Nardulli

The sun is out and the Spring weather we have all been waiting for has finally arrived. 24C. Blue skies. Cool breeze. I’m going to keep this entry short.

On a warm day like this, nothing beats the refreshing treats at Nardulli.  A stone’s throw away from Clapham Common tube station, this ice cream parlour offers a wide array of Italian gelato: flavours of deep chocolate to fruity mango to an assortment of nuts.  It also offers coffee and pastries.

 The gelato is creamy and smooth, and king of these is the pistachio.  The best I have ever tasted. Ever. Combo’d with chocolate. Heaven.

Nardulli / 29 The Pavement / Clapham Common / SW4 0JE

Samphire

Should you find yourself in Whitstable searching for some brunch we urge you to seek out Samphire because you won’t be disappointed. We ate here last weekend on a recommendation and really loved the place. The staff were friendly and relaxed as they guided us to a large table at the front of the restaurant. The whole place has a rustic, airy feel about it, very fitting to the location just a minute or two from the Whitstable seafront.

The brunch menu ticks all the boxes with the traditional fare: eggs Benedict, eggs Florentine and a full English as well as the likes of lamb’s liver on toast.

G – My eggs Benedict was probably amongst the best I’ve tasted. The muffin was lightly toasted, the ham was “proper ham” thick cut and bursting with flavour – a refreshing change from the usual wafer thin reformed ham you sometimes have to tolerate. The eggs where perfectly poached with thick runny yolks and the hollandaise sauce not too rich and over-powering but packed enough flavour to bring the dish together.

B – My lamb’s liver on toast didn’t look a lot at first glance but served with field mushrooms and slithers of bacon on thick cut toast, it certainly filled the grumbling tummy. I would have preferred the liver to be slightly pinkish than what was served but in the end, it didn’t really matter much. The meaty, earthy dish left me feeling satisfied for a few hours until lunch.

There was also a great range of juices and coffees to wash down the food. One of our mates couldn’t just resist the cupcakes on display at the counter, too. He literally inhaled one in 10 seconds flat.

We like Whitstable and no doubt we will be visiting Samphire again soon although perhaps for lunch or dinner next time.Good quality food and at a reasonable price, throw in friendly, efficient service: what more could you ask for really?

Samphire / 4 High Street / Whitstable / CT5 1BQ

Seeded Turkey Breasts

Faced with the necessity of making quick, healthy and lean after-work meals, I made up an alternative to breaded turkey.  While I am not averse to crumbs, I pondered there should be a way to make it healthier and interesting. Then it hit me, ‘Why not use seeds instead?’ That would make good use of the Omega Sprinkle from Holland & Barrett – a mix of linseed, sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds.  Added omega fatty acid benefits, too. Shhhha-ting!!  And to make them stick to the poultry, the versatile mustard came to the rescue.   Ever-so-easy to make, you’ll need:

Turkey breast slices
Enough seed mix (partially ground in the mortar and pestle, just to break the big ones)
Mustard
Salt / Pepper

Season the seed mix. Coat the turkey slices in mustard, sprinkle the seeds on the surface and press with the back of the spoon. I find this works better as the mix tends to stick to the fingers. Be as generous as you can but make sure they actually stay on the meat.

Fry in a medium hot pan with little oil (or use non-stick) for 5-7 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Or afterwards pop under the low to medium grill for an additional 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of your meat.

Devour.

NB. Free range chicken breast slices work good too, as well as boneless chicken thighs.  The latter is the best option of the three.  And promise, I’ll wipe the plate next time. 😉

Honest Burgers

If you know me you know I like a good burger. I’m probably amongst the few who have endured an hour and a half wait for a table at Burger & Lobster to order the burger [promptly wish I’d ordered the Lobster, had serious food envy]. Luckily we’re not talking lengthy waiting times and £22 price tags at Honest Burgers but how does it fare against the competition.  Pretty, well I’d say!

The venue is typical Brixton Village, small and a bit cramped to be honest but the service is brisk and friendly so there really is no real need to linger.

Menu options are pretty simple, Chicken, Beef or Vegetable burgers. Quality is certainly top of the agenda here and it shows. The chickens are free range, the vegetables, market-sourced, and the beef 35-day dry aged. We both opted for beef; I have made a mental note to sample the menu more widely for future reviews!!

The cheese burger [£7.50] was served with a red onion relish and lettuce. There was a choice of mature cheddar, red leicester or stilton cheese; I opted for the mature cheddar. My dining partner ordered the “Honest” burger [£8.50] again served with red onion relish but also with smoked bacon, mature cheddar, pickled cucumber and lettuce. These burgers were slabs of seriously good meat.  Cooked medium, the beef was full of flavour and juice aplenty. The red onion relish was packed some real sweet flavour and the cheddar was super mature just the way it should be. All burgers come served in a glazed bun (gluten-free also available) and with house chips.

These house chips deserve a few words to themselves because these we these were no ordinary “token gesture here-are-the-chips-to-gowith-your-burger-chips”.  These chips were pretty epic! With a generous seasoning of rosemary salt they had a super crispy exterior and were light and fluffy inside, they must have been triple cooked. There were also plenty of those little tiny super-crispy bits that everyone goes crazy for. These were damn fine chips!

There were also a few quirky touches we really liked, traditional lemonade served in jam jars and the bill coming in a battered old metal box also added to Honest Burgers’ appeal.

Our total bill came to £20.50, pretty reasonable for the quality of the food and drinks.  We can see why this place has such a strong following. Definitely recommend.

Honest Burger / Unit 12 / Brixton Village Market / Coldharbour Lane / SW9 8PR

Vietnamese Pork / Beef Skewers

Inspired by Luke Nguyen who I stumbled upon on YouTube, this recipe of Vietnamese Pork and Beef was just too good to resist.  I had to tweak it a little bit just to make it more practical and slightly leaner.  The original recipe calls for pork fat and pork skin / rind which make the finished meat lollipops very moist.  As I can’t find pork fat, I used suet instead but only used about half the amount.  The meat mixture is then traditionally wrapped around a lemongrass stalk, but this would have cost so much to make, considering one stalk is 40p at the supermarket (booooo!).  Bamboo skewers make good alternative.

So, to make these, you will need:

250g mince pork (I used free-range for a clear conscience)
250g mince beef (FR too, I should be a saint!)
Small handful of suet
4 tsps sugar (add a little bit more if you want a sweetish caramelised coating)
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp fish sauce
6 cloves grated garlic
6 finely chopped kaffir lime leaves
1 stalk finely chopped and bruised lemongrass
1 finely chopped chilli
Grated lime rind

For the dipping sauce:

Juice of 1 lime
Fish sauce
Chilli, to taste
Sugar, to taste

Mix all the ingredients well, form into little sausage shapes and insert the skewers through. Job done. If you cannot get hold of the ingredients, e.g., lime leaves, don’t fret. It will still work.  Maybe add a bit of lemongrass and more lime rind to achieve that Southeast Asian aroma.

A barbeque grill is very ideal to cook this as the will fat drip over the coal, giving the meat a smoky flavour. A conventional grill will do ok, too. Cook under the lowest setting for about 15 to 20 minutes turning every now and then.

For the sauce, stir in all the ingredients until the sugar is dissolved.  Fire away!!! 😀