Half Yard Hotdog – Cap’N Jaspers, Plymouth

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Muahahahaha! Talk about having a long one! Junk and Wallace bailed getting wet to sink their grubby gob on a supposedly club tradition.

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So was out at Plymouth on the first May Bank Holiday weekend hoping to have 6 full sessions of bubble blowing. But the weather did not want to play on the Sunday thus off to town we went.

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We were told by an ex club member to hit Cap’n Jaspers, a harbour side food stand and stuff ourselves silly on the Half Yard Hotdog, apparently the club’s tradition when they are diving at this neck of the woods.

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The menu consist of mainly burgers with various toppings and some hotdog options. Prices were reasonable and all made fresh upon order. The Half Yard Hotdog was £4.25. The Wallace and Junk decided to share the half yard hotdog thus making it a quarter yard each.

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After you get your order which was ran as a numbered ticket system, you get to load your burger/hotdog with a choice of condiments. Gherkins, tomato/corn relish, sweet chilli sauce, coleslaw and the usual sauces.

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The dressed hotdog. Boy it was long. Like cradling a baby.

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Junk’s portion. So how does it taste like you ask? Well, nothing fantastic really. Just a cheap sausage, freshly griddled and stuffed in a long soft roll. The condiments made a huge difference but it’s just what it was. Junk food!

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No doubt about it. It’s popular with the locals and tourist.

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Cap’n Jaspers
Whitehouse Pier
Plymouth
Devon PL1 2SL
Tel: 01752 262444

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Sausage Roll – The Quality Chop House, Farringdon

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New location, new food adventures! For regular readers of my blog, sorry that I did not write much when I was based out at the Silicon Roundabout. I did have the aspiration to have a pho at every Vietnamese joint down by Kingsland Road but work and laziness got the better of me and I stopped after 3. Does not mean I did not eat lunch, just nothing worth much of a mention.

Today’s write up is more out of astonishment then it being a taste sensation. For those not as bright a spark, the title of this post reveals what is in the neatly packed parcel which cost a whole £4! Yes, it’s a humble sausage roll.

20131216-123049_Web_jpg_630x420_crop-center_q95I know many critics simply loved The Quality Chop House. Rave reviews abundant. Just google for it. Without a buddy for a sit down meal, thought I give the offerings at the adjacent shop a try especially I was peckish for a snack after my lunch. The big cuts of meat at the butcher looked promising and decided to give the sausage roll a go. Though there was no price listed, was expecting to pay say max £2.50 for a luxury version?

Had to take a big gulp when I was told the damage was £4! Four bl00dy f-fing pounds for a sausage roll! I kid you not, I got the receipt as proof!

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It’s not even a big sausage roll by any standard. The ones in Borough Market from The Ginger Pig were at least half a the size longer and were only £3 a piece I think. I usually use a packet of ciggies as the reference measure but don’t want to enrage the anti smokers lobby thus an Oyster card will do. * An Oyster card is the size of a typical bank/credit card.

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You know what? The taste of the sausage roll sure does not justify the price tag. Ok, it’s not a bad sausage roll, the puff pastry is light and flaky and the sausage meat filling was generous, juicy and well seasoned. Bits of green herbs were laced throughout the stuffing but for the life of me, I could not tell what the herbage was. Sage perhaps? Overall, a tad greasy but those of you health conscious peebs but still acceptable by my standards.

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But £4! I’m beginning to sound like a broken record. Especially when their lunch deal of a chop with a glass can be had at £15, something is wrong with their pricing. No wonder I was muttering under my breath on my walk back to the office cradling the warm £4 parcel.

Another pic for posterity!

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The Quality Chop House
90-92 Farringdon Road
London EC1R 3EA
Butcher and Shop: 0203 490 6228

Beef and Stilton Pasties – Polperro, Cornwall

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A few weeks back while the weather was still balmy, we went on a short weekend break to Cornwall. The Tweet has not tried living in a static caravan, let alone a touring park so I thought it’s a worthwhile for him to experience something which I think is quintessentially English. Went the whole hog and based ourselves at The Lizard which contains the most southerly point of the British mainland while we toured around the area. On the drive back home, we did an impromptu stop at the small fishing village of Polperro.

