Hash House, San Diego

HI! How are you? I’ve missed you!
I’ve seen you checking and checking and to your dismay, there hasn’t been a peep out of me in months. It wasn’t intentional, I assure you. I had a little fight with WordPress, but after a bit of a battle, I won. And here I am!

I have quite a bit to catch up on, so I thought it best for us to go to brunch: a meal of savoury and sweet delights specifically created for a leisurely waffle, both verbally and edibly.

Let’s try Hash House A Go Go. They started in San Diego back in 2000, and after great success, decided to take their “twisted farm food” and excessive portions across the US, ensuring doctor’s appointments for all. But, if you grab a group of hungry friends and promise not to over order, a veritable feast is sure to be had.
P1040770Here, have a look at the menu, what should we share? P1040756 Sage fried chicken Benedict with split biscuit, fresh tomato, spinach, bacon, mozzarella, chipotle cream, scrambled eggs and mashed potatoes? Are you sure? Seems a little excessive, but… IMG_0592 Oh. my. Benedict. What have we done? P1040761 This monstrosity along with everything else on the menu, should come with a warning. Don’t worry! That little wedge of fresh fruit will counteract any damage this edible mountain inflicts upon its consumer.

You want something sweet? Now I can’t argue with that notion, but after this? Maybe there’s something reasonable we could sugar up on.
P1040757This, my friend, is possibly the most decadent trap of a flapjack and waffle menu I have ever seen. Snickers pancakes, you insist?
P1040765 Sold. P1040767Cue the food coma and slow creep of remorse that blankets your immobile body only when tempted by delectable options of vast food items. Having pried ourselves from the table, we made our way to the ocean, ready to join a passing pod of humpbacks.P1000188With no signs of our massive, blubbery friends, we walked along the coast instead. P1000192 P1000199 P1000204If you’re in San Diego and have an obscene appetite, give Hash House A Go Go a go…
They’ve branched out at an alarming rate, so check out their site as there could be a bountiful brunch near you.

It’s good to be back. Consider the following posts as a succession of throwback Thursdays that fall on any given day of the week, and I look forward to catching up with you soon!

Le Bab

Have you ever wondered what comes next after the gourmet burger, gourmet hot dog, and dare I say it, the gourmet taco?
Wonder no more food loving friends, next to be perched upon the tiny, edible pedestal is the much-loved kebab.
Le Bab, a compact, new kebab restaurant has already been painfully popular sitting pretty atop Kingly Court.

Rid your mind of the dirty, late night, grease-fuelled indulgence sloppily shaved from a medieval contraption, used to absorb one too many shots of Russia’s finest export. But before we delve down the path of midnight mistakes, I’ll give you a little injection of culture with some of London’s most handsome structures.  IMG_4526After giving a talk at the University I once attended, I found myself exceptionally early for my dinner date. Rather than jump on the tube, I opted for a wintery stroll. This lead to a lengthy trip across the city, reigniting the ever flickering flame in the depths of my soul for this exceptional city. IMG_4471But you’re not here for the cityscape, you’re here for the bab boys that are having foodies’ feeds all aflutter. We’ve got another example of fine dining going rogue following Le Bab owners’ Michelin-starred stint at Le Gavroche. Having survived the latest wave of junk food gone gourmet, they took their interest for the history of the kebab, sprinkled a little experience, and have taken the restaurant plunge. IMG_4474With a charmingly small menu, broken up by beginnings, babs, sides and dessert, you can’t really go wrong. I must insist, however, you try the achingly trendy savoury doughnuts stuffed with spiced chicken liver parfait.  IMG_4476As seen on instagram @Alessandra_LDNIMG_4493And the best kind of falafel: one stuffed stuffed with tender lamb meat and deliciously seasoned. IMG_4481IMG_4483Ready for the main event, a rustic flat bread arrived topped with gourmet fixings. IMG_4485We went for the corn fed chicken shish, served with squash hummus, seasonal pickles, chicken crackling and Turkish hot pepper paste.
Do you see what I mean? Not your average bab. IMG_4490The flavours were incredible and level of guilt shockingly low. IMG_4498Despite the naughty side of chips served with a cheesy fondue sauce, which the lovely Jaia willingly helped me destroy. IMG_4497Next time you’re ready to cause some daylight damage with an edible indulgence, seek out Le Bab and give in to your delicious desires.

