Back in July I was working in London and out for lunch, I headed off to the Leather Lane street food market, where there are plentyof choices of places to eat.
On Leather Lane is Mugen, a Japanese restaurant.
Contemporary Japanese restaurant with a sushi bar and traditional minimalist decor.
During the market they put up a food stall outside their restaurant and they had a good looking menu.
I went with the Beef Bavette BBQ Combo. This was a substantial lunch with a base of rice, stir fried, vegetables, egg, pumpkinkatsu and pickled ginger. On top is sliced baguette steak finishing off with a sauce.
I have to say, that though I enjoyed the food, it wasn’t as amazing as I thought it would be. The steak lacked seasoning and the pumpkinkatsu lacked flavour. Overall I was a little disappointed.
On visits to the Leather Lane market well before the Covid lockdown I had seen the Argentalia market stall a few times, but had not bought lunch there, though I did quite fancy the concept.
So on a recent visit a couple of months back, I had the opportunity to try out the stall. I went with the Argentalia Barbeque Box, which comes with Asado (ribs), Vacio (flap meat), Chorizo (sausage), Morcilla (black pudding), Pollo (chicken), Pork with chimichurri and variety of salads or fries.
This had the potential to be outstanding box of food, but alas it wasn’t meant to be.
The salad was flat and insipid.
The fries were okay, but nothing special.
So what of the main attraction, the barbecued meat?
I think if the meat had actually been barbecued then this would have made the dish so much better than it was. The problem with the meat was that it was quite tough and chewy. It was almost braised, steamed rather than grilled.
I am not even sure I got everything on the list.
Overall I was looking forward to a great box of barbecued meats, what I got was frankly rather disappointing.
With the lovely weather we have been having a lot of barbecues recently. I try and cook different things, and we usually have a selection of salads alongside the grilled meat.
I do like cooking boned and flattened chicken thighs on the barbecue.
These were marinaded in lemon juice, olive oil and herbs. I leave the skin on as this is the best bit.
I also do ribeye steaks, but I find you need to have the temperature just right otherwise they can either be bland or overdone. I season my ribeye steaks with salt and pepper and a little garlic oil.
The lamb leg steaks were marinaded with olive oil and rosemary.
I am also know to do burgers, but I try and use a good quality burger to get the best results. These are served in a brioche bun with cheese and salad.
With sausages, like the burgers I like using a good quality meaty sausage. I prefer chipolata sausages, they remind me of the French sausages we cooked when we were on holiday, but sometimes I useother kinds.
Over the last year I have missed going to street food markets, so have been reflecting on nice meals I have had in the past.
Back in June 2017 I was working in Bristol and looking for a place to eat to have some lunch. I went to the Temple Quay Market which had a wide range of stalls from which to choose from.
In the end I chose the BBQ Box from Smoke Catering. I had really enjoyed the BBQ Box I had in March of that year. It was an easy choice to make as I liked the food.
The box contained homemade slaw, garlic mash and beans. On top of the box was some smoked beef brisket, pulled pork and a smoked pork and chilli sausage.
It was delicious. The mash was smooth and creamy with a hint of garlic, no bitterness or harshness. The slaw was fresh and crunchy. The beans spicy and full of flavour.
The smoked beef brisket was tender and delicious, it was melt in the mouth. I like the tender beef and the crunch of the barbecued outside. I remember when I went to a barbecue restaurant in Glasgow and ordering smoked beef brisket and getting a little disappointed as that beef was dry and nothing like the beautifully flavoured and tender beef brisket from Smoke Catering.
The sausage was very meaty and tasty, the chilli enhanced the flavour and didn’t overpower.
I also enjoyed the smoked and pulled pork, which was tender and tasty, though I preferred the sausage and the beef.
Hopefully some time in the future I can get some more excellent food from Smoke Catering.
Back in November 2019 I had a meal, which was, well probably the best way to describe it was, it was interesting…
It use to be the case that when I was up in Glasgow and had a late flight home I would go and wait at the airport and be generally disappointed with the standard of the catering available. I order some food and then start wondering why I am eating there, as it is too often over-priced and not very good.
