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Bottomless Brunch, Timmy Green

Looking for a bottomless brunch, breakfast, lunch or dinner spot in Victoria?  You won’t be disappointed to eat at Timmy Green.

Who doesn’t love a bottomless brunch?  Here in the UK, we’re slow on the uptake and slowly but surely it’s being introduced to lots of restaurants, here in the capital.  Nova Victoria takes up a vast swathe of a new development in Victoria.  Seventeen restaurants and three pop-up stands run in a square along Victoria Street, Buckingham Palace Road and Bressenden Place.  It’s the result of a significant investment and huge re-development known as The Nova Manifesto.  It brings offices, apartments and some fabulous places to eat in an area which was once a food desert.

 

Timmy Green is the latest Australian-inspired cafe from the Daisy Green Group.  It’s a triangular-shaped restaurant within a rectangular building, so it’s a piece of art in itself.

Bottomless Brunch

The restaurant can cater for 150 covers, and there are two floors, mostly set with tables for 2.  We visit during a Friday lunch service, and it fills to bursting by the time we leave.  I bring Mum along to sample the bottomless brunch which is on offer every weekday here from 8 am to 3 pm.

 

 

Prosecco and orange juice free-flows until you’ve sat for 2 hours and in fairness, we drank more OJ than Prosecco.   Diners can choose one cold item, one hot, and can pay an additional £5 for bottomless coffee or £8 for smoothies and juices.

Cold Items

To begin, Mum had the housemade maple granola served with thick Greek yoghurt, fresh berries, honey, chia seeds, flaked almonds & flowers.  A generous plate of fresh fruit, dried berries and toasted oats and seeds topped with thick creamy yoghurt.

I plumped for the coconut bread french toast, with thick Greek yoghurt, fresh & freeze-dried berries, griddled mango, shaved coconut, bee pollen & pure maple syrup.   Two puck-shaped and baked, sweetened bread was stacked with everything.   Three soft fingers of mango on one side and pureed raspberry on the other.

Both dishes were very filling, and we became a little worried that we’d ordered a hot plate too.   But following a pause and a couple of glasses of fizz we were ready for it.

Hot Items

Mum chose the healthy breakfast greens.   Two poached eggs came on a bed of steamed seasonal greens with halloumi soldiers on the side. The halloumi soldiers are excellent, ideal for dipping in the egg yolks (although I’d also ordered a side of toast, made with Daisy Green’s famous activated-charcoal bread for that very purpose).

Bright orange yolk ran over the plate when I broke into one of my poached eggs.  The smoked salmon royale came on dark rye.  Lemon hollandaise with just the right amount of tartness covered two perfectly poached eggs.  There was half an avocado on the side with a dollop of spicy homemade pesto.  Another generous plate of food which I thoroughly enjoyed.

We loved the atmosphere inside.  It was beautifully light with some beautiful art inside, including these Lone Ranger prints (with banana guns) by the artist and printmaker Shuby.  Look out for the massive painting by Louise Dear and giant egg by Sir Peter Blake.

There are plenty of exciting options on the menu including the full English with a twist, broccoli & corn fritters, Shakshouka and the fancy bacon roll, with the Ribman’s Holy F**k sauce.

We were guests of  Timmy Green, Nova, Victoria.

Did you read my recent review of Kaspar’s at The Savoy Hotel?

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Pour & Pair: International Sherry Week

Pour & Pair: International Sherry Week

International Sherry Week is a great opportunity to scream to the world about this wonderful Spanish product and with the added challenge to pair food with a mystery bottle of this wonderful wine I’m there with bells on.  Sherry, I hear you cry!  Isn’t that for maiden aunts and the like?  Well, I hate to break it to you but if that’s your first thought, you need to hop on a plane and get yourself to Jerez – the Sherry capital of the universe.

International Sherry Week

I’ve had a thing for sherry since I visited this part of Spain some time ago, bolstered after a fabulous wedding in a Bodega in Vejer soon after.  Forget the Bristol creams of this world or the old thick syrupy stuff that lurks in crystal decanters.  I’m talking sherry wine that’s full of depth and flavour.  Once you’ve tried one that blows your mind, you’ll enjoy sampling sherry all the more.

Game or Offal?

The dish had to be local to where I live, or certainly where I come from.  I toyed with the idea of pheasant and marvelled at game birds of every variety currently in season, all of which work with Palo Cortado.  London isn’t well known for its shoots or it’s chicken but we do have some of the best restaurants in the world here and there are parts of the UK that do.  Tender, organic chicken livers from birds reared on farms where they’re free to roam on organic pastures form the basis of my dish.

