Well I wasn’t impressed

At the Finzels Reach Market I decided to add a pork belly bao bun from the Ah-Ma’s Dumplings stall to my lunch.

I have had their dumplings before and had enjoyed them. So I had quite high expectations about the bao bun.

However it was awful, dry and little or no flavour. I’ve had much better bao buns from other places, this was a real disappointment. Also the accompaniments were not very nice either, the cabbage was not very pleasant and the cucumber was just okay.

I won’t be repeating the experience.

Back to Côte Brasserie

I have been to Côte in Ealing a couple of times, on a recent visit I really quite enjoyed the cassoulet I had. I was needing dinner and decided that I would visit Côte for food. It was quite busy, which I found out later was down to the pre-theatre crowd. However A table was found for me and I sat down and looked over the menu. I was tempted by the cassoulet, which I’ve had before, or trying out the Breton fish stew.

As it was a weekday there was a prix fixe (fixed price) menu, so I went with that having two courses, a starter and a main. 

If I am eating out I generally prefer a starter over a desert. There was a limit choice of four starters, though tempted by the wild mushroom soup, I went with the Pork Terrine with spiced apple chutney and pain de campagne.

It was a nice terrine and the accompanying chutney was a good contrast. I think a stronger flavour would have worked for the terrine, but it had a nice texture. My pain de campagne was well toasted, slightly burnt on the edges. I would have preferred a more lightly toasted bread with my terrine.

There were five choices for the mains. I did think about ordering the Toulouse Sausages with puy lentils and sautéed kale with a Dijonnaise dressing for my main. However I went with the Poulet Grille. This is a chargrilled chicken breast with a creamy wild mushroom and thyme sauce served with gratin potato. 

The presentation of the dish was rather messy I thought. The gratin potato was nice and creamy, but there was no golden crust. I think I was expecting more of a defined structure of potato. The wild mushroom sauce was nice, but lacked flavour, partly down to the excess cream from the gratin potato which diluted the sauce. The chicken was slightly overcooked, but I enjoyed the flavour.

I did enjoy the food and it was tasty. Service was warm, friendly and efficient.

Roasted Pork Belly

M&S sell a pork belly joint seasoned with salt and pepper. We have this quite often, and I use the same technique each time. In a roasting pan I add a bed of cut vegetables. The actual composition does depend on what’s in the fridge. This time I used apple, onion, carrots, a garlic bulb cut in half, and some mushrooms. I drizzled some garlic olive oil as well over the joint.

I start off with a hot (fan) oven, about 200℃ and roast the pork belly for about ten minutes before turning the heat down to 160℃. I usually cook the join for about ninety minutes. The plan is to slow roast the joint to make it tender. A hot fast roast will result in a shorter cooking time, but the meat will be tough and chewy (and probably a little fatty).

I leave the joint to rest for about twenty to thirty minutes, which gives me time to increase the heat in the oven to finish off the roast potatoes and roasted vegetables. I will usually use the roasting pan juices to make some gravy.

I slice the joint into thin slices and serve with roast potatoes and vegetables.

Time for a Ramen

 

ramen

This was my take on a ramen dish.

In a bowl I added some cooked rice noodles. On top of this I added some sliced shiitake mushrooms, baby spinach, pak choi, Thai basil, coriander and sliced red pepper.

I then added some ramen broth. I used an itsu brillant broth which I heated up in a pan before filling the bowls.

On top of the ramen I added pork belly, pork loin and a tea-stained hard boiled egg. 

The pork belly was cooked on a low heat in the oven. I then finished it off in a frying pan with some (gluten free) chow mien sauce.

The pork loin was rubbed in some seasoning as well as Chinese five spice. This I then roasted in the oven. Once cooked it was sliced and added to the top of the ramen.

I would have liked to add some sliced spring onions, but we didn’t have any in the fridge.

It was a tasty broth, first time I used it, and it worked well with the ingredients. The pork was lovely and tasty.

Slow Roasted Pork Salad

Back in the summer for an evening meal, we had slow roasted pork belly with potatoes and salad.

The pork belly was from M&S and comes already seasoned. It has no rind, so you don’t get crackling, but slow roasting usually (for me results) in rubbery crackling anyhow. It is a tasty joint and a favourite in our house.

I did small roast potatoes, using Maris Piper potatoes which are par boiled and then roasted in hot oil in the oven. I generally add a little butter towards the end of cooking to add colour and a final crispness.

The salad included a personal favourite of thinly sliced raw cauliflower in a spicy mayonnaise. We first had this eating out at a  cafe in Wapping Wharf in Bristol. We stole the idea and now have it on a regular basis.

Overall a delicious meal and very tasty.

I do take photographs of my food…

…but I don’t always blog about them, nor do they always go on Instagram!

Usually it’s time, but sometimes it’s because the food wasn’t very good.

