Monday, August 27, 2012

A new spin on fish and chips

George's is a Greek Cypriot restaurant-cum-fish and chip shop. It seems like a nifty idea - fish is an integral part of Cypriot cuisine anyway, and this way the people of South Woodford can choose between traditional fish and chips (and variants thereof) and something more exotic. So you can have your (award-winning) fish and chips with a side order of mushy peas or feta cheese, a buttered roll or pitta bread. The eponymous George says his parents ran fish and chip shops but his mother still found time to cook delicious Greek specialities at home.

On our lunchtime visit, battered cod or scampi seemed to be the most popular options, though a few of the Greek dishes were getting a look-in. It was a hot day and the outside tables seemed more appealing than the rather dark restaurant at the back. My aged grandmother loved watching the hustle and bustle of people going past, though between the traffic noise and the cries of the greengrocer two doors down, it's certainly not a tranquil spot. (No criticism of the greengrocer, by the way - if I was selling seven peaches or two punnets of English strawberries for just £1 I'd shout about it too.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Not just a trifle

I'm not sure how I've reached my thirties without having made a trifle before now. The only excuses I can offer are that (1) I usually cook for two, and trifle seems rather extravagant and labour-intensive for two, and (2) I always think of trifle as containing jelly, and I'm not really into desserts derived from boiled pigs' feet.

I've now put right my omission, thanks in part to Delia, whose recipe made me realise that you don't need jelly at all. It always featured in my childhood versions (usually made by my gran) but quite a lot of trifle recipes omit the jelly. I think it's a more adult dish without, which seems quite appropriate given that it usually features lashings of sherry.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Simple but delicous raspberry souffles

Where has the last week gone? I wish I knew. Summer seems to be sliding away from under me.

Anyhow, one of the glories of late summer is raspberries. If you go to the market at the end of the day you can sometimes find punnets of them for £1, or even less if you are lucky. Mine are usually just labelled as British, but I guess they may well be Scottish by now.

Raspberries do freeze well, though they never look as good once defrosted. These raspberry souffles can be made equally well with fruit that have been frozen.

These are the first sweet souffles I've ever made, though I've done savoury ones quite a few times. They were somewhat borne out of necessity, in that I didn't have many ingredients, or an opportunity to go to the shops, but I did have some eggs, sugar and raspberries. Which is pretty much all you need for this dessert. I was astonished by how well these turned out, especially considering how little time they took to make. It's also a good way of making a single punnet of raspberries stretch around four people. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Plenty to taste at the Great British Beer Festival

Where can you find a Golden Salamander, British Jewels, White Out and a Trembling Rabbit in London this week? At the Great British Beer Festival, of course. The event’s been displaced from Earl’s Court to Olympia to make way for some kind of sporting event. This means that there isn’t quite as much space, but I must say I prefer the architecture of Olympia to Earl’s Court, which resembles nothing so much as a giant warehouse.

I don't know how packed it will be at the weekend, but midweek the Olympia venue seemed big enough to me – there was plenty of space for milling about, and more beers than you could even think about trying. There were 800-plus brews in all, including foreign and bottled beers, ciders and perries.

I tried some of the more unusual brews, including a Cherry Blonde from Enville brewery in Staffordshire, which had a fantastic balance of fruit and hops. I tried a bottled alcoholic ginger beer from Fentimans, who are better known for their soft drinks. This beer was the genuine article – not an alcopop made with industrial alcohol but brewed with sugar, yeast, ginger root and water. It tasted like an old-fashioned ginger beer, and would be lovely on a summer picnic.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

White Swan, Fetter Lane

Into lawyer-land I went: to Fetter Lane, to be precise. If you don't know it, it runs between Holborn and Fleet Street, roughly parallel with Chancery Lane.

Of course lawyers need to eat, and the White Swan seems the type of place that would please them. Downstairs is a smart but decent pub, where a giant stuffed swan above the door surveys the drinkers below. There are three ales on tap (Wandle, Doom Bar and Golden Sheep when we visited).

Upstairs is a sort of mezzanine drinking area, and then up again is the restaurant - another well-kept room, where the light shines on polished glasses and heavy tablecloths. Although it was 7.30pm and still light outside, the blinds were closed, which seemed a shame, but perhaps they wanted to keep the focus on the table.

The wine list is a serious, leather-bound, multiple-paged affair. To be honest, I felt exhausted lifting it, never mind choosing a wine, and instead opted for a Golden Sheep from the bar downstairs.