It’s probably no secret to friends and readers that I have a strong interest in Japan; most especially when it comes to the food. Some might even (and do) call it an obsession.

In fact, Pete and I are heading back there in a few weeks for trip number three, and I’m really, really, really excited!

So when new cookery books on the cuisine are released, I’m always keen to take a look. This one has been out a few months and already has some excellent reviews.

Tokyo Cult Recipes cover

The title of Tokyo Cult Recipes threw me at first – to me it implied that the content would focus only on dishes that had achieved some kind of cult status; the coolest kids on the block, so to speak. In fact, author Maori Murota (who now lives in France) covers a wide range of everyday dishes covering both home-cooking and the kind of food more commonly eaten out, basing her recipes on memories of growing up in Tokyo and also her mother’s cooking.

Although there is certainly a lot of regionally specific cooking in Japan, the majority of these recipes will be familiar to anyone who has travelled in Japan, both to Tokyo and beyond.

The ‘Cult Recipes’ title identifies the book as part of a series; it’s third in the list after New York Cult Recipes and Venice Cult Recipes, also published by Murdoch Books.

Recipes are divided into six chapters, based on the type of meal a dish is most commonly associated with.

A traditional Japanese breakfast usually includes rice, miso soup, tsukemono (pickles), fish and eggs. The Asa Teishoku (breakfast) chapter starts with lessons on some of the cornerstones of the Japanese diet – rice, dashi (stock), miso – before sharing recipes for simple tsukemono, tamago yaki (the densely rolled omelette that is also often served at the end of a sushi meal), salted fish, fresh tofu with two different sauces, and for the brave amongst us, the preparation of natto – magnificently pungent fermented soy beans.

Lunch at home is usually dishes that are ‘simple to make and quick to eat’. The Ohiru (lunch) chapter includes donburi (different toppings over a bowl of rice) and noodle dishes. Recipes for zaru soba (cold buckwheat noodles with a dipping sauce), curry udon (noodles in a curry soup), tempura don (a selection of tempura over on rice) and maguro avocado don (marinated tuna and avocado with rice) are straightforward but adventurous cooks may be drawn to the recipe for making soba noodles from scratch, with step-by-step photographs provided. Some dishes, such as ramen (with broths that can take hours to make) and yakisoba (fried noodles) may more commonly be eaten out, but of course they are made at home too. Modern Tokyo has embraced washoku (western cuisine); spaghetti napolitan the Japanese way is a well-loved example as is tonkatsu (panko-breaded and fried pork cutlets), here shared in popular sando (sandwich) form.

Oyakodon Chicken and Omelette on Rice - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7867 Oyakodon Chicken and Omelette on Rice - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7871
Oyakodon Chicken and Omelette on Rice - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7875

My favourite recipe in this chapter is oyako don (rice with chicken and omelette). Murota doesn’t mention that the Japanese name translates as parent-and-child – a reference to the use of both chicken and egg. Chicken and leeks are cooked with dashi, soy, mirin and eggs and transferred hot from the pan over bowls of rice. This recipe transported me straight to Japan on the first mouthful and is one we’ll certainly make again and again.

Bento boxes have become well known across the world; the simple box-packed lunch transformed almost into an art form by Japanese creativity and presentation. As Murota explains, a typical bento contains some protein, fresh or pickled vegetables and rice. bento are enjoyed by workers, children and travellers – indeed each major train station offers its own speciality ekiben (station bento) that are perfect to enjoy during the journey. Of course, the recipes in this chapter can be made for bento boxes or a regular meal at the table. Hourenso no goma-ae (spinach with sesame sauce), ebi no kousai-ae (prawns with coriander), tsukune (chicken meatballs, also popular on skewers, as yakitori), saba no tatsuga-age (deep-fried marinated mackerel), pickled cucumber and a variety of side vegetables and salads are followed by a selection of onigiri (rice balls, often with stuffing inside).

Oyatsu (snacks) are predominantly sweet, with both yougashi (Western-inspired cakes) and wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets) very popular. Wagashi shared in this chapter include another personal favourite, mitarashi dango (chewy balls made of rice flour served in a sweet salty soy sauce syrup), sweet potato cakes and dorayaki (pancakes filled with adzuki red bean paste). Yougashi infuse European cakes and desserts with Japanese flavours; matcha and white chocolate cake, purin (crème caramel), coffee roll cake, strawberry short cake and ice creams flavoured with black sesame, matcha or adzuki.

