Sunday, October 19, 2014

Antidote Wine Bar

Last weekend, I escaped the bleakery (new word) of Scarborough and revitalized my soul with London. Antidote Wine Bar lives up to its name's sake, and provided the required antidote to a poisonous day filled with mundane travel and frantic bustling around town trying to find formal gowns to wear aboard the Queen Mary 2. Nesteled in the gorgeous lane ways of Soho, Antidote serves elegant food and amazing wines, all hand-picked with care. There are no accidental wines. 

Offering a four course tasting menu for £40, and matching wines for £30, this is reasonable considering its location and quality. Antidote serves modern British cuisine with traditional flavours such as mackerel, radish and cucumber prevalent on the menu.

This delightful amuse-bouche of pickled cucumber with buttermilk and cucumber sorbet is freshness personified. I am a huge fan of savoury sorbets and the zing of the cucumber is balanced perfectly by the creamy buttermilk.

Accommodating to our rather difficult trio (we are able to interchange certain dishes on the tasting menu) the staff also redesign the matching wines accordingly, so I am impressed with their service and knowledge of the menu. I change the beef for the lamb, only because I have eaten beef for the last two nights (thanks to the carvery I'm currently living above) and I love lamb and have had a distinct lack of lamb since coming to Britain, in fact, this might even be my first lamb. I have no regrets in doing so. The beef looks and tastes wonderful, but the lamb is succulent and rosy and is matched with celeriac and black garlic; earthy and real. What a dish to foray into British lamb with. This saddle from Cumbria is perfection.

Desert was a standout too; Millefeuille of white chocolate, pistachio and green tea. It is noisy and flaky and creamy and all the things. I want more. And how I love a dessert wine. The wines have all been joyous, and reaffirms the skill and necessity of a great sommelier. If you are not into wine pairings, it will change your life. Trust me.

The downstairs wine bar area is a hub of vintages and tapas, and chatter and next time, this is where I'd like to be with a bottle of something decadent and some cheese. 

Thankfully taking reservations, Antidote is a super find in central London, and made a lovely backdrop to meet friends old and new and be regaled with hilarious tales of overweight, middle-aged bankers on the train eating bacon butties and craving egg banjos. 

Vanilla Cupcakes with Peanut-butter Chocolate Icing and Peanut Brittle

If you are after a simple vanilla cake recipe, nothing, in my opinion, can beat this failsafe vanilla cupcake base. I have tried many over the years, but none have as rich a flavour or as good a texture. It is the perfect cake to swirl lashings of various flavours upon and can be tweaked or added to (nuts, fruits, essences), to suit your current mood.

225g unsalted butter, softened
225g caster sugar
4 eggs
1 dessert spoon vanilla extract
225g self-raising flour

1) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius or 160 fan forced.

2) Cream together the butter and the sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy. This will take at least 3 minutes. The longer you beat it, the lighter and fluffier the cakes will be.

3) Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition and then add the vanilla.

4) Add the flour and mix on low speed until it is incorporated. Spoon into paper cases and bake for 12-15 minutes until golden or a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool for 5 minutes before removing from the tin. 

Icing - Ingredients
150g unsalted butter, room temperature
250g icing sugar, sifted
1 desert spoon vanilla extract
50g cocoa
2 tablespoons smooth peanut-butter

1) With an electric mixer, beat the butter, icing sugar and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Add the cocoa and mix again on low, then add the peanut butter and mix until fully incorporated.

2) Place into piping bag and pipe onto cakes.

Brittle - Ingredients
100g sugar
splash of water
70g chopped peanuts

1) Line a tray with non-stick baking paper and spread out the chopped peanuts.

2) Place the sugar in a small saucepan and add a splash of water so it covers the sugar. Place on medium heat until the mixture starts to boil and turn a lovely golden colour. Do not stir as it will crystallise. It takes some restraint not to stir it, you may, swirl it around to make sure the mixture is cooking evenly. Be patient, it may take up to ten minutes to colour. Keep watching and do not let it burn you. Hot sugar and skin are a dreadful combination.

3) When golden, pour over the nuts and leave to set. Do not touch it! Leave it for at least fifteen minutes before snapping into shards.

4) Place shards onto of the cakes. Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

High Tea

For a real London afternoon tea experience, one cannot go past Brown's Hotel in Mayfair. Serving the traditional fare in style and class, complete with live piano music, one cannot help but melt into the armchair and wish all afternoons were spent in this fashion.

An array of sandwiches with contemporary twists on the traditional, such as mint in the cucumber sandwiches, make them extremely tempting. You may need more than one plate.

The cakes are all delightful. Yes, I had all of them. Particular accolades go to the luscious lemon tart and the softer than silk, macaron.

Champagne was a must, as we were there to celebrate my leaving London for a gig on the Queen Mary 2. Bubbles and ladies in frocks and old world British service. Yes please.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Gordon Ramsay - Royal Hospital Road

One of the best meals I have ever eaten. Impeccable in every way. Just behold the splendour of this Turkish Delight. Sheer perfection.

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