Monday 26 July 2010

We're Going On The Beach

By Leluu

We love mail! Sometimes we get very exciting ones like:

“Remember writing this review of a peach of a beach?

Congratulations, because you are one of three finalists for the On the Beach & Qype Word on the Beach competition!”

“Whooooooooooooo” echoes around the neighbourhood  as we are both jumping on the bed with feathers flying everywhere like in a John Vigo movie. Dogs barking and mattress creaking, the neighbours are tapping at the wall with a broom stick but we don’t care – we’re still shouting and laughing and doing star jumps!
There are competitions left, right and centre but like the lottery, you sometimes enter never expecting in a million years that you would win. We found out about the Qype Word On The Beach competition about 2 hours before the deadline. We had just got back from having dinner with Gennaro Contaldo and I was feeling pretty lazy so when I had read about it – I said to Simon that I could do it, write something, but we probably wouldn’t win anything… He said, “Do it! Do it!” and encouraged me to sit down at my table and write whilst he was going to give me tea, wine, hot chocolate, toast or whatever I wanted. So I did. Wrote. Read. Re-write, spell check. Send. And we won! We won a holiday!

Whooooooot!! We’re still bouncing! And Simon is still churning the invisible bowl of angel delight!

We are off to the beach – thanks to who have paid for our flights to Croatia and accommodation in Hvar and Korcula. We’ve been working so hard and we are in serious need of some sun and eat food that is not cooked by ourselves!

This time last year, Simon and I went on holiday together for the first time. We went to Italy: Sicily and then to Northen Italy to a wonderful place called Cervo – as written in the winning review. We had food at the most amazing mountain restaurant – there are plenty of them dotted around in the middle of nowhere. The families who run them live there too. For 20 – 30 Euros (you can decided how much food you want to eat) you get about 8 - 10 courses – of which you do not order from the menu - the kitchen just brings out plates after plates of antipasti, pastas, secondi, carne, fish, dessert and wine by the gallon. It was wonderful and this is what inspired us to do supper clubs.
We spent 5 hours eating with our friends next to a beautiful view of mountains and valleys of olive groves. The skies were filled with those puffy pot bellied clouds waiting to burst and indeed they did. We ate and drank and couldn’t differentiate between Simon’s laughter and the thunderous heavens. The evening will be one of those wonderful nights that will live in our memories forever! I love Italy – please let me live there for at least a year sometime soon.
But Simon and I wanted to go somewhere neither of us have been before. We love to discover new things – such as the beaches, the people and the cuisine! We have no idea about Croatia - we hope to learn something and hopefully bring it back to share at the supper club to share.

In preparation for the trip – Simon has been looking at everything including the kitchen sink – he was even sent out on a bikini mission but instead, found the ultimate ‘AbbMax Swinger Plus’ – heh!

...and found much more interest in people and his journey rather than things in the shops! Looks like we will be playing it by ear...
We haven't got time to go shopping - we will be doing it all in Split and Hvar instead of feeding the fat cats of Oxford Circus. Can't wait!

Wednesday 21 July 2010

Upside Down Apple Pie or Apple Tart Tatin Recipe

By Simon Fernandez (@theferdie)
I've had upside down tart loads of time, but last summer I had one of the best ever. Apples with a bite but not sour and a lovely pastry.  I'm pretty sure that I happened to be looking over the Mediterranean with a cooling sea breeze on my face, and that this had made me a little more receptive to the cool sumptuous apple tart as I put the first bite into my mouth along with some plain vanilla ice cream!! I've been trying to recreate it ever since!

As I've been looking around, I stumbled upon some factoids. Upside down tart made with apples or pears is a very old recipe from the Sologne (a region of north central France) and is found throughout Orleans. The name comes from the Tatin Sisters who ran a hotel-restaurant in Lamotte Beuvron whose version established their reputation.

There are 35 species of apples, the species that gives us most of our eating apples is Malus x domestica, which can be subdivided into 4 categories of apple: Cider, Dessert or eating apples, Cooking apples, and Dual Purpose apples such as Granny Smith or Golden Delicious. Eating apples are used in this recipe.

The things you find out!! Anyway here's the version I made this weekend, I may post refinements...

6 apples (~800g) cut into 4mm thick slices
200g sugar
200g butter
1/3 tsp cinnamon
1 egg
300g pastry

300ml double cream
rose water to taste
or sugar and cinnamon

Put the sugar and butter in large sauce pan together and leave on high heat until the butter and sugar have combined into a golden brown caramel at this point there's still a bit of grain in the sugar (when making a caramel try and avoid stirring and sugar on the pan wall which will cause his crystallisation), add the apples.

Juice from the apples will flavour the sauce. Coat the apples with it and leave the heat on until the mix starts to bubble, then simmer for 10 mins and take off the heat. Leave to rest for 30m or until needed.

