Friday, 30 September 2016

REVIEW: Squirrel, South Kensington

It's lunch time, you're hungry and desperately trying to follow your healthy eating plan. What do you do? Hang your head and walk to Pret? Sack it all in and go for a long lunch with the gals? Or, head to Squirrel, the heath-focussed hang out now open in South Kensington.

You do the last one guys, the last one.
Salads, hot bowls and even breakfasts are all available and packed with nutritionally dense ingredients. Think prawn and avocado bowls, brown rice with curried veggies, warming porridge with a variety of low sugar toppings. YUM! Each dish is made to order using a buffet style bar filled with vegetables, fruits, proteins, leaves and grains before being presented in a nut-shaped pot to take away. It's hilarious how 'to-the-theme' Squirrel is - nothing is done by halves here! 

The Prawn Star salad (prawns, romaine, shredded red cabbage, cabbage, spring onion, red pepper, edamame, mint, coriander, sesame seeds, chilli, lime and tamari dressing) which was really, really tasty but definitely needed more prawns. The warm grain bowl of Guac 'n' Roll with salmon (brown rice, spinach, sweetcorn, cherry tomatoes, black beans, tortilla chips, avocado, pickled red onion, lime jalepeno dressing) was absolutely delicious, packed with Mexican flavours and zingy finishing touches. I even bought another bowl to take home! Alex enjoyed the Miami Rice with chipotle beef (brown rice, lentils, spinach, broccoli, shredded red cabbage, carrot and lime) which had a good proportion of meat to grains and crunchy broccoli. 
While focussing on both seasonality and sustainability, Squirrel also serves up delicious and nutritious “ugly” fruit and vegetables that don’t otherwise make it onto the supermarket shelf. Environmentally this helps to reduce wastage in the food supply process and gives your use-reuse-recycle credentials a little boost. 

Delicious drinks also include matcha lattes, hot tonics and a selection of home brewed teas as well as fair-trade Allpress coffees. Homemade seasonal water infusions do baffle me but are equally tasty, and ice teas are perfect after a hot yoga session.  Cold pressed juices, kombucha and fresh coconuts are also on show to choose from.

Prices range from £3.50 for breakfast, through to seasonal salads at £6.50-£7.95 which is a little expensive in my view but based on the area seems fair. Cold-pressed juices start from £4.95 (standard) and coffees  from £2.50.

Thank you Squirrel for hosting this review.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Blogger Party at Tootoomoo, Crouch End

Last week I had the delightful chance to enjoy a blogger evening at my local. No it's not the pub, but actually Tootoomoo - our local Pan-Asian takeaway up in Crouch End. I won't lie, sometimes blogger events or press launches can be in the most obscure places (I've trekked to Kingston before) so when I found out this would be just 10 minutes from home, how could I refuse?
Not to mention the food. I've made no cover-ups of my LOVE of Asian cuisine. At Tootoomoo, no matter your Asian cravin', they'll have the dish to satisfy. From sushi to Thai curry; from Vietnamese salads to vibrant sharing plates, there's something for everyone. We began the night with beautiful lychee cocktails, complete with a pretty flower topping and elegant Martini glass to serve. I mean, we moved onto a lovely bottle of Sauvignon Blanc (French, 2014) but this cocktail really stood out as a winner. 
For food we were treated to an open kitchen of dishes. Ordering straight from the brand new menu (look out for the Explorer and Discovery tasting menus) we enjoyed sushi, tempura, curry, gyoza and salads throughout the night. Stand-out favourites included the tempura prawn and avocado maki with ponzu sauce, the veggie-packed potstickers with a umami rich black vinegar dressing and schichimi salt tempura squid with a whipped mayonnaise laced with chilli. Don't mind the burnt bits on the potstickers - this is where all the caramelly sweet goodness is! 
 I shared a prawn and veggie Thai green curry with my guest, along with a steaming bowl of brown rice. Tootoomoo is one of the only places in North London (that I've ordered from) that offers brown rice both to eat in and takeaway, probably because it can be a nightmare to cook. The combo of brown rice and gorgeous vegetables made for a really healthy dinner, which when you're ordering Asian takeaway is often not the case. The juicy prawns were de-veined (YES!) and the veggies still had plenty of crunch. The curry could have been spicier though but I guess that's personal taste.  
We ended the event with a moreish bowl of Fro-yo. We all love ice cream, so make it a little less naughty (ugh, ridiculous - it's sweet enjoy it!). I went for the natural ice cream with a drizzle or chocolate sauce (dark chocolate at that) and M&Ms. Sweet, smooth and chilly - what more could you want? 

