere exciting to go with Cowie but not telling her where we're going
3. Finding somewhere awesome that others don't know about
4. Loading my pictures into Photoshop and realising that they don't need tweaking
5. Cooking a souffle and admiring it
6. Foraging for mushrooms and then finding out they are edible

Diana Henry's Gastro Pub Cookbooks

Last Saturday, during a fabulous meal at The Wellington Arms, we discovered Diana Henry. Well that's a bit dramatic. We stumbled across two of her excellent guides to the best gastro pubs in the UK. The fact that they were both signed and featured the not only the pub we were eating in, but also a photo of the table we were dining at made it extra special.

I was planning to buy both of these books, but Cowie got there first and bought them before I got a chance! I've been avidly reading them since they arrived and we're already planning weekend breaks for the early months of 2009. A cosy meal at the Gurnard's Head in Cornwall is already pencilled in! It's all very Royal Well Tavern in Cheltenham which is inspired by the cooking of Simon Hopkinson and Rowley Leigh.





You can find Diana Henry's book Gastro Pub Cookbook and Another Helping by following the links.

Le Cool-est Guide to London

I couldn't be a lot less cool. So I try to make up for it by subscribing to city guides like Flavorpill, Kultureflash and Le Cool and read city sites such as Londonist.

Flavorpill is always great and offers up a brilliant range of alternative ways to enjoy London and I am loving Londonist even more now I am part of their crew as "The Sandwichist". But it is Le Cool which is the most explosively awesome resource. I get their weekly email which is normally a bit too far out for me, but I feel a bit cooler by reading it. My love of Le Cool was cemented when I stumbled across their guide to Barcelona days before our trip to El Bulli and Barcelona. We used the book as our bible for 2 days and had such a brilliant time. In particular we loved Flash Flash Tortilleria which was enthusiastically recommended by Le Cool.



So when I was reading Amelia's blog and I discovered that the have launched a London edition I entered my bank details quicker than you can say "online credit card fraud".



I haven't had a chance to devour the entire book yet, but I have read the sections that fit my mental map of London - South London, Soho and Fitzrovia. I'm already super excited about visiting the following places in South London:

Breads Etc... Cowie has been talking about this places for a while now. But I hadn't realised that it was so special. It's on Clapham High Street and serves their special breads and jams to take away or have in and toast yourself.

Having thought I had grown out of Infernos I found myself there on Friday night and had a whale of a time. But I hope I won't be going back too soon. I'd rather go to The Loft, above Tescos on Clapham High Street, which gets a great little review.

I've always been tempted by Gastro, opposite the Clapham Picture House, but we always think it's a touch too expensive and go elsewhere. But the review in the Le Cool book has tempted me to pay it a visit soon. Great steak and red wine apparently. Probably best to save it until after the film! It gets great reviews on London Eats.

Having had a brilliant night at Fujiyama and Brixton Bar and Grill on Friday I'm delighted to see that Brixton gets a great write up too. I'm now planning to pay Plan B and Dex a visit. But the places that are on top of my to do list in Brixton are Franco Manca which serves allegedly the best pizza in the UK according to the Observer and Upstairs which can be found, if you look really hard, on Acre Lane.

It's such a cool book. Get your hands on one before they all sell out.

Read more reviews about Le Cool London Book on:

Londonist
Life Moves Pretty Fast
Think Demux
We Heart Stuff

Celebratory Bodean's



Photo from Eyedropper - one of the brilliant bloggers behind The Great British Food Map on Channel 4.

"Bodean's, Bodean's, Bodean's", sang Edwin as we switched from light blue to black at Stockwell. With a glazed look and gyroscopic approach to balancing we somehow emerged at Clapham Common "in the mood for food". I had just spent the last 9 hours whizzing back from a meeting in South West France, whilst Edwin, Anna and Cowie had been busy guzzling champagne to celebrate them all brilliantly passing their surveying exam - the dreaded APC.

Given that none of us had eaten anything you could describe as lunch, we were all famished. Bodean's couldn't have fitted the bill any better. Margaritas ticked all the boxes, reminding me of the scene in Bottom where Eddie and Richie create a cocktail called the "Esther Rantzen" because "it pulls the gums back over your teeth"... (the ingredients are Pernod, Ouzo (a wee drop), marmalade (one glob to taste), salt (around the rim of the *glass*))

We feasted on sinful pulled pork quesadillas, nachos with gallons of guacamole and crab cakes for starters... all great and just what we wanted. Having said that it really wasn't a very sensible choice of starters - or as Bodean's calls them - teasers.

