Friday, 17 April 2009

Rasa Sayang: Cheap, cheerful and oh so good

Note: please keep in mind that the photos in this post were taken with a cameraphone -- apologies for the graininess.

Kelsie met me downtown for dinner last night after I finished work. She was shuttling her family around (they're visiting from up north), and wanted us to go out after she dropped them off at the show they were going to see.

On this particular occasion I wanted to a) not spend a lot of money; b) try someplace new that neither of us has been to before; c) stay close to the neighborhood where my office is (Piccadilly Circus) whilst avoiding the countless chains and tourist traps; and most importantly d) have something really tasty.

We started our meal with a couple of starters: Roti canai and Fried wontons. The roti had a beatufiul soft texture and was accompanied with a bowl of sweet/sour/spicy/earthy red curry sauce. The fried wontons were stuffed wtih vegetables and prawns and were accompanied by a sweet chilli sauce.

Roti canai

For our mains Kelsie had Sinagpore fried rice and I had Nasi Lemak. The Singapore fried rice was redolent with sesame oil and came topped with crispy shallots. There was cabbage and seafood mixed in.

Singapore Fried Rice

The Nasi Lemak was my idea of a perfect combo meal. Tender chicken in a hot curry sauce like we had with the roti, hard boiled eggs, steamed rice, the most brilliant dried tiny anchovies, extremely flavourful and spicy sambal and some cooked veg with red peanuts made up the plate. Combining the fish/egg/chicken/peanuts in one bite sent me on a wild ride of texture and taste. This is the kind of food i love!

Nasi Lemak

We ordered a crisp dry Pinot Grigio to go with the meal and the total of the bill was a very reasonable £35. Our servers were friendly and very efficient. Over the course of our meal the table next to us turned twice and there was a steady stream of people coming and going.

Would we go back? Absolutely, definitely. I've already promised our server Joyce that i'll be back in for lunch some time next week!

Rasa Sayang on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Antepliler: Turkish Food Galore in Green Lanes

On a cold Saturday evening last week, we met up with our friends Julia, Pezza and Liz for a Turkish feast at Antepliler. Green Lanes up in North London is a 5 block microcosm of Turkish food. Up and down both sides of the road are Turkish grocers, Turkish pastry shops selling the most delicate baklava you can find, and of course some of the best Turkish kebab places to be found.

One of the gems is Antepliler. When you enter you immediately face the large wood burning oven, where all the magic takes place. It's decked out with traditional Nazar Boncugu (evil eye) pendants.

The dining room has rows of tables all pushed together for optimum seating capacity. On this particular Saturday night, as with most nights Antepliler was bustling. We were elbow to elbow and by 7:30 a queue had already started forming at the door.

The menu had sections for soups, cold starters, hot starters, Pide (Turkish pizza), and grilled kebab dishes.

We opted for some houmous, grilled sukuc (Turkish sausage), and grilled eggplant salad to start. A big basket of bread straight from the big oven came as well and we tucked in. The eggplant salad with tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and onion had a nice smoky depth from the grilled eggplant.

Our mains started arriving soon after. We shared a Pide which was oozing with melted cheese and spinach; kebabs covered with melted cheese and chopped pistachios; 'regular' shish kebab with tender chunks of lamb that had a spicy marinade; and another kebab of lamb and grilled shallots bathed in a sweet tangy sauce of pomegranate molasses. The mains were accompanied by rice, grilled tomato, more chopped salad, and more bread.

The dinner came out to about £12 a head including 2 bottles of wine, and there was more than enough food that we went home with two doggie bags of leftovers.

Will we go back? Most definitely -- for the food and for the vibe.

Antepliler on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Pesto, pasta and potatoes!?

It was warm and sunny yesterday. Spring has been forcing it's way out. Our sidewalks are covered in a confetti of tree blossoms. And one of the many cravings consuming me lately has been for a proper taste of summer in the form of fresh pesto.

Usually i make pesto in my trusted Magimix. But last night i opted for more rustic approach and decided to make it in my pestle and mortar. The result last night was a chunky, oozy pesto that filled the house with gorgeous smells. and it really wasn't that much more work. I opted for a 'traditional' way of serving it with pasta, boiled potato and green beans. On confering with my Italian teammates Roberto and Massimo at work today, neither had heard of mixing potato with pasta. Nevertheless the smell and taste met with Roberto's approval.

Pesto, potatoes, green beans and pasta
Serves 4

125g pinenuts, lightly toasted
4-6 cloves garlic chopped
large bunch of fresh basil, about 50g, leaves roughly torn
1 tsp salt
50 g parmesan, freshly grated
50 g pecorino, freshly grated
150 ml extra virgin olive oil
350 g pasta, preferrably trenette (i used spaghetti)
8 new potatoes, halved
handful green beans, topped and tailed

  1. Put the pinenuts, garlic, salt and basil in a mortar and pound into a pasty pulp.

  2. Slowly add half the olive oil and half the cheese, stirring all the time. Keep stirring and add the rest of the oil and cheese. Taste and adjust seasoning.

  3. Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add the potatoes and let cook for about 5 minutes. Add the pasta and let cook for another 8-10 minutes until almost al dente. Add the beans and cook for another couple of minutes.

  4. Drain, and stir in the pesto. eat and enjoy!