Monday, December 06, 2010

Bistro Ari & David

Christmas 2010 ♦ Tasting Menu

Belsize Park


Scallop Sashimi & Yuzu Buttermilk

Smoked Icelandic Salmon & Braised Beets

Cured Duck & Celeri Remoulade

Double Smoked Lamb w/Ricotta & Chilli Jam

Octopussy Yeah Baby

Vitello Tonnato To Go


Eel, Pickled Carrot & Horseradish

Truffled Eggs & Soldiers

Salsify, Trompettes & Polenta

Foie Gras, Pear, Prosciutto Powder

Snails, Girolles & Mash

Risotto & Roe deer

Cotechino, Lentils & Mostarda

Sgroppino Venezia

Hake & Aniseed Beurre Blanc

Deconstructed Boeuf Bourgignon


Vacherin & Herb Salad




Thursday, November 25, 2010

Occasional Notes on the wines I drink.

Apsley Gorge Vineyard
Pinot Noir 2006
(found it for 16 at Justerini and Brook)

This is quite possibly the most Burgundy like wine I've had that did not actually come from Burgundy. Earthy but perfectly integrated, clean and has a texture exactly like Northen Burgundies like Gevrey Chambertin where the winemaker Brian Franklin worked before starting Apsley Gorge.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Occasional Notes on the wines I drink.

John's Blend by John Glaetzer, No29 Langhorn Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon 2002.
£23.99 from Philglas & Swiggot

I am not usually a fan of Australian Cabernet Sauvignon which I usually find to be overripe and unstructured. This is not one of those... At 8 years of age it has had the time to mature and turn into a very fine rich Bordeaux style wine. I can't help wonder what it would be like with the addition of a bit of cabernet franc.

Occasional Notes on the wines I drink.

Kooyong - Estate Pinot Noir 2007, Mornington Peninsula.
£25.25 from Philglas & Swiggot

The best Australian Pinot Noir I have had, would compete very favourably with the best Kiwi Pinot Noirs. Very well structured and complex palate the growers own notes claim a note of rhubarb which I'm not too sure about.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Anne Sophie Pic's, Valence, August 14, 2010

This is one of the most accomplished meals I have ever had. Literally everything from the reception to the coffee at the end of the meal was genuinely three star. Inventive without being unnecessarily fancy, this was food at the very highest level possible. The worst I can say about the experience is that he Tourteau was not as good as the rest of the food.

The Amuse Bouche was a foie gras creme brule with grapefruit mousseline. This is normally a dish I find quite boring so I was very disappointed to see it put in front of me in a restaurant that I have very high hopes for but this was the finest example of the kind I have ever had. Partially this was due to the fg creme brule being made with an exceptionally light touch but more importantly the mousseline was an inspired accompaniment. Mousseline just means light mousse, however, combined with an ever so slight taste of grapefruit it completely cut trough the fattiness of the fg for a melt in the mouth combination.

The anchovies where a very feminine dish that relied completely on all the ingredients complementing each other perfectly. Individually, the ingredients would not have impressed but put together they where perfection. Strong anchovies, soft fresh cucumber, tiny bit of fat from the colonnata and just a bit of taste from the tomato and beurre blanc based sauce. Very difficult to describe but incredibly sophisticated.

The Saint Pierre or John Dory was also incredibly accomplished. In theory a simple dish of some steamed John Dory and anis flavored beurre blanc but in fact the dish was absolute perfection. The fish had been prepared in sous vide at 50 degrees for over one hour which left it cooked but pink and not flaky at all. I am not sure I have ever had braised or slow cooked fish before but that is what it was and the result was very surprising. The combination with the anis flavor and richness of the beurre blanc was perfection.

I was very scared of taking a 24 year old Croze Hermitage as that is usually a bit beyond their tolerance but the solid producer and the strong recommendation of the sommelier made me take the plunge. Although the wine does not have many years left in it I was rewarded with an excellent and highly complex drink.

Foie Gras Three Ways/Foie Gras Suzhi

I was in Gaillac for a few days. That always means raw foie gras... this time I decided to make three small dishes that were inspired by a visit to Dinings a few weeks ago. No rice though.

Two of the dishes require a glazing or a reduction that I made with a combination of apple juice, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and a little bit of sugar.


  1. 100 ml best quality apple juice;
  2. 100 ml medium quality balsamic vinegar (no point in using the £15 stuff);
  3. 50 ml light soy sauce;
  4. 2 - 3 tsp sugar.

Reduce all the ingredients under low heat until you have a thick syrupy substance. It needs to be runny but no so runny that it runs of the fg when applied.

To try: cider vinegar instead of balsamic.