Already quite full, we ordered almost the entire menu! My combo of smoked BBQ'd chicken, smoked sausage and pulled pork was an epic display of meat. It tasted divine, even if the chicken breast was a bit dry. I was surrounded by sensational BBQ beans, massively exciting baby back ribs that were disappointingly tough in comparison to Edwin's astonishingly good spare ribs, tepid onion rings and metres of kitchen roll to help us keep the grease levels to a minimum!

Cowie's rib-eye steak was apparently very good - underscored by the fact that she didn't give anyone else a taste! Somehow Cowie also snuck a salad and some vegetables into the mix when none of us were watching. But again, no-one got a look in here! Here's what Cowie had to say for herself...

"A salad and greens are clearly a must in an American meat diner.... well, an essential for a Cowie at least.

The mixed roast veg platter was satisfactory with a good array of peppers and courgettes. The green salad was a green salad, and probably totally unnecessary.

But I liked them both though and shared them with no-one... I am selfish with my rabbit food!"

Anna did a great job of summing up the atmosphere...

"... it certainly had a Greece-Dallas hybrid charm and quite simply booths are under used in London restaurants- yes, it is like eating in a train carriage but there is a place for that. In all honesty, a restaurant that laminates their menus to double up as plate meats is right up my street - all of which was perfectly punctuated by a high school gym team waitress. All in all an excellent atmosphere that was as hearty as the food!"

I love Bodean's. It's one of my favourite place in London. The only downside is that it's not great for your waist-line or sex life! My top tip, try to get the sexy times in before dinner! It would be great for S&BJ day - March 14th.

James Backhouse - Leon Rhubarb Jam Expert

James and the giant blackboard

James and Henry are the legends behind the "Farmhouse Kitchen" which took the Stourhead Show by storm back in the soggy summer months... James is the chap in the fetching apron above.

This is just a quick post to register my surprise at seeing one of his recipes in the amazingly designed Leon Cookbook that has just found its way onto the shelves. I took a sneaky picture which shows James's Rhubarb and Ginger Jam recipe. Nice one Backhouse!

It's a stunningly designed book, full of fold out pages, posters and above all delicious and healthy recipes. If there was a magic wand that could turn all McDonald's into Leons the world would be a much better place.

James Rhubarb Jam Recipe for Leon

An Evening With Thomasina Miers



Photo from Thomasina's profile on the Guardian.

Ever since we first visited Wahaca we’ve been hooked on Thomasina’s addictive restaurant. Part of this is down to what must be one of the best marketing ideas for ages – Wahaca Chilli Seeds. Essentially Oli, Ed and I planted these seeds in a couple of containers in our office back in March not really expecting much to happen. But to our delight the seeds grew and the seedlings became fruiting chilli plants. We taught ourselves to become chilli experts with our speciality being the chilli pollination dance which you’ve got to watch below!



I sent a hopeful email to Wahaca asking if they could identify what type of chillies we had grown. And to my surprise I got a response from none other than Thomasina telling us that we had grown jalapeños. Elated, our collective chilli fetish lead us to creating our own chilli inspired recipes. Ed’s chilli oil is a closely guarded secret. As is Oli’s sweet chilli sauce.

Olis chilli sauce for spring rolls

But if you want to know how to make my crab apple and chilli jelly you can read about it here.

Crab apple and chilli jelly 2008

In response to our rabid enthusiasm for chillies, Thomasina very kindly invited the Publicis Chilli Growing Collective over for a tequila and a bite to eat over at her place. Delighted by the offer we filled our bags full of the chillies we’ve harvested, a bottle of Hornitos tequila and a jar of chilli and crab apple jelly! As the Scouts say, “Be Prepared”.

The excitement started as soon as we arrived. Whilst I was looking at the pin board by the foyer, I did a massive double take and realised that the email I wrote to Thomasina asking her what chillies we were growing was the pride of place in Wahaca’s latest newsletter, along with a photo of our best chilli plant! What a feeling!

Then when Thomasina glamorously emerged from the buzzing restaurant we all had to pinch ourselves. Star struck and a bit bowled over we had a fabulous time talking about Mexican and Spanish food whilst drinking an exciting range of tequilas and feasting on an array of goodies that Thomasina picked from her own menu! I swear it all tasted twice as good…

We all became very animated when discussing how to make chorizo. Thomasina is now making her own chorizo for the restaurant – it is currently in soft launch phase and tasted amazing in a refried bean concoction. You can taste the passion in all her food and in her writing. This was of particular interest to Oli who has bought a piglet as a wedding present for his best friend. At the stag do they are planning to butcher the pig and are in need of suggestions for turning "Babe" into a range of pork goodies...