Palo Cortado

I was sent a bottle of Palo Cortado to work with and it’s a beautifully complex wine with the wonderful smell of toasted raisins.  Now I can’t confess to being a sherry expert, you should visit the Bodegas of Jerez for an education but I know a little about what I love.   Its production would mean a whole other blog which I shall work on.

 

 

I do know it takes its name from the slash or ‘Palo’ the cask is given when it’s initially fortified to 15% by volume.  When the tasters get round to sampling, if it meets certain very specific characteristics it’s given a horizontal line across the original slash mark.  See the bottle below for the visual.

Could I get away without cooking at all?  Palo Cortado works so very very well with strong cheeses, this Gran Padano Reserva was a fabulous match.

Pour & Pair: International Sherry Week

It’s best served chilled and it will keep in your fridge once it’s opened, for months.  Sadly, not in our house.

I chose a chicken liver parfait recipe simply because of the depth of wonderful flavours, the chicken livers, garlic, cream, thyme and basil.  Not for it’s photographic opportunities I hasten to add.  You just need to understand the taste is outstanding for this fairly simple and cheap dish.

Chicken Liver Parfait with Spiced Fig Chutney

Ingredients

175g unsalted butter softened
500g chicken livers.  I used organic.
3 tbsp Palo Cortado sherry
2 sprigs of stripped Thyme
1 chopped garlic clove
2 basil leaves
4 tbsp Double Cream
Salt and pepper

Spiced Fig Chutney

2tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
4 fresh figs, chopped into quarters
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp soft brown sugar
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper

Method
Clean the livers, it’s not the easiest of jobs but it’s worth it.  Remove all the stringy, greenish sinew.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the melted butter in a heavy frying pan – I used my wok – until the butter begins to foam.  Add the livers to the pan.  Cook for a minute then add the Sherry, garlic, basil and fresh Thyme.
Pour & Pair: International Sherry Week
Cook for a further 3 minutes or so but don’t brown.  Season with salt and pepper.    Spoon the livers, with about 1 tbsp of the cooking juice into a food processor and blend.  Add the remaining butter and double cream and blend.
Pour & Pair: International Sherry Week
The mixture should be pretty smooth.  If you need to, sieve the mixture to make an ultra-smooth parfait.
Pour & Pair: International Sherry Week
Pour & Pair: International Sherry Week
Spoon into a lined terrine dish (or suitable tin or tins lined with cling wrap to allow it to be removed with ease) and smooth the surface with a knife.
Place in the fridge to cool and set firm for at least 2 hours.  Cut with a heated knife or to warm spoon to make quenelles.  This is super rich so you need a very small amount.  It freezes well.
For the Spiced Fig Chutney
Heat the oil in a frying pan and when hot, add the red onion and fry until softened.  Add the figs and spices and stir well until the figs are soft.  Add the vinegar and simmer until the mixture thickens.  Transfer half the mixture to a blender or use a stick blender to smooth.  Return the pureed mixture to the pan to combine and season with the salt and pepper.
Pour & Pair: International Sherry Week
Serve with crackers or toast and a large glass of Palo Cortado.  Enjoy.
Pour & Pair: International Sherry Week
For more on game and wine pairing, take a look at a recent blog on the subject.

 

 

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Hasslacher’s Luxury Hot Chocolate

Luxury hot chocolate or an addition to your favourite savoury dishes Hasslacher’s Hot Chocolate block is a vital ingredient in your storecupboard.

Although I hate the darker nights that Autumn brings I love the excuse for a mug of decent hot chocolate.  Not the powdery stuff you attempt to mix with hot milk, I’m talking about chocolate.  Huge cubes of the stuff melted in a pan and then thick full-cream milk heated and brought together as one.  A marriage made in heaven.

Cacao -v- Cocoa

For those of you questioning my spelling.  Let me explain.

Raw cacao is made by cold-pressing unroasted cacao beans. The process keeps the living enzymes in the cacao and removes the fat or cacao butter.

Cocoa looks the same but it’s not. Cocoa powder is raw cacao that’s been roasted at high temperatures. Sadly, roasting changes the molecular structure of the cacao bean, reducing the enzyme content and lowering the overall nutritional value.

