Archives for the month of: August, 2012

TableCrowd went on their travels over the Bank Holiday weekend. We were officially TableCrowd on Tour! First stop Dover, then over the channel to Calais for a drive up to a beautiful town in the east of Holland – Nijmegen. The town has been in existence for over 2000 years and it felt like it had plenty of stories to tell.

Nijmegan Town

It was a good three and a half hour journey from Calais and we’d been nibbling rubbish in the car (tut tut) so by the time we arrived we were ready for something tasty and definitely healthy! The main town centre is pretty long and is understandable as the small town is populated by upwards of 730’000 people. Initially we wanted to head into ‘Staps’, if nothing more than for its location. It was situated at the top of the main high street and was a buzz on Saturday lunchtime. It may well be ‘one of the places to go’ as we couldn’t find seats for us, which was more the shame.

Staps, Nijmegan

The day of our arrival also housed a wonderful medieval festival (which may give reason to the busy town). We didn’t have time to head to the market place but we did manage to see a stall packed with, what can only be described as, wheels of cheese! No doubt delicious.

Nijmegan, Medieval, Town centre

It was then that we decided to steer slightly off the beaten track, just to keep far from the madding crowd, so to speak. So we headed down towards the river and just before you reach the Valkhof museum there was a lovely eatery – Eten & Drinken on Ridderstraat, No23.

Nijmegan, Eten & Drinken, Ridderstraat, No23.

I opted for the Duck Salad. Wonderful slivers of duck, pine nuts, diced cucumber, rocket salad, spring onion and a homemade chutney sauce.

Nijmegan, Duck salad

The lady had the King Prawn salad. Tasty fresh peppers, courgettes, pine nuts, rocket salad, asparagus and chunky sun dried tomatoes.

Nijmegan, King Prawn, Salad

Needless to say our plates were clear when we left. I washed that down with a small pitcher of beer. As an accompaniment we had bread, warm fresh bread, and a homemade dip. I foolishly forgot to ask what was in it. I must have been distracted, but I think it was a mix of anchovies, sun dried toms, seasoning and olive oil. It was tremendous.

Nijmegan, fresh bread, dip

The service here was above and beyond the call of duty. Timely, curtious, polite and after explaining our desire to visit a few well chosen spots in town, a staff member physically drew us a map, from memory, highlighting select places we may find of interest! We were impressed.

Beautiful town, lovely people and a plethora of places to eat and drink. We’ll be going back at which point we’ll head elsewhere and share our findings!

 

The combination of scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on a toasted croissant had me slightly bemused, but, as the dish was served before me it looked and smelt delightful. The three ingredients worked brilliantly together. The saltiness of the smoked salmon combined with sweetness of the croissant is an exceptional taste and gets the big thumbs here at TableCrowd.

Ingredients:

  • 4 large day-old all-butter croissants
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 large eggs
  • 50g cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 4 tbsp double cream
  • 1–2 tbsp snipped chives
  • 300g smoked salmon slices

For the rest of the recipe click here Smoked Salmon & Scrambled Eggs on Toasted Croissants

Ever remember being told as a child not to play with your food? Well these food artists obviously didn’t listen! What do you think of some of our favourite food art?

London is home to some remarkable talent in the culinary world.

For honest, no-nonsense British cuisine, you can’t go wrong with Irish chef Richard Corrigan‘s humble, rural upbringing. His hearty portions of down-to-earth, home-inspired cooking are nothing short of delicious. Winner of MasterChef 2005, Thomasina Miers has brought Mexican market eating to the capital with fresh, innovative and delicious food.

Marco Pierre White – the original celebrity chef – described as the Godfather of modern cooking, has fused French cuisine with modern British food while fellow culinary genius, the Michelin-starred Indian chef Atul Kochhar combines traditional Indian cuisine with modern flourishes for an utterly unique meal.

Giorgio Locatelli, another Michelin starred London chef serves authentic home-baked Italian “soul food” and is considered to be one of the best Italian chefs in the UK. Another Italian chef famed for his flamboyant cooking, Aldo Zilli offers a hearty menu with an Italian twist and has great people-watching potential in a buzzing Soho fish café.

