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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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

Duck Confit Sandwich – Le Marche du Quartier, Borough Market

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I hate Borough Market! Ok, I know that sounded a tad strong. I’ll correct myself and be slightly more PC. I hate Borough Market from Thursday through to the weekend! When I first came to London and visited Borough Market, I used to be in awed by the variety of food and produce available. But nowadays, not only have the variety dwindled, most of the clienteles on full market days are 90% tourist! They mill around like mindless sheep, getting into everybody’s way and buys nothing serious. Makes my blood boil!

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Enough of my ranting, on to today’s post. So last Thursday, feeling guilty about not blogging as much as I used to, I decided to risk a walk to Borough Market wanting to checkout a Caribbean Jerk stall which was opened the day before. When I got there, it was not opened and I was at a lost with what to get for lunch. As it is I was running out of time as I have meeting soon and the throng of tourist did not help. Anyway, finally decided to have the Duck Confit Sandwich from Le Marche du Quartier which I have been promising myself to try.

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Le Marche du Quartier also known as The Market Quarter is a french shop selling french supplies. You can find tins of confit de canard, pate, goose fat, foie gras etc. Typically french stuff. When the shop is open, they also have a make shift stand selling shredded duck confit stuffed into a ciabatta with a few token fronds of rocket. At £5, it’s pretty affordable by Borough Market standards. If you look carefully at the picture above, you can see a blue movement behind the steam. That’s the chap busy mopping up the fat from frying the duck confit.

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As you can see from the gleam of the filling, this is seriously fatty stuff! I was a tad worried that apart from being fat, it will be really salty as well. Luckily, the hearty ciabatta overcame the saltiness of the duck confit. The portion was very generous but I would prefer to have more rocket which will also help to cut down the fattiness of the stuffing.

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If you are not a fan of fat, suggest you stay clear of this. Even 5 thick sheets of napkin cannot overcome the power of the grease!

Le Marche du Quartier
Middle Market area
Borough Market
Stoney Street
London SE1 9AA
020 7378 8679

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

Mediterranean Chicken Pasta Salad – Rosie Tate Cafe, Southwark

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Refusing to accept that my lunch options is only confined to the vicinity of Borough Market, I went for a short walk yesterday when the sun was out. Started walking towards Tate Modern but not along the river banks and came across a rather new commercial development with the typical high street eateries but also some independent food outlets. My urge to blog has been ignited again!

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The Jubilee Line was delayed today due to some person stuck between the platform and the train at London Bridge. Wonder how that could happen as there is a glass gantry which separates the platform and the train at London Bridge. Anyway, London Bridge station was thus closed and had to get off one stop earlier at Southwark. Knew I will pass by Rosie Tate Cafe on my walk to the office and decided to grab something for lunch.

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The cafe is very spacious with separate chillers for sandwiches, pick and mix salads and prepacked lunch boxes. Of the lunch boxes, there is a choice of Chinese rice and noodles,  Caribbean style rice and choice of meat, some rice and curry as well as a range of salads.  They are all reasonably priced with the rice and noodles between £4 – £5 while the salads cost slightly less. I decided on the Mediterranean Chicken Pasta Salad which cost only £3.25! Bargain!

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The fusilli pasta is lightly dressed with a pesto dressing and it is topped with shredded cheddar cheese, some black olives, cheery tomatoes, some shredded marinated chicken, rocket and a veg stew made up of courgettes, aubergines and mange tout. The portion was generous but to be honest, the salad is just what it is, nothing special. But for £3.25, how could you complain?

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Rosie Tate Cafe
19 Great Guildford Street
Southwark
London SE1 0HS
0207 928 9100

Haggis, Neeps and Tatties – Chez Boom and Sillfield Farm, Borough Market

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One of my biggest past time on weekends is cooking. I’m always looking out for inspiration of new things to cook be it recipe from newspaper, supermarket freebie magazines or fellow food blogs. Seeing it’s Burns Night last Friday and I have a wee bottle of Scottish Whiskey hanging around, decided to grab some proper haggis from Borough Market and give Haggies, Neeps and Tatties a go.

