31 May 2015

Following on from On The Bab, this place opened at around the same time, and attracted the same flurry of London food lovers. BAO is a restaurant that specialises in Taiwanese street food, in particular those fluffy buns, and it's their first sit-down location after having a successful BAO bar in Netil Market.

After what felt like an age during which every other foodie made it to BAO, Sheepa and I finally managed to try it. I'd actually had their classic bun before when I went to Street Feast at Hawker House, so I knew that the buns were good - and I was excited to try their other dishes.

They have a simple menu system of marking the quantity of the dishes you want on a piece of paper, and they have quite a large selection to choose from. Since they are all fairly small though, even with just the two of us we managed to try a bunch - although I ate all the meat ones! 

The highlight for me was the fried chicken in the soft sesame bun - it was spot on. The sweet potato fries were also excellent, which I think Sheepa agreed with. My confit pork bun was pretty good, though nothing special, and the other dishes we had - turnip tops, aubergine dip with wonton chips and the Horlicks ice cream in the fried bao bun - were good, but not amazing. Sheepa did enjoy her daikon bun and shiitake, I think! The dessert was a bit of a letdown, as the ice cream didn't have enough of that malted taste and you kind of had to wolf it down because it melts ridiculously fast, and I gave up half way through.

I think this review is coming across more negative than I mean to - everything was delicious, but I think that some of the dishes are overpriced. I think that my expectations were so high before going, that it probably didn't help much! I'd still recommend for you to try it, and when I have a bao bun craving, I'd be more than happy to go there again.

In any case, I had a great evening there with lovely company and we left with happy bellies!

53 Lexington St.

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walpole park

28 May 2015

So, just the other day I told you about WA café (still an obsession for us by the way, we go there at least once a week to grab something) and how it's the number one reason we never want to move from this area. Well, we've recently discovered yet another local gem that has us convinced that the universe wants us to stay here forever.

Although I'd actually walked past Walpole Park before, because the park itself is closed off, I always assumed that it was private property. But one sunny evening, we decided to go and see if it was accessible - and it was. We kicked ourselves for not having gone there sooner, because it's a charming park and so quiet, too. It's tucked away from the busy roads and is the perfect place to have a picnic in the sunshine.

The little canal, the fountain, the little kids' playground (which I want to play in, obviously), and the large, open grassy space makes it pretty perfect in every way. There is a path going around it, which E and I plan to try going for a run on soon (probably better for our lungs than running around the common with the surrounding traffic). There were children playing, couples lying on the grass, friends drinking and eating as the sun lowered and cast that gorgeous golden glow over the trees... it's all very picturesque! 

Here's what I suggest. Come to Ealing on a sunny day, grab a couple (or a whole basket-load - seriously, you won't regret it) of treats from WA café, and set up camp in Walpole Park with a bottle of bubbly. I honestly cannot imagine anything better. 

sponsored video: e cooks :: pan-fried salmon with bacon wrapped asparagus and puy lentils

27 May 2015

Some of my most cherished and memorable moments of my 27 years are the simple ones, when I was with people I love, sitting around the table and eating together. I was brought up in a "foodie" family, not just in terms of loving food and caring about what we ate, but also in that meals themselves are important. Whether you're eating alone and taking a break from work and other daily routines, or eating with friends and family in a restaurant or at home, it's a time to hit pause, recharge, and most importantly - enjoy.

So this video and its message is something that I find myself nodding in agreement with. Good food should be an unhurried experience, and also one that brings you joy - pure and simple. Also, this recipe sounds absolutely delicious! Lamb cooked on a barbecue for 4 hours? Yes, please. You should watch the video for the unadulterated foodporn alone. This Raki drink featured actually sounds nice to me, too - probably because it reminds me of pastis, a typical South of France drink that I love.

But there is this little thing called reality, and it's the thing that has us rolling our eyes at such a hassle - we all lead busy lives, and for most of us, a meal at home is something you want to make quickly and easily. Ideally though, this would also produce food that is beautiful, flavourful and looks far fancier than it is.

Well, I have the dish for you. Actually, E does... but that's no surprise.

E is someone who loves to tackle long-winded recipes and challenging himself in the kitchen. However, it's not the most reasonable thing to do that on a daily basis, and although he has slight problems with trying to keep things simple, he does come up with some quicker meals that are just as delicious and the kind of things I could probably make as well! 

This is one that he made for me because it incorporates some of my all time favourite ingredients - salmon, egg, bacon and lentils. Can't go wrong, can you?

Although he upped the fancy factor with dollops of cauliflower purée (what did I tell you about him struggling with simplicity?), this is definitely optional - even without it, it's an impressive dish and one I'm absolutely going to ask him to repeat.


For the lentils
about 1 cup puy lentils, rinsed
1 carrot, peeled and cut in half lengthways
1 leek, cut in half lengthways
1 onion, peeled and cut in half
2 tsp red wine vinegar

For the beurre blanc sauce
1/4 cup shallots, thinly sliced
large sprig thyme 
large sprig parsley 
one bay leaf
6 black peppercorns
2/3 cup white wine
1/3 cup champagne vinegar (or 1/6 cup white wine vinegar)
1/4 cup double cream  
225g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
2-3 tbsp chicken stock
1 tsp tarragon
1 tsp chervil
1 tsp chives

For the asparagus
8-10 asparagus stalks
4-6 rashers of bacon

For the salmon
2 salmon fillets
salt and pepper
oil for cooking

To make:

For the lentils
1) Put the lentils into a pan with the leek, carrot and onion.
2) Pour enough water to cover the ingredients, bring to boil, reduce to simmer, simmer for 20-25 mins until lentils are tender. 
3) Drain (but pour in a little of the cooking water) in a shallow bowl to cool, season with salt and 2 tsp red wine vinegar, cool and drain fully. 

For the beurre blanc
1) Put the shallots, thyme, parsley, bay leaf and black peppercorns into a medium pan. Add the wine,  champagne or white wine vinegar, and bring to boil over medium high heat, reduce and simmer for 20 mins until liquid is reduced to one tablespoon. Remove from heat. 
2) Add the heavy cream to reduce over medium heat until reduced to holf the volume - it should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. 
3) Start adding the unsalted butter piece by piece, whisking constantly, and add each piece as the previous has melted. The sauce should be warm but not simmering. 
4) Strain into small saucepan, stir in 2-3 tbsp chicken stock. 
5) Before serving, gently warm and stir in 1 tsp of tarragon, chervil and chives. 

For the asparagus
1) Wrap the asparagus with the bacon rashers, and cook on a grill pan. That's it!

For the salmon
1) Make sure the fillets are at room temperature before cooking.
2) Season the skin side with salt and pepper, the flesh side with salt only. 
3) Heat oil on mediium high heat, and when the oil is hot, cook the salmon on skin side for 5-6 minutes. Be careful not to burn. 
4) When you can see that it's cooked half way up the flesh and the top half is rare, it's ready. If you dont like it too rare or want the top to look cooked, flip it for 10-15 seconds.

disclaimer: this post is sponsored by Yeni Raki. all opinions are my own, as always.