Taste of London Winter 2015

Nothing gets me in the Christmas spirit more than an afternoon of great music, buzzing atmosphere and festive feasting. This year, Tobacco Dock played host to another round of Taste of London Winter (can we please go back to calling it Taste of Christmas?). The halls were decked with tinsel, Christmas trees lined railings, lights and decorations hung from the rafters, and it was characteristically freezing – an element I would’ve happily sacrificed. Nevertheless, we bundled up and soldiered on, fuelling ourselves on this year’s gastronomic fare.
Taste of London Winter 2015 Taste of London Winter 2015The Truscott Arms started the afternoon on a delicious note with several winter warming dishes.
Taste of London Winter 2015This take on colcannon was filled with creamy ragstone and topped with basil oil and fried kale – an edible hug in a bowl.
Taste of London Winter 2015Moreish bites of crispy pig’s head were served with a sweet apple puree. The meat was really flavourful and paired perfectly with the tart contrast of the applesauce, bites I could happily replace popcorn with whilst watching a film.
Taste of London Winter 2015 Their icon dish was the most tender piece of beef cheek, served swimming in a pool of smoked mash, topped with crispy shallots. Taste of London Winter 2015 Over at The Bandstand, some really talented bands kept the vibe cool as we wiggled our way around the stalls. Taste of London Winter 2015 Taste of London Winter 2015The Laurent-Perrier Champagne Room was stunningly decorated and filled with minglers slowly sipping their bubbles before braving the cold again.
Taste of London Winter 2015Over at The Fire Pit, Mike Lecouteur from Mews of Mayfair was barbecuing meat fit for a monster, alongside a creamy bowl of lobster macaroni and cheese. Taste of London Winter 2015 Taste of London Winter 2015 Gordon Ramsey’s Maze played ring around the Big Green Egg, with a wrapping queue of BBQ fiends eager to get their paws on slow cooked BBQ pulled beef on a brisket bun. Taste of London Winter 2015The perfect combination of sweet and tangy of BBQ sauce and tender beef rested on a fluffy bun ready for a bite, after removing the pickle, of course…
Taste of London Winter 2015 Kurobuta served their famous BBQ pork belly buns with spicy peanut soy sauce, one of my favourite flavour combinations, despite the cold weather getting the best of the chilly bun.

Awesome charity Action Against Hunger teamed up with five star chefs to create 5* kebabs.Taste of London Winter 2015We opted for Francesco Mazzei’s spicy veal meatballs with Grana Padano and salted padron peppers.  Taste of London Winter 2015 Having experienced a feast fit for a queen, it was time I took my place on the throne… Taste of London Winter 2015 I think it rather suits me, don’t you? Winter is coming… and so is hibernation at this rate. Taste of London Winter 2015 The HBO stall even had a gingerbread scale of King’s Landing! I considered attempting my own form of attack by taking out the towers and eating them one by one… but resigned to a hunt for less destructive dessert.
Taste of London Winter 2015

Glistening in the glow of winter light, Club Gascon was serving some winter-themed treats.Taste of London Winter 2015 Taste of London Winter 2015We went for the oversized black forest macaron, filled with brandy soaked cherries, dark chocolate mousse and chestnut cream.
Taste of London Winter 2015 We watched, mesmerised, as Pan-N-Ice chopped, slathered and rolled ice cream into rolls. Taste of London Winter 2015 Taste of London Winter 2015 This Thai-style method was enticing, but I was too cold to even consider a frozen treat. Taste of London Winter 2015 Sari Cakes hand-decorates each fruit cake inspired by ancient henna creations.
Taste of London Winter 2015 Vicetti’s homemade tarts were beautifully presented, with great flavour combinations. Taste of London Winter 2015The much loved Meringue Girls hosted Saturday’s dessert bar, but were sold out of the good stuff hours before closing. I really wanted a Nutella Cookiemuff topped with vanilla ice cream and salted hazelnut honeycomb crumble, ya know? Taste of London Winter 2015Instead, we waddled our way back to Maze for fried doughnuts swimming in a beautifully tart clementine curd.
Taste of London Winter 2015Taste of London still sits firmly atop my event list. This year saw the least amount of restaurants, but the venue looked beautiful, food was all delicious, atmosphere was amazing, and overall I’d have to give it an A… ^ get it?

I can’t wait to see who turns up to Taste of London 2016! Who’s ready for Christmas?

Bao

You’re hungry.
You want copious amount of food that will comfort your stomach, ease your mind and soothe your soul.
I hear you’re dealing with a tube strike in London (I’m on a beach in California, not sorry), so now, more than ever, you need an edible hug.