Oli and I left literally and figuratively full of beans because as we were leaving we got chatting to Tom Parker Bowles about what makes a good tequila – all inspired by Oli’s now almost empty bottle of Hornitos! With a bit of luck we might land up on telly talking about tequila and chillies – two things that are very dear to all our hearts.

Thomi – if you want any help with your blog and the Slow Food Movement, you know where to come. And next time we come for dinner, can we bring Ed? Thanks so much for everything. You’ve inspired all of us.

Friday, 14 November 2008

The Wellington Arms, Hampshire

Wellington Arms

Isn’t it about time someone built a rapid exit road from South London that links directly to the M3? I’m sick of having to crawl around the South Circular at a pace that makes Eric the Eel look like Michael Phelps. The grizzly shop windows look the same in Wandsworth, Putney and Sheen.

Having escaped the South Circular the M3 felt like one of those conveyor belts for lazy people in airports. We whizzed along without even trying. The jaundiced trees took on a trippy effect as they shed their leaves in the gusting wind. Rather than be mugged by the modern day highwayman that is the motorway service station, we had planned ahead and booked ourselves into The Wellington Arms, just north of Basingstoke.

Unusually, we arrived on time, which gave us a chance to admire their chicken coup and immaculate vegetable garden.

Wellington Arms Chickens and Bees

We read a glowing review of The Wellington Arms in Olive about 2 weeks ago and booked it on the spot. Further delving yielded warm reviews from Giles Coren and others. We’d been looking forward to it from the moment we booked. Everything we had read about was true. It is idyllic and must be one of the most stylish country pubs in the country.

With only 8 tables it’s cosy and full of charm. It feels less like a pub restaurant and more akin to being in a friend’s living room. Our waitress was a delight. My pint of bitter was perfect and Cowie’s lime and soda was full of proper lime. With a pint in hand we surveyed the chalk board menu, standing behind a table of very loud parents from Marlborough.

We often find it hard to choose, but this time it was as if the menu had been written just for us. Cowie was torn between a double baked goat’s cheese soufflé and the scallops – as was I which made things easy! And for the main event Cowie immediately chose the brill and I almost shouted out venison pie!

Whilst waiting for our food I couldn’t help noticing the plaque behind me commemorating Jason King’s Junior Gold medal in the Cooking Olympics. This was a sign of the brilliance to come as we were feasting on a range of sensational breads. In particular the soft dark, treacly rye bread was first class – it’s all made in the village by a chap who’s name I read (and forgot) whilst having a wee!

Cooking Olympics

My scallops couldn’t have been cooked any better. Some people don’t like their sea food covered in butter – but I do! The bed of samphire had me purring like a kitten having his tummy tickled. I was so focussed on the scallops that I almost forgot to switch plates with Cowie. Her goat’s cheese soufflé was just as good. Well risen texture melted into that unmistakable taste of goat’s cheese. Fortunately our plates were cleared before I had embarrassed myself by licking them clean!

The excellence of the cooking continued with our main courses. Whilst all the other boring people on the other 7 tables seemed to be having fish and chips we fell head over heels for our more interesting dishes. My venison pie had a lid on it that any chef in the country would have been proud of. It stayed crispy until I had devoured the last morsel. The venison filling was moist and deep. The binary opposite of the dry and tough meat that occasionally plays the part of an impostor.

Cowie’s brill was huge. Enough for 4 Cowies! The outside was perfectly seared to a crispy, buttery finish, whilst the flesh inside was soft and peeled away like skate. The real treat was yet to come as Cowie unearthed a line of sweetbreads. Our cabbage and roasted courgettes were just as perfect and left us feeling like we’d just experienced the platonic ideal of a “Saturday lunch, just off the motorway, on the way home after a long week at work”.

From now on, whenever we have a long trip on the cards we are going to make sure we’ve got a good rural pub that serves great food lined up to refuel us! In our little alcove we started reading some books by Diana Henry who has written about the Wellington Arms in her guide to Britain’s best gastro pubs. I’ve already ordered a copy from the new and used section on Amazon and can’t wait to plan our next adventure.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Skillet and Bacon Experimentation



I stumbled across Skillet whilst perusing PSFK... looks like a great concept that would work brilliantly in the UK.

"Based in Seattle, Washington, they forgo paying rent on some fancy space, and instead serve delicious gourmet food out of an old Airstream trailer.

Skillet can be found at various locations around Seattle, cooking up mouth-watering breakfast and lunch fare such as Kobe beef burgers topped with cambazola cheese and bacon jam, poutine with gravy white cheddar and herbs - and for breakfast: Waffles with maple braised pork belly and two fried eggs."


BACON JAM!!! My two favourite things combined!



