Saturday, January 22, 2011

Borough Market, London

I spent the morning in Borough Market today, with 2 objectives: Buy some craft Beer and try a couple of 'popular' sandwiches that are sold there. It was quite cold (approx 3 C), but we braved the cold and the rain to get to this place.

First objective: Accomplished! There is a stall called Utobeer, a shop that specializes in craft beer (mostly UK but there is also a good selection of American and Belgian Beers)

My stash: Samuel Smith Russian Imperial Stout and HardKnott aged barley wine Beer. These are very hard to find around here or anywhere actually, since they are actually produced in very limited batches. The Imperial Stout, as per the label, is a type of beer originally brewed to withstand the abuses of shipping in foul weather to Imperial Russia, hence the name.

After a quick walk to the car to drop off the beer, on we went walking around the market. Every stall has their own specialty, and very unique vendors, who are very creative to attract customers, by singing, shouting, dancing, and even teasing the customers.

Above, Mulled wine, as I learned is very typical here during the winter time. It's red wine, boiled or kept warm with a variety of spices (cinamon, Ginger, etc...) I did not try this but I will make sure to try this next time I'm here.

A huge Paellera serving Green Curry with rice.

My first stop was at Kapacasein, one of the most popular stalls in Borough Market. They are known for their Toasted Cheese Sandwich, made with Sourdough Bread, Montgomery Cheddar Cheese, Onion leaks and garlic.

This was truly delicious, super toasted bread, very crunchy and melted cheddar cheese inside. I suggest you do not leaved Borough market without trying this..

Next stop was at Brindisa, a Spanish Tapas bar that has a stall selling Chorizo rolls. a small roll with 4 ingredients: Rocket, Olive Oil, Chorizo and Pimientos. It's as simple as this but this roll is so good. Normally they have long lines, but we were lucky to have gotten ours fast.

Last stop was the Duck Confit stall...I just could not resist not having this sandwich: Crispy Duck Confit, a roll, Rocket and a bit of Mustard. Again, the key here is simplicity. It can't get any simpler than that, but one of the better sandwiches I've had in a while.

Had a great time but was only there for 2 hours, so I am determined to come back here another time, when the weather is a bit better, to try all the other goodies available. If you have not been here, this is highly recommendable.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Bar Boulud, London

I'm a huge fan of Daniel Boulud, so as soon as I found out that he opened his signature Bar Boulud in London, I knew I had to try it out. This is a casual restaurant located at the ground floor or the Mandarin Oriental on Brompton Road, just in from Harrods. I was really there to try their signature Burgers, but the menu is quite extensive, with House made Terrines, Pat├ęs, Hams and Sausages...definitely I will have to come back to try the rest of the menu.

For starters, Moules a la Basquaise (Mussels steamed in white wine, Chorizo roasted Peppers, White Beans, grilled ciabatta). The sauce was very creamy and the Mussels very fresh. I chose this since this is a light dish, in preparation for the Burger to come.

We did not drink wine, but had beer instead. I had a Brew Dog Punk IPA, a locally manufacture beer in the UK. I found this very light, delicate and even a bit fruity. Not hoppy at all and medium bodied. Not what I was expecting but it paired well with the burger.

Then, our burgers arrived. There are 3 types of NY Burgers on the menu: The Yankee Burger (with Cheddar Cheese), Frenchie Burger (with Confit Pork Belly) and the Piggie Burger (with BBQ pulled pork). It was a hard choice but I ordered the Frenchie Burger.

Grilled Beef with confit pork belly, rocket tomato-onion compote, Morbier cheese, Peppered brioche bun and pommes frite. It was served Medium rare as I had asked. It was very juicy, so rich and definitely oozing with the Pork Belly fat and flavors. The frites were thrice fried, so you can imagine how those tasted. The ketchup was home made, so this was a nice surprise.