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One of the biggest gripes we had while driving around the area was parking, specifically not having change for the parking machines. Just look at how much they charge at Polperro! Take my advice, bring loads of coinage if you are in the area.

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While walking around the village, realised that we did properly ate of Cornwall’s famous food, pasty. I have always preferred the Steak and Stilton version to the traditional pasty so I went on the hunt for a couple of Steak and Stilton pasty as blog fodder.

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First stop is Tin Miners Pasty Shop which is located on the tourist trail from the car park to the harbour. I had high hopes for this shop as the pasties are baked in small batches in the oven behind the counter thus ensuring it is as fresh as it gets.

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Besides Steak and Stilton, there are many other varieties to chose from including vegetarian options. They even have dessert pasties! So wrong….

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The Steak and Stilton cost £2.65 and weigh 281g. The pasty looked well stuffed and the crimp is not too thick.

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Taste wise, I found this too salty. I know stilton cheese can be pretty salty but I don’t think the cheese is the culprit. Probably a heavy handed baker. The veg were cooked just right, not too mushy and while the beef was on the chewy side, it made a good contrast with the soft veg. Overall, this pasty would be perfect if it was less salty and had more stilton cheese.

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Next victim please! The Polperro Pasty Shop is also located on the tourist trail from the carpark to the harbour, nestled in amongst the row of shops on the left. Compared to the Tin Miners Pasty Shop, this looked more like your typical high street chain bakeries.

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There are also a variety of flavour option available and luckily, no dessert pasties! Phew… I was assured by the lady who served me that all the pasties are baked in the premise though I could see no oven. Probably at the back of the shop.

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At £2.85 and 331g, this cost slightly more than the Steak and Stilton from the Tin Miners. The pasty does not look as plump though it is heavier and it has a thicker crimp.

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Once again, the Steak and Stilton Pasty from The Polperro Pasty Shop was way too salty and I’m pretty sure the salt did not come from the cheese! The veg here was under done as I had to crunch my way though some of the spud bits. The beef was also chewy but somehow, the texture does not feel like unadulterated beef. It feels like beef that has been coated with corn starch, what you get from Chinese takeaways? The only good thing about this pasty is the stilton, here I can taste the cheese.

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It would seem that though I was in Cornwall, the best Steak and Stilton Pasty is still from the West Cornwall Pasty Company!

Squid and Chips – Cicerello’s, Mandurah WA Oz

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There was time to do some sightseeing when Junk and Boom was down in Ozland. It has been quite a few years since we have been to Mandurah and with the rare sunny winter’s day, thought a day out at the marina will do the spirit some good.

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After checking out the marina, property prices and the leisure boats on sales, Boom felt peckish and wanted some squid from Cicerello’s, supposedly WA’s No1 Fish ‘N Chip restaurant. Not feeling hungry and knowing the portion size in Oz, suggested to Boom that if he were to get an order of squid with chips and some gravy, that should be enough for the 2 of us.

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Eating out in Oz sure is not cheap! Perhaps I did not take the currency exchange into consideration but a portion of Squid and Chips for AUD$15.80? They also get you on the drinks here. A bottle of Solo for close to AUD$4! Then again, Boom paid so I can’t really complain.

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Pics of the menu so you can see the price range.

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And the ordering area.

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As you can see, I was right about the portion. There were 10 squid rings in total but they were not great for the batter tend to fall off the rings when you bite them. Was not expecting the portion of coleslaw as it was not mentioned on the menu. Glad it was included as the coleslaw was fresh and crunchy with bits of red onion which we both loved.

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The highlight of this snack was the gravy! Rich, beefy and totally slurpable! Definitely not of the Bisto quality, this is truly good stuff! Even after dunking each and every chip we had as well as the squid rings in the gravy, we were left with close to half a bowl. Boom suggested I drink the gravy from the bowl. I thought better but wished instead that I have asked for a takeaway container to doggy bag the remaining gravy!