Although Bacon-naise isn't far off either!



If the Bacon-naise story interests you click here to find out more about Jason and Dave's story. It's pretty whacky. They are on a mission to make everything taste of bacon! Good luck to them.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Mum's Gardening Blog

Regular readers will know a bit about my Mum because every now and again she gets a mention... She's great at making ice bowls.





And is a star in the world of garden design and edible flowers. Last month she was on Gardeners' World demonstrating how to cook with flowers for instance.





Also her adventure with Hannah was a huge success too. Who can resist floral cupcakes?

Floral Fancies

And for Mum's birthday this year we had the most amazing edible flower experience at Roussillon.



But what I am most proud of is Mum's blogging. She's taken to it like a duck to water and is now writing brilliant articles about the garden, edible flowers and most excitingly the fascinating world of garden art.

So jump over to Mum's blog and have a gander. Please welcome her to the blogosphere and offer her some encouragement! I'm worried that she's going to put my humble blogging to shame!

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Awesome Decal



Essentially a large sticker to apply to a nice plain white wall in the kitchen. I love it. All I need is a house of my own and a kitchen I can take control of!

Cowie... would Granny like one of these in her new bungalow?

From Harmonie Interieure via Daily Olive.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Zayna needs some customers...



Gilly has been raving about Zayna for the last month. In that time he has been 5 times. And is already planning his next visit! Gilly and the rest of his company have decided to adopt Zayna as their "pet" restaurant.

Tucked away on New Quebec Street in no-man's land between Baker Street, Marble Arch and Edgeware Road, it's passing trade is always going to be very minimal. The whole area is about as lively as The Millennium Dome. Frankly it's brave opening a restaurant here. With hardly any natural footfall it means that the cooking has to be extraordinary for a restaurant to be successful. Look at Dinings for instance. It's tucked away in the backwaters east of Edgeware Road and is almost impossible to find first time out... but it's a brilliant restaurant. Having not seen their balance sheet I can't comment on their economic success. But that said they are always busy and attract an audience from across London.

This evening Zayna was almost empty. Admittedly, we arrived for what can only be described as afternoon tea at 7pm... but it never actually got more than a sprinkling of custom all night. And it was a random Tuesday night. The image below from their website sums up the Mary Celeste atmosphere.



But the truth is this place should be rammed full. The food is incredible. It's a great mix of robust Pakistani flavours, stylish cooking but without the pretense that accompanies some top end Indian / Pakistani restaurants.

We started with a small range of small dishes including a mixture of chickpeas with pomegranate and soured cream which was a very interesting and successful combination. A mango salad offered a fresh and tropical segue. And a spiced lamb chop was a hint of the culinary glory that was to follow.

But these little starters were only teasing us. Given that Gilly understands Zayna's menu better than anyone on earth, we let him order. We were treated to three stunning dishes. Let me try to do them an iota of justice.

Steamed tilapia arrived in a candle warmed bowl, swimming in a delicate, fragrant coconut marsala. The fish eased apart like Obama walking through a crowd. Tilapia is one of my favourite fish. It brings back memories of gorging myself on it's distinctive flesh in Ghana. It's a fish that responds brilliantly to spices. It was interesting that it had been steamed first before being doused in sauce. Great dish. One that I've never seen on an Pakistani (or Indian)restaurant menu before. I can't wait to order it again and have it all to myself.

A lamb curry provided a snapshot of what a good curry house should do well. What can I say really... the meat was great, the sauce was deep and tangy. And I wanted to pick the bowl up and and lick it clean!

But the real star of the show, and indeed, the star of Marylebone, was a prawn dish cooked with wine and garlic that had all three of us fighting for the last morsel. Oddly, it transported me not to the Subcontinent, but to San Sebastian. Rich, deeply garlicky and above all sensationally powerful. The prawns were the most succulent I have ever eaten and were worth the £33 for dinner along.

So. Dodgy location. Amazing food. Reasonable price. I feel like making it my mission to make sure Zayna is successful. If you've read this and like Indian/Pakistani food you've got to pay this place a visit. Because it is normally empty you'll be guaranteed great service. I just can't wait to go back for some more of their prawns!!!



Zayna on Urbanspoon

Monday, 3 November 2008

The Sandwichist: Salt Beef Sandwich, Selfridges

Salt beef from Brass Rail in Selfridges

I'm loving my new role as the "Sandwich Correspondent" at the Londonist. For this month's article click here.

I am now looking to find the ideal sandwich London has to offer for the December column... can anyone recommend a great place for a Christmas sandwich on the tube network? Preferably not from Eat or Pret.

Your help please!!!

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