Title

Tempo

‘Summer in Chelsea’, ‘Wild Rose’, ‘Purple Sky’ and ‘Elderflower’ – four cocktails currently being mixed at Tempo in homage to the Chelsea Flower Show which opens its gates to the public tomorrow.

A pair of townhouses at the top of Curzon Street have been converted into a restaurant, bar and private dining room. A set of stairs leads to a very unexpected space and a bar I have totally fallen in love with. It’s been restored to perfection, mixing contemporary with the classical and retaining most of the original ornateness (the decorative plaster was commissioned by former resident, the Duchess of Sutherland). A pleasant crackle of chatter in a space that’s been likened by previous guests to a private members club, although it felt much more homely than any I’ve been to. It’s a place you can get comfortable in, the kind of place where you forget you have actually booked to eat.

Tempo isn’t the first to jump on the Chelsea Flower Show bandwagon but I’m never one to turn down a free drink. When the press release arrived in my in-box I was straight back at Primrose, to invite myself along to try them. So when I asked to have a look at the floral cocktail list I was surprised there wasn’t one available, so being told the names and core ingredient, I ordered “Wild Rose”. If I had seen the ingredients I probably wouldn’t have chosen it. When Primrose sends me the list after our visit, I get to see the make up and it’s a very sweet concoction including raspberries, apple juice, honey, elderflower Cordial, Lanique Vodka Rose Petal Liqueur and the lime laced cane sugar Falernum. It was way, way too sweet for me, and I could just about pick out the core ingredient but found it hard to trace the others. I sipped it and left it, including the edible pansy but it did look amazing. “Purple Sky” on the other hand was completely divine. A Tanqueray Gin based cocktail, with a dash of violet resulted in the most beautiful purple hue. As I stole the majority of a cocktail which wasn’t mine, I was transported back to my schooldays – remember Swizzels Matlow Parma Violets?

Originally inviting myself to sample the cocktails, the owner Henry Tonge, asked if I’d like to taste the dinner menu and so of course it would have been terribly rude not to. Henry’s grandfather is Italian so I see where the menu takes it’s inspiration – seasonal, fresh, simply prepared with bags of flavour and like his favourite restaurant the River Cafe driven by its ethos, with menus changing regularly according to market.

The ground-floor dining space is bright and is glass fronted. Comfortable chairs upholstered in turquoise velvet surround marble-effect glass-topped tables.

From arrival to departure, the service was impeccable although the staff knew that we were guests of the owner I kept an eye on tables throughout the meal and there were more then enough staff to cope with the covers and all diners were being very well attended to. The restaurant had a nice mid-week buzz and there were only a couple of tables unoccupied. Eating at one, was Henry who took the trouble to visit the diners and chat to them about their food. The Maitre D’, David Vindis was, as you’d expect, wholly knowledgable about the menu, he told us where the food was sourced and helpfully suggested we sample a cross section of the menu.

The brightly coloured array of Chicchetti were a welcome sight for any empty stomach. The main point of small plates is to keep the stomach “quiet” while the pasta’s cooking. Of the four sampled, the Bruschetta di Piselli scored very highly, a wonderfully bright green smashing of spring peas with pecorino. The rich and flavoursome, typically Tuscan, Crostino di Fegatini di Pollo was a rich pate bursting with taste, enough to convert any offal hater, and was spread thickly on a piece of toasted bread which bowed 180 degrees as it was lifted, the sheer weight of the topping could have done with a little more architectural support from it’s thinly cut base. The saltiness of the buttery Burrata on the Bruschetta di Burrata and Pepperoni with the sweetness of the pepper ticked all the right boxes. What stood out for me though was the Crostino di Gamberetti blush pink prawns with crisp green samphire – bundles of just netted fresh sea taste, the only thing lacking was the sound of a lapping shoreline and I think even Tempo might struggle with that. Selection of two £6.75, three £9.75.

The carpaccios – swordfish, tuna and beef displayed the fine knife skills of the Japanese chef Yoshi Yamada. He’s worked under Gordon Ramsay in Chelsea, L’Atelier de Robuchon in Japan and in Italy spending four years cooking in Sardinia, Florence and Michelin-starred Don Alfonso in Naples. He’s assisted by Sous Chef Carlo Scotto D’apollonia who took the time to come and say hello and I just loved that.

