Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Listing Launch Party - Drake & Morgan, London

The Listing - Drake & Morgan
27 Bush Ln,
Cannon Green,
London, EC4R 0AA

0203 948 9820

The Listing is the latest (19th) Bar & Restaurant from Drake & Morgan, that has just opened near Cannon Street. I was lucky to be invited to join Joanne of Love Pop Ups London and Steve for the launch party on the 9th of November .

The lines to get in seemed really long which just goes to show how popular this spot is going to be. The process was pretty fast though and I was inside in under 10 minutes where my friends were already waiting.

The space is huge and absolutely stunning. With a two storied glass frontage which wraps around the building. The party was being held downstairs in the bar and restaurant section, but we also went up to where the Deli will be and that section was so warm and inviting, I just wanted to curl up on one of those chairs with a blanket, a book and a cup of coffee. All of which they provide.

There was quite an assortment of canapes being served and as we walked around the open kitchen, we saw how hard they were working to keep the food circulating. This was the first time that I was watching an open kitchen for this size of an event and I was thoroughly impressed at the efficiency of the chefs and serving staff.

The desserts were decadently delicious and I hope that they will continue to offer those brownies and mint marshmallows (were they gin and tonic marshmallows ?) on the menu.

The bar tenders were also working very hard to keep up with the demand. I did not get the opportunity to try one of the drinks at the bar, given the crowd around it. But there was a kiosk run by The London Essence Co. that served up some amazing cocktails. Plus we go to try a new flavour of Rekoderlig Cider - Premium Spiced Plum - very Christmassy flavours.

There was a glitter station, where we got ourselves glammed up - all shimmery and sparkly. Such fun. Being London, I was able to travel home by bus with all the sparkles still on my face, without any stares or questions. I just love living in this city!

The Listing is a great venue, very beautiful. Modern interiors below at the pub and warm comfortable tones upstairs at the deli. What we ate, isn't likely to be on the regular menu, but the chefs and bartenders know what they are doing, so I'm sure this place will be very popular.

Do take a look at some of their special menus for the upcoming Christmas season. They are quite ideal for office parties. The Listing will be open on weekdays from 7:30am and weekends are available for private hire.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Mam, London

16 All Saints Rd
Notting Hill
London W11 1HH

Phone number 020 7792 2665

Looks like Mam has opened recently, but they are offering delivery through deliveroo.

Home delivered pho on a cold and wet night when I had no intention of stepping outside, sounded just what I needed.

The Cha Gio (5.8£)- Vietnamese Fried Chicken Spring Rolls with wood ear mushrooms was lovely. The optional chicken with the papaya salad Goi Du Du Chicken (7£), made it it a very filling dish. Not as spicy as the Thai version, but nice and crunchy and light.

The beef pho (11£) had delicate slices of beef and a very fragrant pho. The cinnamon in it was very soothing. I had also ordered a Bun Heo (11£) - BBQ Pork with rice, for lunch the next day. The pork was absolutely delicious and I wish they would offer just the pork as a separate dish. I would order just a couple of plates of that pork and be a very happy person indeed.

I have varieties of bottles of chilli sauces and pastes at home to spice up my food, but you can order extra sauces from them if you like.

The food is good and they deliver home which is a huge advantage in the current weather, but I felt the lack of herbs in the pho (just a few spring onions) I'm not sure if this is because it was a takeaway/delivery order and you get more seasonings if you eat in.

Food was very well packed and I appreciate the broth being packed completely separately. It means you can reheat the soup if you don't eat immediately and not end up with a soggy glutinous mess.

Rating : 3.5/5 for Home Delivery

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Halloween Filipino Supper Club with Pepe's Kitchen, London

I'm embarrassed to admit, that after almost THREE whole years in London, I had never attended a supper club. Given my love of good food and a particular passion for the authentic flavours of home cooking, this was a huge oversight on my part that needed to be corrected quickly.

I've seen a lot of great looking supper clubs, but since our schedule is so last minute, by the time I'm ready to confirm that I can attend, the places are all taken up.

So last week when Joanne of Love Pop Ups London told me that Mae of Pepe's Kitchen was hosting a Halloween themed Filipino Supper Club and had space for a few more guests, I was very excited. This would be my first supper club and also my first experience of a Filipino meal.

