Grilled Octopus and Bavette Steak – Chez Boom

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It has been a pretty good summer this year though The Boom and Junk did not have much luck BBQ wise. So, an end of summer BBQ do was due!

Junk having to maneuver her rump into town, offered to make some additions to Boom’s bavette steaks. According to the horse’s mouth, it was a rare cut at the local SuperM and 500g of cow for £6 was not half bad.

In the meantime, I was forewarn by Boom that whatever I managed to forage from Borough Market needs to fit well and proper on the BBQ grill, no fish baskets or the likes which means my catch needs to be big….OK….biggish!

Got the idea of Surf ‘n’ Turf in my head and off I went to….

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And this is my friend on the hot tube home!

Junk feels cheated! Count the feet….only 7? And this cost me £16+!!! At the very least, it has been gutted and cleaned. No possibility of an ink related incident!

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Recipes from the interweb all said to boil/stew the octopus for at least 45 minutes in a concoction of dry white wine and various herbage… or none!

Tossed in a handful of black peppercorn, bay leaves, few cloves of smashed garlic and a quartered onion.

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No white wine… so dry cider it shall be! Half a can…

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After 1 hour, what a beauty!

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Are you feeling the heat?

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How about now?

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Carved up…

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And served!

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I think I boiled the octopus a tad too much. Folks! Stick to 45 minutes instead of an hour!

Boom – Ease up on the steak marinade next time ok?

Chez Boom
Somewhere in West London
Open 24 hours, 7 days a week
Only by invitation

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Butchies Buttermilk Chicken Burger – Red Market, Shoreditch

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Sorry folks! Junk has been too obsessed with her underwater hobby to eat much, let alone write recently. Luckily, managed to dig out some pics from an outing a few weeks back with Boom so shall attempt to trawl through my memory of what was on offer.

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Heard about Red Market from the foodie grapevine but did not managed to visit last year. So when I heard they are back this year, dragged Boom who just works around the corner for a recon. See! We were so unfashionably early that the sign to the market was still being painted!

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The night we were there, the follow outfits were present, Deshi Roti, Mei Mei’s Street Cart, La Casa Del Burrito, Bare Bone Cue, Last Gelatiera, Butchies and Dough Brothers. We did have the Hoisin Duck Jian Bing from Mei Mei’s Street Cart but once again both Boom and Junk committed the carnal sin of food bloggers. Thou shall not eat before thy snap! But from what I recall, we both enjoyed the Chinese crepe though we both felt the hoisin sauce a tad sweet.

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Next, we decided to give the Buttermilk Chicken Burger from Butchies a try. Also threw in a portion of twice cooked chips to share. If I recall, the burger was £6 while the chips were £2.50.

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The twice cooked chips were pretty good, cut from fresh spuds and served with chipotle mayo. Unlike frozen chips, they have the earthy spud taste. Sorry! Pic taken after half the portion was consumed.

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We both enjoyed the burger! Deep fried chicken thigh marinated in buttermilk with bacon and lettuce, dressed with chipotle mayo and guacamole, stuffed into a sweet toasted brioche bun. Total yum!

More picture taken of the market, enjoy!

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Red Market SS14
288-299 Old Street
London EC1V 9DP

 

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

15 Course Tasting Menu – HKK, Liverpool Street

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The Boom decided to splash out and took me to HKK for their 15 course tasting menu yesterday night. The location of HKK is rather obscure, on the edge of Shoreditch and the City. Also, the facade is unassuming, no name of the restaurant, just frosted glass and cool blue lights.

Finally something worth blogging about. Won’t write much since there are so many pictures!

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See! 15 course tasting menu at £95! You can check out their menu online.
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Cripsy taro puff with Canadian scallop. This is the upmarket version of your typical dim sum taro puff. Instead of minced pork, it’s filled with diced scallop. I could happily have a few more puffs. The Boom liked this as well though he thought the mushy taro “dirtied” the fresh taste of the scallop.

wpid-wp-1391865598542.jpeg Cold jumbo crab. Chunky piece of crab meat on a leaf of chicory with a Shao Xing rice wine sauce. We thought the bitterness of the chicory leaf will overpower the delicate taste of the crab but luckily, the inner tender leaf of chicory was used so our fear was moot! Apart from Shao Xing wine, we both think some wasabi was used. Nice and refreshing with a tad of bite.