The Spada, whilst cut as thin as a tracing paper lacked any real taste for me and whilst simply prepared, I was left lacking and I think I would have been a little disappointed if I’d paid £9.75 for it. Manzo however delivered in spades, with generous sheet-thin slivers of Scotch beef, topped with rocket and whole toasted hazelnuts and at £10.25 a fair price. Tonno, lightly dressed with olive oil and lemon was topped with dill and chives – enough to matter – and I’m pleased to say nowhere near the lawn mower cutting proportions often delivered.

Asparagi came on a large plate, a tower of green and white asparagus on a lattice piped creamy bagna cauda. For someone who cannot stand anchovies, I didn’t try it, but I was assured it was garlicky, salty and creamy and there was enough to drag the anchovies through. A very reasonable £10.50.

When the pasta arrives I’m beginning to wish I’d ignored David’s advice. A liberal bowl full of Tagliolini Nero is placed before me. The ebony pasta topped with fleshy crab was sprinkled with red shards of chilli. A taste as delicate as the care no doubt taken to remove the flesh from the crab shell and worth the £13.50 for the small plate – larger portions are available for those going straight for the pasta course. Parpadelle with a strong wild boar was outstanding. The balance of what can be overpowering cingalle paired with an even stronger rosemary was matched to perfection in the herb-laden gravy. I assume the egg-yolk rich pasta is home made and tasted as good as any I’ve eaten. Again, a small plate was ample and excellent value at £13.00.

One of the stars of the meal, and I’m still dreaming of it, was the plate of Gamberoni. Fat, pink, Italian crustacea, simply grilled, served with nothing more than a squeeze of lemon and a snip at £19.25. The Merluzzo in Acqua Pazza was cooked to perfection. The dense meaty cod steak was cooked throughout yet retained it’s fishy moisture. The herbed broth was well flavoured and worked very well, again a large dish at a fairly-priced £16.50.

We didn’t order sides, simply because we were full to bursting, but I would love to have tried the zucchini fritte – my favourite all time fritte is prepared at Chelsea’s long established La Famiglia and I always use that as my measure. All priced between £3.50 and £4.00.

Sadly, Dolci was out of the question, we just could not move let alone lift a desert spoon. A pause was suggested but I needed a full twelve hours before I’d attempt anything solid. Lemon tart here is apparently sublime – but I’m afraid I can go only on hearsay. We managed a caffe and a delicious cappuccino served the Italian way, well frothed milk without chocolate sprinklings. I couldn’t believe we spent a very pleasurable three hours on a school night in Tempo but I guess that’s what having a good time is all about. I’ll definitely be recommending it and going back – this time I’ll pay Henry!

Thanks to Primrose at Tempo’s PR Agency Jori White for organising my visit and to Henry Tonge, Director, Tempo who picked up my bill.

Tempo Restaurant & Bar, 54 Curzon Street, London, W1J 8PG 020 7629 2742 www.tempomayfair.co.uk

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Tempo Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

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Sushi Class

Groupon – for those who aren’t familiar – is the group buying website offering members discounts of up to 90% on items ranging from beauty treatments to cooking classes. When Makiko Hime decided to boost attendance of the sushi cookery classes she teaches in her Japanese restaurant in Hammersmith – Suzu – little did she realise just how popular it would be. Five thousand, nine hundred and thirty two people took up the Two Hour Sushi Making Class with Plum Wine and Snacks for £19. A course that would normally set you back £48.30. I was one of the thousands to buy, and luckily for me, I got to do my class this week – she’s booked up with Groupon voucher holders until November!

I went along for my course on Tuesday, a small class of just 8. Plum wine for those who wanted it or soft drinks to start, along with a plate of wasabi peas. A nice touch before the class began. Makiko arrived with a large wooden bowl of ready-made sushi rice and began to tell us what we’d be making.

A cucumber Maki sushi – vinegared rice bound around cucumber slices with a seaweed wrapping. The other sushi we would make was salmon Nigiri Sushi – vinegared rice with a topping of fresh salmon. The third and final sushi we were to make was Suzu special rolls – inside out, thicker rolls with avocado and salmon. Makiko comes from Tokyo where the sushi is square but she showed us how to make the rolls round.

