Courtesy of Chinese Cricket Club
Attended and written by Ed @onehungryasian and published by Steph
Craft chocolate – the new thing? A new thing for me at least!
I was first handed vintage chocolate from the July subscription of Cocoa Runners and can instantly tell this was not your normal-everyday-chocolate, some were uniquely hand wrapped, the texture and colour of the chocolate also very different.
By all means I can recite and churn out all about what Cocoa Runners is all about off the internet but I can definitely tell you, if you haven’t tried the chocolates sold by Cocoa Runners before, try it now.
Cocoa Runners is co-founded by Simon and Spencer and promises to showcase the world’s finest chocolate bars through their subscription service and gift boxes. Their chocolate library is unbelievably extensive, with some of the rarest and harder sourced chocolate available for purchase through their website.
Every month, a box of Craft Chocolate will be delivered to your door carefully selected by Cocoa Runners, each bar will come with a description and the story behind it.
Two of my favourite bars from the September subscription are:
Blanxart Dominican Republic
- Cocoa Content: 72%
- Bean Origin: Dominican Republic
I’m actually eating this right now. My third purchase of the same bar after receiving it in my first subscription! It’s addictive. A piece of this is almost like eating the inside of an oozing chocolate fondant, incredibly rich with hints of cashew and macadamia. The chocolate here is made entirely of cocoa, cocoa butter, sugar and vanilla. You will find most bars that are selected from Cocoa Runners are made up of very simple ingredients keeping it fine and organic, of course that’s where the quality lies.
Menakao Madagascar Dark
- Cocoa Conent: 80%
- Bean Origin: Madagascar
This bar of chocolate wasn’t as rich – but definitely more fragrant with a hint of natural fruitiness. Menakao is one of the few producers who make its chocolate entirely at source, whereby beans are grown harvest and made into chocolate in Madagascar. Obvious benefits here for the local economy and employment in Madagascar.
I recommend you trying a few of the chocolates from Cocoa Runners, with some available from Prufrock Coffee. Chocolate after all, is one of your 5 a day!
Meal courtesy of Ma’ Plucker
Attended and written by Vicky – http://dalton-banks.co.uk/
Fried chicken has really taken off in London. And I definitely like the trend – I am always happy to eat chicken! To continue my research I recently went to try what Ma’Plucker in Soho’s had to offer.
We walked in on a heaving Friday night and once the drinks were ordered (frozen raspberry margarita for me and boozy ice tea for him) we started the deliberations on what chicken we would try.
Ma’Plucker promises to bring the Deep South to London’s doorstep with their signature 3-way chicken: Buttermilk Fried, Chipotle Roasted and Slow and Low Pulled Chicken. You pick your chicken, choose your ‘base’ (brioche bun, house bun, maple waffle or salad) and then decide which sauce to top it off with – MP Chicken Skin Gravy, Chipotle Chilli Sauce, Kansas, BBQ, Herb dressing or Maple Chilli Glaze! The sauce selection makes me happy. I am definitely a condiment girl.
There are also a few other options including the chicken caesar salad or buttermilk fried patty. We were here to eat chicken and we most definitely were not here to eat just salads!
We wanted to try their signature way of doing things and so opted for the chicken 3-ways. Having decided to order the buttermilk dipped chicken and the rotisserie chipotle chicken, we asked the friendly waiter which way he recommended we have them.
And so the feast was ordered…
Crispy coated thighs (they’d run out of wings!) were ordered on top of the maple waffle base with the chicken skin gravy – I ordered an extra little pot of maple syrup on the side because sweet and savoury loving. We went for half a roasted chipotle rubbed chicken on a simple salad with the Chipotle Chilli Sauce but ordered fries, coleslaw and one crack n cheese please on the side.
When the food arrived we both looked at each other as if to say ‘woaaaah, we’re never gonna finish all this’.
We did. It’s chicken after all. It’s like dessert – separate stomach.
