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Tag Archives: grilled meats

Doha food guide

24 Apr

I have just returned from a trip to Doha, Qatar’s capital. It is a truly astonishing place.  It is an intriguing blend of cultures.  While parts of the city hark back to its Arab history, it is developing into a metropolis that would rival many a capital city. I could write on for some time about this remarkable country and its phenomenal growth in recent years- but we would be here for hours. Let’s talk about the food.

There is a huge variety of cuisines available to sample. In the new hotels that stud the city, you can sample any cuisine you may choose from Greek to Chinese. More tradition fare is available in the local restaurants where you can enjoy delicious grilled meats, wonderful flat-breads and delicious hummus. A local favourite is this local lemon-mint drink. It consists of  lemon juice, sugar syrup, blended with mint and sometimes ice. It is insanely refreshing and cuts through the ever-present heat.

On this trip I ate in Mykonos. A Greek restaurant at the Intercontinental Hotel. The zucchini/courgette balls were the highlight of the meal. They were falafel type creatures made from shredded courgette.They were delicate and fragrant and maintained an impressive crunch after cooking.

Another evening we made our way to The Cellar in the Oryx Rotana hotel. This is a tapas/wine bar and was thronged on the night we ate there. The food was very strong throughout. We had an assortment of dishes at the table. The highlights were aubergine grilled and served with the sweetest sliced onion salad I have ever eaten, lamb chops chargrilled, grilled prawns and patatas bravas came with a delicious, creamy aioli.

What I would recommend to any traveller to Doha is a visit to Souq Waqif.It is a traditional middle-eastern souq that offers an array of spices and foods that would delight anyone with even the slightest culinary inclination. The pungent smell of spices permeates the warm air, as does the smoke from hundreds of Hookah pipes.

Stocking up on spices is always a high priority whenever I visit the Souq. As you can see the prices are very agreeable ( 5 Qatari Riyals (ish) to the Euro.) In addition the spices are all superbly fresh and give a tremendous bang for your buck. Saffron is €8 for 5 grams for example. The shop fronts are guarded by sacks after sack of flower petals and pulses. Other shops sell every variation of pot and pan you could wish for, some so big you could comfortably bathe in.

I will be back to Doha, and I look forward to sampling more of the great food this city has to offer.

My question to you is: Where is the most impressive market you have been to? What are your memories of it?

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BEAR Dublin Review

22 Feb

Bear is the latest addition to the Jo’Burger family. It resides on South William Street, in what used to be Crackbird’s second incarnation. It has opened with considerable fanfare owing to the loyal Jo’Burger/Crackbird/Skinflint crowd and a well-known backer in the form of Irish rugby star Jamie Heaslip. With all this (understandable) hype, would a newly opened Bear be a worthy member of the Jo-family?

On entering the restaurant, I was greeted by the smell of fresh-paint and I immediately had pangs of worry. I think it is only fair to let restaurants settle in before passing judgement as a punter, so I was immediately concerned that I had visited too soon. I was wrong.

After the rest of our party arrived, we were seated by Mr. Jo’Burger himself. All of us had been in the restaurant when it was Crackbird 2, and it looked very different. ” It’s posher than Crackbird isn’t it?” He joked.  It retains roughly the same lay-out, the kitchen now visible at the back, with a bar along one wall. Exposed lightbulbs provide a cosy glow, and diners are seated at long-tables.

After sitting down we got straight down to the menu (available here). There is a fantastic array of meats, to satisfy even the hungriest carnivore. There are meats for single portions and then cuts to share. Myself and my better half split a bavette , as did three of our less hungry companions, with one opting for chicken. The steak was well-cooked and very flavoursome. The image on the left- is roughly half the meat you get, and thus is incredible value for €29.95.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a nice selection of sides in BEAR- the million dollar fries (above left) were the first to catch our eyes. They are slices of dauphinoise potatoes, deep-fried. I worried they would be greasy, but I was very wrong, they came out lightly crisped, with a luxurious center. Some other sides that were well received were the horseradish slaw, a very refreshing side, and the candied swede with sage was impeccable.  On the table there is a barbecue sauce (which I could swear had a hint of cardamom in it) and ketchup, but if you are feeling slightly more adventurous, the 3 sauces for a fiver is a tasty addition to the meal.

The wine-list  is solid and the Bulgarian Sauvignon (€18) was a very pleasant accompaniment to the meal. They do their own soft drinks (served in jam-jars) as well as some beers.

As I write this, I must remark that upon our visit- BEAR was in its 5th day of operation, yet the meal was flawless. In a time when restaurants are going under with remarkable pace, to say Joe Macken is bucking the trend would be an understatement. In the last year he has opened three restaurants in Dublin. They are restaurants that are not afraid of doing a few dishes well, and this bravery has been rewarded. The Dublin culinary scene would be poorer without them.

Service throughout was brilliant. Attentive without being overbearing. The 6 of us thoroughly enjoyed our meal, were incredibly well fed and have been in communication today remarking on our satisfaction. You will not get better value in Dublin.

Mushroom, Asparagus and Spinach Risotto

9 Sep

Ingredients: Serves 2:

1 tablespoon of olive oil

25g butter

1 small onion (finely chopped)

2 cloves of garlic (minced)

150 g of Arborio rice

150ml white wine

500ml stock

4 x asparagus stalks (chopped)

8-10 x button mushrooms (chopped)

1/2 bag of washed spinach

Parmesan to serve.

Risotto is one of my favourite comfort foods, and can be adapted for any season by varying the ingredients. The basic recipe is the same no matter what you put in, so if you wanted to change it, you would substitute your preferences in for the vegetables I have listed.

I would like to deal with the hype about how risotto is insanely difficult to make or it can go wrong easily.  It is an easy dish to make, but I feel there are three success factors.  First, have all your ingredients, stock etc, measured and ready to go, so that you can concentrate on the cooking. As many of my friends will testify, this is not my normal style of cooking- but I feel it pays dividends here.

Of course by cooking I meant stirring. You need to constantly stir the risotto. Do this gently, but make sure you are scraping the bottom of the pan and mixing thoroughly. Thirdly, have the risotto at a constant low heat so that when the liquid is added it is just bubbling gently.

 

First heat the olive oil and the butter in a deep pan. After they have heated add the onion and sweat it off, until it softens a little. At this stage add the garlic and fry for another while. Before the garlic gets too coloured, throw in the chopped mushrooms and asparagus and toss in the mixture. I recommend chopping these into bite-size pieces. Fry for a minute and then add the rice. Make sure everything is well mixed. Continue to cook for another minute while the rice lightly toasts, but make sure that you stir constantly so that it doesn’t stick.

Next add the white wine. I would advise buying a whole bottle- not a small one- this way you get to pour yourself a glass while cooking and have one with your meal.

Stir until the wine has been absorbed by the rice. If it smells a little acrid, don’t worry, the alcohol will burn off leaving a great flavour in the rice.

At this point add in the first third of the stock- I would recommend vegetable or chicken. Keep the risotto barely bubbling and stir until all the stock has been absorbed and the mixture is thick and slightly heavy to stir.

Add in another third of the stock and repeat the process until the stock is absorbed. Add in the final remainder of the stock and repeat.

As the final third of the stock is close to being absorbed- add in the spinach and stir in. Once the mixture has thickened sufficiently, turn off the heat and serve into heated bowls immediately. Serve with some grated parmesan and that glass of wine.

For the carnivores amongst us, you can serve this risotto alongside some grilled meat. I recently enjoyed it with some steak. Another option is to shred some cooked chicken in at the spinach stage- and just heat the chicken through.

Enjoy.

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