Izakaya are best described as Japanese pubs that serve a range of small dishes alongside drinks. Here, Murota shares some well known items such as edamame (fresh soy beans), agedashi tofu (deep fried cubes of tofu served in a thin sauce), a couple of chazuke dishes (rice with hot tea), kara-age (fried chicken), and some less well known ideas like asari no sakamushi (sake-steamed clams), furofuki daikon (simmered white radish), oden (a Japanese winter stew in which a selection of foods are simmered in a simple stock) and lotus root fritters.

The last chapter in the book is Uchishoku; home cooking. This includes a wide range of different dishes; a range of gyoza (dumplings) with different fillings, nibuta chashu (anise simmered pork) and stir fried pork, omuraisu (an omelette filled with rice and often served with either ketchup or another condiment over the top), roll kyabetsu (Japanese stuffed cabbage). This chapter also includes a wide range of simmered dishes such as sukiyaki (beef and other ingredients simmered in a slightly sweet stock), tonyu nabe (a soy milk hotpot) and the very homely nikujaga (simmered beef and potatoes), which we made recently – although our sauce didn’t reduce as much as expected, the flavours once again transported us to Japan. Sushi and sashimi plates are also included here.

The book is interspersed not only with beautiful photographs of the recipes, but also evocative images of Tokyo – people and places, specialist food producers and shop and restaurant owners. At the end of the first chapter is a photo-essay on Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji Market, home to the largest fish market in the world. The second chapter closes with an introduction to sampuru, the super-expensive plastic food replicas that are displayed by many restaurants – did you know that the term comes from the English word sample? The bento chapter gives us photos of a traditional senbei (rice cracker) shop, with images showing how they are made as well as displayed for sale. Within the snacks chapter you’ll find one photo-essay on confectionary plus another on crèpe stalls, a popular Tokyo street snack. The izakaya chapter showcases a lovely selection of traditional ceramics as well as some charming photographs of Tokyo izakaya; indeed several of the recipe images look to be taken in such establishments. The final recipe chapter takes us to Kappabashi Dori, a street famous for its many kitchenware shops.

This is appropriate, as the last section of the book is the Appendices, where Murota shares advice on utensils and ingredients, plus a final few recipes for sauces, dressings and pickling liquids.

I have permission to share two recipes with you, so keep your eyes peeled for Murota’s Sukiyaki (beef hot pot) and her Matcha & White Chocolate Cake, both coming soon now published on Kavey Eats.

In the meantime, here’s an opportunity for you to win your own copy of this lovely book:

GIVEAWAY

In the meantime, Murdoch Books are offering two copies of Tokyo Cult Recipes for a Kavey Eats reader giveaway. Each prize includes delivery to UK addresses.

HOW TO ENTER

You can enter the giveaway in 2 ways – entering both ways increases your chances of winning:

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
What’s your favourite Japanese food and which recipe from Murota’s book (see review above) would you most like to make?

Entry 2 – Twitter
Follow both @Kavey on Twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter! Then tweet the exact sentence (shown in italics) below.
I’d love to win Tokyo Cult Recipes published by @murdochbooksuk from Kavey Eats! http://bit.ly/KaveyEatsTCR #KaveyEatsTCR
(Do not add my twitter handle or any other twitter handle at the beginning of the tweet or your entry will be considered invalid.
Please don’t leave a blog comment about your tweet either; I track twitter entries using the competition hash tag.)

RULES, TERMS & CONDITIONS

  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 18th March 2016.
  • The two winners will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator.
  • Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
  • Where prizes are to be provided by a third party, Kavey Eats accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
  • Each prize is a copy of Tokyo Cult Recipes by Maori Murota, published by Murdoch Books. Delivery to UK addresses is included.
  • The prizes cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. You may enter both ways but you do not have to do so for each individual entry to be valid.
  • For Twitter entries, entrants must be following both @Kavey at the time of notification.
  • Blog comment entries must provide a valid email address for contact.
  • The winners will be notified by email or Twitter so please make sure you check relevant accounts for the notification message.
  • If no response is received from a winner within 10 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

Kavey Eats received a review copy from Murdoch Books. Tokyo Cult Recipes by Maori Murota is currently available on Amazon for £13.60 (RRP £20). Published by Murdoch Books, photography by Akiko Ida and Pierre Javelle.

The winners of the giveaway copies were Urvashi and Janie, both blog comment entries.