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Wanted to get haggies from The Ginger Pig but they were sold out by lunch time. Had to resort to Plan B and got it from Sillfield Farm next door instead. The haggies supposedly comes in 2 sizes but they ran out of the big one so I had to get 2 small 3/4 pound ones instead. They were £3.95 each, not cheap considering it’s made from offal.

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For those of you who are curious, haggis is a traditional Scottish dish made from sheep’s pluck which is it’s heart, liver and lung. The cooked and minced pluck is mixed with onion, oats and various herbs and spices and stuffed in a casing so it’s something like a sausage. The “parcel” is boiled but unlike sausage, you don’t eat the casing.

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The classic accompaniment to haggis is neeps and tatties. Mashed turnip and swede and mashed potatoes. After reading several recipes from the interweb, I’m still not sure whether neeps refers to turnips or swede. Decided to go with swede since I thought the slight sweetness will go well with the rest of dish. Also made a basic Bisto gravy but added some leeks to it.

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I know the picture don’t look great, the lousy lighting at Chez Boom makes everything looks yellow (Junk included, well she is already yellow afterall). The pile with the green bits is the mashed potatoes, the green bits are chives.

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This is not the first time I have tried haggis but have to agree with Boom that this is best one we have both tried. The haggis is not dry at all and is rich and wholesome, no trace of offal taste at all. Combined with the creamy mash and slightly sweet mashed swede, it was the perfect meal for a cold winter night. Boom liked adding whiskey to the haggis while I prefer it without. Somehow the whiskey was too harsh for my taste. In all, really enjoyed it.

Chez Boom
Somewhere in West London
Open 24/7
Strictly by invitation
Only for the worthy

Sillfield Farm
Borough Market, Middle Market area
8 Southwark Street
London SE1 1TL

Thai Green Chicken & Seafood Curry – Furness Food Stop, Borough Market

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It’s Thursday today and Borough Market is in full swing, compared to other weekdays, the atmosphere is much better. I know I will have choices galore and rather then wandering around undecided, I set my mind on something warm and preferably with rice. The first few stalls I came across were hogging pies and sausage rolls which I will file for the future. Then I came across this place.

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Furness Fish & Game sells fresh seafood, poultry and game. They also portion off a part of their stall to sell takeaway for punters like me. Not a bad idea seeing most of the ingredients in the ready made food is from their produce stall.

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On offer today was a Seafood Paella, Thai Green Chicken & Seafood Curry and a Vietnamese Chicken Curry. Was tempted by the paella but peeling prawns and shelling mussels at my desk while blogging sounds too messy even for me. I might be able to multi-task but I’m not an octopus!

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Decided to go half way and went with the Thai Green Chicken & Seafood Curry. While waiting for my food, spotted the soup kettle and had a portion of Fish Soup as well. Handed over a £20 note and only got £10.50 back. Told you Borough Market can be expensive! The curry probably cost £6 while the soup is £3.50. There was no price posted and I did not bother to ask.

The Fish Soup is like a bisque, smooth and creamy and you can still taste small flakes of fish in it. But it does smell pretty fishy and I think it’s a tad too salty. I liked it though. The curry also fared pretty well. The sauce was rich with coconut cream and there was plenty of normal and shitake mushroom, capsicum, baby potatoes. A bit mean on the chicken and I only spotted 3 small shell on prawns as the token seafood. Surprisingly, the rich made the dish! Not too sure what rice it is, definitely not basmati or jasmine. Probably the bomba rice they used in the paella.The grains are plump, slightly sticky and it was nicely seasoned with salt. The combination of salty rice and the slightly sweet curry was magic.

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See, I was so excited with my food that I forgot to take a closeup pic till I was almost done. Tsk, tsk, Junk, what are you like eh?

Furness Fish & Game
Borough Market Middle Market Area
8 Southwark Street
London SE1 1TL