Marcus Wareing – formerly Gordon Ramsey’s protégé – has created a two-Michelin-starred modern French menu to rival the best in the country, this is a dining experience you’ll savour for weeks.

The notorious Gordon Ramsay has dishes so good he can proudly claim to own one of the only eateries in London with three Michelin stars. Finally, public enemy of Mr. Ramsay and TV hero Jamie Oliver is known for quirky, delicious food in a trendy, celebrity-filled setting. The Mediterranean menu, which is as seasonal and locally-sourced as possible, is complemented by the laid-back vibe.

 

There were actually 11 of us not 12, and a more apt name for this table could have been called ‘cosmopolitan dining’ (the adjective not the cocktail, although quite a few of the latter were ordered). I shared the table with one fellow Brit, a French-Canadian lady, a guy from the Netherlands and also fellow diners originally from India, Hong Kong, New Zealand (whose avatar / caricature on TableCrowd was a striking resemblance!), France and Spain. The age range was mid 30s to late 40s.

I hosted the table at Rocket in Mayfair. It’s tucked behind the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street on a quiet, cobbled courtyard. We were given the love lounge (no, I’m not joking, and no I didn’t name it); a private room off the main dining room. It was one of the first tables I had hosted and I felt like I had entered a new world of confident, social people keen to meet others.

We shared a few bottles of red wine and topics that floated around the table included quantum physics, the work ethic of the Spanish, whether there was an American flag on the moon, Jake Bugg, what you would cook if the Queen popped in for dinner and how quickly you could get to Richmond by motor bike (to name a non select few (no religion or politics!)).

Food was tasty; I enjoyed by spicy Italian sausage pizza! I enjoyed more the interesting marketing spin on naming the dishes on the menu. Pretty much everything was a salad, even ‘fish & chip salad’, which was basically fish & chips. Rocket’s goal clearly being to fool us diners into thinking we’d chosen a healthy option from the menu (it worked)!

As host, I was in charge of sorting the bill. It was a pay-as-you-go table, so the calculator was out! Easy for me; very accommodating of the restaurant staff.

Many laughs and great vibe. 5 stars.

TableCrowd is always looking for hosts so that they can run more varied tables, in different locations and restaurants. If you fancy playing host (and this just means making sure everyone has a seat and asking for the bill), then please get in touch to offer your services for this prestigious role at the tables you’d be keen to attend anyway.

As the bank holiday weekend is finally upon us, why not start it with a Bacon and Egg Toast Cup. Simple to cook, they’re tasty and most of all they look brilliant. Happy weekend all!

Bacon and Egg Toast Cups:
serves 4, two cups each
8 slices bacon
8 slices white bread
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
8 eggs
salt and pepper
For the recipe please click here: Our Family Eats

And gossip there was! Not so much wine however, as Chico Bandito offered happy hour cocktails all night for the senioritis, so Cosmo’s and bellini’s were a-flowing!

There were a couple of no shows, but c’est la vie (and their loss) but a top crowd of girls did show. One lady worked in a boutique hotel (no shortage of gossip there, with stories of guests and fellow workers). Fresh off the boat from Australia was another comrade, just settling into London town and starting the quest for work. She was joined by a fellow Ozzie who had already landed a job as a radio therapist, who shared some words of wisdom. We chatted about landlords and boys, and nights out and boys, and dodgy club promoters and boys and the best places to eat out and… yep, boys. Everyone was relaxed and at ease right away and even more so after the staff plonked sombreros on our heads! The place had a great vibe.

After demolishing a few too many cocktails and some delicious Mexican food (it was the usual Mexican fare with great tapas dishes), we headed to nearby Hoxton square to Hoxton Bar & Grill for a few more cocktails and a much more chat.

The night received a big thumbs up from me. We departed; I jumped on a Boris Bike and headed home. Four full docking stations later, I ended up right where I started, duh. Good night nonetheless!

I enjoyed my first cycle in the sunshine at the weekend. Actually sunny. Enough to warrant sunscreen. After a whizz around Richmond Park, we ended up in delightful Barnes and found a great lunch spot near the river on the Barnes/Mortlake border that I wanted to share with you.

