Carters @ Loaf

Collaborative veg

The news had come in this Monday that Carters of Moseley were number 87 in the National Restaurant Awards 2015. Along with Purnells (88) they alone from Brum were recognised by their industry peers. Of course Brad and Holly had been invited to the award ceremony but had to decline because Carters were popping up at Loaf Bakery and Cooking School in Stirchley. It had been coming, after talking about it for a while, a collaboration between the two was well overdue. I was lucky enough to get to design and cook the menu with them.

A full set of photos from the evening can be found on this link.

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Canelé, recipe and notes

Objet d'art

Objet d’art

It’s all the rage, apparently. Though something as well known and classic as a canelé is, in my mind, immune to the trends and foibles of the mewling fooderati. Let’s get this straight, a canelé (can-eh-lay) is not just a chichi sponge cake baked into that characteristic fluted shape. If the dark caramelised shell doesn’t crackle like a chewy brûlée hiding a barely set lacey custard then it’s just not right! It’s these very properties that make canelés so special. Continue reading

Beef Cheek Pastrami Recipe Redux

A knife through hot pastrami

Humans like pastrami. Thick juicy slabs of it dripping from a toasted sandwich, melty cheese glueing the crimson meat to sharp sauerkraut and sweet russian dressing. Oh it seems I’ve just described my favourite sandwich, the Reuben! But the reality is in the UK the pastrami that we normally encounter is the equivalent to cheap wafer thin ham. Next time you eat any sandwich described as “New York” ask yourself how close are you actually getting to the soft, juicy, meaty, sweet, spicy pastrami or saltbeef of that city. Continue reading

Hanoi Old Quarter, noodles, herbs, calamansi and a squatting guide

Real streetfood

Real streetfood

Still digesting. It’s been almost a month but the other worldliness of the streetfood in Hanoi’s Old Quarter takes some processing. Four nights and nearly forty dishes later I think the surface has been scratched, just need any slight excuse now to go back and dig deeper. I’ve been cooking at home trying to understand, recalibrate my palate so I can communicate and reinterpret with the ingredients I have available in the UK. Underlying everything is one simple concept, freshness. Vibrancy is an oft used term in describing food. The dishes and produce in Hanoi will make me think twice about using “vibrant” again for anything less! Continue reading

Sweet Pickled Herring

Sweet herring and beetroot

Sweet pickled herring and beetroot

I love a shiny fish, my favourite is mackerel, cheap plentiful and delicious when in season. In the summer it’s sardine. Few foods are better than a grilled mackerel or sardine. They dont even have to be cooked, a light cure or pickling and it makes the best sushi. Hikari mono is the japanese catch-all term for shiny fish sushi. To my eyes the shimmering iridescence is so appetising, it’s always the sushi item I look forward to the most. Especially in Japan, kohada or gizzard shad is sublime. Continue reading

UK Burger Battle 2

The Gone Burger from The Flying Cows

The Gone Burger from The Flying Cows

Belated photos from the last UK Burger Battle 15th Feb on this clickity link here (perfectly safe for work).

On the night London posse Gone Burger beat local beef slingers The Flying Cows in the diners and judges vote. Well done guys, their burger was a classic chargrilled pattie in a sesame seed bun. It was well seasoned and the simplicity of it won over the diners. The Flying Cows burger looked fantastic but the pulled pork did nothing for the burger. The beef itself was superior tasting but really under seasoned. A shame because a local win would have been great!

Another fabulous event from Ahmed and the team, so good it won the readers award for best event in Birmingham on The next one is 26th April and you can get your tickets here.

Kimdooya, a kind of nduja, an expression of pig fat and chilli

None more red

None more red

Nduja (en-doo-ya) is a lethally spicy but incredibly addictive spreadable salami from Calabria, Southern Italy. It gets it fearsome heat and blood red colour from the local Calabrian chillies, scorched by the sun to a vicious intensity. You don’t need a lot of n’duja melted on a pizza to make it special. Three or four blobs on a nice chewy base and you’re good. Or a small dollop melted in a pan throw in pasta and some seafood, forget about it! Continue reading