She even gives you a rolling mat and takeaway boxes for the sushi along with a recipe to make the rice.

I had a really enjoyable afternoon – with top tips about where to buy the best sushi-grade fish in London -Atari-Ya Foods and why it’s best to eat in sushi restaurants in the last half of the week. Makiko runs her restaurant, does outside catering and teaches other courses. I think she could be avoiding Groupon deals for a while but I’d pay full price to learn another skill here.

I’ve not eaten here but Makiko is passionate about the food she prepares and I’ll be back to try out some of the food from hand rolls to sashimi platters, Japanese curries to rice dishes. I’ll report back.

Suzu Japanese Pub
170-172 Hammersmith Road W6 7JP
0208 741 1101
www.suzuonline.co.uk

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TOTAL Greek Yoghurt Masterclass

I switched on – albeit a little late and entirely at my cost it would seem – to Greek yogurt when I went island hopping in the Aegean last year. If I cooked with anything with a creamy consistency it was cream or more recently creme fraiche so after my week’s stay on Santorini I was hooked. When a spoon hits the denseness of decent Greek yogurt it goes nowhere. Drizzle over a little honey and you really are onto something. However, you don’t see many Greek women worrying about their waistline and I doubt they would be interested in anything other than the full fat sheep or cows milk used in the production so I was really keen to see what Total were up to as I had seen their 0%, 2% and 10% range on sale.

I’ve never been to L’atelier des Chefs before in Wigmore Street which is surprising as it’s just around the corner from my office. It’s a fantastic cookery school where they run courses where professional chefs teach new or enhance skills. They also rent out their space for corporate events. Step forward the PR Team at TOTAL Greek yogurt. On Thursday last week they gave myself and a group of fellow bloggers the chance to cook with Andre Dupin, former Chez Bruce and Ramsay chef; Fabricio Cana Devilo who’s worked at the Michelin-starred Devos in Belgium and Satyajit Welaratne (what he doesn’t know about pastry and deserts isn’t worth knowing). The team had created recipes to reflect the use of the Total range.

Nutritionist Hala El Shafie and co-founder of nutrition-rocks.co.uk talked to the group about the emotional and psychological issues often associated with food. Everything she talked about made perfect sense but it’s what many of us don’t put into practice. She really made me think about the way I eat and confirmed that my diet is indeed in need of an overhaul.

There was also a very inspirational chat from Phil (a woman who blogs as skinnylattestrikesback).
In April 2005, she weighed 103.5kg (228lbs). A year later, she reached her goal weight of 76kg (167lbs). This year she celebrates her fifth year keeping the weight off and she ran the London Marathon as part of Team Lucozade Sport – take a look at her blog it’s not only informative but it’s a place of support for those trying to lose weight or just get fit.

The afternoon session was a chance to create 3 sweet and 3 savoury recipes. I’ve listed them below but I’m sharing what I found were the two best – simple, easy-to-find ingredients and a tasty outcome.

Total Greek Yoghurt Tartare of Mackerel with Minted Cucumber Soup
Pan fried Medallions of Pork with Total Greek Yoghurt Gribiche and Fennel
Total Greek Yoghurt Vegetarian Samosas with a Minted Yoghurt Dip

Total Greek Yoghurt Chestnut Tiramisu Rapide
Total Greek Yoghurt Drop Scones with Caramelised Pineapple
Total Greek Yoghurt White Chocolate Mille-feuille with Spiced Plums

Total Greek Yoghurt Tartare of Mackerel with Minted Cucumber Soup

Serves 6

Ingredients

12 fillets of mackerel
1 banana shallot
25g cornichons
1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley
50g 0% Total Greek Yoghurt
10g tomato ketchup
3ml Worcestershire sauce
25g capers in vinegar

For the soup

1 cucumber
A garlic clove
1/4 bunch of fresh mint
3 pinches of fine salt
10ml white wine vinegar
50g 0% Total Greek Yoghurt

METHOD

*Start by preparing the mackerel: fillet the fish if necessary and remove the pin bones. Remove the skin from the fish and then dice the flesh. Keep refrigerated while you prepare the rest of the recipe.
*Peel and finely dice the shallot. Chop the cornichons into small pieces. Pick the leaves from the parsley and roughly chop. Mix these chopped ingredients with the mackerel and add the capers and yoghurt.
*Mix well and the add the ketchup, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce. Taste the Tartare mix and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
*To make the soup: peel the cucumber and the garlic and pick the mint leaves. Place the ingredients in a blender with the salt and the white wine vinegar. Blitz for a minute to make the soup.
*Add the yogurt and pulse the mixture for 5 seconds. Check the seasoning.
*To serve: place a large quenelle of the Tartare mix in the middle of a small bowl and pour the soup around. Serve immediately.