Take yourself to Soho, get your bum on a seat at Bao – thank me later.
(You can do this via twitter, instagram, or carrier pidgeon – should they be able to make the cross-Atlantic, cross-country trip to my beach-lounging bodyBaoThis could be you right now ^
This is also what I looked like a few weeks ago – on a Saturday afternoon, after being at the front of the queue, ready to consume some Taiwanese deliciousness.
Yes, there’s usually a queue. BaoI’ll let you have a perusal, mentally make your order before you view the influx of food porn.
BaoWe started with some 10-year aged, coal baked oolong tea. A very civilised accompaniment for the savagery that was to ensue.
BaoThen it became a free-for-all. Taiwanese fried chicken with hot sauce kicked off the feast with a lovely crunch and welcome spiciness. Bao Trotter nuggets are worthy of a foot fetish – tender fried pork ready to be dunked in a fiery chilli sauce. BaoWhether or not you can take the heat, a sip of iced peanut milk is a palate pleasing refresher.

Prepare to BAO DOWN BITCHES. BaoLamb shoulder bao is incredibly tender, with a citrusy sauce and bites of jalapeño. Bao Confit pork bao was ever the winner with a sweet, sticky sauce and delightful crunch of fried pork scratchings. BaoAnd fried chicken bao, with sichuan mayo and golden kimchi.
Bao This is a threesome you want to be involved with. BaoThis dish is the thing food porn dreams are made of.
Pig blood cake is a Taiwanese take on black pudding, topped with a charming looking orb of egg yolk – ready to be satisfyingly burst, causing an attractive ooze of golden yolk.
Bao Bao *Angels sing*BaoThis, my now starving friend, is 40 day rump cap with aged white soy sauce. Tender beautiful bites of meat that truly melt in your mouth – worthy of ordering twice should your dining partner be skilled with their chopsticks. BaoObligatory order of sweet potato chips with plum pickle salt – as I can never deny my mouth the sweet taste of this confused tuber.
Bao Guinea fowl Chi Shiang rice is a bowl of comfort. Again, hope for the downfall of your dining partner’s chopstick skill.

Should you still have the ability to move, let alone consume something sweet, vacate this daring little joint and head for Crosstown Doughnut’s new Soho spot. Bao Given your travel predicament, order them all, share with stranded Londoners, and maybe moan slightly less about your four hour journey home given your sugar high state.Bao BaoHowever you choose to deal with London’s lovely shut down, be sure to make your way to Bao… and tell me all a-BAO-t it.

HOTBOX

I’ve already told you, I’m not cool enough for East London.

It feels a bit like visiting that edgy exhibition that pushes boundaries, makes you question the uncomfortable, and leaves you feeling a bit twitchy behind the rope to either touch, photograph or stare what is inexplicably defined as art.
This is how I feel as soon as I cross central, emerging into the depths of the über trendy, often strange realm of what is East.

The thing is, these cool kids are knocking out some damn good food – and to my delight, they tend to be cooking up something wickedly naughty. Cue HOTBOX.

This isn’t new. In fact, if you’re a clever cookie, you’ve already been tempted by the foodporn and made your way to Spitalfields for a feast of epic proportion. This is what I did, and forgot to tell you about it. I’m sorry, I’ve been busy! Don’t give me that look, you’ve had your fair share of foodporn via my Instagram & Twitter @Alessandra_LDN… so no complaining.

HOTBOXHere’s your menu, have a little browse and try to control yourself for the cravings to come. Maybe you can even guess what I’ve ordered… although, unfortunately, it wasn’t one of everything. After serious debate, reasoning and compromise, we made our choice. HOTBOXThis particular brunch managed to tick all my brunch boxes: savoury, sweet, filthy, indulgent, and naughty, with a side of comfort.
HOTBOX

We started with a special that sounded too tempting to pass up: slow-cooked beef brisket sandwiched between sweet brioche buns, topped with homemade coleslaw and pickles. HOTBOX

Accompanied by a skillet of creamy mac & cheese, with a perfectly crispy, crunchy top. HOTBOX Beef rib tacos with crispy shallot, rocket, chipotle mayo and chimichurri – good enough for me to admit they satisfied my Mexican food standards. Ay yi yi, I could’ve eaten this all over again. HOTBOXHOTBOX HOTBOX

Last to compete for foodporn glory, the chicken and Belgian waffle. A fried chicken thigh with truffle salt atop a fluffy Belgian waffle, begging to be drizzled with maple syrup. HOTBOXThe action shot of your foodporn fantasies.
HOTBOXThat’s a pretty attractive lineup, if you ask me.

The servers are lovely, and the atmosphere lively, with the extreme comfort food even influencing a few diners to break out in song. Crawl there hungry on a Sunday morning, and I promise your every indulgent desire will be met.