The quintessentially English tearoom, Orange Pekoe offers a sunny pavement lunch spot – every wobbly metal table packed. We were lucky to get a seat, so I would recommend booking in advance. I’d also recommend the eggs benedict (but make it before midday to order from the breakfast menu). Afternoon tea is a specialty – a choice of teas, finger sandwiches, scones and cake (in quantities to trouble your waistline). When it comes to recommending the tea, I wouldn’t know where to start – this place is all about the teas. Luckily they have a tea sommelier on hand to help you out with your choice.

On entering Orange Pekoe, it has a vintage feel, with cakes and sandwiches displayed temptingly on the counters and fancy tea canisters lining the walls. You can also buy packets of loose leaf tea to take home – I wish I’d taken saddle bags to load up before jumping back on my bike!

And the name Orange Pekoe before you ask? Orange Pekoe as a grade of tea denotes a fine, large leaf tea and all their tea’s are of the largest leaf.

TableCrowd were at V Festival on Saturday and what a scorching hot day to be out and about amongst the Chelmsford massive! Mr Blue Sky was out in force energising all the festival goers to laugh, love, dance, drink and of course – eat.

V festival, food, sun

Everyone needs their fuel for the day (especially if they were drinking in the sun) and, like many festival events, there were food outlets lining the field ready to offer the energy to keep going or help soak up the alcohol!

V festival, food, sun

The usual suspects were there – Pizza, Hot Dogs, an assortment of Burgers, Pies, Chicken and dips, Jacket Potatoes, Mexican food, Chinese and Thai and something that tickled our fancy – a Salad Bar. Relatively healthy food at a festival? Are you crazy I hear you sing? (or shout, I was thinking music festival) Well no we’re not. They had Chorizo, Chicken, Beef and Grilled Fish Salads. Whatever mood you were in they had the choice of a healthy sized portion and some smaller wraps too. I have to say my expectation levels were low, I was at a festival of course, but was quietly surprised that the wraps were good. They had more than a ‘gesture’ of meat, were nice and hot and were wrapped up in a fun business sticker. It’s the little things, you know.

V festival, food, sun

So prior to watching ‘Gossip’ we had a nibble and a pint (the lady had a Bacardi Breezer) and sat out in the sun thankful for glorious sunshine. Some of us even managed to force down a waffle, doused in chocolate and heavily weighted on one end by a dollop of Ice Cream. My word they were delicious, but rich, no one could finish theirs. Although I asked for a little chocolate sauce I managed to get the waffle totally covered. I shudder to think what a large portion may have been.

V festival, food, sun

All the food outlets were buzzing and all staff looking like they’d done 10 rounds with a radiator! That said they all produced a smile (well there were a couple of miserable ones but we steered clear.)

All said a great opportunity to Meat and Eat.

V festival, food, sun

Did you go to V Festival over the weekend? What did you have to eat? Did you go mainstream? Was there something we missed? Let us know, we’d love to hear your stories.

I attended my first Vegetarian Crowd dinner on Tuesday night at new-on-the-scene Vegetarian restaurant, The Gate, Islington. It’s long standing sister restaurant in Hammersmith was opened in 1989 by the Daniel’s Brothers, who have now introduced refined Indo-Iraqi Jewish cuisine to my local hood.

I was joined by 10 other diners from TableCrowd, all vegetarians and/or vegans ranging from around mid 20s to mid 70s. The common theme was the food and the expectation of a broad vegetarian menu – something that vegetarians are rarely treated to, often being presented with just 1 or possibly 2 choices. The set menu was a bargain, just £12.50 for two delicious courses, or plenty of choices from the main menu. The venue itself was a pleasure, light and airy with a little sofa area for pre or post dinner drinks.

People moved around the table to make sure they met and chatted with all the other diners. It was an interesting mix – a vet, a freelance journalist, an architect, a retired wildlife fanatic and an insolvency practitioner amongst others, so there was no shortage of interesting chat.

My first Vegetarian Crowd dinner left me satisfied from the delicious food, attentive service and engaging company. I exchanged details with a number of people and expect to see their faces again at future Vegetarian Crowd dinners.