Cicerello’s
Unit 2/73 Mandurah Terrace
Mandurah WA 6210
Australia
+61 8 9535 9777

Cheap Meat Pies – Woolworths and Coles, Perth Oz

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Junk had to go down south, way down south due to family obligations. Though the journey was long, it was well worth the close to 24 hours flight time. As usual, I never miss an opportunity to eat and wax lyrical about the junk food that’s available. Trust me, this one is really junk on an epic scale!

I know pie is nothing new to us Brits but meat pie is an institution to Oz. While we have burgers and chips at sporting events, the Aussie have meat pies. The family in Oz have their own favourite pies at a local independent bakery but I was against the AUS$3+ price tag for each. Inspiration hit me as I was chomping down on little party sized meat pies at the family reception, there must be some cheap and nasty frozen ones at the supermarkets?

So off I went on the hunt for cheap frozen pies! My only criteria were that they should be meat pies, should be singly packed and as cheap as possible. I also took the lazy, bachelor way out and microwaved all the pies as per instructions rather than oven them. What I managed to find:

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Mrs Mac’s Beef & Cheese Pie, AUS$2.00, 19% beef

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Snowy River Meat Pie, AUS$0.95, minimum 25% beef or mutton

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Coles Smart Buy Meat Pie, AUS$0.70, 25% beef or mutton

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Woolworths Homebrand Individual Meat Pie, AUS$0.70, 25% beef or mutton

The Boom thought it might be a good idea for me to have all 4 pies at one go to retain impartiality but I thought better. So I had the 4 pies for breakfast over 2 days after my daily swim.

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I decided to pit the named brand pies against each other so first up is Mrs Mac’s vs Snowy River. Mrs Mac’s is on the left while Snowy River is on the right.

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On face value, Mrs Mac’s definitely looked more appetizing with cheese oozing out of the pie while the Snowy River pie was filled with standard looking minced meat pie filling. Don’t be fooled by looks though! I actually much preferred the Snowy River one as the pastry was thin and crispy though it was cooked in a microwave and the filling richer in taste. The pastry of Mrs Mac’s pie was much thicker and the inner portion was uncooked though the bag has those fancy shiny coating which is supposed to aid cooking? The cheese sauce did not taste cheesy at all and the meat filling was not as rich as Snowy River’s version. At AUS$0.95, I thought the Snowy River pie was a much better value taste and quality wise.

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On to the supermarket homebrand pies. Coles Smart Buy on the left and Woolworths Homebrand on the right.

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Compared to the named brand, you can see that the amount of filling was less generous. Definitely lack the ooze factor despite me squeezing them with my fork to make them more photogenic. This time round, you get what you see! The Woolworths pie crust looked anemic compared to its rival and it had a chewy texture. Filling wise, the mince was too fine and tasted bland. The Coles pie was the better of the 2 with a thinner crust (not crispy though) and tasty filling with bigger cuts of meat but the Snowy River pie filling was better.

So in summary, I personally think the Snowy River pie was the best of the lot. It did not cost much more than the supermarket homebrand with adequate crispy crust and tasty filling. I was glad I split the pies across 2 days. 2 pies was enough to fill me up till dinner time both days, power!

Live from @truckstopLDN

OK people, not going to write much. Just showing all the trucks at Truck Stop and a couple of nosh pics I remembered to take before stuffing my face!

Enjoy!

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The crowd, all well behaved.

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Vanduke, brother truck of Naamyaa Cafe

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Engine, serving hotdogs.

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Yum Buns, we actually had 2 yum buns, a chicken and a pork but Junk forgot to take a picture. £3.50 each or 2 for £6. Highly recommended.

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Baba G, Indian food. I was tempted by the Bhaji Box which at £4 is a good option for sharing.

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Healthy Yummies, they were selling pan fried scallops in the shell. A colleague of mine tried it and she said it was good. Long queues though, be warned!

