Well, if Andrew Zimmern says so…

Today, Andrew Zimmern was in town filming for his web series Appetite for Life.  I’ll write more about that later, but I couldn’t wait to post this video.


Now when I get back to London, I’ll have to get better about keeping up with this blog (instead of keeping up with the Kardashians, which I’ve been doing a lot of lately.)

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Cooking curry

(Note: I promise ‘I is for…” will be soon, and it won’t be Indian. I’m stalling for time because I’m busy and poor and need to locate an Indonesian restaurant, unless something else pulls ahead- go vote!)

Indian food is hands-down my favorite food to cook. Actually, “hands-down” is a big commitment. It’s my favorite food to cook lately but that’s probably because no one has taught me how to make Ethiopian yet. It’s great because I can cook it on the stove, keep an eye on it constantly, play around with tons of spices, and, most importantly add basically as much garlic as I so please.

For my birthday, Pete got me a private cooking lesson. It was great because I had the chance to learn about all the spices and their effects and understand each part of the process to making delicious curries…and then eat them. One of the recipes I learned was a really versatile base for any type of curry. I like it best with lamb, but it could be done with many other things, or altered slightly to become a bunch of other types of curries. Without further ado, here’s a step by step process to that curry base.

You’ll need:

  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 dried red chilli
  • 5-8 black peppercorns
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 cardamom pod, split
  • 1 large cinnamon stick
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 medium red onions, chopped
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 3 (or 9…) cloves of garlic, grated
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cumin and coriander powder (which I think is a 60/40 ratio of cumin to coriander, but I don’t remember and just make it up as I go)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • magic paste (we’ll come to that)
  • 1 tsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp ketchup
  • 1 tsp jaggery (or sugar, but jaggery is delicous)
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • chopped cilantro to serve

First, marinate the meat (if you are using any.) Just mix it with:

  • about 2 tbsp plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
Leave it in the fridge for at least 12 hours (if you have the time, if not, it’s not the end of the world- this curry was delicious and the lambe was only marinated for about 15 minutes.) But, yogurt does make meat really tender.

Then make “magic paste.” Magic paste might be slightly over-named, as it consists of only two ingredients, but it’s definitely convenient. To make magic paste, just combine equal amounts of ginger and whole green chillies (snap the ends off) and blend them with an immersion blender. This paste is great because it can be added to curries at any stage to adjust the heat.

Heat up the oil and when it’s warm, add the ghee. Whole spices are always added at the beginning, so next add red chilli, peppercorns, cloves, cardamom, and cinnamon (or, this stuff called cassia bark which is much cheaper and tastes exactly the same.) Wait for it to sizzle (and don’t get splashed by hot oil.) Then add the cumin- test a few to make sure it spatters before putting it all in. Put a lid over it and wait about 10 seconds until the fizzing stops.

Next add the onions and gently fry them for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When the onions are golden brown, add the chopped tomatoes, crushed garlic, jaggery, salt, cumin and coriander powder, tumeric, magic paste, tomato puree, and ketchup. Cook this sauce for 10 minutes, stirring every three, on a low heat with the lid on.

Then the sauce should be ready for the meat, which will cook for about 45 minutes (if lamb or chicken on the bone, less if chicken breast) with the lid on. It may look too thick at this stage, but don’t add water for at least 15 minutes, as the meat will release some water and you don’t want to end up with a watery curry. Add water if it’s too thick, take the lid off if it’s too thin…just play around.

And that’s it! Pete loooooves this one. I’m starting to wonder who’s benefiting more from this birthday gift…


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Sushi feast!

Continue reading

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Trying something new…

Tasting smoked 'omul,' a fish native to Siberia's Lake Baikal.

Because it’s unfeasible to eat out everyday (I’m poor and believe it or not, busy), I’ve been thinking of ways to be able to update this blog more regularly, I’m going to start adding some non-restaurant review, but still relevant, posts. I eat way too much and too often to let these things go to waste…

Pete and I cook quite a bit at home, and because I’m drawn to recipes with 3,920,382,920 ingredients (admittedly neither cost-effective nor time-efficient), we cook food that might fall under the “ethnic” theme of this blog (which only sometimes works out.) Sometime it’s awesome though, and those meals might be worth documenting.

Ok well, last night we had a decidedly British meal of lamb, roasted potatoes, carrots, but…go with me on this one.

So in an effort to try new recipes in addition to new restaurants/cuisines, I’ll start trying to post some other stuff on this site. The definition of “stuff” is, of course, to be determined.

