Beef short rib bao bun

One of the regular places I stay when in London is the Drayton Court Hotel in Ealing. I have been staying here for a fair few years now. It is significantly cheaper than central London, and with the Elizabeth Line, hitting central London is really fast. West Ealing Station is a few minutes walk from the hotel, from there you can catch a train to central London in less than twenty minutes.

Having dinner there, for my starter I went with the Beef short rib bao bun with bourbon maple glaze, aioli, coriander and peanuts.

bao buns

I have had these twice before and really enjoyed them. These though looked very different to the bao buns I had before at Drayton Court.

The beef was very tender, but I am pretty sure it wasn’t short rib. I couldn’t really taste the bourbon maple glaze. They were good, but I did feel something was missing from the dish.

Meze Box

It was a Friday in April, in Bristol and I headed off to the Finzel Reach street food market to see what I could get for lunch. A guest food van was there, the Cyprus Kitchen. 

They offered a choice of flatbread wraps and a meze box. In the wraps you could choose between lemon and oregano chicken, halloumi, garlic beef sausage, or aubergine. 

When I got there, they had sold out of aubergine. I did think about a wrap, but liked the idea of the meze box, so I went with that. I had mine with the garlic beef sausage, and lemon and oregano chicken. It came with chips, salad, and various pickles and relishes.

This was a delicious generous meze box and I really enjoyed it. My only comments really are that the sausage was slightly overcooked and the pomegranate seeds were under-ripe. The rest of the box though was excellent. The chicken was moist and tasty. I liked the salads and the fries. The flatbread was a nice addition. Delicious box of food.

I hope that we see The Cyprus Kitchen back at Finzel Reach in the future.

The tempura crispy chicken is back…

One of my favourite dishes from the Bristol street food scene is the bento box from She Sells Sushi. Virtually all the time when getting lunch from the stall I get the bento box with a portion of beef donburi and a hirata bao bun. 

Over the many years I have been enjoying this food, the beef donburi hasn’t changed much, however there have been many variations of the hirata bao bun.

Back in 2017 I was enjoying the delicious tender pork belly hirata bao bun. In 2019 it was the Finzel Flapper bun; same soft charcoal infused bao bun, but inside was tempura battered chicken.

Over the last few years though, She Sells Sushi had replaced the crispy battered chicken, in the first instance with panko crumbed chicken strips, and recently crunchy chicken strips. They were nice, but I prefer the crispy chicken that came with the original Finzel Flapper.

So on a recent visit to the Finzel Reach street food market I had my regular bento box from She Sells Sushi, I was pleased to see that the crunchy chicken had been replaced with crispy chicken. 

I don’t know if this is a permanent change, or a temporary thing, but I really liked the crispy chicken hirata bun. The chicken had a nice crispy batter, and chicken was nice and moist. The softness of the bao bun contrasted well with the crispiness of the chicken.

The beef donburi was slow cooked teriyaki beef rib on a bed of rice, topped with crispy onions and pickles.

This a street food dish I have had many times from She Sells Sushi, and this was just as nice as I’ve had on previous visits. The beef was delicious and full of flavour and the garnishes just added to the dish.

Overall a lovely bento box, which I really enjoyed.

Duck Takoyaki in my Bento Box

If you are a regular visitor to the blog then you will know I am a fan of the bento box from She Sells Sushi, one of the regular stalls at Finzel Reach (and Temple Quay) street food markets.

On a recent visit to Finzel Reach, it was raining, so the queues were shorter, so I didn’t have to wait too long for a bento box for my lunch. This time in my bento box I went with the beef donburi and some duck Takoyaki.

The beef donburi was slow cooked teriyaki beef rib on a bed of rice, topped with crispy onions and pickles.

I have had this dish many times, and it was delicious. The beef is cooked until it is tender. It is served on a bed of rice, and the pickles and crispy onions enhance the dish.

Usually in my bento box, I have the hirata bao bun. Having had that last time, this time I decided I would go for the Takoyaki dumplings. She Sells Sushi offer a choice between octopus and duck, I went with duck. It had been a while since I last had them in my bento box. I had enjoyed them then, so was looking forward to having them again. I was tempted by the XL Bento Box, in which you can add a third dish. I did think about getting a hirata bun alongside the beef and the Takoyaki. However I wasn’t overtly hungry, so I went with the standard bento box.

The Takoyaki were very nice. Nicely presented with sauces drizzled over them and garnished with seaweed and bento flakes.

I really enjoyed my bento box, and it was nice to have a change from my usual bento box.

Pasta Bolognaise

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

This is my go to quick dinner recipe. Well, I say quick, it does take some time. 

When writing this I did wonder if I had written up the recipe before. Well, I hadn’t written my recent bolognaise cooking, but had published a recipe back in March 2008. Looking at this post I realised I had posted a bolognese (note the different spelling) recipe in November 2022.

