Licking my lips, I alighted from the Heathrow Express at Paddington and made my way to the Southbank Centre to check out the Cheese and Wine Festival.
Having arrived late-afternoon (I had just flown in from Gib!) I had missed the ‘food theatre’ and even though there were not many people jostling around the food stalls it was still good to see the amount of different artisan cheeses on display; I tried a few mature cheeses that bit back! There was other produce too: ice-cream, cider and ales.
Clutching a pint of cider I made my way around the food stalls (approx 20 in total) and stopped at a small Italian stall that didn’t look as if were attracting that many people. Here I selected a ‘Cheeseburger’ wrapped in pancetta to eat on the spot.
This was wonderful – a hard goat’s cheese wrapped in pancetta and placed on a hot grill; cooked until the bacon was crispy and the cheese warmed through!
With a belly full of cheese and cider I then made my way to meet up with some friends who were looking forward to playing along with the theme of ‘Foodie Weekend.’
After several ales at different pubs including a really hoppy Ruby Red at the Jerusalem Tavern,
Clerkenwell and some fruit of the vine at Vinoteca before dinner, we made our way to St John Restaurant and Grill.
Now this place is very unsuspecting from the façade as it looks like a butcher’s shop or even an industrial building. However, you should not be fooled by this as a lonely Michelin star graces each dish that you eat. A fantastic nose-to-tail eating experience with seasonal dishes such as Roasted Bone Marrow on toast, the understated Terrine (made with offal -superb!) and Braised veal with chickpeas.
If you ever get the chance to dine here do so. I was left wanting more!
On Saturday after a quick walk through West Hampstead’s Farmer’s Market – again full of beautiful home grown, artisan produce, I made my way to Food at 52 where I attended a food course.
Food at 52
Food at 52 is like walking into a friend’s house and sitting in their lounge whilst you can smell the comforting scents of food wafting up from the kitchen. As you meet your other ‘friends’ you start to get to know eachother’s reasons for being there. Most of us had the experience bought as a birthday present or as a wedding gift but talking to John, they get lots of corporate clients.
Once in the kitchen, John and Jess provide coffee/tea and freshly made biscotti so that you can all introduce yourselves to eachother as this is a relaxed homely environment.
Working together we combined forces and produced a beautiful meal that we all sat down to at the end of the afternoon.
One of my favourite recipes that day was the Cauliflower Cake:
At first I was slightly taken aback by this, as the idea of cauliflower, as anything other than in its veg form as part of the meat and 2 veg Sunday roast, left me thinking of water-logged cauliflower cheese that people always tell you tastes great but really is a bit blah!
But I was the only greedy person at the table to eat two slices!
The ritual of putting it together, even though seemed complicated, was actually quite simple as I managed to rustle this one up from memory at home the other night.
I’m not saying it looked identical to the one we made at foodat52 but otherwise it tasted just as good!!
After a great day’s cooking at Foodat52, my friends took me to Arbutus, Soho, London to have dinner. May I just say that everything on this menu appealed to me! From their melon and vodka martini, to their squid and mackerel burger with razor clams right to its Pied et Paquets (lambs tripe, shoulder and trotters!) everything was amazing!
I’m hoping my friends never leave London so that I can keep on notching up Michelin Stars!
So with a bellyful of 2-Michelin-Stars-worth-of-food, a host of new recipes to try at home and an increased passion for food, I came back from my Foodie Weekend, a very full but happy man!
Already looking at another cookery course – who’s in?