Try making this with fresh tuna as an alternative to mackerel.

Pan fried Medallions of Pork with Total Greek Yoghurt Gribiche and Fennel

Serves 6

Ingredients

3 pork tenderloins
10ml sunflower oil
6 pinches fine salt
6 turns freshly ground pepper

For the garnish

1 fennel bulb
3 pinches fine salt
25ml olive oil
1 lemon
1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley

For the Gribiche sauce

2 whole eggs
1 banana shallot
50g cornichons
1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley
1/2 bunch chervil
1/2 bunch tarragon
25g capers
150g 10% Total Greek Yoghurt
3 pinches fine salt
3 turns freshly ground black pepper

METHOD

*Prepare the pork: trim any fat and sinew from the pork and then cut it into medallions approximately 1cm thick.
*Boil the eggs for 10 minutes and then cool under cold running water. When the eggs are cold remove the shell and grate coarsely.
*Peel and finely dice the shallot. Dice the cornichons. Pick the leaves from the herbs and chop.
*Mix the grated egg, herbs, shallot, cornichons and capers into the yoghurt. Season with salt and pepper and keep to one side.
*Cut the fennel bulb in half and remove the tough core. Use a mandolin to finely slice. Season with salt and allow the fennel to wilt.
*When the fennel has wilted, dress with olive oil and lemon juice. Chop the parsley leaves and mix this through the fennel.
* Heat a frying pan until hot and add a splash of sunflower oil. Season the pork with salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes on each side.

I’ll definitely be playing with the recipes I usually reserve only for cream or creme fraiche trying Total as a replacement.

Thanks to Alison at Total Greek Yogurt for a great day.

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James Vincent McMorrow

I hadn’t heard of the band ‘City and Colour’ but I had heard of the support – the Irish singer-songwriter – James Vincent McMorrow. His voice has been likened to Bon Iver and he’s hiding a pretty piercing falsetto beneath that lumberjack-esque exterior so you can throw Jeff Buckley into the mix too.

I love him because he’s a brilliant storyteller, listening to his lyrics I often feel like I’m taking a confessional. He treads a well worn path following in the folksy footsteps of Ray Le Montage and the sublime Damian Rice. But that’s where any similarity ends (except of course in the facial furniture department) because James is more folksy-pop, his music is simplistic but by no means elementary and his lyrics are achingly beautiful. I discover tonight that his voice is pitch perfect, sounding as good live as he does on the album ‘Early In The Morning’ I then discover why. James recorded it in a cabin in the middle of nowhere with one microphone and without the help of any professional production equipment.

Of course there were fans there ‘James We Love You’ shouts one male as he takes to the stage but I hear various whispers from ‘who’s the support’ to ‘never heard of him’. A solitary figure on a well-lit stage shared only with the main act’s instruments and this bearded troubadour owned it from start to finish. He chose to open with ‘We Are Ghosts’ the lyrics tugging on the heart-strings of any hardened Emo fan.

A romp through the tracks from his album his acoustic set took advantage of the vastness of the space captivating the capacity crowd. As he began ‘If I Had a Boat’ you could hear a pin drop. As the song intensified, his voice ricocheted off the audience struck dumb by his range and passion. Its almost impossible not to be moved by the lyrics ‘If I had a boat, I would sail to you hold you in my arms, ask you to be true, once I had a dream, it died long before, now I’m pointed North, hoping for the shore’.

Whether you knew him before, you certainly do now. If you missed James he’s back in London on 31st May playing the Queen Elizabeth Hall – see you there!