Foie Gras in broth:

  1. 100 ml home made chicken broth per person;
  2. 3 3x2 cm cubes of foie gras per person;
  3. 1 tsp roast spices (I roasted and then crushed cardamom seeds, cumen and turmeric in about equal measure with a very small amount of salt & pepper).

Heat the broth with the spice mixture and let simmer until the spices are cooked and the taste settled.

On a very hot skillet sear the fg until slightly caramelized. Put the fg cubes on the bottom of a small soup bowl and cover with the broth. Serve immediately with a little bit of finely chopped parsley (or another herb) as garnish.

To try: coating the fg with balsamic before searing.

Seared Foie Gras on pear:

  1. 2 ½ cm thick slices pear per person;
  2. 1 thinly slices brioche toast per person;
  3. 1 1 cm thick slice raw fg;

On a very hot skillet sear the fg until slightly caramelized. Assemble the brioche, pear and fg and coat the fg with the glazing. Serve immediately.

To try: caramelizing the pear in butter and use Asian pear.

Seared Foie Gras on fig and parma ham:

  1. 1 ripe fig per person;
  2. 1 15x4 cm slice of parma ham per person;
  3. 1 1 cm thick slice of raw fg.

On a very hot skillet sear the fg until slightly caramelized. Assemble the ham, fig and fg and coat the fg with the glazing. Serve immediately.

To try: caramelizing the fig in the glazing and add some kind of blue cheese to the dish.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Braised lamb shoulder with olives and Artichokes


  1. 2.5 kg Lamb shoulder bone in for about 6 - 8 people;
  2. 250 gr tin of pitted black olives;
  3. 4 Artichokes with stem cut off and cut into half;
  4. 4 tbsp sea salt;
  5. 2 tbsp black pepper;
  6. 3 cloves garlic;
  7. 2 tbsp finely chopped rosemary leaves;
  8. 2 tbsp finely chopped thyme leaves;
  9. 1 tbsp honey (ideally scented with either rosemary or thyme);
  10. 2 tbsp EVOO;
  11. Juice of one lemon;
  12. 1 large coarsely cut onion;
  13. 2 finely chopped parsnips (finely chopped as they are meant to completely break apart during the cooking and serve to thicken the sauce);
  14. 4 - 5 sprigs of Rosemary and Thyme;
  15. 1 bottle either red or white wine;


  1. Make a paste of the salt, pepper, garlic, rosemary, thyme, honey and EVOO. Rub paste all over the lamp and let sit for at least 30 min but several hours would be better.
  2. Brown the lamb and set aside.
  3. Soften the onion and parsnips, add the artichokes flat side down.
  4. Load the meat on top of the artichokes, add the rest of the ingredients, and 125 ml of the wine;
  5. Braise in a 160 degrees oven for at least 3 hours adding 125 ml of the wine every 30 min or so (pour the wine over the meat) baste every 30 min when the whole bottle of wine is in.
  6. If serving potatoes add them to the pan with the meat about 45 minutes before serving.
  7. Let rest for 15 min;
  8. Cut the heart out of the artichoke and serve with the meat;
  9. Make sauce by reducing the cooking liquid and adding more wine/stock as needed.
Serve with Muhummra and Deep fried chick peas.

Deep fried chick peas


  1. Tin of chick peas in water rinsed and dried;
  2. 1 tsp roasted cumin seeds;
  3. 1 tsp chilli flakes;
  4. 1 tsp Spanish sweet paprika;
  5. 1 tsp salt
  6. 1 tsp black pepper;
  7. 500 ml vegetable oil (one with a high tolerance for heat).


  1. Pound the spices in a mortar until quite fine;
  2. Combine spices and peas in a bowl and toss to cover the peas with the herb mixture;
  3. heat the oil to high heat (180 degrees) in a wide pan;
  4. Fry the chick peas in the oil for about 30 seconds.


I had this with lamb at Moro's and simply loved it. The Moro recipe book says to use it with fish such as Monkfish which I have yet to try but I have high expectations. Essentially Muhummra is Mojo Roco with substance and as such can replace it in all recipes. Below is my version with is not quite the same as the Moro recipe but obviously similar.

  1. 6 large roasted red peppers (you can use canned ones if you are feeling lazy);
  2. 400 gr toasted walnuts;
  3. 4 garlic cloves made into paste with 1 tsp sea salt;
  4. 150 gr bread crumbs;
  5. 3 tbsp EVOO;
  6. 1 tbsp roast ground cumin seeds;
  7. 2 tsp chilli flakes;
  8. 2 tbsp red wine or sherry vinegar;
  9. 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses;
Pulse peppers and walnuts until smooth paste fold in rest of ingredients and hey presto!

