Being a vegetarian is in some ways commendable, the reduced Carbon footprint for instance. But the downside is - no meat.
Whether you are herbivore or carnivore, fire is dangerous, okay? But the combination of meat and fire, well hats off to the furry and primitive Blumenthal who came up with that one.
Buen Ayre is found at 50 Broadway Market in hackney. It's a small place where they put fire and meat together. It's a little expensive for what it is, but the meat is fantastic. Great slabs of Argentinian beef blushing pink from modesty at how delicious it is. The wine list is good too.
The sort of place a cro magnon man or a gourmet would both be happy. I recommend it.
Total = 7.25
This is a great - if somewhat counterintuitive way - to cook a whole fish. I got the idea from Hugh Fearnley Whatsisface, though it is a very old traditional way to cook a fish.
1 large (750g to 1kg) line caught wild sea bass
2 garlic cloves
500kg rock salt, 500kg fine table salt
1 sprig rosemary or lemon thyme
Dill, marjoram, black pepper, lime juice.
Place the rock salt into a bowl and add a few table spoons of water, continue to add water until the salt is easy to mold. Then lay a base of salt, slightly larger than the fish in a baking tray, sprinkle black pepper and finely chopped garlic and lay bay leaves and/or lemon thyme on the salt, lay the fish on the salt.
The next time I make this, I am going to try not using only water to bind the salt, but to use lime and lemon juice in water, to see how this affects the flavour.
In the cavity of the fish, put a couple more bay leaves, and also a sprig of rosemary. The thing to note here is that whatever flavours you put in the cavity of the fish will permeate the flesh, so you need to be careful to not overpower the fish, but you can also take advantage of this. You could put a couple of slices of lemon, or garlic, or ginger, but really, the flavour of the fish is good enough to not augment too much.
An important thing to note is that you need to tuck the belly of the fish closed, so that the salt doesn't get in and ruin everything.
Now, dampen some table salt in a bowl and add slightly more than an equal amount of rock salt and mound a complete case of salt around the fish, leaving only the head and tail uncovered.
Then put it in the preheated oven at 220C or gas mark 7, for 35 minutes.
As an accompaniment you can boil some new potatoes for 15-17 minutes, and then when they are done, drain the water and add to them some finely chopped dill, marjoram and butter and make a simple salad of torn lettuce leaves and cherry tomatoes, dressed with olive oil and lime juice .
Serve the fish whole in the salt and then crack the hard salt case, peeling away the skin of the fish with the hard salt to reveal the white flesh. You can cleave the fillets from the bone - they should slide away with ease.
The salt case gives the fish a smokey flavour of its own, and of course you shouldn't add any salt to any other aspect of the dish, though I put a couple of drops of soy on the salad.
You can make a variation of the salad dressing for the fish, with the dill, marjoram, olive oil and lime juice and pepper and maybe a few chopped capers, but it is not really necessary as the fish if cooked properly is delicious unaccompanied.
How sustainable is this dish?
Market - Camden
43 Parkway NW1 7PN
Parkway is a promenade of restaurants, but of them all, this place is a gem, a straightforward, high quality restaurant that serves excellent British food at reasonable prices.
Every time I have eaten here the food has been exemplary. As well as a la carte, they offer a two course lunch menu for £10, the last time I ate lunch there I had a salt beef salad, followed by fillet of Pollack with mash and leeks. The courses are cleverly constructed and expertly prepared, tastes are balanced and merged, and the food cooked, with great skill. I found myself marvelling at half a boiled egg, hardly the most inspiring of ingredients, but the yolk was buttery and soft, and the white, somehow, tender and creamy too. The Pollack skin was crisp, the fillet delicate, the mash creamy and absolutely faultless.
The interior is quite plain and matter of fact, in terms of decor, but there is still a nice enough atmosphere for an evening meal. There is a good selection of wines, also.
Total = 8.25
I am on a quest. I can't claim it has the profundity of a search for the Holy Grail or the philosopher's stone, but to my tongue and stomach, it is a quest of far greater importance.
It is the quest for the best sushi in London...
The Japanese food known to us as sushi is to some a strange and unappetising idea.
The idea of munching on raw fish makes their faces scrunch up in disgust, 'raw fish!' they exclaim, 'how frightful!' and then their monocle falls into their sherry.
But the 'fishy' taste that most people associate with our delicious, silvery, gilled aquatic friends, is actually caused by decay - fresh fish does not smell 'fishy'.
'Sushi' actually refers to the sticky vinegared rice that accompanies the variety of seafood.'Sashimi' is the sliced, fresh raw seafood. And Sashimi is served very fresh, and expertly filleted.
There is also Bashimi, which is raw horsemeat, but I can't say that my tongue and stomach want to accompany me on that particular quest.
So, where is the best place to get sushi in the grubby, noisy, glittering city of London?