Why I use to do that I am not sure, probably, thought it was a good idea and I could get some work done! The last time this happened to me in Glasgow I decided that rather than do my usual, I would try and find something to eat in the centre of Glasgow. As a result I had a fantastic meal at Babs. I had gone with the Lamb Shish Babs., described as severed chunks of sumac-rubbed lamb grilled over coals. Served on a flatbread on a bed of a sweet pepper and carrot puree and tzatziki; topped with grilled peppers and house pickles. The meal was delicious.
So back in November 2019 I had woken up in Edinburgh, attended an event, before heading off to Glasgow for a meeting. After the meeting I had an office I could use to get some work done. As is usual I had a late flight back to Bristol so I decided I would go out and eat in the heart of Glasgow before heading to the airport.
Going over Google Maps to find somewhere to eat, I was initially tempted to return to Babs, but decided that I wanted to try somewhere new. One place that did catch my eye was Viva Brazi, Brazilian barbecue place.
Slow roasted meats expertly carved at table with a selection of buffet-style sides and salads.
Down at Cabot Circus in Bristol we have Casa Brazil and the concept has appealed to me, so I thought okay let’s go for this today.
It was earlier than most people would eat, it was before five, however I was given a warm welcome and was shown to a table where the entire process was explained to me how the system worked. As I had sat down at the table I went with the lunchtime menu, which though has less meats was cheaper than the dinner option.
There was a buffet of cold and hot dishes which you could go up and help yourself too. I enjoyed the salads that they had.
Every so often a waiter would arrive with a skewer of barbecued meat and would carve off slices.
I did enjoy many of the meats and I enjoyed the side dishes. However I didn’t think it was anything special. Some of the barbecued meats weren’t so much overdone, more that was the part of the cut I received. I quite like my meat medium or rare, but I seemed to get the well done cuts being carved off.
Overall it was an interesting experience, and it satisfied my curiosity about this kind place. Would I go again? Probably not.
There was a time when I would travel for work, stay overnight and then go out and get something to eat.
Well I am not doing that now and don’t expect to be doing it for a while either. I have though still a few places to write about and review that I didn’t do so at the time. This is one such review.
Back in January when I could and did travel I was staying overnight in Leeds. I needed a place to eat. I rarely eat at the restaurants in the hotels, usually either they are very expensive and out of budget, or as was the case in Leeds, the hotel I was staying didn’t really have a proper restaurant, serving a few bar snack type meals only. The other thing I do find with hotel restaurants is that it can be a bit hit and miss when it comes to the quality of the food.
Around the corner from the hotel there was quite a choice of restaurants, this is so much easier these days with Google or Apple Maps which show the restaurant close to you.
I was checking the menus of a few nearby places, when I saw on their website, that Reds True Barbecue in Headingley had a 51% discount offer in January, if you pre-booked. So I decided I would go there to eat, the menu looked great as well. It was simple to book online and I walked down to the restaurant.
The outside looked very American to me, though I’ve never been to America and have thus never eaten at a proper American barbecue joint, and so have no frame of reference to what a real barbecue place is like. However if I was to say what I thought an American barbecue joint was like based on the films and TV programme I felt it looked like what I thought an American barbecue joint should look like.
Having walked through the door I was given a warm and friendly welcome. The place was crowded, considering it was a Tuesday night. Being in Headingley the clientele were quite young and I am guessing a fair few were students. Probably taking advantage of the 51% offer. I liked the look of the place, slightly industrial, wooden tables and American signs.
Though I had seen the menu online, I still took my time to have a good look over the menu choices. There were a range of starters, barbecue platters and to quote the menu, “things in bread” which had a range of burgers.
Having travelled up to Leeds during the day and missing lunch, I was quite hungry. I went with the barbecued three meats with two sides deal.
I chose the smoked brisket, the short rib and the sausage. For my sides I went with fries and onion rings. Though I was tempted by the chicken wings and the pork belly. To drink with the meal I ordered a bottle of Corona.