Broad bean and Asparagus mousse with poached ducks egg


  1. 400 gr shelled broad beans (or peas);
  2. 300 gr asparagus (cut of the ends if fibrous);
  3. 50 gr rocket;
  4. 50 gr roasted pine kernels;
  5. 50 gr parmesan cheese;
  6. 150 ml chicken stock;
  7. 1 poached ducks egg per person;
  8. 4 rashes streaky bacon fried till crisp and cut into 2 cm pieces;
  9. 3 tbsp EVOO;
  10. 2 egg whites whipped to soft peaks;
  11. Grilled polenta medallions;
  12. Finely chopped chives;
  13. Salt & Pepper.


  1. Poach beans and asparagus in chicken stock until soft, pour off the stock and mash the vegetables in a blender;
  2. Make pesto with rocket, pine kernels, parmesan, salt and pepper;
  3. Combine pesto with vegetables mash and fold in egg whites;
  4. Make forms of grease proof paper same size as polenta medallion and fill with mousse up to 2 cm thick on a non stick oven tray bake at 200 degrees for 20 min;


  1. Cover the polenta medallion with the bacon;
  2. Put mousse on top of the polenta medallion and top with the poached ducks egg;
  3. Drizzle best quality EVOO over the egg (using truffle flavoured EVOO would be even better);
  4. Scatter a pinch of chives over the egg;
  5. Season with S&P.

Note: The mousse can be baked up to half an hour before serving but not much more or it will be too cold.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Notes from Provence 1/6/10 – 10/6/10

I’m stealing the idea of writing notes about the food in the places I go from David Richter. I note from his “notes” that calling his writing notes somehow excuses him from writing full sentences let alone coherent paragraphs. If you dispense with these then things are naturally much easier.

La Oustaou

The best restaurant in Flayosc is great value and very faithful to the cuisine of Provence. The highlight was a tarte of wild mushrooms.

1 bottle le grand jas.


I think I may have gone for the last time to Chez Bruno. First visit I think in 1988 so I have been going there more or less every year for 22 years. Used to be fabulous now just milking past reputation. I had the caviar de truffe (blinie + whipped truffle flavoured cream + caviar de truffe + compote de tomates) which was way too rich in a slightly sickly kind of way, the potato which was absolutely fabulous as always and a duck in porto jus with loads of truffle which was very pub grub and not interesting at all. Predesert was vanilla cream (consistency of panna cotta) with a glazing of citrus peel and roasted caramelized nuts which was the highlight after the potato. Desert was a truly disappointing cherry tart (cores still in the cherry!) and pistachio ice cream. How can you mess up pistachio ice cream.

Very satisfying 2006 Chateau Roubine

Bastide de Moustiers:

Alan Ducasse’s place in Moustiers, an old very grand house in one of Provence’s most beautiful old towns, not quite up to the standard of AD’s other place but still a very satisfactory experience. I unfortunately forgot to get the name of the vine they recommended but it was Patricia something from Bagnol. Highlight of the food was a unbelievably tasty and intentionally salty asparagus soup with a dash of goats cheese and a bowl of braised summer vegetables with local olive oil. The latter was basically a mix of summer veggies lightly boiled in a very buttery light vegetable broth. Incredibly good to consume on a hot day.

La Hostellerie des Gorges De Pennafort

Philippe da Silva get’s two M stars for his restaurant and I think he deserves at least that many. This has got to be the only two star in the world where they throw in a few extra courses for the hell of it. We had the six course menu for €75 but got at least five extra courses – all very light so we did not suffer from post two star dinner drowsiness. All very stunning food and very difficult to select a favourite though highlights included Ravioli de foie gras et parmesan (did not order this it came as surprise), turbot in a very light butter based asparagus and ginger sauce, John Dory in a mixed seafood sauce with a slight curry feel to it and a Feuilleté de poires à la fourme d'Ambert. The last is paper thin pastry topped with very thin pear and melted blue cheese... definitely will be writing to the chef for the recipe for that. Also one of the best Cannele Bordelaise that I’ve ever had.

1/2 bottle of Chateau Maime 2008 (Ugni Blanc 50%, Rolle 25%, Sémillon 25%) excellent Provencal white;

1 bottle of Chateau d'Esclans La Deesse rouge (50/50 grenache and syrah) alright, very syrahish and not very sophisticated. Recommended by the sommelier which just goes to show that you should not believe those bastards.

Cafe de Paris, St Tropez

This is a very high end cafe (or as they themselves have it Restaurant-Club-Lounge-Art, don’t ask) in the harbour of St Tropez that I really was not expecting to get good food from but as they had wi-fi and Jules desperately needed such this is where we ate on our last night in Provence. They however came up tromps and surprised us with really good sashimi, a great salmon tartare with fromage fraise and honey (spiced with dill) and a surprisingly good gambas pasta. The thing about the pasta was that it was slightly underdone (al dente), the sauce was very dry and clung to the pasta, the gambas themselves where perfect and they had added a handful of dried seaweed of some sort on top. The seaweed took this from being a very well executed classic to being something special. The waiter did not know what kind of seaweed but I suspect Japanese kombu.