 

Named for the twin brothers who founded it, Joseph Joseph is a British success story, founded in 2003 and now selling in over 100 countries around the world.

The houseware brand is perhaps best known for its super-durable chopping boards (both folding ones that angle into a chute for easy transfer to the cooking pot and colour-coded preparation ones) that are one of its core product ranges. Today Joseph Joseph also manufacture food storage (both for the kitchen and on the go), microwave cookware, all kinds of kitchen tools (from bowls and dishes to measuring cups, jugs and scales to scissors and knives to graters and peelers) and a wide selection of cooking and cleaning utensils.

Their entire range is very much design-led with thought given to practical functionality, durability and looks.

Over the last few weeks Pete and I have been putting a few Joseph Joseph products to the test and have been really impressed by each of those aspects.

Index Regular Chopping Board Set Index Steel Chopping Board Set 3
Index Steel Chopping Board Set 4 Index Steel Chopping Board Set 5

Index chopping boards are colour-coded to help prevent cross-contamination – red for meat, blue for fish, green for vegetables and white for cooked food. Each of the boards have non-slip feet and additional clever touches that make using them a pleasure – a channel around the meat board collects any escaping juices; fish are discouraged from sliding about the board by a strip of textured surface along the centre.

All four boards are easily stored in a space-saving upright box from which they can easily be pulled out and best of all, they are dishwasher safe too.

For small kitchens, the Index Mini offers a similarly colour-coded set in a smaller size. Also great for caravans or keen cooks who like to travel with a set of kitchen essentials when they go on holiday.

Cut and carve 2 Cut and carve 1 Cut and carve 3

The Cut & Carve board has one smooth side that can be used as a normal chopping board, but it’s the other side that has earned it a permanent place in our kitchen – spikes in the centre of the board hold meat in place as you carve and the surface is slightly sloped with a generous lip to catch juices, which can then easily be poured from the corner straight into pan to make gravy! Of course, it’s also good for cutting other foods that have a tendency to leak (fresh mozzarella) or create a surfeit of crumbs (bread).

Elevate 1 Elevate 2
Elevate 3 Elevate 4

Elevate utensils have a stand integrated into the handle so you can rest them on the worktop without the food-dipped end touching the surface. These can be purchased in a set with a carousel stand, or individually. The two we chose have become well-used tools.

The products above are the ones we’ve been testing ourselves. They’re really practical to use, they’re dishwasher proof, they feel really durable and the clever design touches make using them a very positive experience.

There are many other Joseph Joseph products that catch my eye, from the cleverly nesting set of bowls and measuring cups to the dimpled ice cream scoop, and of course, the ones I’ve picked to giveaway to one lucky reader, below.

Twist and grate 2 Twist and grate 3 Twist and grate 1

The Twist Grater has two different stainless steel grating blades. When the handle is straight, use to grate straight above a dish or container; twist the handle to hold the grater firmly against the work surface. It comes in three colours and with a choice of three blade pairs – coarse and fine, extra coarse and ribbon or star and extra fine.

 

GIVEAWAY

Joseph Joseph are offering a reader of Kavey Eats a regular size Index colour-coded chopping board set (top, £50) and a green coarse and fine Twist Grater (above, £20). Delivery to UK and EU addresses is included.

HOW TO ENTER

You can enter the giveaway in 2 ways – entering both ways increases your chances of winning:

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
What kind of cook are you in the kitchen? Tell me about your cooking style and skills in the comments section below.

Entry 2 – Twitter
Follow both @Kavey and @JosephJoseph on Twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter! Then tweet the exact sentence (shown in italics) below.
I’d love to win fabulous @JosephJoseph prizes from Kavey Eats! http://bit.ly/KaveyEatsJJ #KaveyEatsJosephJoseph
(Do not add my twitter handle or any other twitter handle at the beginning of the tweet or your entry will be considered invalid.
Please don’t leave a blog comment about your tweet either; I track twitter entries using the competition hash tag.)

RULES, TERMS & CONDITIONS

  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 18th March 2016.
  • The winner will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator.
  • Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
  • Where prizes are to be provided by a third party, Kavey Eats accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
  • The prize is offered and provided by Joseph Joseph.
  • The prize is a regular size Index colour-coded chopping board set and a green coarse and fine Twist Grater. Delivery to UK and EU addresses is included.
  • The prize cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. You may enter both ways but you do not have to do so for each individual entry to be valid.
  • For Twitter entries, entrants must be following both @Kavey and @josephjoseph at the time of notification.
  • Blog comment entries must provide a valid email address for contact.
  • The winners will be notified by email or Twitter so please make sure you check relevant accounts for the notification message.
  • If no response is received from a winner within 10 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

 

Kavey Eats received review products from Joseph Joseph. As always, all opinions 100% honest.We recommend only products we truly believe in.