Afterwards, wander around the streets to walk off your aching stomach and admire the aforementioned art: perplexing fashion, captivating street art and stylish shops selling something hip in a vast amount of space, mocking the extortionate rent prices elsewhere.
HOTBOX If you’re in the area, be sure to check out Mast Brothers.
These Brooklyn brothers are artisan chocolate makers, with a factory flagship located in Shoreditch. HOTBOXHOTBOX Tour their chocolate factory, sip special hot chocolate and make sure to pick up some pretty-papered bars as a gift for a friend or sweet treat when you finally come down off your brunch high. The goat milk chocolate bar was a personal favourite, and I’ve been a particularly good friend lately…

The Tommy Tucker

I’m not a pub kinda girl.
I know it’s terribly un-English of me to not yearn for weekend roasts and post-work pints in the sticky sweet atmosphere overflowing with chattering murmur, interrupted by outbursts of laughter and clinking glasses. And yes, I know it’s terribly un-American to not be enchanted by the familiar interiors, charming quirks and stories told by that local who can always be found perched upon his post. But, the environment aside, it is unsurprisingly, all about the food. The sad, repetitive menus listing average dishes are no less comforting to me than a lukewarm bubble bath.

But, what about the rise of the gastropub! you shout at me through your screen, shaking with rage behind your mug of tea – which is fair enough, as I might as well have insulted HM The Queen, given the importance of this fine English institution.  

Now that I’ve finished shuddering at your use of the term ‘gastropub’, I will reluctantly agree that yes, the incessant turnaround of rundown pubs being seized by culinary crews and reborn with fresh licks of paint, creative interiors and friendly front of house have undeniably improved these tedious establishments. It’s not often, however, that the food shines through with creativity, elevation or elegance.

Well Londoners, I’ve found one.
A pub that aims to please, The Tommy Tucker has set up shop in the side streets of Fulham. Here, the perfect mix of rustic charm and culinary finesse is headed up by the band of boys behind Parsons Green sweetheart, Claude’s Kitchen. Tommy Tucker I’m sure you’ve heard of this much-loved local by now, as every West Londoner has been singing its praises. I decided to swallow my preconceived disdain, and skipped down to meet the lovely Seb and Jaia for supper. The Tommy TuckerThe menu is divided into meat, fish, fruit & veg, and on the side. Each dish is accompanied by a selection of thoughtful ingredients, including pickled beetroot, mushroom ketchup, lavender jus, Jerusalem artichokes and salsa verde, all of which make foodie me tingle. The Tommy TuckerTo start, I went for an obligatory order of pickled pumpkin and goats curd with winter herbs and spices. The pumpkin is crunchy with a sweet sharpness, perfectly paired with subtle flavouring from the goats curd.The Tommy TuckerThe Tommy TuckerMy dates went for girolle mushrooms on grilled sourdough with watercress and shaved Berkswell cheese. The Tommy TuckerAnd scallops with chorizo, radishes and its leaves, both of which were delicious, and prompt me to recommend you order all the starters to share between the table, as this left me greedily wanting to try them all.

Ready for more, our mains were served with a side of congeniality, present across all the staff here. The Tommy TuckerMy smoked beef short-rib was served with arrocina ‘baked beans’ and black olives, topped with salsa verde. The Tommy TuckerThe meat was so tender it was falling off the bone, and was lifted by the acidity of the salsa verde and olive.The Tommy TuckerJ went for ‘Rub-a-Dub’ Burger with smoked mayo and pickled vegetables, which somehow managed to look attractive with its pretty playmates of tart veg. The Tommy TuckerSeb completed our proper meaty feast with an order of pork chop served with charred hispi, bacon and apples. The Tommy TuckerOur bit on the side was several orders of deliciously moreish chips and a tad overly sweetened sweet potato mash. The Tommy Tucker Wander downstairs to the loos and find the namesake’s nursery rhyme. Be sure to also check out the ‘Tuck Shop’, a temperature controlled jewel box of fine wines painstakingly tried and tasted one sip at a time. The Tommy Tucker Because all good things end with pudding, (my new saying), we decided to check out the sweet treats. The Tommy TuckerAn adult version of choc ice is served with raisin and rum infused ice cream is sure to bring back wicked memories of childhood misbehaviour. The Tommy TuckerThis is far to difficult to eat in a civilised manner with a fork and spoon, so I advise you pick it up with your fingers and go for it. Offer any horrified neighbours a bite and I’m sure they’ll understand, or ignore their judgemental looks as they sound completely dull anyways. Be sure to dip in the accompanying salted caramel cream, almonds and their milk. The Tommy TuckerThe Cox apple and quince crispy pie is served with cinnamon and milk ice cream. This underwhelming title does not do the delicate dessert justice. I mean just look at it – it deserves more than its three-lettered moniker. I have decidedly renamed it ‘apple parcel of love’. This is accompanied by a spicy crumble, which everyone seems to enjoy. My batch was a little heavy on the cumin, so I happily scooted it to the side and focused on the pastry parcel. The Tommy Tucker The Tommy Tucker Poached red plums with spiced rye crumble, lemon posset and lemon curd is like a work of art. I love the vibrant colouring of the lemon and wintery vibes of the poached plums, but will be ordering mine without the crumble next time.

