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Tag Archives: food

Wahaca, Covent Garden

13 May
Guacamole and chips.

Guacamole and chips.

I found myself in London recently. One recommendation that came through on twitter and from friends over and over was Wahaca. So I made sure I tried it for dinner one of the night’s on my trip. I met with a friend from college, who had never eaten with a food blogger before. She did very well, and waited for photos of the food to be taken before going near anything.

We arrived not long after 6, and there was already a wait for tables. We used this time to grab a refreshing beverage- and soon our buzzer was going telling us that the table was ready. We ordered some guacamole and chips while we perused the menu. The guacamole was very pleasant. It had some coriander and wasn’t too heavy-handed on the red onion. Very tasty.

Pork pibil

Pork pibil

I left most of the ordering in my friend’s hands, having been before but my influence did extend to the pork pibil, which was first to arrive. Tender marinated pork, served on soft tortillas, garnished with some pickled onions. It was very tasty but perhaps it lacked a little punch. This may have been due to the heat coming from my beer– which owing to a slight mix up in ordering, was served with chilli and all sorts of other stuff. Interesting and quite spicy.

There was a herring tostada which was sour and a little bit smokey. Delicious. We went for both the taquitos on the menu, the winner here was the sweet potato and feta one. A triumphant combination of sweet and salty. There was also a very flavoursome mushroom quesadilla, which had an earthy taste.

All of this was rounded off with a split order of churros, doused in cinnamon and sugar. Tip (from my mate): order a side of dulce de leche with the chocolate it comes with. Pretty tasty combo. Service throughout was helpful (for us first timers), not rushed and very friendly. In short, the food’s very good, it’s great value and it is a fun place for some casual dining and a few drinks. I just hope they don’t over-extend as they are expanding at quite a rate.

Wahaca, Covent Garden.

66 Chandos Place.

Phone: +44 (0) 207 240 1883 (but they don’t take bookings.)

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Morrison Grill, Ormond Quay.

25 Apr

The Morrison Hotel on Ormond Quay reopened earlier this year after a fairly extensive refurbishment.  I was only ever in its previous incarnation once before owing largely to my tender age at the time. It’s very different now. With the hotel’s refurbishment has come the Morrison Grill.  I was invited along to sample some of their dishes with some other bloggers. And their cocktail menu was given a slight workout too.

Pre-dinner cocktail in Quay 14.

Pre-dinner cocktail in Quay 14.

It was a bleak, sleety evening and after a chilling Dublin bike ride down the quays, the evening kicked off enjoying the surrounds of Quay 14. After a restorative cocktail, or two, we got to sample some of the morsels pictured below. The deep fried olives were something I had never tried before. They were all sorts of fried, salty goodness.

Olives trying to hide...

Olives trying to hide…

We got to sample a range of starters from the kitchen, headed up by John O’Leary. I loved the mussels and cured salmon.  The centerpiece of the menu (literally) is their Josper charcoal grill. This is an interesting piece of kit that is fired by charcoal and air and can burn at temperatures of up to 500 degrees Celsius. Toasty like.  A grill like this needs to be road-tested with a decent hunk of meat, so I went for the beef rump steak. It was cooked perfectly (medium-rare, if you’re asking). The fries it was served with were a triumph. I normally despise chunky chips. However these ‘sumo’ fries were delicious. I’d say there is methodology behind their cooking.

John O'Leary in action at the Josper grill

John O’Leary in action at the Josper grill

For dessert the kitchen again sent out a selection of what was on offer. While the smoked applewood honeycomb was very different and a new one for this seasoned gob, the star of the show was the lemon tart with rose-water sorbet. It was just deadly. End of.

If you haven’t been in since it reopened, pop your head in. The bar and dining space are very pleasant arenas to pass a few hours and the care and attention for the food and cocktails is evident.

Chickpea, spinach and onion curry (Vegetarian, but don’t tell anyone.)

10 Apr
Curry sunbathing

Curry sunbathing

I really like this recipe. It’s very easy. Secondly for those of us who like to pretend to be healthy every once in a while, this isn’t the wort recipe in that regard, it’s actually pretty good. And if it isn’t please don’t shatter my illusion.

I’ve spent a lot of time in the last few weeks in Doha, and the spices down here are brilliant, so whenever I cook here I like to use them wherever possible.  Also the red onions are fantastically sweet and are a joy to cook with. They lack the harshness that most raw onion has at home. I used a curry powder mix that you can buy in the Souq here. It’s cumin/chilli/coriander etc. As always use whatever you can find easily. Or you could make up your own, there are plenty of recipes online.

Ingredients: (Makes three very generous portions- 4 normal ones.)

2 tablespoons curry powder mix

1 tablespoon Garam Masala

oil of your choosing- enough to make the spices into a loose paste

1 red onion

1 tin chickpeas

1 tin tomatoes

1 bag of fresh spinach

Method:

Heat a pot, before adding the oil, fling the spices in and let them toast for a short while. Probably best to stir them around a bit so nothing catches. When you start getting their aroma, add in the oil. (The proportions above make a punchy curry. Feel free to reduce or increase the spices.)