The food arrived pretty quickly and I was impressed with the look of the food and the portion size.
The sausages were really nice, meaty and spicy. The short rib was delicious and very tender. The brisket was nice, but I felt it was a little dry. I enjoyed both the sides, though I think on reflection I probably should have had some slaw alongside.
My meal should have cost £25, but with the 51% discount on food, in the end it was just £14.54 which was really good value.
Though I don’t expect to be going to Leeds anytime soon, I hope that I can because I think I would like to have a return visit to Reds for some more excellent barbecued food.
One of the reasons I blog, it’s more for me than other people. It’s a useful reminder for me about what I have eaten, what I have cooked, and as in this post challenges when cooking on holiday.
At the end of July we went on an Eurocamp holiday in France. Having visited Brittany last year and stayed at a Eurocamp site I had anticipated blogging about myself-catering experience and what worked and what didn’t, but for some reason never got around to it. I wish I had as it would have made this trip a little easier.
This year we went with another Eurocamp to La Croix Du Vieux Pont in Picardy or Hauts-de-France in Northern France. So I have decided to quickly write up some of those experiences in preparing for self-catering.
My previous experience of self-catering apartments was from the Greek Ionian islands and Cyprus. This was before children, so it was me and my other half. We rarely used the self-catering facilities for cooking, as we would eat out a bit, but it was useful to have a hob, a fridge and a few utensils and crockery. The “kitchen” in the apartments I experience were very minimal and not really sufficient for anything more than snacks and hot drinks. Also the local shopping environment wasn’t exactly great for self-catering, with very small supermarkets.
When we booked our Calpe holiday in 2016, due to dietary requirements (gluten free) we wanted to ensure we had not only a self-catering kitchen, but a decent enough kitchen for actual real cooking. We found the kitchens in caravans in the UK great for self-catering, if a little cramped. However I would usually take a range of ingredients and kitchen utensils to make my life easier when cooking. So I did something similar when we went to France this year.
At La Croix Du Vieux Pont, we had a three bedroom caravan which came with a well-equipped kitchen including a proper gas hob, an oven and an outside gas barbecue as well.
This was in many ways better than the equipment I have had at UK holiday parks, for example there was a washing up bowl and a draining rack! This made clearing up after a meal so much easier than just having the sink and draining board.
I took the following items with me to make cooking and catering easier.
Chopping board – for some reason the only chopping board I find in caravans are glass ones! So I always take a plastic chopping board with me.
Knives – I have found the knives on holiday either blunt or broken, so I have a large kitchen knife and a bread knife that I use on self-catering holidays.
I took a sieve with me, but in the end didn’t use it, as the caravan was equipped with a colander.
I took a spare baking tray, as usually there is only one in the caravans I have been in, in addition I took a pair of tongs which is useful for turning items on the grill. There was a long-handled barbecue tongs were provided which worked well for the outdoor barbecue.
Though I wanted to take my Tassimo coffee machine, I was overruled so we took a cafetière that worked well.
I took a potato peeler and I also took a pair of scissors, but there was one in the caravan.
The other things I take with me our sandwich bags, cling film and foil. This is easier to store uneaten food but also for packed lunches.
To help with washing up and cleaning, I took some steel scourers, washing up spongs, j cloths, washing up liquid and tea towels. In addition I take spare binliners as well.
I also took the following ingredients, though I know I could get some of these in French supermarkets, I wanted to avoid spending extra money on basics that I already had in the kitchen.
Tomato pasta sauce
As two of our household are gluten free I also took a range of gluten free items as well.
I pack the fresh food in a cool box, which if we get a small fridge I use during the week as supplementary fresh food storage. The fridge though we got was pretty big and I didn’t use the cool box.
Overall I don’t think I missed anything, apart from some mustard and white wine vinegar to make a French dressing, so in the end we bought some dressing from the supermarket.
One of the nice things I have enjoyed when self-catering at a Eurocamp in France is the gas barbecue that is outside every caravan. Something I have never experienced in the UK (maybe it rains too much).
