Last Monday evening we met our friend Nate who was over from Port Townsend to visit his mother in London. We had several pints at the Lamb & Flag and Nate mentioned he knew of a place for curry in Brick Lane, so we headed East. I'd never been to Brick Lane before (although I have visited the surrounding area several times). It has a large Asian population, but not as large as Southall. A man stood outside every restauraunt trying to draw punters in. We entered Aladin and what immediately struck me was the lack of Indians eating. I have a personal policy that if none of the local people eat at a certain restaurant, don't go in. In this instance though I went in. The starter was good, the main course sub-standard. I got sick the next day (as did Macsen), although whether this was from the curry or the pints of beer I'm not sure. In any case I'll probably stick to Southall for curry from now on. Now I'm dreaming of tinda gosht (lamb and pumpkin curry) from Gifto's Lahore Karahi.
Later in the week we again met up with Nate, his mother, and her boyfriend James in Soho. After eight years I had never met his mother before so it was a pleasure to finally meet her. We had a few pints in the standing-room only pub and then went for Italian at a place we vaugely knew of, but it turned out to be closed for refurbishment. A few doors down was another Italian. It looked like your typical slightly dated fare, but it seemed decent. As we were about pay the bill we noticed they included a cover charge on top of the service charge. The restaurant was stuck in more of a time warp than we realized. We complained at which the waiter aggressively pointed out on the menu in a tiny typeface that the cover was for olives, bread, napkins, water, wear on the chairs, and air usage. We payed the cover in the end, but as we were leaving and still bristling from the waiter's behaviour I advised the two Japanese businessmen looking at the menu outside, "I wouldn't recommend it!" They laughed and moved on.
After dinner we stopped for patisserie and tea at Yauatcha. The teahouse has changed quite a bit in the year since we've been. There is now a black partition of shelves separating the patisserie counter from the rest of the room and they've lowered the lighting dramatically. They also serve dim sum upstairs now. My guess is that after they received their michelin star they needed more capacity as the downstairs doesn't seat many people. You can see a 360° virtual tour of how the restauraunt looks now here. Max said that when he went downstairs he saw David Beckham tucking into dim sum.
Nate is a baker so he could fully appreciate the hard work that goes into Yauatcha's pastries. He ordered two and especially loved the jade ganache with absinthe. After his pastries, jasmine tea, and observing the Yauatcha waitresses in their wispy ass-accentuating dresses he appeared to be in bliss.
Finally on Friday evening we went out with our friends Zoë and Andy for Chinese.
Desktop & Music:
M.I.A. - Arular
I loved the mash-ups of M.I.A.'s album on Piracy Funds Terrorism so it's great to hear them on their own.
Channel 4: Torture Season and Casanova
Is Torture A Good Idea?, The Guantanamo Guidebook, The Dirty Business, and America’s Brutal Prisons
(We borrowed a PVR to record the documentaries, but only managed to get The Guantanamo Guidebook
and America's Brutal Prisons. Will upload them if anyone is interested.)
I also enjoyed Rose Byrne being told pervy stories by Peter O'Toole in Casanova</a>. David Tennet, Nina Sosanya, Naomi Bentley, and Laura Fraser were extra eye candy. The programme itself was enjoyable, even if the sex scenes were ridiculously timid for something about Giacomo Casanova. The stylized costuming and sets were stunning.
I sadly have had no time to read this month. When I did get the chance I read through the huge stack of newspapers
(The Sunday Times, Guardian/Observer, Independant) and magazines that have been building up in my bedroom.
Food & Drink:
rooibos tea in the mug from somabrak ... trofie pasta with lemon, rocket, and goat's cheese
rocket salad with roasted butternut squash, prosciutto, arradoy (french basque country cheese), mozzarella, olive oil, and balsamic.
(so.fucking.good. seriously one of the best dishes ever.)
We cooked a five-course birthday meal for Macsen's mother. Early morning we caught the train/tube to Borough Market to pick up some fresh fish and other ingredients and were back home within a few hours. It's quicker than trying to park at our local supermarket. We put out a quick pre-starter of duck and venison sauscisson, six day sourdough bread, and olives. Then we started on the pan-fried scallops with pancetta and chestnut butter (stolen from the Connaught menu). It tasted right on, but the chestnut butter wasn't quite the same consistancy. We have loads of chestnuts left so we'll trying experimenting more. The main dish was Merluza A La Gallega, a favorite Spanish dish of ours (made with barramundi this time as hake wasn't available). Cheese was roquefort so ripe it had to be peeled from the paper, brie, a beautiful slice of comté, and feta. Dessert was homemade mango ice cream that I made earlier in the day.. it was my personal favorite part of the meal. ;)
merluza a la gallega ... mango ice cream
Most notable events:
Birthdays and seeing people. My introverted nature is rebelling, need time to `hermitize' this month.
those dishes are so easy to make. I feel almost guilty, like I'm passing them off as something difficult. ;) as long as you can access the ingredients it's 15-30 mins work for any of those. maybe I will start a recipe journal sometime, or start posting recipes here occassionally.
that community looks to be right down my alley. joined.
a very very happy birthday to you! :)
I have a personal policy that if none of the local people eat at a certain restaurant, don't go in.