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Spit and Roast, the Tweet got the Poutin here. For £3.50, you get a big tray of fries topped with cheese curd and rich, full of umami roast chicken gravy. We were not expecting the gravy to be filled with shredded chicken, good thing though! The Tweet wolfed the whole tray down in a couple of minutes. Spudcaterian!

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Cheeky Italian, I think they were serving arancini balls and calzone.

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Gurmetti – Italian pork burgers

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That’s Bleeker St Burger! They won the Young and Foodish burger bash but I didn’t feel like burger today.

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Mama’s Jerk Station – Pretty self explanatory.

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Bell & Brisket – Salt Beef Bagel

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I got this from Mother Clucker. Wanted whole pieces of chook but apparently it takes to long to cook. So settled for cup of cluck. Nice!

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Anna Mae’s – Mac & Cheese. I was truly tempted but the stomach protest

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The bar! The booze!

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Original Fry Up – Typical fry up, All Day Breakfast

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Daisy Green – Frozen Yogurt

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Shawarma Shack – Kebabs

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Fishdog – Coley fish fingers

Anyway, time to get sloshed, over and out!

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Truck Stop
Somewhere in Canary Wharf
Do buy tickets in advance to get tokens for 2 drinks!
@truckstopLDN

 

Small Plates Dinner – Elliot’s Cafe, Borough Market

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Invited Boom out for dinner last Wed as I needed a partner in crime to join in trying out this restaurant near Borough Market. I walk pass Elliot’s Cafe near Borough Market everyday and am intrigued by the ever changing menu.

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Looking at some of the more “adventurous” ingredients used, I reckon I needed someone who is always happy to stretch his palate. Boom has always been the best candidate on such culinary missions!

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After examining the menu and the specials on the blackboard in detail, we both decided that the large plates and the specials did not appeal that night. So we decided on a few small plates, a carafe each of the house white and red wine to match the variety of small plates and the baked on site bread.

I won’t pain myself to recall the exact names of all the small plates but from what I can remember, they were

  • Mullet gravalax with apple
  • Mussels with nduja
  • Pork Head kromeski
  • Deviled ox tongue
  • Steak tartare
  • Squid with curry and cauliflower puree

The bill came up to be close to £90 but we both thought that in all, the meal was worth it but obviously not something we will do everyday!

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I will cover a couple of the small plates in more detail. As usual, we started eating once the food arrive and only then I remembered to take pics. There are 4 kromeski in total, with 2 already on each of our plates. When asked, the server explained that the pig’s head is stewed then whatever available flesh is shredded, combined and shaped into a croquette. It was indeed crunchy and we wished we could have a couple more though I thought the meat a tad porky for those who don’t like the taste.

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I was glad I insisted on ordering the deviled ox tongue. The ox tongue was cooked till tender but still maintaining a slight bite. The deviled sauce was tart, slightly sweet and rather tangy and the baked on site brown bread was perfect to perform sauce mop up duty

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The mussels with nduja is one of London’s Top 10 dishes according to Timeout magazine and indeed it packs a punch! The mussels were cooked just right and the chewy flesh contrasted nicely with the spicy, savoury sauce. Boom noted that it is not unlike the chili mussels we have in Asia and I concur.

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The steak tartare was the dud of the night I have to say. We could not discern much seasoning in it apart from the mustard sauce on top. It definitely does not have any capers or much shallots. Instead of chips, it was served with crisps which feels like a bit of a cop out.

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From zero to hero! For me,  the highlight of the evening’s meal was the squid with curry and cauliflower. Was surprised when the dish turned up as the curry referred to curry leaves while the cauliflower is in puree form. When consumed separately, each of the components were just what they were. But when combined, the subtlety of the parts somehow are amplified. The curry leaves tastes more curry like, the cauliflower puree taste sweeter and you appreciate the texture of the well grilled squid more somehow.

I’m going to attempt cooking the mussels with nduja this weekend and will be sure to post the results.

Elliot’s Cafe
12 Stoney Street
Borough Market
London SE1 9AD
0207 403 7436