By now we were at the heavy breathing stage, the giddy state of overfed and sugar high, basking in the candlelight and buzzing atmosphere. The Tommy TuckerSomeone in the kitchen happened to know I have a particular fondness for the salted caramel cream and naughtily sent us a plate piled high with the sugary cloud decadent  dreams are made of. We tenderly spooned several bites before surrendering.

The Tommy Tucker is deservedly becoming the adored local it so effortlessly emulates. They have a killer cocktail list pleasing the new generation of pub-goers who no longer search solely for beer stained nights, and a menu more than worthy of setting foot in a pub! Check out @TheTommyTucker and let me know what you think @Alessandra_LDN 

Washington DC: Iron Gate

Pinch and a punch for the first of the month!
I have a restaurant to tell you about – but, it will definitely leave you with a growling tummy. Snack advisory** retrieve nourishment now!

Tucked away in downtown DC lies an evening of epicurean delight.
Iron Gate DC We entered Iron Gate through the glowing entrance of the bar, a long corridor with high ceilings, which was once a carriageway.

Iron Gate DC

This leads to an outdoor patio, with twinkling lights, roaring fires and a charming living wall, perfect for a summer’s eve under the stars.

Iron Gate DC This, however, was the dead of winter, so we continued on into the restaurant and happily took our seats next to a cosy fireplace.

Iron GateAfter defrosting slightly, we took in our surroundings of a reconverted classic, initially serving as stables in 1875. Having played host to a number of venues, purposes and people, the restaurant was most recently reopened by the Neighbourhood Restaurant Group in 2013. With Exec Chef Anthony Chittum behind the pass, a menu of mid-atlantic ingredients is prepared with influence from Southern Italian and Greek cuisine.Iron Gate

Here, the kitchen buzzes, topped with pickled treats and various, colourful ingredients. Iron GateThe ambiance was dark, but lively, with a happy murmur of friends catching up, dates getting to know one another and diners cutlery clinking away as they got stuck in. Iron Gate With a grumbling stomach, and one of my favourite dates (my Mama), we plumped for the tasting menu, each of us ordering a different dish so we could taste them all.
Iron GateThis began with a ‘taste’ of seasonal sharing plates.

Iron GateThis should really be referred to as ‘miniature feast’, as a collection of small plates arrived, decorating the table with pickled vegetables, fried Jerusalem artichokes, cheesy bread topped with fried onions, heritage carrots, roasted cauliflower and more.

Iron Gate DC

Iron GateIron Gate Iron Gate Iron Gate Iron Gate Iron Gate Iron Gate Iron Gate Iron Gate Iron GateThe plates were seemingly endless, a delicious introduction of the dishes to come.
The next section of the menu was inspired by the garden, starting with kuru squash tortellini with brown butter, almond cookies and vin cotton.
Iron GateThe other garden dish was a warm beet composition with sesame feta, roasted treviso and pistachio.
Iron GateWater was the next influence, with a seared tuna crudo served with pomegranate, baby fennel and horseradish providing a refreshing taste of the sea.
Iron Gate This was accompanied by a cauliflower soup, with Maine lobster and curry froth. This was a tasty, hearty dish – but, and you’ll probably never hear these words from my lips again, didn’t actually need the lobster. The soup was great on its own, and the tender chunks of shellfish were lost amongst the comforting cauliflower flavour.  Iron Gate For our mains, inspired by the pasture, we shared veal sweetbreads with local carrots, hazelnut and agro dolce. Iron Gate An incredibly heart portion, but great flavours! Iron GateFollowed by grilled Berkshire pork belly with charred onion, potato fritter and dippy egg. Iron GateThe pork belly was beautifully tender and dippy egg made a nice addition, both visually and flavour-wise.
Iron GateHaving stuffed ourselves to the brim, we relaxed by the frequently stoked fire, sipping tea and Irish coffee over conversation.
Iron GateEventually ready to further our gluttony, we enjoyed Tumbleweed 5 Spoke Creamery Cheese with semolina crostini, honey crispy apple topped with local honey.
Iron GateBefore finishing with dessert of apple strudel with kiln-dried cherries and pumpkin ice cream.
Iron Gate And chocolate wanna cotta with winter citrus and toasted pistachios. Iron Gate

Sweet, honey flavoured Greek donuts, known as loukomades, were a welcome, final temptation, finishing off the sweet ending to our meal. 
Iron Gate

Iron Gate boasts a cosy atmosphere, with phenomenal, friendly service, and a menu of interesting, well executed dishes. I highly recommend a visit if you’re in the area, but be sure to book, as we’re not the only ones that enjoyed it!