Definitely a place I would want to return, maybe while I am still here in London, to try the other Burgers. This is one though is one of the best Burgers I have tried. Not that I am a burger expert but this one is at the top of my list.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Asador Ansorena, Madrid

I was in Madrid for a couple of days and took advantage in going to this Asador, which I've heard is one of the better Basque Asadores in town. They specialize in Chuleton, which is th reason I chose this place, since I was craving for a good piece of meat. The meat used is Galician Beef, which according to Rafael, the owner of the restaurant, has the best beef in Spain.

As soon as we sat down, we were served a huge piece of bread and a few pieces of Chistorra, typical Chorizo from the North of Spain.

We then ordered our Starters: Cogollos de Tudela

A delicious plate of Pimientos....

Alcachofas Fritas (Fried Artichokes)

All this washed down with some light and refreshing Sidra...

Now on to the serious stuff...the meat here being grilled. Look at all that salt!!

But before the main attraction, we still had some space for Bacalao al Pil-Pil, another specialty of the Basque region. This was very well prepared and the Pil-Pil, cook to perfection.

Back to the Beef...before serving, I had a chance to talk to Rafael, the owner. He found out we were from the Philippines, he became so nice to us. Apparently he has some 'Pelotari' friends in Manila (Jai-Alai) and had visited them some time ago.

At last, the Meat is served!! a huge piece of meat (I'd say approx 1.3 kilos). This was charred on the outside and medium rare on the inside. I would have preferred this to be a bit more rare, but in any case, the flavors were spot on.

It was full of flavor, intense, a but nutty..this was just one hell of a piece of meat. I felt like I was in the olden days, when the barbarians would eat huge chunks of meat with their bare hands. Delicious!

If I did have to complain, it would have to be the very limited wine list. I initially asked for the 2001 Prado Enea Gran Reserva, which was not on stock, so we ended up with a 2004 Cune Imperial Reserva. Not the wine I would have wanted to eat with this meat but it was good enough.

Definitely this is one of the better places I've had Chuleton, although I still prefer the ones in San Sebastian, which are dry aged, which gives them more flavors. If you are in Madrid though, this place is highly recommendable.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Happy Three Kings

I just got to Barcelona a day ago just in time for Three kings celebration. Unlike the Philippines where it's it's not celebrated at all, here is Spain it is even more important than Christmas.

As a tradition in our family, we gave always celebrated in my aunt's house. There is only one dish served that day: Canelones.

Made with her special recipe ( which she refuses to give me), we look forward to this every year, since we would have this only once a year. When I was younger, we used to have competitions as to who could eat more, my record being at around 16 to 18 pieces. My uncle was the champion, having eaten 32 pieces one year.

This year I was only able to eat 10. It's just too filling, but still delicious. It was a fun lunch ( and long, since we finished lunch at 8 pm) a d significant since it was my first time back for this holiday since I left Spain 12 years ago.

Happy Three Kings to all!!!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Wee Nam Kee

There's been a lot of hype about this place. Be ready for long lines if you plan to eat here (they do not accept reservations)This is a franchise of the popular one in Singapore, which specializes in Hainanese chicken. I have not been to the one in Singapore, so I am not one to compare.

It took us a while to get a table but we finally settled down. We were a big group so it was not easy getting a table. I left the ordering to my sister and brother in law, since they had eaten there before.

We had both kinds of Hainanese chicken: The traditional one and roasted. Both were very good but I'd say the chicken was over done. I prefer the traditional boiled one.

As you can see, this was my station. All prepared with the chicken rice and the dips: chilli sauce, Ginger and sweet soy sauce. We also had other dishes like pork, pork asado and cereal Prawns. The rice was the best, kinda oily but with a lot of flavor.

Aside from the Hainanese chicken nothing really else stood out of what we had. The cereals prawns were just too dry and over cooked. The Pork was good although it just had too much fat.

I'm not really convinced about this place. I have to go back though just to give it another chance. It just opened a few weeks ago and thy are still on dry run.