Back in July I went to Taka Taka. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was hungry and the concept did seem interesting. I do like Greek food and have enjoyed the meals I have had from The Real Greek chain.

I looked at the menu and went with the Mix Meat Meze.

A freshly grilled mix of gyros, pork, lamb, chicken souvlaki, and sausage. Served with fries, pita bread, tzatziki, and authentic Greek Salad.

I went to Queens Square to eat, I opened the box. There were fries, three skewers of meat, sausage, tubs of tzatziki, and Greek Salad, as well as some warm pita bread. I was a little disappointed that there was no mix of gyros, I did consider going back and complaining, but was running out of time, and I was hungry.

It wasn’t very good. The meat was dry and chewy. I think it had been cooked and then stored. There is a (big) difference between freshly grilled kebabs and those that have been done and then stored in a warmer. There wasn’t really enough salad and the lack of gyros, was disappointing.

I haven’t been back!

Yum for a Yum Bowl

I really do enjoy visiting street food markets. It’s something I have missed during the pandemic and lockdown. I have been virtually working from home every day since lockdown in March 2020 and therefore haven’t needed to go out and grab some lunch. I’ve gone out, just not for lunch. When I was working in London in August I made a habit of visiting the Leather Lane street food market.

One one visit back in August I finally got to try out Yum Bowl on the Leather Lane market.

I did have to queue for a while. One of the reasons I hadn’t visited the stall before was because of the lengthy queues. In the end I arrived early and the queue was shorter.

There are some nice sounding things you can have including soft pork, honey grilled chicken and grilled chicken satay. You can also choose between rice or noodles. I went with the crispy pork rice bowl.

This was rice with slices of crispy pork belly, served with vegetables and a sticky asian sauce.

It was a generous portion and I quite enjoyed it. The pork was crispy rather than hard and crunchy. The sauce was nice and didn’t overpower the food and the vegetables were nice and fresh. I liked how it was all put together in front of you, the pork is sliced there and then, so stays nice and tender and doesn’t dry out.

It was rather nice, and much better than the chicken dish I had a few days previously. I can see why it is popular stall, the food was delicious and great value for money.

Down at the Harbourside

It was a warm sunny day in August when I found myself with some colleagues at the Harbour House for a leaving do.

I was a little later than planned as I was trying to find somewhere to park. The party I was with were sitting outside on the decking in the sun.

Having looked online for the menu, I did quite fancy the Barnsley Chop, but this was not on the paper menu we had been given.

So in the end I decided against the steak or fish and went with the pork chop.

pork chop

The grilled pork chop was served with French fries and a light green salad.

The chop was cooked well and was full of flavour and very tender.

For my second course I went with the cheese, I do like cheese and biscuits.

cheese and biscuits

Personally I would have liked more cheese and less grapes. There were only oatcakes and these are my least favourite biscuits when it comes to cheese and biscuits. I did however enjoy the chutney that came alongside.

Overall it was a very nice meal and I enjoyed eating outside.

Frankly it was rather disappointing

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.

Time to go back to Oxford for some Thai

Sasi’s Thai Food

As time passes I realise that many of the places I have written about in this blog have disappeared or have changed beyond recognition. Covid-19 has exacerbated and accelerated this process. I sometimes don’t want to search up for somewhere just in case they have closed. So one of my favourite places to eat Thai food was Sasi’s Thai in the covered market in Oxford. I now rarely get the chance to eat there, having stopped working in Oxford in 2015. I did manage a return visit there in 2019 and it was just as tasty as I remembered it. I had hoped to visit again, but with covid-19 and lockdown, those plans were scuppered. So on a recent quick visit to Oxford I decided I would grab lunch again at Sais’s Thai. I wasn’t actually sure if it would still be there, as with lockdown has resulted in many places closing (and walking through the covered market, many stalls and shops had closed). However I was pleased to see that it had survived and was open.

They had a really wide choice of dishes and it was difficult to decide what to have. In the end, despite wanting to try new stuff, I went with the familiar and had rice with two selections, choosing the crispy pork and the spicy squid.

I really like the crispy pork dish, so much so that I often try and recreate it at home. The combination of crispy flavoured pork, a variety of vegetables and a nice spicy sauce is delicious. Eating it I was reminded that though I enjoy my version, it still isn’t the same as the original. It was delicious.

I’ve always liked the squid dish from Sasi’s Thai and this time enjoyed it just as much as I did on my regular visits in 2014 and 2015. The squid was tender and the sauce was spicy but full of flavour.

Despite eating both dishes and feeling full, I was so tempted to order some more food, as it was so good.

I really enjoyed that lunch, it was a real blast from the past and it was nice to see they had maintained their quality and range of dishes. It was a little more expensive than I remember, but okay it was over six years ago when I went on a regular basis, so I can live with that.