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Cherry wood roasted Peking duck. This was the highlight of the night! A slice of duck skin, a thick slice of duck breast with skin and a wrap with duck meat, skin and slivers of cucumber and spring onion.

We were instructed (yes, instructed!) to dip the skin in the sugar and hoi sin sauce and eat that first, followed by the breast meat with skin and lastly the wrap. Boy! This was some good stuff. Simply the best Peking duck I have ever tasted. The skin is crispy with a bit of duck fat that just melts in your mouth. The slice of duck breast was juicy and moist, simply delightful! The Boom wanted more and was waxing lyrical about how his life will be complete if he can have a whole duck with a bottle of nice red wine. The Boom and his duck craze, don’t blame him, this duck is top quack!

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The yummy duck roasting away in the kitchen.

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Truffled seafood soup with Osmanthus flower. We were once again instructed to lower the spoon filled with sea bass and scallop into the soup to warm the seafood up slightly before drinking the soup. We were expecting a light bodied soup and thus was surprised this was more like a chowder. Rich and totally umami.

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Dim sum trilogy. We both loved the deep fried dumpling that is wrapped in vermicelli and topped with caviar. The skin of the white dumpling is far too thick and the mouth feel was gummy and not pleasant. The red spicy dumpling fared slightly better, thinner skin but still too thick but have an interesting filling. Ginger, five spice and Szechuan peppercorn. Disappointing overall.

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Braised organic Duke of Berkshire pork with Mantou. I was expecting a white fluffy bun stuffed with the braised pork and so was very surprised by the 50p size bun. Taste wise, the bun was just bad! Slightly crispy on the outside with texture of wholemeal bread on the inside. Totally out of character. The moist and tender braised pork saved this dish to be let down once again by the overly sweet sauce. Even the Boom thought the sauce to be too sweet.

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Sugar snap, lotus root and water chestnut in XO sauce. This dish showcase the different texture of the vegetables. Nice, but nothing spectacular.

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Hawberry red bean cake and glutinous sesame ball served with white peony tea. Junk has done it again! I ate my portion of this dish without taking a pic so had to hijack the same dish from the neighboring table for a snap.

We both thought the the proportion of the hawberry jelly could be more to better balance the coconut red bean cake.

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Wok fried lobster in garlic sesame sauce. The Boom thought the lobster was slightly on the tough side. The sauce was just meh.

wpid-wp-1391865909137.jpeg Char grilled Chilean sea bass. This dish we both love. The smoky char taste contrasted wonderfully with the naturally sweet taste of the sea bass.
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Seared Wagyu beef in VSOP sauce. The Boom say this is like pulled pork which I can understand. There is a slight moo to the beef but could not discern the fatty marbling I would expect from a Wagyu. Perhaps because the cut has been braised?

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Seared Rhug Farm organic lamb with pan mee. This was average. I was expecting handmade pan mee noodles. Instead, the noodles tasted more like pad thai. The lamb pieces was way too salty I thought.

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Lemon cream, citrus sable and yogurt sorbet. Most of the other reviews I’ve read of HKK all said the dessert was a let down. I thought otherwise which is rare as I’m not a big dessert fan. We both loved this dish. The tart of the lemon cream and sorbet balanced the rich butter biscuit base. Only thing I would say is though well executed, this is not a typical Chinese dessert.

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Chocolate velvet, roast banana and five spice crouton. Another non Chinese dessert but utterly delicious! After the tartness of the last dish, this was rich and warming. The roast banana goes so well with the rich chocolate mousse. Slightly let down by the crouton. Way too hard and tough.
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Selection of petits fours. This reminds me of Pick and Mix from Woolworths… meh!
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The final verdict! Not cheap, won’t be repeating it again soon but a worthwhile experience.

HKK
Broadgate West
88 Worship Street
London EC2A 2BE
020 3535 1888

Homemade Savoury Rice Dumpling (Bak Chang) – West London

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Junk is always up for a challenge when it comes to replicating food from my childhood days. Previous endeavours include yam cake, radish cake, samosas, laksa and various other dishes my Mom would make. With time on my hands and a pair of spare hands from Boom, decided to up the ante and try something more daunting.