The winner of this giveaway was Frances Darvill, who entered via a blog comment.

 

I rarely visit new restaurants within a week of opening. I’m never in a mad rush to be first; I tend to plan my diary in advance – I’m not a short notice kind of girl; new places don’t always cross my radar until they’ve already built up quite a buzz. But Galley restaurant and bar caught my eye amongst the flutter of press releases into my Inbox and as soon as I read the menu, I put my hand up to accept an invitation to review. After a soft launch weekend, it opened officially on Tuesday 2nd and we visited the same Friday.

In a prime location on Islington’s Upper Street, not far from Angel tube station, Galley is in a sea of restaurants along a street of little else. Clearly there’s custom enough for all – everywhere was rowdy crowdy, Galley included.

Summarising that tempting press release, Galley is a restaurant and bar ‘specialising in small and large international plates with a strong focus on fish’, founded by siblings Oriona Robb and Marcel Grzyb. Oriona put her styling experience to good use designing the interior while Marcel’s focus is on the menu – now cooking in his own place after 18 years at Randall & Aubin, the last 10 of which as head chef.

galley small interior galley Banquette shot
Images provided by restaurant

I’m late to arrive, so rush to meet Pete at our table in rather a fluster but it doesn’t take long for me to settle in and start to take in the interior. It’s a beautiful space that skillfully balances vintage elegance with a modern aesthetic; the bar sits near the entrance, then a few much-coveted booths before a banquette of tables opposite an open kitchen with a handful of counter seats.

My only bitch is that tables along the banquette are very close together indeed, making me feel uncomfortably voyeuristic towards our neighbours. Perhaps that’s why there’s a banging soundtrack of which, once the place is full, we can hear only the pounding bass; all melody is lost in the babble.

Galley Restaurant Islington on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7976 Galley Restaurant Islington on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7978

Having only recently discovered I like gin, after decades thinking otherwise, I love that a whole page of the drinks menu is dedicated to Gin & Tonic. I choose G’Vine Floraison with Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic and frozen grapes (£14) which is wonderful. And yes I pick out and eat the grapes too!

With it I try just one Crispy Tempura Oyster (£3 each). It’s delicious but, goodness me, it’s a teeny tiny little thing – you can just see it peeping out from behind the sauce and garnish there. Not quite a satisfying mouthful, I’m afraid.

Galley Restaurant Islington on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7982 Galley Restaurant Islington on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7984

There are several seafood starters that appeal, including Octopus & Chorizo a la plancha with white bean purée, smoked garlic pesto (£9), Hand-picked Cornish Crab on crostini with smoked garlic aioli, confit tomatoes (£9.5) and Hand Dived In-Shell Scottish Scallops with carrot, cardamom purée, toasted hazelnuts (£9) but in the end we pick two of the non-fish options.

Wookey Hole Cheddar & Ham Hock Croquettes  with harissa mayonnaise (£7) are generously sized, served hot out of the fryer, great texture inside and out. The flavour from cheese and ham is a little milder than I’d like but the harissa mayonnaise makes up for that well enough.

The Hereford Beef Carpaccio with wild mushrooms, beef jelly, pistachio, parmesan (£10) is the definite winner – soft, well-textured beef with fabulous little cubes of vinegared beef jelly, a selection of properly cleaned and delicious wild mushrooms, shavings of parmesan, rocket leaves and roasted pistachio nuts; far more interesting than the usual beef, cheese, leaves and olive oil cliché.

Galley Restaurant Islington on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7986 Galley Restaurant Islington on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7992

The Scottish Venison with smoked potato purée, braised cabbage, thyme gravy (£21.5) is not at all what Pete was picturing – venison three ways rather than a single steak; while I’m not a fan of menus that provide an essay on every dish, more information on this one would have been welcome. All three ways are delicious, full of flavour and with a decent gamey flavour often lacking in farmed venison. I’ve no idea on provenance but it’s tasty meat.

We also follow our waitress’ suggestion that the venison dish needs a side (though on arrival, we don’t think it does). In any case, the Chargrilled Purple Sprouting Broccoli with crispy onions, lemon oil (£5) is a good choice, the broccoli still with some bite in the stems but not too much and a nice flavour from char, onions and oil.

