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

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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!

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!

Birthday Dim Sum Lunch – Taste of China, Harrow

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So it was Junk’s birthday last weekend and the Boom suggested we go to LPDJ at Westfield Shepherd’s Bush for dinner as I have always wanted to try the joint but never came around to it. Instead, I woke up in the morning craving for dim sum so countered his suggestion with a dim sum lunch instead. As it’s my birthday afterall, he gladly compiled.

There are 2 Chinese restaurants along Station Road at Harrow, Taste of China and Royal China. Royal China actually took over another Chinese restaurant a couple of years back and the Boom and I used to go to that but we jumped ship to Taste of China as I find Royal China tends to be packed on weekends, is pricier in comparison and tends to be snobby.

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For those of you who are not familiar with dim sum offerings, fear not! They have a special menu with coloured pictures of each dish and the price which makes ordering a breeze. Having dim sum is very much like having tapas, the dishes are small and is perfect for sharing. The aim is to order a variety of dishes and each person can have a try. If anyone wants more food, you can always add on to your order.

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I think we ended up ordering perhaps 10 dishes in total. As they are served when each is ready and I was starving, did not managed to get a picture with all the dishes. Clockwise from the left we have Mixed Seafood Hor Fun, Pan Fried Turnip Cake, Salted Egg and Lean Meat Rice Porridge and Seaweed and Beancurd Skin Roll.

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Clockwise from the left again, Steam Pork Ribs with Black Bean, Prawn and Chive Dumplings and Boom’s favourite, Five Spiced Chicken Feet!

Those that did not managed to make an appearance are Fried Seafood Beancurd Roll, Yam Croquettes and Shanghai Dumplings. All in the bill came up to £40+ with 2 Cokes and unlimited Chinese Tea. Not a bad deal for the pigout I would say!

So if you are ever in the area and Royal China is rammed, do give Taste of China a try.

Taste of China
172 – 174 Station Road
Harrow HA1 2RH
0208 863 1140

Festive, Steak Bake and Sausage Roll – Greggs, Ruislip High Street

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It’s WFH for Junk today. Got a doctor’s appointment to sort out my chest from when some random stranger elbowed me on the tube 3 weeks ago. The doc will probably not be able to do much except prescribe stronger painkillers but at least that saves me popping ibuprofen everyday.

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Anyway, lunch was a slightly later affair as you can see from the picture. It was dark by the time I managed to get out of the house. Had some business to sort out on the local high street so decided to pick something up fast from Greggs the bakery.

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They always have a 2 pastries deal if you get 2 of the same sort but it would seem they have loosen their deal a tad. For those not in the know, their pastries are usually baked on the premise but when I got there, the choices were not great. So I got my go to Steak Bake and Sausage Roll. Seeing it’s close to Christmas, there were a couple of options that fits the theme. So I got a Festive Bake as well. Total cost, 2 pastries or bakes was £2.50 and the Sausage Roll was £1.20. A very filling late lunch for £3.70. Not half bad I guess.

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The Steak Bake is as always comforting. Rich brown gravy with chunks of beef, a tad salty but fills the gap. I was quite surprised with the Sausage Roll especially when I have not had any luck with them from other places so far. It was not too greasy and the sausage filling was pretty tasty for once! Not as good as those I could get from the Belgium bakeries when I was living in the continent but not too bad. As for the Festive Bake, it was pleasant enough. Chucks of chicken and stuffing in white sauce with bits of bacon. The only possible complain I might have is it taste quite strongly of sage, to the extend that it might come across as antiseptic. You know, the Dettol taste? But it was only from a couple of bites. I’ll let it pass.

Gross out time! If Junk can do that to her baby toe, she definitely deserved to be elbowed no?? The pain…. oh the pain!!!

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Greggs
106 High Street
Ruislip
London HA4 8LS
01895 674 712