Friday, September 23, 2011

Khao Sarn Thai restaurant@Brixton, London (review)

This year was the year of Brixton's avalanche-like gentrification. The ruNice restaurants and even a barber shop for white peeps have sprouted all over like mushrooms after rain. I reckon we have a few years to relish the bliss of the BoBo (bourgeois-bohemien) limbo before the 'yuppie suits' cotton on this and make this a new Chelsea, Clapham. The once grimy and forlorn Brixton Market is now teeming with 20 and 30-somethings hanging out in organic bakeries, ethnic restaurants and sunlit terraces.

One of such cool hangouts is Khao Sarn. Having lived 6 years in Bangkok, I'm very wary of Thai restaurants outside Thailand. Now this one I can recommend. If this was French outfit, it would be a brasserie: it churns out classic (some may say "same ole") Thai dishes consistent quality at reasonable prices.

We had a correctly cooked and served, with lime and green onions, phad Thai (somewhat on the smallish side) and the Isarn staple: grilled chicken leg with sticky rice and somtam (papaya salad).

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pumpkin soup recipe

or those of you who don't want life to be simple, or just hate pre-processed canned supermarket food, or perhaps your gums have just been operated on here a pumpkin soup recipe.
  1. Peel a pumpkin and cut into half-an-inch slices.
  2. Sprinkle with olive oil and bake in the oven at 160 degrees until soft.
  3. In the meantime, peel, slice and caramelise an onion in a pan with a tad of olive oil. Season with a pinch of curry powder if you feel that way inclined. (You can skip the onion altogether if it's too much trouble!)
  4. Leave the pumpkin and onion to cool a bit, then purée in a kitchen processor.
  5. Move to a pan, add cream, sea salt and bring to a gentle simmer.
  6. Remove from fire and add either cinnamon or nutmeg.
  7. Serve garnished with croutons, freshly ground black pepper, fresh sage and crushed walnuts.

Feijão do Luis@Brixton london review

Feijão do Luis@BrixtonWhere used to be a permanently empty Nigerian caff a new Brazilian joint is plying a busy trade on top of a Brazilian butcher shop. I bought from them some linguica de porco (pork sausage) quite a while ago and it turned out very flavourful, if a tad salty.

But for the restaurant I was waiting for Floyd to come to London, knowing how much he loves all things Brazilian.
  • Coração de Galinha - chicken hearts stewed tender
  • Feijoada Completa - smokey and clearly home-made (the menu claims it takes 24 hours to cook, it does taste like that, smooth and silky)
  • Picanha Grelhada - the piece of beef cut called "butcher's cut",
The interior may be very caffish but what matters is that the food tastes like made just for you.

Feijão do Luis
Brazilian Point
Market Row Brixton
London SW9 8LD

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Yolki Palki Express @ Domodedovo Airport (Ёлки-Палки, Домодедово)

Yolki Palki Express @ Domodedovo Airport (Ёлки-Палки, Домодедово)I
remember the days when the best meal you could get at Moscow's Domodedovo airport was a boiled frankfurter on a bun and a cup of coffee made of burned cardboard (it tasted like that anyway!). The queues were horrendous: serpentine and angry in a shockingly overcrowded airport. Flights used to be routinely delayed for a day or two and with no rooms available in the hotels you were lucky to sleep on a soft chair in the waiting lounge, if not - spread a newspaper on the floor and use your softest bag in lieu of the pillow.

Things have changed for better, some of them at least. Never mind the absence of air-conditioning and constant chaos in the check-in area: one good thing, you won't go hungry in Domodedovo with its latter-day proliferation of fast food chains and restaurants. It was our first time to try Yolki-Palki , one of the chain of Russian food joints. It is a self-service cafeteria, bland and overpriced as it goes for any such airport eatery in the West. We had two rather decent and filling if smallish salads: 'coated' herring and "Mimosa", two pasty and insipid cod burgers with the side of rosemary potatoes (never in my wildest dreams had I thought I would hear the word 'rosemary' in a Russian restaurant but there you go!), and a large glass mug of cranberry mors (Russian fruit drink). All that goodness set us back about 20 Euros. The waiting staff looked overworked and demotivated - like nearly all Russians we saw on this trip - yet efficient and polite.

Pro's: Handy location in the waiting lounge.
Con's: Pricey and boring.
In a nutshell:
An okay place to grab a bite before your dash back to the West.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Stolovaya 57@Moscow revisited (Столовая №57 в ГУМе)

Stolovaya 57@Moscow revisited (Столовая №57 в ГУМе)A yearly quick layover in Moscow and the already customary refill at Stolovaya 57. This time we were too early for lunch, so our options were limited to a long array of mouth-watering zakuski (starters), filled pancakes, various omeletters and traditional Russian breakfast porridges. We gave the latter, treacly with milk and sugar, a wide berth as and plumped for a selection of savoury starters:
  • slices of grille aubergine filled with garlicky paste,
  • smoked salmon stuffed with some kind of nutty paste and salmon roe on half a hard-boiled egg,
  • salad made of julienned chicken breast, cucumbers and celery.
To go with tea we got a delightfully lightcherry strudel and a potato-and-mushroom pie.

Cottage cheese pie - a typical Russian breakfast staple - and a cottage cheese filled pancake are the mains. Everything is cooked to perfection, the only wee trifle to pick on is eggs can be boiled without the yolk turning grey on the outside - a good chef will know the simple trick, otherwise give me a call! The staff are quick and courteous. As is already customary, I take forty winks before our dash to the airport. Our stomachs are happy!

Pro's: Great food.
Con's: A bit pricey. Loud piped-in music.
In a nutshell: All real well-cooked Russian classics in one place.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The easiest pasta recipe ever: la ricetta della pasta più facile

This recipe comes from my Milano friend Luisa. Molto grazie, la principessa mia!
  1. Boil pasta to your prefered degree of doneness.
  2. Toast sliced garlic in olive oil and pour over the pasta.
  3. Optional: garnish with chopped parsley, grated hard cheese (parmiggiano or extra mature cheddar), freshly ground black pepper and smoked sprats.