A quick scan of the menu for the day, showed that there was no shrimp on the menu (which meant I could eat everything being served) and so I promptly signed up for three of us.

The whole process was very smooth and Mae was very welcoming and extremely prompt in her replies. She also said the Haloween costumes were optional and we could bring our own alcohol.

On Friday, we got to her place by 7pm and were served beef lumpia (like a spring roll, but canape sized) and an alcoholic cocktail as soon as we walked in. That beef lumpia was so good, I could not wait for dinner to start.

We hung around getting to meet the other guests and taking in the stunning views from their balcony, while waiting for the last of the guests to arrive, so we could all sit down together for the plated meal to begin.

Supper clubs are really intimate dining experiences at peoples homes and capacity ranges from 8-20 depending on the size of their homes. This one had nine of us at the table. Each of us came from different parts of the world, were well traveled and shared a passion for food. So the conversation at the dinner table was fascinating. The group was small enough that we could talk to each other across the table, rather like a large family dinner.

The only thing I felt bad about, was that while we were having so much fun at the table. Mae and her partner were busy working on the next course in the kitchen. But I guess, that's what happens even if you are visiting friends or family for a home cooked meal. She did invite us to join her in the kitchen in between courses if we wanted to, but the conversations at the table were too interesting to leave half way through.

The table was spookily done up and there were gums, teeth, fingers and eyeballs that we could eat off the table if we were  too hungry to wait.

Once we sat down, our first course was menudo tartlets. Mae's twist on a traditional Filipino chicken recipe. As we got ready to tuck in, she explained how she got her love for cooking from her father - Pepe and to introduce Filipino food to the London audience, she started catering canapes, so the food was bite sized and hence more approachable.

Mae gave us an introduction to Filipino food and a brief glimpse of the staggering variety of regional variations. Given that the Philippines is a set of islands, each island has their own take on dishes with the same name, as well as their own special dishes.

At the table, we had a round of conversation on how some of us crave spicy food when traveling and find that some countries, just don't serve food that is truly spicy. So we discussed tips, like carrying tabasco bottles in purses and the different spice pastes available as a topping in Asia.

As she had heard this conversation, Mae told us that Filipino food wasn't spicy. It does have spices, it just doesn't use as much Chilli as Thailand or India. She told us she could serve us some chillies on the side if we wanted.

Our main course was Dinaguan and I was very excited when I first saw this dish on the menu. Pork stew in pork blood served with homemade steamed rice cakes or jasmine rice. A quick google search said that Dinaguan was mostly made with pork offal and I was expecting something like our Manglorean sannas and sarpatel.Obviously, when you have such high expectations built around a dish you have never tasted before, there will be disappointment.

To be honest, I loved the texture of the dinaguan, the blood had been well blended into the gravy and I much prefer that to the black clumps that I normally pick out of my sarpatel. But Mae had skipped the offal, to make the dish less scary for the diners, so I missed the crunch of the offal and obviously the spice levels were very different. The gorgeous green chilli that she included in each dish did help and I finished my whole plate. But I was constantly missing the heat and sour tang of sarpatel and my cravings are just amplified enough that I may just set out on a treasure hunt to find a butcher who can provide me with cleaned offal and attempt to cook it myself.

The next course was Bulalo - a beef and bone broth simmered for a few hours. This was soul food. It just felt like one of the soups grandma used to make us when we were sick and only wanted hot liquid for sustenance. My cousin who was with us, also agreed that it brought back warm memories.

For dessert, we were served Ensaymada at Sorbetes -  Freshly baked sweet butter bread served with homemade coconut ice cream. This was heavenly. I'm not a big bread eater, but I could live on those Ensaymadas. They went into the oven while we started on our soup and were warm and buttery and absolutely delicious.

We loved the whole set up and are ready to try out more supper clubs. I'd like to explore Filipino food a bit more, this was a good introduction for me. I've heard there are a few more Filipino supper clubs in London and a restaurant or two where service is a bit hit or miss.

Also when Mae explained the different varieties of Adobo's in Philippines, I know that if she has a supper club with only adobos on the menu, I will be there with my stretchy pants on.

Mae only has a supper club about once a month or so. If you have the opportunity, I would heavily recommend it. Try a new cuisine, cooked and served with love by a passionate chef who will patiently answer all your questions about her cuisine and culture. Step into another world with a wonderful guide, right here in the center of London!


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