The crisp-coated buttermilk chicken thigh was a little over cooked with the coating being a bit crunchy in places. But the flavour was great – the lightly spiced coating went great with the chicken skin gravy, as recommended.
The chipotle roasted chicken doesn’t, in my opinion, look like the most appetising chicken but let me tell you, the flavour of this juicy chicken was amazing. Oh and it really is half a chicken, just look at the size of it! I am so glad we ordered it with the leaves! The Chipotle Chilli Sauce was like mayo perfectly spiced and slightly smokey.
The coleslaw was creamy and the fries nice and skinny though at £3.50 for a ‘mug’ of fries I thought it was on the expensive side. The crack and cheese comes served as a huge ball of deep fried mac n cheese goodness. Again quite small for £4.50 but really very good.
We were restrained and decided not to order two desserts but just order the one slab of cherry pie with ice cream to share. Boy, is Ma’Plucker’s cherry pie good. Thin layers of pastry packed full with juicy cherries.
Ma’Plucker is a really fun spot in the heart of Soho for a Friday night bite to eat. They had a wicked playlist of old-school tunes, frozen margaritas that actually tasted like they had tequila in, and the place was full to the brim.
The buttermilk fried chicken was not completely faultless and I think it’s something they need to master but overall we really enjoyed our meal and if I’m in need of chicken when in Soho I know where to go.
Meal courtesy of The Portman, attended by Verna
Location: The location of this place is central. Just a 5 min walk behind Marble Arch Station at the end of Bond Street and next to Hyde Park.
Venue: Upon arrival, the place was visibly busy on a Wednesday, as downstairs was a pub set-up and had a bustling crowd of locals and white-collars enjoying an after-work beer. Upstairs was quaint, nicely decorated and had a slight feel of somewhere completely unrelated to the pub downstairs.
Service: Unfortunately I was not met by anyone upon arrival and expected a little more attention from the restaurant staff. During the meal there was also minimal contact from the waiter which might serve better for some guests if they prefer this service approach. The service in general took a while and left us feeling famished by the time anything was served.
Menu: After sitting down, the waiter provided us with the wine list and the A La Carte menu. The menu looked pretty extensive, with a good selection of starters, mains, salads, sides and desserts, designed to cater for all crowds. There was also a children’s menu, meaning that the adults will be able to dine and remain assured that the kids will be looked after too. Additionally, there was also a seasonal menu, with a handful of items featuring seasonal products.
Drinks: The wine list was also extensive, though we were not in the mood to order any alcoholic drinks, but one refresher, which was perfect for the hot weather.
Food: To start, we went for six oysters, which were large, fresh and juicy, served with lemon, shallot vinaigrette and tabasco sauce. We also ordered some Moules Mariniere, which were marinated well and has a tasteful sauce that was creamy and well-seasoned. Additionally, we also tried the Parfait of Foie Gras, Chicken Liver & Armagnac, Pear & Tomato Chutney with Toasted Brioche. The chutney was a little bland, but the Fois Gras was seasoned well, and had a smooth texture, which went well with the toasted brioche slices, though a little greasier than we would have liked.
When mains were served, we were more than stuffed already (due to our large appetites with the starters). While I went for the Pan-Fried Lemon Sole with Tender Stem Broccoli, Cherry Tomatoes, Capers and Butter Sauce, my guest chose the Braised Rabbit Ragout Pappardelle, Tomato Sauce & Parmesan.
My lemon sole, I was not hugely impressed with and felt a little let down by, as it was very oily, and there was hardly any flesh on the piece of fish. It was very thin, and I was not able to enjoy much of it, other than the butter sauce that it accompanied with, as well as the stems of broccoli and tomato.
With the rabbit ragout pappardelle, it was also disappointing. The pappardelle, we felt, was overcooked, hence it was too soft and lacked texture. The sauce itself was a little strange, not sure if it was because it was rabbit, so it tasted a little off to us, nothing like how we imagined rabbit to be like. The portion of the pasta was substantial, however, which is a plus as it was not cheap, at £17.95. But overall, the dish was not exciting as we would have hoped, and would probably not be on our recommended list of items to try at this place.