Before this mixture catches, which can happen very quickly, throw in your chopped red onion. Fry this at a gentle heat until it softens, you don’t want it to get too much colour. Then add in the chickpeas and toss them in the spicy oniony goodness. Add in the tin of tomatoes and let it bubble away gently. It’s not a bad idea at this point to scrape the bottom of the pot for any of the spices etc that may have stuck during the frying stage.

I left this bubble for about 15/20 minutes while some brown rice cooked. With about 5 minutes to go I flung in the spinach and let it wilt.

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Chocolate and beetroot brownies

29 Mar
Swear I didn't eat them..

Swear I didn’t eat them..

 

Recently the nice people in Green & Black’s got onto me to let me know about their easter egg range. Even nicer, they sent me a few bars from their product range to sample. Rather than eat them all myself, I thought I would make some brownies and treat my friends. In my house, my sister makes the best brownies- so to rival them, I needed to do something a little different. I had heard chocolate and beetroot went well together so I thought I would give it a whirl. As we have someone who eats gluten-free in my house, I was also seeking a recipe with a low flour level so I can adapt it for them in the future, without too much hassle.

 

Ingredients:

250g Green & Black’s dark chocolate

250g softened butter

3 eggs (room temperature)

250g Caster sugar

100g self-raising flour

Pinch of salt

50g ground almonds

250g grated cooked beetroot. (Not pickled. Fresh preferably!)

 

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line a suitable baking tray with grease-proof paper.

Over a pot of simmering water, place a glass bowl and melt the butter and chocolate.

While they are getting to know each other, beat the eggs and the sugar until they get creamy.

While this is all going on grate the beetroot.

When the chocolate and butter have melted whisk it into the sugar and eggs mixture. After they have combined, sift in the flour and add the ground almonds- fold them in gently. Lastly add the grated beetroot and gently combine it into the mixture.

Bake for about 40 minutes. After 30/35 check how they are getting on to avoid the brownies over-cooking. Stick a skewer into the brownies, it shouldn’t come out completely clean but equally it shouldn’t be liquidy.

The Hot Stove, Parnell Square

26 Mar

Dublin has a lot of new restaurants. They are sprouting up everywhere. One such example is The Hot Stove on Parnell Square. It’s in a basement on the square, on the Rotunda entrance side.

Off the bat, the room didn’t appeal to me. It was nearly painfully bright. Personally I do better in soft lighting. The white walls, coupled with bright lights, meant that if you were there with the in-laws it could feel like an authentic interrogation chamber. On the plus side- the photos of the food turned out really well. Nicely lit.

We were greeted warmly and our soggy outer garments were taken, it was biblically wet that day. Other waiters circled, and gave some solicited and unsolicited advice re: the menu. The wine recommended was towards the pricier end of the spectrum, and coupled with one of the more expensive dishes on the menu, would be quite pleasant for my taste-buds I was assured, but perhaps not for my wallet. Additionally when we were asked did we want a side dish and the duck fat fries at €5 were recommended, we skipped them and went for the crushed artichokes. We were then asked *again* did we want fries. Up-sell tastic. Apart from that the service was attentive and friendly throughout.

An amuse-bouche of parsnip soup, parsley pesto and chorizo was exactly what we needed to start our defrost from the night outside and was very pleasant. Breads, one home-made and one from the Paris Bakery nearby were lovely and served with in-house churned butter.

I started with the seared mackerel. A nice piece of seared mackerel, the rilette was a little unremarkable, but it was with a crunchy and fresh fennel and apple salad. The cube of apple jelly, added nothing to the dish as it lacked any discernible flavour. The confirmed foodie, again my partner in dining went for the oxtail raviolo. The filling was flavoursome and unctuous but I thought the pasta was a little under, but she reckoned it had just been overworked.

Rabbit and some glare

Rabbit and some glare

Mains- I went for the rabbit. It was seasoned nicely, but a little over, and the confit cannelloni was quite rubbery. The lentils it came with were very tasty. My companion’s hake was a nice dish, served with black olive gnocchi and salsify. The salsify was delicious, and cooked perfectly, however overall it was agreed the dish lacked seasoning. The side of crushed Jerusalem artichokes was actually the dish of the night. Wonderful texture, and had bags of flavour.

For dessert I was served a perfectly cooked chocolate fondant. I didn’t like the orange-blossom sorbet, it reminded me of a Vitamin C cordial I was force-fed as a child. Herself got a rhubarb crumble- which was her favourite dish of the night. The rhubarb had just been cooked enough that it fell apart so retained a very pleasing bit of bite.

All in all with a bottle of wine and two double espresso, it came in at €121. There is great potential in The Hot Stove. The menu reads well. They just need to turn down the lights, turn up some of the flavours and cooking- and stop the unnecessary levels of up sell.

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