One of the advantages of the barbecue is that you can avoid using the oven or grill in the caravan which can heat up the living area considerably, which when it is hot anyhow, makes it very uncomfortable.
On the first evening of our recent holiday to France, we popped to the local campsite shop for some quick extra supplies (we had brought some basics with us, as well as enough food for the first meal). However as we had time we thought we might get some French food for the evening meal.
I picked up a pack of Chipolatas sausages, which I grilled on the barbecue.
These were really nice, meaty, tasty and delicious. We had these quite a few times over the holiday.
Over the week, as well as Chipolatas I also did Merguez sausages, lemon chicken and some nice peppered rump steaks.
Most of the time we had these with salad, though I did cook Pommes Rissolées a couple of times, and also made a (gluten free) pasta salad as well.
The only challenge was on the final evening, though I regularly cleaned the griddle part of the barbecue, the bottom part did have too much grease on it, so we had some flames which resulted in certain pieces of food getting somewhat charred! When we go again I will clean this part of the barbecue as well.
Part of the (new) housekeeping agreement with Eurocamp, as well as emptying the fridge and doing the washing up, you also had to clean the barbecue.
Knowing this in advance, I did bring some metal scouring pads and cloths for this purpose. It came up okay, but having some proper cleaning spray or similar would have been useful. However I got there in the end.
I really enjoyed cooking on the barbecue during the week, it was quick to light up and made catering much quicker and easier.
Last year on a visit to Wahaca in Oxford Circus, I really enjoyed the chargrilled crown prince squash.
I said back then
The squash was grown for Wahaca by Riverford Organic and served with kale & cashew nut mole. I really enjoyed this dish, was full of flavour and very tasty. I think it could have been improved if the squash had been peeled, but the flesh of the squash did come away from the skin despite this. I really liked the chargrilled aspect of the dish and you could taste that in the squash. This dish is advertised as vegan, and I suspect people might avoid it, but if it comes back onto the menu, go for it, it was delicious.
With the recent wonderful weather I decided to try and recreate this dish using my own barbecue and some butternut squash.
I brushed the butternut squash with some olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, added some dried herbs and chargrilled it on the barbecue. I started skin side down over the heat and covered with a lid. I wanted to roast it slightly before turning it over and grilling the sides of the squash.
The end result looked like this.
Though I liked the look of the squash, there wasn’t enough flavour for me, I remember the crown prince squash being much tastier.
I think I will try again, but will try and get it to taste better. I am wondering if I should pre-cook in the oven before finishing off on the grill?
With the unusual lovely hot weather, my barbecue has been used a lot, and the barbecued meat served with a selection of salads.
One new recipe I have been doing has been going down well and involves using pork belly strips.
Take the pork belly and season with salt and pepper, I then sprinkle the pork with chopped fresh coriander, though I have also used dried coriander, along with some lemongrass. Add a little olive oil and leave to marinade. I either buy pork belly without rind, or if no choice remove the rind before marinading and cooking.
I find pork belly general works best with long slow cooking, but I also like it on the barbecue as well. So you could cook the pork slowly in a warm oven, or throw caution to the wind and grill it on the barbecue.
I try and cook it on the barbecue so that it takes it’s time, but doesn’t dry out. One method I have used with a whole chicken also works with the pork belly.
Though you can cook directly on the barbecue, it can be quite challenging to ensure that the pork is tender and cooked properly. A challenge is that it is difficult to control the temperature of the barbecue unlike a normal grill. The key process I use is to recreate some aspects of a “normal” oven as opposed to the usual way of using a barbecue as a grill. After the coals have reached cooking temperature, move them to the sides of the barbecue, so that when the pork belly is placed on the grill, it is not over direct heat. This needs to be done with caution as the charcoal will be really hot and I use a tool with a long handle to do this. The pork, after placing on the grill, was then covered, I used a wok lid, but this is where a kettle barbecue comes into its own. This works well with larger pork belly joints as well.