Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Ledbury lunch: possibly the best bargain in London

Now The Ledbury is not a find, it's a much-heralded restaurant (2 Michelin stars, no. 34 and the highest new entry in the World's top 50 restaurants) that has been around for a while. And this week wasn't the first time I've been there. But if there's a better under £30 lunch than Brett Graham's in London currently I've yet to discover it.

I was invited there by Wines of Germany as the restaurant is supporting their Riesling Week so we did stray slightly off-piste but our starter and dessert came from the set price menu

First this stunningly beautiful Asian-style dish of flame grilled mackerel with avocado, radishes and shiso (above) with a crisp Saar riesling

Then a small(ish) portion of unbelievably porky pork jowl from the tasting menu roasted with liquorice with a crisp shard of perfect crackling. That came with a glass of Pinot Noir (Spätburgunder) from Baden.

Followed by an unheralded main course of loin and shoulder of lamb with green tomato juice and aubergine glazed with black sugar and garlic, just so, I suspect, that we could try one of the other wines that sommelier Luke Robertson is particularly excited about at the moment the Triennes Les Aureliens, a Cabernet Syrah blend from Provence. Lamb is always great with aubergine - and Cabernet, for that matter. This was sublime.

And finally a pretty-as-a-picture summery dessert of whipped ewe's milk with strawberries, blueberries, lemon verbena mergines and beignets with which we drank a glorious glass of sweet riesling about which I'll be writing more on my main site next week. (My match of the week, I predict, already and it's only Wednesday.)

The set weekday lunch is £27.50 for two courses, £33.50 for 3 - Sunday lunch is £40 but that's still a fantastic bargain. Food this good costs twice as much in Paris.

The Ledbury is the perfect place to take someone for a special occasion or even to treat yourself from time to time. My fellow blogger Helen Graves of Food Stories mentioned that she goes there every three months. I think I should be doing the same.

PS Don't whatever you do skip the bread rolls out of a misplaced concern that they might spoil your appetite. They're a work of art in themselves. Warm bacon brioche rolls in the centre, crystal malt on the right. I couldn't make up my mind which I liked best so had to have both. As you would.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Heritage tomatoes from The Tomato Stall

I have to thank Times journalist Alex Renton (via Twitter) for this recommendation - a firm that supplies tomatoes by post from the Isle of Wight.

Now you may think that's idiotic - tomatoes are everywhere at this time of year - but the Isle of Wight produces really tasty, sweet ones. I particularly like the idea of a 5kg family sized box (£21.50) including beef tomatoes, cherry and baby plum tomatoes and heritage tomatoes which would make a great present to take someone if you were staying for the weekend (healthier than a couple of bottles of wine . . .)

They also do prepared tomato products year-round which I spotted in a deli in Yarmouth last weekend with my mate Fiona Sims who vouches for the oak-roasted tomatoes.

Talking of tomatoes, there's a fantastic recipe for baked tomatoes and baguette with cream and anchovies by Yotam Ottolenghi in the Guardian today.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Barley Wood Sticky Toffee Apple Cake

Those of you who follow this blog will know that I rarely get excited about sweet things so they have to be pretty special to inspire a post.

This one is. It's a speciality of The Ethicurean Cafe at Barley Wood Walled Garden in Wrington just outside Bristol. To my mind it's infinitely superior to the original sticky toffee pud which I find far too sweet. It's light and (obviously) appley with a caramelised topping and is served (bliss) with cinnamon infused pouring cream.

So obviously I asked for the recipe.

And obviously they said no.

Apparently it's taken them two years to get it to that stage (2 years! That's worthy of Heston) and they don't intend to reveal the secret of how it's done. Quite rightly, as it means that you have to go down there to get a fix.

There are many other good things on the menu including some rather fancy terrines and soups made with the gorgeous produce in the garden.

I should also declare an interest in that we're having our next Cheese School down there on October 30th which will include learning how to make cheese and matching cheeses with apples and cider from their fabulous orchards. So do sign up if you're free.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Some new (to me) blogs

It's been a while since I flagged up any new blogs. (Actually it's been a while since I posted at all. Mea culpa. Have been rushing round Portugal and then frantically finishing a book). But here are four that appeal.

First of all a blog called Hot Meals Now from Annie Nichols who used to write the Cheat's Dinner Party series for the Sunday Telegraph's Stella magazine. Not being a regular Telegraph reader I hadn't realised they'd dropped it. It happens but it's always sad to see a good column go.

There are some nice recipes on it like potato beetroot boulangère (anything involving potato is, of course, good), teradot sauce and lamb with harissa and anchovy butter. Simple but imaginative ideas. I like it.

Another Anne - a Luxembourg ex pat living in London - blogs at Anne's Kitchen, a very pretty blog with some nice recipe ideas and some goodlooking food photography (courtesy of a Canon 450D). Good web design too from a friend who runs a web design consultancy. (I'm always envious of people who've managed to escape the clutches of Blogger although I have to say that Hollow Legs new design, using a Blogger template, is pretty impressive.)

The Italian Dish - a blogger called Elaine who lives in Michigan - popped up with a comment on one of my blogs (embarrassed to say I can't remember which) a few weeks back. I checked out her own which particularly appealed because it includes drinks as well as food. Try this refreshing-looking Collinzano, a mixture of gin, Aperol and lime and lemon juice, topped up with soda. Yum.

I also love kokblog from Johanna Kindvall a Swedish graphic designer which is illustrated with her really charming line drawings. I can't wait to make her akvavit cured pork belly. I think it was Sig of Scandilicious who put me on to that one.

Interestingly all of them are women who, it strikes me, blog much more than men these days. Maybe it's because they're - we're - more willing to share our thoughts for free. Or just feel the need to connect about a subject they're passionate about. What do you reckon?