Use a slotted spoon to place the apple into baking dishes and keep the remaining sauce for topping.

Cover the rolling pin, pastry (method here) and surface in flour, and roll out a rectangle that's an inch bigger than the baking tray.  My baking dish was 25 x 18 x 4cm.

Cover with flaky pastry tucking the pastry down the sides to create a lip when it's turned over and paint with a beaten egg.

Put it in the oven at 200C / 20-25m : )
Whip the double cream, and depending on whether you decide to have rosewater cream or cinnamon cream, add the sugar and cinnamon, or the rose water to your taste.

On taking the pie out of the oven, drain off any excess liquid there might be into the sauce that you set aside earlier.

Place a large heat proof tray over the pie and turn it upside down to turn out the tatin.

Sprinkle caster sugar over the apple and caramelise sugar and slightly char apple with a blowtorch.

Bring the reserved sauce to the boil, simmer until the sauce is a lovely golden brown. Drip on the apple tatin slices and serve with a tablespoon of whipped cream!

Tip: don't cook the apples too long or you'll have apple sauce rather than apple slices that still have a little bite to them.

Tip: for the caramel sauce stir it as little as possible and try not to get sugar on the sides of the pan, both will cause the caramel to crystallise. Don't go a darker colour than mahogany or the sauce will be overdone. 

Tip: get a proper blow torch, you can get one with a handle and built in lighter for around  £20. Don't bother with a pencil flame blow torch, you'll be there all day and your sauce will burn!!  You'll be farting around so much you'll be liable to blow yourself through the kitchen window!

Left: Good torch, built in piezzo electric light, works in all directions!!

Right: Not so good, goes out when you point it down!! And quite tricky to light!!! Don't bother.

Monday 19 July 2010

Our Guest Blog Post on ""

An insider’s guide to the supper club phenomenon

This week we’re proud to have a guest blog post from Uyen Luu, supper club owner extraordinaire. Here, Uyen writes about the movement of supper clubs and how her and her partner Simon Fernandez’s supper club, Fernandez & Leluu, has influenced them in the past year.

Supper clubs, the new trend for private dinners held in someone’s home, where you get to sit with other guests, just like at a friend’s dinner party, is blooming on all our street corners. You get to enjoy whatever the host is cooking up, you bring your own wine and you make a donation towards the cost of the meal. You hear about it through friends, through blogs and through secret things to do.

This time last year, we had no idea that this time this year, we would be having hundreds of people on a waiting list, wanting to have dinner in our flat! On top of that, we had no idea that we would make so many foodie friends and get invited to restaurant openings, launches, press events and parties – where we get to meet even more friends and spread the word about our supper club, Fernandez & Leluu.

I met Simon at the end of 2008 when Simon gate-crashed my dinner party. It was apt that we met in the kitchen where we now host a supper club, cooking up 8-course meals for 26 people over 2 or 3 nights every fortnight.
Having already had a surprising amount of guests in our home for dinner, including the legendary supper club maestro, Jim Haynes, we have made many good friends and connections where we would not have otherwise done. We have become part of a movement – engineered and pioneered by our own hands.

Supper clubs are held in beautiful to trendy council estate homes, to Michelin Star Chefs’ posh lofts. Every supper club boasts its own uniqueness and holds true character to the owner’s identity. Places are in high demand due to the trend – eating experiences has evolved and people are too used to eating out. Nowadays, people want to enjoy dinner and make friends in the process!
As we talk about movements, more and more supper clubs are opening, because, for those who love cooking and entertaining, what better way to master your skills, try out new things, make new friends and divert your life into other directions? Having a home restaurant, you do not need to go to chef school, you do not need to get a business premise – you just do it around a dinner table!

People always ask if we mind having all these people in our home. If we did, we wouldn’t be doing this. We believe that good food makes us all feel so well and invites us to open ourselves towards and accept others around us. Having a new group of people enjoying our food and making friends, turning the room into an electric atmosphere is always such a high. There are tons of roars, laughter and banter: and ideas, concepts and trends are shared while engaging with each other over great (hopefully!) food.
It feels really good. I think we must be addicted to this high. We love to see happy faces and we’ve made friends with so many happy faces this past year.

Check out Fernandez and Leluu’s blog for upcoming supper clubs, and don’t forget to browse the tasty menus…
Thanks to Guilherme Zauith for use of photos. is a great website where you can find out about lots of exciting and even secret things to do all over London and the world. They have sections dedicated to adventures, food, sports, travel crafts and all sorts! Check it!

Friday 16 July 2010

The Complete History Of Food - Bompas & Parr - Review

By Leluu
“Ladies please take off your shoes if you have high heels on,” yells the attendant, “as you’ll have to walk over a tight bridge with live eels – yes – you heard me – there are live eels – I hear they are quite frisky at this time of day too.”

