Sunday, 19 April 2015

Sweet Sorrows

Everything happens for a reason.

I’ve spent a lot of time feeling second-rate in the last few months; relationships that make you feel more alone than being alone aren’t great. To break away I thought long and hard about what makes me happy. While I still can’t put a finger on exactly what gets me smiling, I figure a change of scenery would do me good.   

At that, I’m moving on from London.

I have called London home for 18 years. Naturally I have accumulated my fair share of bric-a-brac, to which I have all kinds of emotional attachment. I’m leaving almost everything behind, with the exception of:

1) Thanks to my childhood sweetheart I have developed a habit of sending myself an unusual postcard from every place I visit. And over time I started a collection of postcards from my beloved friends – I only like the arty ones. It’s a heart-warming gesture that they have thought of you on their travels, picked out a postcard, brought your postal address, bought stamps and /or found a post office... These I take with me.

2) The delicious memories of London. It wouldn’t make sense to leave without revisiting some of the eateries that I know I will miss. Not only because they do brilliant food, but also because I’m unlikely to find anything like them in my new hood.

Flat Iron: Rhubarb & Custard donuts and cocktails in the bar before heading upstairs for some easy-going meat

Patty & Bun: We decided to have one course at each of our selected restaurants. We chose to start at Chiltern Firehouse (review to follow) then Patty n Bun for for mains, finished with La Patisserie des Reves. Still one of my favourite burger joints in town.

Lucky Chip: Oh Kelly Lebrock, how I missed thee. These guys have moved to Dalston from the Sebright Arms in Bethnal Green. Shan's first and he went for El Chappo, which was freaking awesome but if only Tom Selleck was on the menu!

Smack Lobster: In addition to the usual rolls, we tried the lazy lobster too this time, chilled chunks lobster meat with lemon mayo; not as tasty as the grilled lobster but it serves well as a lazy snack. It was still empty on this weekday evening visit; on one hand I'm concerned if it will stay in business, yet I must admit the quiet intimacy in basement is quite sexy. I pray this will still be here when I come back next.

Monty's Deli @Maltby Street: Been a sucker for the reuben sandwiches here since I first tried it last year. Shame the specials were out, but hands down the best salt beef in town.

Tayyabs: Wouldn't be proper to bid London adieu without a trip to the London Institution

3) This. I plan to do justice to the name of this blog, and expand the boundaries of the culinary delights yet to come. It may no longer be London Wingz in terms of physical presence, but Wingz remains London at heart.

Unfortunately little Tofu has to stay; at least he has found a better home.

There is one person in particular that I have utmost reluctance to part from; ironically the decision to move away has brought us closer. I remain hopeful, because everything happens for a reason.

A new chapter begins.

"Parting is such Sweet Sorrow" - William Shakespeare

Friday, 10 April 2015

Barrafina Adelaide Street - Just as Good

Countdown Continues…
I love Barrafina. I hate the queue. As if standing behind a row of people chomping through plates and plates of immaculate-looking food wasn’t torturing enough, the open kitchen sends waves of mouthwatering food perfume that gets the stomach roaring. The good news is there is now a Barrafina No. 2 on Adelaide Street. It doesn’t make the queue any shorter, don’t be silly. It’s simply another queue.

Shan has given the new tapas bar his nod of approval. Twice. I know I’ll miss Spanish tapas so I wanted make sure I check out the new Barrafina. The slick tapas bar follows the same style as the one in Soho; a long marble bar paired with red leather stools, with a great view to the open kitchen. The wait was minimal during this Easter weekend, we were seated within 20mins or so. 

Herb-crusted Sweetbreads with Tartare sauce
The lumps of sweetbread were coated by herbs before deep-frying, served on a bed of extra creamy tartare sauce. I liked the idea; thin crispy shell enveloping velvety richness. Problem was the smaller morsels were more cooked through than the larger pieces, and inevitably had a coarser texture. It didn’t become grainy though, just not as enjoyable and definitely not the same as Casa Malevo.

Jamon de Bellota 5 Jotas
One of the best things about Europe. I shall miss this.

Skate Wings
Skate wing is one of my favourite fish. The seemingly difficult and bony part of the fish is packed with melty, gelatinous collagen, the slithery flesh effortlessly falls off the bones by gently scrapping lengthwise. The thick portion of wing was perfectly cooked (which translates to marginally undercooked for me), mildly seasoned and lightly grilled to retained its succulence. The olive puree and capers on top was intense and balanced well with the white fish. It was very Barrafina.

Suckling Pig
The slab of suckling pig was beautifully roasted; the crispy skin shattered away as we sank the knife into the meat. The meat was delicate and milky, with a thin layer of lard under the skin that added some fragrant nuttiness. Just how suckling pig should be.

Braised Ox-Tongue, crushed potatoes
The braised ox tongue was tender but retained its chew and springiness from the tendons. The jus, though flavoursome and had the right consistency, lacked surprises. The potatoes were particularly fluffy and crumbled away with a soft poke from the fork, together with the skinny crostini, the ensemble worked well.

Quail Escabeche
The quail was roasted to a perfect medium and then basted in a syrupy glaze to finish. The bird itself was tender, but the gamey flavours were masked by the very sweet sauce with apricots and dates. Perhaps it’s because I don’t usually like fruits in savoury dish (except pineapples) but I felt the sweetness somewhat drowned the quail. Compared to the other dishes, I thought this was off-balanced and less precise.

Milk Fed Lamb’s Kidneys
They have cleared our plates and cutlery when we saw this arriving for our neighbours; it just looked too interesting. And I’m so glad we went for it. These were nothing like the ones we had at St John’s; the diced kidneys had a fatty and luscious mouthfeel, slowly dissolved as the strands of interwoven fat melted away. Come to think of it, the buttery richness wasn’t dissimilar to bone marrow, except this had more bounce and substance. And the charcoal smokiness from the charred edges just gave it its winning edge – my favourite of the meal.

Still one of my favourite tapas bars in London. In comparison to the Barrafina on Frith Street, this new one on Adelaide Street has a more adventurous menu in terms of ingredients. They have expanded its menu beyond the usual lamb chops and chicken thighs, delved into the daring land of offal and brains. Quite rightly so as both the lamb kidneys and sweetbread were excellent. I wasn’t brave enough to try the brain on this particular evening, perhaps if we have more wine flowing... No. Still no. If I get a chance, I’d come back for the oysters and Iberico pork ribs, half the kitchen team recommended them.

10 Adelaide Street
Covent Garden

No Reservation

Barrafina on Urbanspoon
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