Those two recipes are very similar, but I have changed how I cook bolognaise, so here is my recent version of the bolognaise.

This serves four people.

      • 500g minced beef, I try and get 5% fat mince, otherwise the end result can be a bit greasy. If you do buy the mince with the higher fat content, I would suggest after browning the mince to drain some of the excess fat or oil from the pan before adding the vegetables.
      • Splash of olive oil
      • One onion, diced
      • One carrot finely diced. The carrot is there to add some veg to the dish as well as flavour.
      • One red pepper, diced, sometimes I only use half a red pepper.
      • Handful of mushrooms, chopped.
      • Splash of balsamic vinegar
      • Knorr chicken stock pot, sometimes I use the beef stock pot.
      • Beef stock cube.
      • Dried Italian herbs
      • Tin of tomatoes, puréed, sometimes I use a jar of passata.
      • Tomato purée.
      • Garlic purée

I usually use a large pan with a lid, for cooking this dish. I heat the pan add the splash of olive oil and then brown off the mince until it is all done. If you have excess fat in the pan then drain the cooked mince and discard the excess oil and fat, then add the mince back to the pan.

Add the onion, carrot, and pepper. You can add extra vegetables at this point, or extra pepper. I have sometimes added courgettes or sweet potato. If you really like it, you could add celery I guess, I wouldn’t.

After a few minutes add the mushrooms.

Once the onion is soft and cooked, add the tin of tomatoes, the herbs, the tomato purée and the balsamic vinegar.

Cook for at least 30 minutes on a low heat. The plan is for all the flavours to infuse and for the beef mince to be cooked and tender.

Serve with spaghetti or a pasta of your choice. Add freshly grated Parmesan to taste, garnish with freshly topped parsley.

I did a variation adding a topping of pan fried pancetta and mushrooms to my dish. Just to be different!

She Sells Sushi, and a really nice bento box

demolished hotel

Bristol had a great street food scene. There are markets every day of the week, most days there are at least two. Across in Whapping Wharf there are cargo containers with some great food places.

I was working in Bristol one Friday and at lunchtime I went out for a walk.  I went to the Finzel Reach street food market, saw what was there, and then walked up to the St Nicholas market. I walked back to the Finzel Reach street food market and bought a bento box from She Sells Sushi. I had my usual beef donburi and the crispy chicken hirata bun. I had to wait a while, as there was a bit of queue, which isn’t too surprising, as the food is excellent from She Sells Sushi.

I sometimes think I should have something different. I have had the crispy tofu katsu curry before, which is tasty, but I prefer the beef donburi. 

The beef was tender and had an intense flavour. I liked the pickle and the crispy fried onions. The rice was sticky and worked well with the beef.

I did think about having the Takoyaki , but in the end I defaulted to the excellent crispy chicken hirata bun.

I had two strips of crispy, well more crunchy, chicken. These were in a charcoal hirata bao bun with some mixed leaves. 

This was a delicious bento box. They also do an XL version of the box in which you can have three choices. I did have this once, I had the beef donburi, the katsu tofu puffs, and a chicken hirata Bun. It was rather filling, I decided that I probably wouldn’t have the XL size again. Well I might, but I don’t think I would have the donburi and the katsu with something else. I would probably have the donburi with a hirata bun and the Takoyaki. Lots of variety, but not so filling as having two rice heavy dishes.

I generally don’t do sandwiches…

I may have mentioned before that I generally don’t do sandwiches. 

I was working in Bristol in early January, and thinking about lunch. I had the intention of visiting Finzel Reach street food market. However, as I walked the long way there I saw that the queue for Sandwich Sandwich was almost non-existent.

I was tempted, though first I checked out St Nicks and Finzel Reach first. I then returned to Sandwich Sandwich and looked over the menu.

I decided I would have the rare roast beef sandwich, along with a scotch egg.

I was asked what I wanted and ordered my food. They have a range of sandwiches and I went with the beef sandwich. On granary bread I had  overnight roasted sirloin of beef, red onion, tomato, and horseradish mayo. I believe you can add extra fillings (or take some away).

I have read many reviews of the sandwiches from Sandwich Sandwich and one thing that many have said is the size of the fillings. Even so I was still surprised by how much filling I had in my sandwich.

I’ll be honest I had to eat it with a knife and fork. There was so much beef that it did in many ways overpower the rest of the sandwich. I felt the bread just disappeared into the beef. The beef was tasty, and I enjoyed the salad and mayo.

Alongside I went with one of their scotch eggs. It looked great, had a runny yolk, but I wasn’t totally enamoured with the surrounding pork sausagemeat. I did have quite high expectations about the scotch egg, so it was probably very nice, I was just expecting something outstanding.

Overall it was an interesting sandwich experience. I can understand the popularity of the place, and I might go again, but only if there was a short queue.