Thank you Tootoomoo for inviting and hosting me at this wonderful blogger evening!

Monday, 26 September 2016

REVIEW: Ormer Mayfair

It's rare that something quite as special as today's review comes along. From the Michelin-started chef Shaun Rankin comes Ormer Mayfair, sister restaurant to the iconic Ormer in Jersey. Despite being a Yorkshireman, Rankin set up shop in Jersey over 2013 years ago bringing exquisite and quintessentially British fare to the lucky diners. Now, Rankin is bringing that flare for all things British to another institution: Flemings Mayfair. The word 'luxury' doesn't quite cut it: this is a marriage made in culinary heaven. 
I was extremely lucky to enjoy a sneak peek of the beautiful central London spot during their soft launch in August. The restaurant is located on the lower ground floor of the hotel and is as elegant as the surrounding spaces. Smooth leather seating, dark wood wall labelling and monochrome flooring all allude to a bygone Art Deco era. Subtle detailing of scallop shell light fixtures play reference to Ormer's island beginnings while highlights of red and gold offer an opulently finished look. Slide away to the bar after supper and relax in style with plush velvet sofas, rose gold and black lamps and a semi-private bar away from the main restaurant. 
We began, of course, with a glass of sparkling English wine from Nytimber. Rankin is a champion of all things British and this award-winning wine recently took over from the French champagne as the world's best tipple. Take that Frenchies! I went for a classic white while my co-diner opted for a summery rosé. Both were delightful - not too fizzy but with enough tingle to awaken the taste buds. The chef also treated us to lobster brioche rolls with a refreshing fennel salad on top. The sweet flavours and soft textures were divine and although only small this was definitely a highlight dish. 
My starter of lobster ravioli came surrounded by a fragrant lemongrass and lobster bisque. The chopped shallot salad on top added crunch and a touch of bitterness to contrast with the unbelievably sweet lobster. I would have liked a little more bisque but I guess this way the lobster stood out more. My co-diner enjoyed a vibrant plate of scallops with a herby jus, oyster jellies and crunchy shallots on top. The show-stopping dish really  caught the eye and tasted truly of the sea. The scallops were bouncy and sweet.
For main, I chose a beautiful plate of sea bass in a potato and leek risotto that reminded me warmingly of my favourite soup. This savoury side of yumminess was complimented by slivers of smoked salmon, crisped quails eggs and foraged sea herbs. The two sides of the dish, though different in appearance and texture, worked so beautifully offering a wonderful taste of the sea and the land. Truly wonderful! 
My co-diner chose the Iberco pork which is served separately in a silver dish which really allows you to inspect the pink meat and juicy exterior. The perfectly cooked, sweet meat was served alongside a warm salad of calamari, smoked paprika juice and crisped chorizo which again plays on the surf and turf concept and highlights Shaun's expertise with both seafood and land-based meats. 
My dessert, finally, was absolutely incredible. Like literally amazing. Billed on the menu as a dark chocolate brownie, the dish is more of a set chocolate mousse with a chocolate delice on the top and softly crumbly bottom. If you love chocolate, this dish if for you. The accompaniments of popcorn, salt caramel and milk ice cream on a chocolate soil brought out the sweet and bitter notes of the 'brownie' and gave a lot of texture to the plate. I could have cried this was so good.
This visit was arranged privately. All opinions and images are my own. 

Monday, 19 September 2016

A Moment of Calm with Kanuka Tea

I'm on a little break at the moment but wanted to share something with you: The Ayurvedic Tea from Kanuka. It's been keeping me calm and warming my soul these last few weeks as I get my head down at work. I've managed to schedule a few posts but you know when life just gets a bit crazy and you really need to just streamline what you commit to? Well that's me now.
Kanuka, based in Hertfordshire, was founded in 2015. After 12 years in the construction industry, and tired of drinking endless amounts of builder’s brews, John Hesler decided to explore the world of luxury teas, opening his eyes to the variety of blends and a plethora of possibilities. With the help of his family, they are set to firmly make their mark on the UK tea industry with this exceptional new brand. 