ROYAL ALBERT HALL SET LIST

We Are Ghosts
Sparrow And The Wolf
Follow You Down To The Red Oak Tree
We Don’t Eat
Down The Burning Rope
If I Had A Boat
Red Dust

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St Ali Coffee

Now I’m not ashamed to say that I like a nice cup of Pret filter – personally I think it’s the best tasting grab-and-run filter coffee on the high street and for 99p what more could you ask for? Well, you could ask for a whole heap if things if you study coffee like fine wine. Enter Tim – the coffee man who has literally two brains – he doesn’t keep one in a jar and he doesn’t have a high forehead – he’s just really very clever when it comes to all aspects of the cherry – the coffee bean in it’s natural state. He spent a good twenty minutes taking me on a whistlestop coffee world tour and I loved it. But he’s not used to dealing with coffee fools like me – I could tell – I take milk in my coffee and shop in Pret for goodness sakes but we’re not all like Tim. But, that’s OK and he’s willing to spend the time educating folk like me because the people behind St Ali in Clerkenwell have brought their coffee roasting concept over from Australia and it really could change the way we drink coffee here, forever.

I think they’re halfway there because they couldn’t have picked a better venue 27 is a former nightclub – bang, slap in the middle of one of the trendiest places to be and be seen in London. A really cool ‘space’ has been converted into a restaurant and coffee house. Downstairs a roaster sits at the back of the shop framed nicely by the sacks of washed Rwandan beans. A skylight helps to light the shop and help a very green living wall to flourish.

On the first floor a restaurant-cum-bar is very much a work in progress but like downstairs they’ve thought about the clientele and its very much about a relaxed yet edgy eating experience. The exposed brick walls, the name of the place in light bulbs (a la All Saints) and chunky wooden tables very much sets the scene.

They take their name from Saint Ali – if your not up on your Saints – it’s short for Ali ibn Umar al-Shadhili who back in the 15th Century introduced coffee beans to Muslim mystics. It’s their homage to the man who popularised coffee.

I dare you, ask any Melburnian living in the capital about St Ali and they will have quite a bit to say about the brand. Google the name and you’ll find pages of satisfied Aussies who travel miles to queue for a seat at the branch in the North of the City. Why? Because like the Californians they know how they like their coffee. It’s a science from bean to cup and they don’t want second best and neither does Tim. He’s training his Baristas to share the knowledge but also to recognise when the customer doesn’t want to know finite details about the process or indeed ‘The Slayer’. Rest assured it’s not someone they drag out of the basement if you failit’s pay, it’s a machine they use to make the perfect cup. After roasting beans on the premises (once they’ve finished off the shelving you can buy them to take home) they’re taken to The Slayer. It’s an espresso machine which has revolutionised extracting espresso by applying the principles of traditional French press or cafetiere style brewers. The pre-brewing phase at low pressure allows the Barista to extract specific flavours; low pressure applied gently enhances the sweetness, body and notes of the bean. I’m told this unlocks flavour characteristics and profiles not previously achieved by commercial espresso machines. It also gives the Barista control over steaming capacity.

A little bit on the beans – Tim will only buy the best beans the market has to offer – the bean is a fruit – different varietals, from different climates give very different tastes and the sell-by-date of the bean changes too. They’ll have their beans for six months then they’ll get new – it’s like seasonal produce – if it’s good they’ll have it in their cups if it’s bad then forget it. They’ve got a ten day expiry date on all the coffee. Is the message coming through loud and clear? They only do fresh.

I didn’t try any food but I did have an Americano – after all that’s why I was invited – which was really very tasty. I especially liked when asked whether I wanted hot or cold milk so different to what I’m used and for someone who likes their hot drinks piping, most welcome. Would I pay £3.00 for a coffee? I often do and I can guarantee you I have no idea at all of the bean’s origin, how ask how old it is or be sure there wouldn’t be a massively long pause before a shrug in reply. Here you can get into coffee speak as deeply as you like – I can assure you they’ll have all the answers.

Now, the really clever concept which I can’t wait for is that the team plan to complement various brewing methods with selected courses from a unique menu – designed to bring out the flavours of the coffee and the food – think high end restaurant tasting menus – but not the price.

I saw a clip-boarded sample lunch menu – all looked appetising and at reasonable prices.

The unit is huge – the ladies toilet downstairs was big enough to throw a party in and I’m sure once this place gets up and running those high on caffeine, wine, good food and life will do just that.

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