Washington DC: Sushi Taro

This Christmas I had the brilliant idea of changing things up a bit. It seems as if I struggle each year to come up with a wish list as D-Day nears. Rather than request unnecessary ‘things’, I thought we could each choose a restaurant and host a foodie Christmas for three. First up was Sushi Taro, a longtime neighbourhood local go-to for Japanese food in downtown DC. Sushi Taro We opted for the Traditional Kaiseki menu – meaning a multi course Japanese dinner. Japanese cuisine purists look away now, as owner Nobu Yamazaki, who took over the restaurant from his father, has attempted to change things up a bit in terms of modern flair.Sushi Taro The evening started off with a sip of Champagne with yuzu and chrysanthemum. I kindly donated mine, but it looked beautiful and smelled citrusy.Sushi Taro This was followed by their signature dish, sesame tofu with urchin and wasabi, a thing of textural wonder. Each bite was soft, gummy and tender with a subtle, but spicy kick.Sushi Taro Isn’t this bowl beautiful? Every plate was so attractive that I considered finding a way to slip them into my bag. Don’t worry Sushi Taro, all your dish-ware are safely where they should be. (or are they?)
Yes. Yes, they definitely are. Sushi Taro Next was a long, zigzagged plate of perfectly cooked scallops with pickled mushrooms and egg sauce.  Sushi TaroFollowed by a little red pot, which revealed Spanish mackerel, kasu-jiru sake lees soup. Sushi Taro Fine cuts of yellowtail and tuna arrived with another enviable object. How cute is that soy sauce pot? Sushi Taro Sushi TaroA generous portion of sweetened miso marinated louvar fish was accompanied by a delicate monkfish liver fish mousse. I really enjoyed this, it was sweet and meaty, and just look at that plate! Sushi Taro Sushi Taro Fish & chips and ‘renkon’ dog was the only course I didn’t enjoy. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t good, and the fried batter was too heavy this far into the meal. Sushi TaroNext to arrive was a selection of nigiri, including unagi, tamago yaki, raw scallop, octopus and salmon roe.  Sushi TaroSushi Taro Sushi TaroSushi TaroAnd a soft shell crab roll. All of which was delicious, but by now, we were sufficiently stuffed. The arrival of our final course brought on mixed emotions. A steaming, flaming, beautifully presented cast iron bowl of sukiyaki was placed in front of each of us. Within this bubbling cauldron of love, was fleshy chunks of tofu, tender onions and several types of Japanese mushroom.
Sushi Taro

I could’ve cried.
I was Christmas feast full. The kind of full where you’re not sure whether or not you’re going to be sick, explode or fall peacefully into a food coma. And yet, here sat this steaming bowl of deliciousness.
Sushi TaroTo make matters worse, or obviously better, slices of Australian kobe beef, a poached egg and udon noodles were served on the side to be dunked into the Japanese stew. Sushi Taro Sushi Taro Sushi Taro Sushi Taro

Fear not my fellow foodies, I persevered. I dunked that beef into my sukiyaki and slurped a big mouthful of noodles.

Sushi TaroSushi TaroAnd then I surrendered. This is the face of food failure. Happy to be filled with such good food, but behind those eyes lie disappointment in my inability to complete the final course. Sushi TaroDespite any level of fullness, there is always room in my dessert stomach. You know, the second stomach that is reserved for all sweet treats. Unfortunately, none of which were particularly worthy of further stuffing myself with. There was a coffee roll cake.
Sushi TaroA Hoji-cha pudding. Sushi TaroAnd although not amazing, my favourite of the three, matcha brûlée.

Sushi Taro is definitely worth a visit if you’re in Washington DC. Maybe give the desserts a miss, but the tasting menu is reasonably priced and the perfect option to try different styles of cooking. We truly enjoyed the entire experience and I would happily fulfil my Japanese cravings here again.

Now, before you scurry off to the kitchen for something to snack on, I’ll leave you with some wise words.
What did the sushi say to the bee?
………..

Wasabi!

INK Restaurant

I have an ever growing lust list of food porn I yearn to try. I scroll through imagery, read through posts and dream of tasting decadent descriptions of dishes created by Chefs around the world. When stumbling upon photography of the food at INK, my heart (stomach?) skipped a beat. Finding that the gallery containing such works was located in my city, a rare occurrence in my international searches, was a flashing beacon, a sign.