Bak chang or zongzi is a Chinese bamboo leaf wrapped snack made from glutinous rice stuffed with various ingredients. Depending on the stuffing, it can either be savoury or sweet. There is even a Nonya version which is a hybrid of the two with a slightly sweet minced pork stuffing. I went for the traditional version with pork, dried mushroom, chestnuts, dried shrimp and other bits and pieces with five spice seasoning.

Won’t bore you with the ingredient list and detailed instructions. You can refer to other blogs for that. I know you are only interested in the pics!

The most important ingredient – Glutinous Rice, in original packing. after an overnight soak and fried with seasoning

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The wrapper – Bamboo leaves, in original packing and also after a soak.

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Stuffing – Chinese wax sausage and Salted Duck Egg. Note, you only need the egg yolk and it does not need to be cooked as the salting process solidifies the yolk

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More stuffing – Dried Shrimp, Dried Mushroom and Chestnuts. The dried stuff needs to soaked before frying.

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Shallots – Skinned, thinly sliced and fry till golden. See the amount of steam released while frying the shallots. Dreamy…

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Junk’s bunch – Proudly supported by Boom

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Boom’s bunch – Not bad an effort from the big clumsy cheese!

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The horde – After slow boiling in water for 2.5 hours.

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What we had for dinner! 2 bak chang each and some homemade samosas.

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What I had for breakfast this morning. Reheat in microwave on medium for 2 minutes.

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Best served with Lao Gan Ma’s Flavoured Chilli Oil or Maggi Garlic Chilli Sauce. I had a mixture of both!

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If anyone of you are interested and located in London, I have frozen the reminder of the horde and will be more than happy to share. Just drop me a comment!
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Hamster Taxidermy Workshop – Last Tuesday Society, Hackney City Farm

*WARNING!* For those who are squirmish and find the idea of taxidermy morbid and disgusting, you better look away now….

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I’m a late adopter of Twitter but since I’ve joined, I found that Twitter opened up a whole new world of activities which I might be interested in. While looking through the tweets from those I’m following, saw a retweet to the Last Tuesday Society about an upcoming taxidermy workshop. I have always been an animal lover and also pretty crafty so I thought why not?

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I promptly signed up for the hamster taxidermy class which though is organised by the Last Tuesday Society, was held at Hackney City Farm instead. I had a hard time looking for the room hosting the workshop and had to ask 4 different staffs at the farm before I found the room. A tip, the room is next to the garden area of the cafe.

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A picture of the potential victim candidates for the day. I had a choice of attending a mouse or a hamster taxidermy class and I had difficulty deciding which. Mouse has a long tail which will help when posing anthropomorphically but hamster comes in an array of colours as you can see from the picture. Colours trump tail this time.

Candidate spreadeagled and ready for action.

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First incision.

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For those of you who thinks taxidermy involves blood and gore, you got it wrong! The idea is to remove and preserve the portion of the animal that defines it’s appearance. Next you recreate the structure of the animal with stuffing and some wires before draping the preserved skin over the created form.

So for a hamster, you try to pry the skin away from the body, keeping the paws, tail, ears and a small portion of the jaw. I’m lucky as I managed to complete this task leaving the body intact. A few of the others in the workshop perforated the thin skin of the hamster’s stomach wall and there were some gut spilling moments which was not exactly pleasant.

After skinning the hamster, you give it a wash, pin it up to get a blow dry.

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Hamster rug anyone?

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Finished product.

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The class was from 13:00 to 17:00 on a Sunday. I have to say time flew and before long, we were ushered out of the room as the farm closes at 17:00 and some of us had to finish our creation back home.

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My first reaction after the class was though I had fun, I don’t think I will attempt it again. I think the long session tired me out and the smell was pretty unpleasant. It’s not the smell of putrification, just the usual rodent smell.

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But after putting in the eyeballs, sewing the mouth shut to give it a cheeky grin and posing it into a standing position, I had a change of heart. I just might attend another workshop but  working on a different animal next time. I think there are a couple of guinea pig ones coming up…

The Last Tuesday Society
11 Mare Street
London E8 8RP

Hackney City Farm
1A Goldsmith’s Row
London E2 8QA

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!