Meanwhile, I’ll try to be more diligent about my ethnic restaurant escapades and schedule what looks like will be an Indonesian meal (though voting is still open! scroll down a few posts and help decide where we’ll eat for ‘I’)

Stay tuned for some pictures of recent at-home sushi and Indian feasts. Not at the same time of course, but I for one wouldn’t object.

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EATabetical on What’s This Food!

Check out July 10th’s episode of WTF (What’s This Food)

Big thanks to Daniel Delaney for spreading the word!

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Next up…’I’!

Here’s what I’m thinking. You decide:

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H is for Hungarian: The Gay Hussar

“Don’t worry, we are so happy to have you here, Miss Stephanie.”

This is how I was greeted by the manager of the Gay Hussar when I strolled in- and I don’t want a any pity after this next comment- alone. (I couldn’t muster up much excitement over Hungarian food, a couple friends canceled, and Pete came down with the man flu.) Frankly, I think it’s a good trait to have to be able to dine alone and I quite enjoy it. But this was the last day of a 50% off special, and I also appreciate a good deal.

I thought the reason the manager was so kind to me was because I had emailed asking if I could have an entree from the main menu even though it wasn’t on the reduced menu, because a Hungarian colleague of mine had recommended it. To be more persuasive, I said it was for a blog. He clearly didn’t click my link or he would have realized I have like 3 posts, 2 subscribers, and that he shouldn’t waste his time honoring my request. I soon noticed he treated everyone in the restaurant with this same enthusiasm.

Turns out, you notice much more while you’re eating alone. The Gay Hussar is a London establishment, famous for the notable English politicians and journalists for over 50 years, whose faces are immortalized in caricatures that line the walls.

What was funnier than the caricatures was the fact that the diners at two of the three tables facing that wall were seated on the same side of the table, despite there only being two of them, as if to stare and enjoy the caricatures during the whole meal. I really should fine-tune my knowledge and appreciation of UK political figures. I think I seriously lowered the average age in the room. And income.

For the 50% offer, there was a reduced menu, though the selection was still good. Unfortunately though, the blogger in me impulsively chose “chilled cherry soup” since the point of this, I think, is to try new, unfamiliar things. I can’t say I was a big fan of the yogurt based, cherry soup. There was a slight medicinal taste to it, but I think I just associate cherries with medicine for some reason. The portion was ample, and I managed half of it before the manager came over to ask if I wanted to try anything else (presumably, on the house.) I told him it was lovely, to which he confusedly replied, “But…you’re finished?” and took it away.

As I was waiting for my entree, the dining room filled up. A group of four were turned away. Then, another lone diner like me entered. He too was turned away, when the couple next to me invited him to join them. The manager didn’t allow this, to which the woman next to me- approximately 18 inches to the right of me on the same booth- said, “Oh, but I just haaaaaate to see people alone.”

Soon, my hortobagyi palacsinta (pancakes, filled with chicken, but I probably should have ordered them filled with the veal) arrived. Hearty and served with perfectly sauteed spinach and rice, I couldn’t finish them all, though I tried. As I photographed my pancakes (with my iPhone because I’m an idiot and forgot my camera), my neighbor struck up a conversation with me:

her: “Good, I won’t be the only one who takes pictures of my food.”

me, mumbling: “Oh…I have a blog.” WHY did I play the blog card…again!? I let her alone comment get to me!

her: “I DO TOO.” Then she asked me for my blog’s business card.

Here I learned everything was a contest (and that I have inherited a very serious eavesdropping problem from my mother.) I should have known from when she took a long pause to confirm her (not-fizzy) wine choice, declaring it “effervescent on the tongue…it just tastes like…happy.” Or when she kept referring to the “goose and pork pate” as foie gras.

I should have sat silently and enjoyed my solo-dinner, but I played her game and found it necessary to prove that I, too, am informed.  She told me about her favorite, insider Japanese place; I told her I’m shopping at my favorite, insider Japanese fishmonger for homemade sushi on Saturday. She usually likes to go to Billingsgate, the 5am fish market; I already have plans to go next weekend. She thinks I should eat Swedish for ‘S’; I live around the corner from a place with a crayfish party. But she lost her credibility when she complained about lukewarm white wine at a Jamaican restaurant. Are Jamaican’s know for their vineyards?

However, her pate looked far more delicious than my cherry soup.


The Gay Hussar

2 Greek Street, W1D 4ND (nearest tube: Tottenham Court Road.)

two course meal for one, without promotion or drinks: around £25

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