Le Safari, Nice

Another old favorite that I will give a miss to in the future. This used to be a notch above the other restaurants in the Cours Saleya in Nice but has unfortunately become a total tourist dive. We had a beignet de fleur de courcette that was ok but way to greasy, a cardboard pizza that I swear was reheated and a langustine pasta that was overcooked and tasteless... no need to go back.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Salsa Verde

  1. ½ bunch flat leaf parsley;
  2. 1/3 bunch fresh mint;
  3. 1 Garlic clove;
  4. 1 tbsp Dijon mustarde;
  5. 3 whole anchovies in olive oil;
  6. 1 tsp sea salt;
  7. 100 ml EVOO;
  8. 25 gr Capers;

Chop or grind all ingredients as appropriate (using only the leaves of the herbs) mix and leave to infuse for at least 30 min.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Chicken two ways with seared foie gras and tarragon sauce

I made this recipe from memory the other day when visiting Caroline in Cahuzac. Essentially, I was looking for something to do with fresh foie gras that was not too overpoweringly fatty. I say I made the recipe from memory although I have no recollection of where the original recipe came from. In any case it was a resounding success according to the people at the table who regularly tell me I’m a much better cook than I really am just so that I keep on cooking.

This recipe requires braising the legs, roasting the breasts and making stock out of the rest of the chicken. It is important to start the stock an hour or two ahead of the rest as it will be needed in the cooking of both the legs and the breasts.


  1. Two smallish young free range chickens, ideally poussin, cut up so that you have, per chicken 4 legs pieces, 1 whole breast, 4 wings pieces and two back pieces;
  2. 7 medium turnips, cleaned, trimmed and 6 cut in half, 1 cut into ½ cm thick medallions;
  3. 3 red onions sliced in ½ cm thick slices;
  4. 2 whole leeks cut into cm thick chunks;
  5. A large bunch of tarragon cut finely;
  6. 1 large quartered onion;
  7. 1 large carrot;
  8. 50 gr softened butter;
  9. 1 bottle full bodied white wine.
  10. 3 large sprigs rosemary;
  11. 1 bunch thyme;
  12. 1 bunch sage leaves;
  13. 1 medium fresh lobe of foie gras, cleaned up (devein it and remove any other nasty bits), cut into 1.5 cm thick slices and generously seasoned with sea salt and black pepper. Keep the foie gras in the fridge until just before searing.


  1. Preheat oven to 180 C (200 if no convection);
  2. Make the broth by combining the onion, carrot, chicken wings and chicken backs in a large stock pot, season lightly with salt and pepper, cover with water (should need about a litre and a half) let simmer briskly for at least 1.5 hours (the broth will be better the longer you let it simmer);
  3. To braise the legs start by softening the red onion in a heavy bottomed pan under medium heat. When the onion has turned slightly translucent add the leeks and turnip slices and continue frying until the onion in completely translucent;
  4. Cover the bottom of a medium oven proof dish with the onion mixture and add the rosemary, thyme and sage and top with the chicken legs (including the top bit of the wing if you like) sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour the entire bottle of white wine over the chicken and cover with aluminium foil.
  5. Cook chicken legs in the oven for 1 hour. After the first hour take out the chicken and add the halved turnips to the dish. Add chicken stock to the dish until the legs are slightly covered with liquid put back in the oven for another hour;
  6. When the 2nd hour is up drain the liquid of the chicken legs into a sauce pot. You should have about 500 ml of milky brown liquid that needs to be reduced by half (obviously if there is a lot less liquid less reduction is needed). When done reducing the sauce add the tarragon and let simmer for about 10 min;
  7. Remove the meat and skin from the chicken legs and chop finely;
  8. Put the chicken breasts in a medium oven dish, cover with softened butter and season to taste. Squeeze the juice from one lemon over the chicken and cover the base of the dish with the stock. There should be about a cm thick layer of liquid on the bottom of the dish. Cover with foil so that there is a good 5 cm cover between the chicken breast and the foil. Put into the oven with the chicken legs for the last 45 min of cooking;
  9. When done slice the meat of the breast so that you get four slices per breast;
  10. On a very hot, preferably non stick, pan (ideally smoking hot) sear the slices of foie gras for about 30 - 40 seconds per side. NOTE cold foie gras and very hot pan are key here;
  11. To assemble but the leg meat into a circular form and press down on it to form small cake and wet generously with very hot sauce. Top with a slice of breast meat and a slice of foie gras. Serve with two turnip halves on the side.

    Skip the FG and serve with fondant potatoes and this dish is still fab.