Meal courtesy of Mango Tree, attended by Ed @onehungryasian
London Bridge isn’t exactly lacking for food options. Aside from the obvious Borough Market, there’s a wealth of restaurants tucked in and around the area, ones that you will have walked past and not paid attention to in your rush to get to the doughnuts or cheese toasties in the market!
Mango Indian is a somewhat small restaurant, tucked round the back of Borough Market and is unlike most Indians you’ll have been to before. Forget the traditional local curry houses, dimly lit with gaudy music and wallpaper; Mango Indian features sleek and refined plates of food in an equally polished environment.
The meal kicks off with papadum, but to my surprise we weren’t presented with the normal disks, but instead shards of crunchy papadum (or papad as they’re called here) served with 4 chutneys/dips, with an incredibly good lime pickle that we had to ask for seconds of.
Mixed platters of starters for both meat and seafood demonstrated Mango Indian’s commitment to using fresh ingredients and their skill with spicing, as the chicken tikka were mouth wateringly good, and their lasooni jhinga (grilled prawns) went down a treat with a Cobra. But the standout for our group was easily the vegetable samosa, with crispy pastry and a deep and flavourful filling that we couldn’t get enough of.
Curries came up next with two of their house specials, the shikandari lamb shank and jhinga allepy (king prawn with green mango). The lamb basically fell off the bone with a little shake, and was covered in a rich sauce that brought out the best of the lamb and added more. The prawn curry was also great, with the mango added a touch of sweetness but never overpowering with its fruity or sweet flavour.
A curry wouldn’t be complete though without great side dishes, including mushroom rice, pilau rice and a garlic naan. We also ordered some great vegetarian side dishes of baby aubergine and okra, both of which were quickly wolfed down and given the thumbs up by the resident vegetarian (who also doesn’t normally like curry!).
All in all, Mango Indian does Indian food in a highly refined way without losing any of the impact or depth of the flavour you look for from your curries or takeaways. The fresh ingredients, from the vegetables to the meat and seafood that goes into your dishes, is abundantly clear from the first taste, and there’s little to no sign of excess grease or oil in the dishes they serve up.
The only negatives I would have to say is that the restaurant is somewhat cosy, so it can be hard to have a quiet or intimate meal here. The commitment to fresh ingredients and quality cooking means the price is slightly higher here than you’ll find at other Indians in London, but the taste and quality of the food is well worth the trip
Event attended by Reuben, invited by FourteenTen PR
What do most Malaysians miss most when living abroad? “THE FOOD!”
The Malaysia Festival 2016 was back once again at Trafalgar Square in London. The festival was meant to showcase the country’s food, culture, fashion and tourism, but it was the food stalls that attracted the most attention. Incredibly busy and vibrant on a sunny day in autumn!
There were about 20 food stalls serving on the day itself, offering a variety of dishes that were reasonably priced! At 12pm sharp, the food stalls opened and people rushed in to start their food adventure. I however started the festival with a cooking workshop with Chef Norman Musa instead.
We were brought to a cooking tent and there laid all cooking tools and ingredients for the recipe that we were about to cook: Kapitan Chicken Curry
Chef Norman Musa was really friendly and always asking if we needed help.Once that was finished, went around the square and tried the authentic food.
Had Satay Chicken (£5.00), Beef rendang (£5.00), Mee rebus (£5.00), Tofu Rojak (£5.00), Roti canai (from Roti King), Peanut pancakes, Malay kuihs (6 for £5.00), Coconut shakes and cendol (£3.50).
At 3pm headed to the Hospitality Area to hear a quick speech from the Minister of International Trade & Industry (MITI), Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamed.
All in all the festival did not disappoint. Also, thanks to Malaysia Kitchen for the very kind goody bag!