I immediately rang up and begged for a reservation to celebrate a birthday in less than 48 hours, requesting the 72 hour menu. Despite my nightmarish request, they were not only charming on the other end of the phone, they were accommodating of my booking. You see, the 72 hour menu is named this as it is created and devised 72 hours in advance. After listing any dietary requirements, Chef Martyn Meid creates a personal journey of 7 courses specially for you and your dining partner.

Beginning the drive from West to East London in the dark, pouring rain with steaming windows, traffic jams and near misses with careless drivers, we might as well have been traveling to a foreign country. Finally arriving at the remote streets of Bethnal Green, we began our hunt for the restaurant, continuing our adventure. With a little guidance, literally, by Chef himself on the phone, we found it. We rushed inside out of the cold, to a spacious, minimalist room. Our lovely host of the evening, whom I believe to be the manager, sat us at our table directly next to the open kitchen. Chef was only a few feet away and would soon spend the evening bringing us dishes back and forth from the pass.

Ink RestaurantTo begin our 7 course journey, we were brought an amuse bouche of trout caviar on rye bread with yoghurt, the first nod towards Nordic influence. Ink RestaurantOur first dish was perfectly cooked scallops with peach puree, burnt onion and pork crackling. A simple but complimentary combination of sweet and savoury.

Ink RestaurantThis was followed by cured venison with beetroot textures and cranberries. The meaty chunks of beetroot almost make the pieces of beautifully cured venison seem lighter and sweeter than the vegetable itself.
Ink RestaurantA large white plate played canvas to an attractive dish of mackerel with cucumber textures and volcanic ash. Each bite was pleasingly cool, sour, sweet and smoky. A perplexing combination that left me wanting more.

Ink Restaurant Ink RestaurantThis was followed by perfectly cooked trout with burnt rye topping, trout caviar, yoghurt and ash. A welcome bite of warmth with a continued theme of subtlety in flavouring. Ink Restaurant We looked on as Chef Meid continued his creations. Ink Restaurant Ink Restaurant

Our final dish of our savoury trip was a tender, slow cooked pork belly with butter cabbage, luscious mashed potatoes and oyster jus. A bowl of the mashed potato would have kept me happy, but the meat fell apart, with the salty jus making it even more succulent.

Ink RestaurantInk RestaurantOur final taste of INK was a darling bowl with two portions of raw, salted chocolate. This was rich, creamy and decadent, leaving me literally asking for more. I even challenged them, saying I could eat a cereal bowl sized portion, to which they both denied. The next time they consider attempting this, I’ve secured an invite.
Ink RestaurantINK is definitely a hike to get to, but more than worth making the trip. The creations that come out of Chef Martyn’s kitchen are simple, stunning and delicious. This is the perfect spot for a romantic date for true foodies.

If you give it a visit, tag me in your pictures @Alessandra_LDN and tell me what you think in the comments below.

London Daze

As the harsh a’s, slipped like’s and occasional misuse of the term fanny are detected laced throughout my conversation, I’m often asked, “Where are you from?”
America is assumed. They probe deeper, faces lighting as California rolls off my tongue. The story of that time they visited LA during their gap year quivers at the ready, before furrowed eyebrows and sinking corners of the mouth interject. “Then, what are you doing here?!” is almost bellowed at me as their eyes bulge a little in their bewildered sockets.
I tend to insert a nervous giggle here, to diffuse the tension and prepare my defence. But, I shouldn’t bloody have to! Yes, California is full of beautiful beaches, gleaming rays of sunshine and people with sparkling, white smiles – and London, is full of crowded streets, grey, cloud littered skies and questionable grimaces on the pale faces of commuters… but there’s so much more to it!
It’s a European metropolis of diverse culture, epicurean delights and endless activity. It’s truly one of my favourite cities in the world and I’m reminded all the time of how lucky I am to live in such a cool place. For those of you that do not live in London and even for those that do, I love getting to share my adventures around this sweet city with you. So snuggle up, grab a cup of tea and maybe even a snack. It’s time I catch you up on my latest escapades.

London Daze

This particular Sunday started as most should: with brunch. There are few things as perfect and decadent as baked eggs to start your day. These from Eelbrook are served with yoghurt, harissa and grilled flatbread for a deliciously Middle Eastern touch.
London DazeWhen the weather is nice, or at least when the skies aren’t threatening imminent rain, the best way to get around is to walk. This way you always encounter things you may never have expected to find.
London DazeChristopher was rather taken with this model in the window. Quite a striking resemblance, don’t you think?  London Daze Speaking of models in the window, no stroll through Knightsbridge is complete without a little window shopping at Ferrari Atelier.London Daze And the predictable Rolls spotting, complimented by a casually purple Bentley.
London Daze If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll have hopefully already laughed along with me at this. Scroll up again and tell me you don’t at least let out a giggle. Someone took the time to ensure that ended up on a card. Brilliant. London Daze Somerset House is always stunningly decorated this time of year, complete with an ice skating rink and Fortnum & Mason Christmas tree. London Daze Do you think there are treats inside the hampers? I definitely should’ve checked.
I didn’t get a chance to ice skate this year, but you should try and go. Whether or not you’re a seasoned pro, it’s so much fun in such a Christmassy atmosphere. Hopefully there will be no one like me around, overcome with uncontrollable giggles at anyone that hits the ice.