Hasslacher’s Hot Chocolate Bar

Hasslacher’s Hot Chocolate bar is made from 100% Cacao.  It has a rich, intense flavour and is naturally high in antioxidants.  Ethically, the brand supports cacao farmers who grow and blend beans responsibly sourced in Colombia.  Cultivated under the natural shade of the canopy, it preserves the natural forest.  I can’t believe it’s not entered my life sooner as the company’s been around since 1906.

Once you unwrap the packaging, there are two layers of chocolate, and you need just two small chunks for each cup.

One pack makes 16 cups of hot chocolate.  I don’t think I’ve ever drunk more than 16 cups in one winter season so fret not.  There are plenty of uses for this bar of wonderful.  Try adding a chunk to a chilli con carne or a beef stew.  Use in baking to give chocolate brownies that deep intensity.

Hasslacher's Luxury Hot Chocolate

Anything less than 100% cocoa solids is too sweet for me and I like to add sugar to taste.   Demerara preferably.  I also like to add a pinch of Maldon sea salt.  I’m not entirely sure what it does but it takes the drink to a totally different level.

Do you add anything to your hot chocolate?  Chilli flakes, spices like Cinnamon or Cardamom, cream, alcohol or those tiny marshmallows?

Here’s an over-the-top moment for my Mum for Bonfire Night.

 

 

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Christmas Food Iceland 2017

“Mum’s gone to Iceland” once the catchphrase of the freezer store, disappeared to be replaced by “The power of frozen”.  Iceland the high street supermarket, is undergoing a rapid image change.  I’ve watched the store change shape and take on Aldi and Lidl in the cut-price luxury market to lure in well, people like me.

Their Christmas show as an opportunity to show journalists and food writers what was on offer this year.

For Christmas, you can expect Rock Lobster, sourced from the Corn Islands, just off the Nicaragua’s Atlantic Coast.  A decent-flavoured Thermidor sauce adds to the richness, and it’s ready-to-cook in a silver oven-ready tray.   Simple to lift out of its shell and serve as your starter showstopper.

Neil was also telling me about the whole-lobster, shelled and frozen which will be coming into stores soon.  After a bit of research, I discovered the Avure 215L-600.  This machine exerts up to  87,000 pounds per square inch of pressure which kills the crustacean instantly and allows the meat to slip free from the shell.

Neil cooked the lobster in a little butter and sat the meaty chunks on top of their new serrano-type ham.  Made in Manchester.  I can’t wait for this to get into the store; it’s superb.

Christmas Food, Iceland 2017

The smoked salmon snowflake terrine is another treat.  Six decent sized portions of rich smoked salmon sat on a cream cheese and crème Fraiche mousse.  Looks even more impressive when Neil and his team plate up.

Christmas Food, Iceland 2017

Christmas Food, Iceland 2017

Pate

The Partridge & Pear or Duck & Fig pate is a great starter, full of flavour, depth and with a little garnish, you’d get away with convincing your guests you’ve made it yourself.   A little-chopped apple and their air-dried ham dress the dish, and the pate was perfect on wafter thin sourdough.

Christmas Food at Iceland 2017

Those dreading another Nut Roast Christmas, step forward the Roasted Parsnip and Portobello Mushroom Pithivier.  Stuffed with roasted parsnip, mushroom spinach and bound with honey a flaky pastry case rises to perfection.  Throw in some thyme and nutmeg, spinach and a creamy sauce made with porcini mushrooms and vintage cheddar cheese, and you have this centrepiece, showstopping meat-free pie.

Turkey

If you’re a Christmas Turkey-lover, then step aside because this is the Mother of them all.  Seeking inspiration from the history books this whole gilded turkey takes the lead from the Victorians but has been brought right up-to-date to reveal a ‘gilded’ finish. Instead of a gold leaf finish, the turkey is oven baked with muslin and butter cloth,  In the last five minutes of cooking,  a honey and mustard coating is painted on. Served here with their luxury Christmas tree and baubles, Romanesco broccoli and carrot, with pink peppercorns and butter stars and a small dollop of mash and rich gravy to finish it off.

Christmas Food, Iceland 2017

Award-winners

Did I mention their pigs in blankets?   Good Housekeeping tested 14 brands in their annual survey for Christmas food, and Iceland’s came top of the list, fighting off competition from the major high street brands.  They scored 82/100 and here’s the testers summary.  “Meaty, well-seasoned sausage is wrapped in crispy bacon with just the right amount of fat to give these pigs in blankets a delicious savoury saltiness. The smell reminded testers of delicious comfort meals. One tester was reminded of a fry-up, another of roast pork. This is one of the few products tested where both the sausage and bacon were a pleasing colour.”