What we had for Christmas Dinner

Every year I post what we had for our Christmas Dinner, partly as a note to my future self. This year we had less people around, so didn’t go too crazy.

I did notice that across the supermarkets there was a lot less game based roasts about. Aldi for example didn’t do their excellent game box they did last year. That box came with two pheasants, partridges in puff pastry, partridge breasts, and some cranberry stuffing. M&S didn’t have their three bird game roast which we have had before, nor did they have their stuffed partridges or pheasant. I still wish Sainsbury’s did their four bird roast, a goose stuffed with duck, turkey and guinea fowl. However they’ve not done this roast for over ten years now… which is a pity.

In the end we had a Two Bone Rib of Beef from Aldi and the Slow Cooked Three Bird Roast from M&S.

We had the Slow Cooked Three Bird Roast from M&S last year and though initially I thought I had made a mistake in buying this roast, we really enjoyed it in the end.

This is the picture from the box.

This year, though I cooked it according to the instructions I don’t think it was a good as it was last year. Last year it was very easy to carve and didn’t fall apart, this year not so easy.

Last year we had a M&S salt dry-aged  British sirloin of beef roast. It was nice, but it was also expensive. We didn’t eat that much on the day, so it lasted for a few days cold. I decided that I would save some money and buy a cheaper beef joint this year and was impressed with the Two Bone Rib of Beef from Aldi, which was less than half the price of the M&S beef roast.

Though I cooked this medium, I had planned to cook it rare, was really good. Lovely and tender, and very tasty. I was really impressed with the end result.

We did have a range of stuffings and pigs in blankets, I mange to do crispy roast potatoes, and we had a nice selection of vegetables. I didn’t do any festive red cabbage this year, I also didn’t do my festive carrots.

Overall we had a delicious meal, which everyone enjoyed.

We have a tradition of having our Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve. We’ve done this for ten years now. We do this for a few reasons. On Christmas Day itself, the children are often too excited to sit down for a long meal, so don’t eat or enjoy the meal or the occasion. It also usually means I spend a fair few hours in the kitchen, which means I miss them opening and playing with their presents. I also find it quite demanding to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible, whilst creating a wonderful dining experience.

Having the meal on Christmas Eve means that we can both spend a bit more time preparing the meal (less stressful in itself) and enjoy eating the meal (as do the children). As a result for them it helps pass the time on one of the more exciting days of the year as they anticipate the arrival of a sleigh full of presents being pulled by eight tiny reindeer! Even though they are older now, we still maintain the tradition.

As to what we eat on Christmas day itself, well we have lots of lovely leftovers, cheeses, pickles, hot bread, etc…. quick and easy to prepare and delicious.

Time for a Roast Beef Dinner

I was in London and staying at The Fox and Goose close to Hangar Lane. The restaurant is in the older part of the hotel, as the hotel part is now a new build at the back. 

The Fox and Goose is part of the Fullers’ chain of hotels and pubs. I have stayed before at Drayton Court in West Ealing, and have had their Sunday Roast before and enjoyed it. I have though not had the chance to try the Sunday Roast at The Fox and Goose.

The plate arrived and it was a huge pile of delicious goodness. 

Roast beef dinner

There were roast potatoes, roasted parsnips, roasted (heritage) carrots, buttered kale, peas, cauliflower cheese, a good portion of pink roast beef, and topped with a huge Yorkshire pudding.

It looked very impressive and I was glad I was hungry. It was just as good as I remember it, possibly a little better.

The star of then plate was the roast beef, there was plenty of it and it was tender and tasty. The roasted vegetables were delicious, well seasoned, with the potatoes being crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle. I liked the kale and peas. The Yorkshire Pudding was really nice as well.

It can’t be easy serving a roast dinner to order over an evening, but I think that the time did a really good job and I enjoyed my food.

Not quite my usual bento box

It was a Friday, the sun was shining, it wasn’t raining, there was no wind, which meant that the Finzel Reach street food market was running. They had cancelled Wednesday’s market due to the weather.

My usual choice when having a bento box from the She Sells Sushi stall is to have the beef donburi and a crispy chicken hirata bao bun. I decided I would still go for the beef donburi, but I would have the sweet potato hirata bun instead of my usual chicken one.

The beef was delicious as usual. It is tasty tender beef rib on a bed of sushi rice and served with pickle and crispy onion.

This a street food dish I have had many times, as this was as good as I’ve had on previous visits. The beef was full of flavour and the garnishes added to the dish.

The hirata bun was nice, but to be honest the sweet potato was just slices of cooked sweet potato. These were inside a charcoal bao bun with some lettuce, pickles and sauce. Not sure that added much, I think I would have preferred the crunchy texture of the chicken.

Overall though, I did like my lunch and it was very tasty.