London Daze

King’s Road had a visiting reindeer to help get everyone in the Christmas spirit. Although he was fuzzy and adorable, I wanted nothing more but to send him back where he came from so he could frolic freely with his friends, rather than being flashed at by a bunch of posh cameras and grabby kids’ hands.

London DazeOn Saturdays, Duke of York Square turns into a mélange of marquees. The piazza is transformed into an international melting pot of stands selling delicious smelling dishes from all over the world. With an insatiable craving for Mexican food, I scurried over to the grill where Tamales UK were cooking up pork pibil tacos and ordered tres con todos, por favor! London Daze A browse of Saatchi & Saatchi gallery is always amusing. You never quite know what you’re going to find. From golden prints of nature.. London Daze To walls of flower shaped profanity… London Daze To caviar covered rooms.. London DazeTo pornographic pop art. It truly is an eclectic, but entertaining mix. London DazeI popped into Bentley for a sneak peak of Vertu’s latest creation. They’ve teamed up with Bentley to create a customisable phone, with diamond knurled titanium side rails and a quilted calf leather back to match your Bentley’s interior. All I know is for $17,000 it better come with someone that dials the phone for me. London DazeTo my fellow American expats, do you still make the attempt the celebrate Thanksgiving abroad? I decided to go for it again this year, making the sweet potato casserole, chilli garlic brussels sprouts, pomegranate salad and stuffing. Although I usually manage all the sides, I even attempted my first turkey! A 5kg whopper which soon became equivalent to what I can only imagine it must be like having a toddler. I spent my day having to lift, adjust and baste the monster every 20 minutes. It was all worth it in the end as the bird came out beautifully and was completely devoured.  London DazeI absolutely love when people come to visit. Showing a tourist around London is one of my favourite things to do. I just love seeing the city through someone else’s eyes and getting to share some of my favourite bits with them. So, when Tyler came to visit from San Diego, we hit the town walking. London DazeWe visited the Queen. London DazeMet some residents with fowl manners. London DazeStrolled through the park. London DazeLondon DazeAnd visited the ever handsome, Benjamin. Tyler is an amazing photographer, by the way, and you can see more of his shots here.  London DazeHe’s even mastered the selfie. London DazeWe changed course and wandered up past Trafalgar where I showed him our big, blue cock.
London DazeAnd into Soho for an obligatory purchase of my favourite macarons in London. If you are ever in Soho or even dining at Yauatcha, promise me you’ll try one (or all) of their incredible macarons. London DazeWe popped into Polpetto for a snack. I told you about this place before, when I met up with lovely blogger Rachel. It’s the perfect place to share simple dishes with stunning ingredients.  London DazeWe started with an attack on a mound of luscious burrata topped with tender pumpkin and marjoram. London DazeFollowed by grilled octopus with chickpeas and tomato. London DazeAnd a show stopping finale of pink duck breast paired with blueberries and pickled walnuts. London DazeWe ended up dancing the night away at Home House, who had an awesome DJ mixing 90s with current charts. This ended in an equally cool manner, curled up in the early hours of the morning in hotel sheets watching Ratatouille. (It was the first time I’d seen it! I know, I know.)

London Daze I recently enjoyed a rather delicious breakfast meeting at the Dorchester’s CUT at 45 Park Lane. The setting is beautiful and beyond perfect for a meeting, but I couldn’t take my eyes off Damien Hirst’s butterfly pieces on the wall. London Daze M Restaurant hosted an appropriately massive launch party for their massive new space located in Bank, complete with concert provided by Tinie Tempah. London DazeBeing so close to one of my 24-hour favourites resulted in a midnight snack in the sky. London Daze Complete, of course, with some duck & waffle! London Daze No London post would be complete without a nod to Britain’s resident badass. How hot is this Aston? I’m not normally a fan of matte paint jobs, but there’s something fitting for Bond’s perfect getaway ride spotted in Notting Hill. London DazeSee? There is literally something for everyone in London, don’t you think? Where’s your favourite place to go, thing to see, or food to eat? Is there somewhere particularly amazing I ought to try? I always love a suggestion. Tweet me or leave a comment below.