Before that, we enter a dark room (The Medieval Room By Saf). A handsome and charming man tells individually, (just by looking at us in the dark)  if our humours are in harmony. “This means that a person’s health and personality is dependent on four all-important bodily fluids: the humours: black bile, yellow bile, phlegm and blood.”
I was immediately diagnosed as ‘yellow bile’ – short fused and angry (that didn’t please me) and need some 'Phlem' to calm me down. Simon having too much 'blood' - too happy needed some 'black bile' to make him ‘melancholic’

It was dark, atmospheric chamber music was blasting off the speakers – Instead of plugging us into the Thames like they used to do in those times and we would have had bloodthirsty leeches purge the excess fluids from us – restoring us back to good health; but today, we were lead to another room where there were eels swimming around outside, a bar where, of course, a mixologist, served us according to our demeanour.
As the sounds of dungeons and dragons tickled away in a candle lit cave, Simon had a popsicle-lemon, sorrel paired with a Courvoisier Exclusif Pear and Cardamom Sidecar and I had the ‘angry’ Popcorn truffle, porcini paired with a Courvoisier Exclusif Apricot Martini, It was a very warm and sweet hit to our appetite. (NB – yes he’s right – I am an angry person).
The poetry of fast forwarding us to present day (or rather - the 80s) was quite quirky as we were shuffled into a tight lift all the way to the roof where we were greeted with duck foie gras balls, covered in nuts with a port jelly filling by Michelin Starred Chef, Alexis Gauthier. It was interesting…it was certainly a take on Ferrero Rocher!
The view from there is wonderful. London looks so different when you can see it from a height and this is a great way of making us feel like we are in the present, in the now with Paul Tvaroh’s (a molecular mixologist) glass of flat champagne cocktail without the fizz. The fizz is in the grapes! Very clever and very nice indeed!
Then like Michael J Fox, we were back in the 50s as we trailed down the beaten stairs into a living room for our Bompas & Parr scratch 'n' sniff TV dinner. It did smell pretty good and dirty. I really fancied it in that room on that comfy couch with the telly on!
But the fun was really to be had in the next bit: bouncy castle in form of the insides of a rotten stomach by Visual Artists Andy Best & Merja Puustinen
Talking of stomachs, we were getting pretty hungry and were wondering where the food was; we walked along some corridors and then found a room with a dinosaur in it. That was our dinner table, representing the Victorian fine dinning scene, as that was when restaurants were on the rise and “extravagant and sumptuous dinner parties" became popular.
Who better to know about extravagant dinning than the Bistrotheque boys. The duck confit puy lentils, beetroot and black champagne sauce was completely welcoming. Although it was perfectly balanced and quite good it was rather ordinary and very contemporary for an Iguanodon Dinner, with ‘Josephine’s Tea Garden’ punch with Courvoisier (of course), green tea, apple juice and elderflower cordial by Ben Leggett.
For the journey’s finale, Bompas & Parr created the Renaissance Banqueting House. We entered a room shelved with amazing sugar sculptures, a massive revolving cake with plates of our desserts: jelly! Candied Orange, Iris Jellies and Ambergris Posset (whale’s vomit).
The jelly, a good rubbery texture with a taste, typical of something artificial and extremely sweet was the highlight of what we all came to see. I liked the little bit of whale vomit – it was just like good custard. You can find ambergris or whale vomit on the surface of the Atlantic Ocean or washed up on the beach.

This was obviously served with Courvoisier as a little plate of jelly on the table kept trying to take off.
The Complete History Of Food – was like a little journey for the senses. A great journey with Cognac for sure. But not really sure where the food comes into it. The title seems a little misguided to us but it was certainly a very enjoyable experience all in some abandoned house in Belgrave Square, near Hyde Park.
In my opinion, it is a half way house between an excellent, quality art installation (such as the very sensory show by Cildo Meireles at The Tate Modern in 2009) and something you must get at Alton Towers with a lot of Cognac. The product placement was certainly un-missable – not that we don’t love Courvoisier – we really do!
Perhaps if we had not been so dedicated to all of Heston Blumenthal’s Feast, we may have expected less.  But upon saying that, we did hope to see a little more jelly. The sugar sculptures were certainly very beautiful but the room did not present itself grandly enough in my opinion as ‘renaissance’ and the entire billing of the show being “the ‘complete’ history of 'food'” did not really fit the experience. We had a great evening nevertheless and enjoyed our tokens for the bar very wisely.

Thank you to Focus PR for inviting us.
Read more on Ambergris and how it is used in perfume on here:

The Complete History Of Food 14-18 July 2010 is Sold Out

How To Book / Attend

How To Book / Attend
Fancy getting stuck in? Click on the image above and to see how : ) . . . hope to see you soon.

More Techniques, Basics and Corker Recipes

More Techniques, Basics and Corker Recipes
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