The Ayurvedic tea helps revitalise the body’s energy, encouraging restorative harmony and peace at all levels. While this is a great brew for everyone, it’s particularly perfect for yogis as it supports a quiet mind - something I could really do with at the moment! The tea is naturally caffeine-free and has a subtle, sweet flavour. Also, it's damn pretty in an Instagram shot! 

Speak soon, when life is calmer. 

Friday, 16 September 2016

REVIEW: Eneko at One Aldwych

Today's review was another indulgent treat. Since coming back from Spain I have been obsessed with those flavours that remind me of that region of Europe. Fresh fish, vibrant vegetables, red peppers, light spicing and plenty of salt. Eneko at One Aldwych is one such place to indulge in these flavours, but with a touch of luxury.

Eneko at One Aldwych is the brainchild of three Michelin-starred chef Eneko Atxa. His team in the kitchen transforms carefully-sourced ingredients into beautifully presented plates that appeal to all the senses. From a seafood starter that evokes the aromas of the Bay of Biscay to wines from Eneko’s very own vineyards, Eneko at One Aldwych embraces one of the world’s finest chefs modern, relaxed and playful side, introducing his Basque Country to the London crowd.
Mixed bread basket with herb butter.


Beetroot Tartare (£10)
Dressed with pickled red onion, soufflé potato, sourdough toasts, vegetable barbeque sauce

The delicious vegetable BBQ sauce was the absolute highlight of the dish but I wanted so much more. In fact, please could Mr Atxa just bottle it because it's so damned good! The beetroot tartare had an interesting colour and texture against the white plate and I was delighted with the little topping details. 

Txerri Boda Pork Festival (£15)
Iberico ham, chorizo, black pudding on milk bread
This was Alex's starter. The dish came in a wooden pigs face box which was a playful reminder of where your dish came from! The three milk buns featured three different fillings. The chorizo bun had a nice variety of textures and spicy flavours; the black pudding bun came served with delectable crisp crackling which added a nice texture; the Iberico ham filling was nice and there was plenty of it.  The milk buns themselves had a good bounce.

Hake (£20)
Basque style hake in tempura, confit vegetables, red pepper sauce and parsley emulsion
The batter was wonderfully crispy and not at all greasy, and the hake was soft and flaky. The parsley dots of sauce on the top were absolutely outstanding and really brought the dish to life. Just look at their colour against the rest of the brown ingredients! 

Oxtail (£17)
Slow cooked oxtail, mushroom emulsion
This super pretty dish was dotted all over with little flowers and pops of mushroom emulsion against the soft, shredded brown meat. The dish was very comforting and meaty in flavour, though Alex would have enjoyed few more of the crisps when it came to texture. He kept eating bits of my batter for crispiness! Our shared side of mash was also lovely and buttery. 

All desserts are served with traditional Basque ice cream

Caremelised rice pudding (£8)
The flavours of clove and orange in this rice pudding made it taste joyously of Christmas, and with a wonderfully caramelised top I was rather in dessert heaven. The bowl was served cold which was a little weird but I got used to it pretty quickly, and it actually worked well with the sticky, stodgy, comforting texture. The Basque ice cream cut through the stodginess and offered a refreshing finish on the palate.

Dark chocolate with biscuit crumble base (£8)
This dessert was incredibly rich and indulgent, with a beautiful mirror finish to the outside and strong in bitter chocolate flavour. The intense flavour worked well against the refreshing Basque ice cream as with the rice pudding. The chocolate mousse itself was smooth and the little biscuit at the bottom was crisp but not crispy almost like a brownie. 

G22 by Gorka Izagirre (£45 for a bottle)
Bizkaiko Txakolina, Basque Country, Spain 2014
A Basque Country white from 2014. The golden liquid was fruity but well oaked giving it a rich, smooth finish. The nose was quite savoury and took me by surprise initially but was a good sip. The wine worked well with the meat and beetroot, but was a little overwhelming for the hake. 

I really enjoyed my visit to Eneko at One Aldwych. I must also make a special mention to the waiting staff who were incredibly knowledgable and helpful throughout our visit.

This visit was kindly hosted by Eneko at One Aldwych. All opinions and images are my own. 
Copyright © 2014 The Young Domestic Goddess