On Boxing Day beef is a tradition in our household.  Often cooked and served cold with pickles, I have my eye on this 21 day matured Picanha rump (Brazilian Rump) to buck that trend.  Hand finished with cracked black pepper seasoned butter, a perfect partner to my spicy Jalapeno sauce.  Chop 5 Jalapeno peppers, one onion and throw into a blender with a tsp salt and three cloves of garlic.  Blend to a paste.  Serve with your Pichana rump.

For the sweet centrepiece, it would have to be the Reveal Snowflake. It’s a must for the sweet-toothed chocolate lover.  A dark chocolate sauce is heated up and tipped over the centre of this dessert where it implodes to reveal the layers of brownie, mousse and thick chocolate shell.

Iceland Head Chef

Neil told me there are over 200 products in the Christmas range this year, but it’s not all about frozen food.  They’ve extended their Luxury range across fresh, chilled and grocery sectors.

Christmas Food, Iceland 2017

Here’s Neil Nugent, the brand’s Head Chef, doing the honours (well his hand anyway).

The fruity eclairs are two-bites worth, and instead of cream, choux pastry is stuffed full of apricot, raspberry blackcurrant and lemon fillings.  Here’s a bitten apricot eclair, you can see the choux isn’t thick and stuffed full with filling.

Christmas Food at Iceland 2017

Christmas Food, Iceland 2017

No Christmas feast is complete without a decent glass of wine, and this year Iceland is introducing three premium wines. Working with a French winemaker on a Sancerre and Chateauneuf-du-Pape there’s also a Chablis from well-known house Louis Soufflot.

For the fizz, they’re introducing a Cremant.  As you may know, this wine is made the same way as Champagne but for a fraction of the price.  Fine bubbles and a long finish. Perfect for the Christmas Day brunch. You may want to look out for their Irish cream which is made in conjunction with Ireland’s oldest whiskey distillery.

Christmas Food, Iceland 2017

I should add that Iceland does not pay me or have an agreement with them that what I write about their products would be favourable in any way, shape or form.  Like all my reviews they’re honest and reflect what I think and feel.

Have you read my recent review on Cafe Murano?

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Review: Cafe Murano, St James's

Dukes Hotel & No 3 Gin

Dukes Hotel & No 3 Gin is a match made in heaven.

No 3 is the London Dry Gin band owned by Berry Bros & Rudd, London’s oldest wine and spirit merchant.  It takes its name from the address in St James’s Street which has been their home since 1698.   Created to a secret recipe, with juniper at its heart, it contains six botanicals distilled in traditional copper pot stills.

If you love a Martini then you’re in great hands, Alessandro Palazzi is the head bartender here and Master of the Martini.

James Bond

It’s the bar, James Bond fans flock to find out how the famous phrase ‘shaken not stirred’ came about.  When the author Ian Fleming began writing, Martinis were only ever served as an apéritif before dinner and two white spirits were never.  Cocktails were always stirred.

In his first novel in the Casino Royale series, Bond offers specific instructions to the barman on how to prepare his drink.  This would later become known as the Vesper.  The recipe: three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet, and a slice of lemon.  Shaken.  At Dukes, the Vesper recipe uses No 3 London Dry Gin, Lillet Blanc, Angostura bitters, and Potocki vodka, a Polish vodka, in honour of the real-life inspiration for Vesper Lynd, Polish-born Christine Granville, wartime spy and allegedly Fleming’s lover.

Review: Cafe Murano, St James's

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

You may have seen bottles of No 3 Gin throughout the latest Matthew Vaughn film Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Now the wine merchant has bottled a limited edition expression, bottled at 49% abv and limited to 5,000 bottles.

“The qualities needed to make a Kingsman are not dissimilar from those required of our London Dry Gin,” said creative director Geordie Willis. “Sophistication, integrity and style are paramount.”

Here’s their recipe for The Golden Circle using the limited edition Gin.

Or Alessandro’s Classic Dry

Duke’s Classic Dry Martini

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp Extra Dry Vermouth
  • 85ml No.3 Gin
  • 1 Amalfi lemon

Method

Pour the Extra Dry Vermouth into a frozen martini glass (either 7oz or 5.5oz glass) and coat in a circular motion. Top up the glass with ice-cold No 3 gin. Pare the rind of an Amalfi lemon, and give it a twist to extract the oils into the glass.

Fancy something to eat?  Head up St James’s to Cafe Murano for some spectacular Italian food.

 

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