I walked by Yauatcha after dinner on New Year's Day. At firt it just looked really familiar, then after a few seconds I remembered your entry. Looked neat. Have to go next time I'm in town...maybe October.
That's what I love about Southall, there's still restaurants there that have never had anyone but locals in them. Usually those places are very friendly and happy to see you and shower you with free gifts of food and drink, and I'm always happy to pass on the good word to friends. Although we still need to visit our Sikh friends there, I'll bet they know all of the really good places.
Yauatcha's definitely worth checking out. I'm sure the dim sum still doesn't compare to what you can get in China or Taiwan, but they tasted great to me. The French/Asian fusion pastries are out of this world, I don't think there's anything comparable.
i wanna go because the place looks neat. as for the food, i already have your seal of approval.
china, taiwan, hong kong, san francisco, vancouver, toronto....someone told me this joke once: before the 1990s, if you want the best chinese food in the world, you'd go to hong kong. today, if you want the best chinese food in the world, you'd go to toronto or vancouver, perhaps even sydney, because all the chefs emigrated overseas before 1997.
there is more truth to that than most people realize.
no worries. london is definitely not hurting for authentic chinese food. i guess the big disadvantage is that the prices can't be compared to canada.
M. kept trying to convince me it was the booze, but I know the difference between booze-ill and dodgy-curry-ill. ;) It just tasted all wrong when I was eating it, but I think I'm losing my American-ness because I didn't want to make a fuss.
I hope to see you tomorrow, too! I'm so excited about this concert. I hope it lives up to expectations. :)
I know what you mean about Brick Lane. I've eaten there loads, and although some are really okay, the overall standard is low and fairly cheap. Unfortunately, and typically, I never remember their names. Those men outside are also annoying... but I do enjoy the energy and vibe of the place, sometimes.
I don't have an overwhelming urge to return to Brick Lane any time soon. I can see why people who live in East London go there since Southall is quite the trek for them, but if that's the standard of food you get I'd almost think the trek West would be worth it.
It might be interesting to return during Diwali or something. I admit I didn't look around very much, I was too busy avoiding eye contact with the door men. :)
Disappointing for me, definitely.. I didn't have much of a chance to look around, but I can't say I saw much that made me want to return. Maybe if I didn't live so close to Southall I would have reason to. It is a shame, from what I've heard it used to be much better and less tourist-ridden.
All looks delicious; the Merluza A La Gallega especially. Having seen this post, I so want to go to Yauatcha now, I loved dim sum at Hakkasan, though luxy resaurants have been spare on my agenda of late.
As for the Brick Lane 'Indians' most of them are Bangladeshi, and serve food most hospitable, non-impoverished, Bangladeshis would be embarrassed by (I was there for Christmas). Out there you get the hugest, most delicious, prawns in light, coconut curry. A few of the Brick Lane restaurants used to be OK years ago, but now they're like a rite of passage stop for tourists and those too full of beer to care. The salt beef and bagel bars at the top of the street can't be faulted though: best salt beef in town. And if you're in that area again, I imagine that you'd like Columbia Road flower market on a Sunday - I'm sure your camera could do it much justice.
On April 8th, 2005 05:37 am (UTC), (Anonymous) commented:
Been reading your LJ for a while and love the food discussions and your pictures. I'm also a big fan of your mixes (The Girl Is Ill especially). I used to live near Borough Market (I'm now in Wellington, NZ) so know exactly how yummy that place is. Next time you're up there, you might want to try one of the places nearby for an excellent curry - I always used to get my takeout from there. They're called Simply Indian (http://www.london-se1.co.uk/restaurants/view.php?venueid=226) and reside on Tabard Street.
One of the best features is that you can get a jug of ale from the lovely Royal Oak (http://www.london-se1.co.uk/restaurants/view.php?venueid=22) pub, just over the road (it does Harveys (http://www.harveys.org.uk/) from Lewes, in Sussex), and bring it with you to Simply Indian, to help wash down the food. Mmmm... good job I'll be home in June to sample their wares again. I'm looking forward to checking out Yauatcha too - don't think it was open last time I was back...
Apologies for my late response. I'm pleased to know you enjoyed The Girl Is Ill, it's always great to receive feedback. :) Check back soon as I have a few more mix cds on the way. Thanks for the restaurant and pub recommendations.. I've walked past Simply Indian on many occasions, next time I'll have to give it a try.
The food at Yauatcha is delicious, but the experience itself sets it apart from other dim sum restaurants. As our friend commented when we went, "I feel like we're on a movie set."
Thanks for the comment and I look forward to seeing more of your photos on flickr. :)