Galley Restaurant Islington on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7988

My main of Pan-fried Sea Bass, gnocchi, peas, courgettes, wild mushrooms, truffle oil (£19.5) is delicious! The kitchen have not stinted on that truffle oil, indeed it’s the dominant flavour so if you’re not a fan, ask for less. I love it against the soft fish, crisp fish skin and pillowy gnocchi. The thick sauce of peas, courgettes and mushrooms is just right too. Simple, confident, tasty cooking that is absolutely worth coming back for.

Galley Restaurant Islington on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7997

With such success on the starters and mains, it’s hard to resist trying the desserts, though I can’t say we really need them, full as we are.

The Salted Caramel Tart with green tea ice cream, chilli & hazelnut praline (£7) is super rich, silky smooth and sinfully sweet though with a clear bitter caramel flavour in the background and a touch of salt to make everything pop. The green tea ice cream is insipid though, very little green tea flavour discernable.

Galley Restaurant Islington on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7995 Galley Restaurant Islington on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-8001

My pick of the two desserts is the Amaretto & Verona Chocolate Fondant with cherry compote, mascarpone vanilla ice cream (£7), served hot and gushing hot molten chocolate when I cut it open. The amaretto flavour is clear but not overwhelming and lovely with the sweet chocolate and sharp cherries. Once again the ice cream is rather bland, though in this case that’s no bad thing as it’s simply a cooling hit of dairy against the rich pudding.

It’s been a super meal and one that certainly has me itching to come back – virtually every dish on the menu appeals and there is a tempting Sunday brunch menu too. Prices are very reasonable for food of this calibre in London – that runs through to the drinks, with bottles of wine starting at just £20 and cocktails all priced at £9.50.

It’s hard to judge service so early on when everyone’s peachy keen, excited and enthusiastic – certainly staff seem on the ball already and eager for customers to enjoy their visit. I’m sure the front of house team will continue smiling for the foreseeable; hopefully I’ll be back before too long to check for myself.

Kavey Eats dined as guests of Galley Restaurant & Bar.

Galley Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Square Meal

Feb 062016
 

Ichiryu brings fast food udon noodles to London’s increasingly diverse Japanese dining scene and it’s about time!

In the last 5 years, ramen has spread its wings and there are now umpteen London restaurants specialising in ramen – including a few small chains – selling delicious bowls of the much-loved Japanese noodle soup.

But udon noodles haven’t enjoyed the same rate of growth; not yet at least. Koya, particularly loved by the fooderati, has been a stalwart of course, but the main restaurant closed it’s doors last year, leaving only Koya Bar still in operation; in any case there was never any expectation of the brand expanding. Den Udon in King’s Cross was open for mere months before it closed its doors again, perhaps a victim of its rather out-of-the-way location. And so the best bet for udon-loving Londoners is usually a general Japanese restaurant that happens to offer one or two udon dishes amongst the sushi, katsu and teriyaki.

Ichiryu Udon Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle -7917

As one of those udon-loving Londoners, I’m hoping that 2016 is the year that udon makes more of a splash!

Ichiryu Udon Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle -7938 Ichiryu Udon Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle -7943

Located on New Oxford Street a few steps away from Tottenham Court Road station, Ichiryu Hakata Udon House, to give it its full name, is another business venture from entrepreneur Tak Tokumine, founder of the long-established and much-loved Japan Centre in 1976, as well as Shoryu Ramen — now a chain with five locations. Tak’s hometown is Hakata, in Fukuoka city, Kyushu which claims to be one of the birthplaces of udon in Japan. Just as Shoryu’s original menu focused on Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen (there are now multiple styles of broth available), Ichiryu also looks to Kyushu for inspiration.

Note that Ichiryu is set up for fast dining, though not as fully self-service as your usual burger or chicken joint.

Guests are seated and given a menu as in most restaurants, but must place and pay for their orders at the till, giving their table number on ordering. Food and drinks are then served to the table by staff, and tables are cleared by them too.

The menu focuses on udon and tempura with a range of sides, a few rice bowls and some sushi and onigiri.

Ichiryu Udon Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle -7918 Ichiryu Udon Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle -7921

The Hakata Bun (£4.50) with its filling of BBQ pork, Cod Tempura or Chicken Tempura inside a pillowy white steamed bun will be familiar to Shoryu customers, and it’s just as delicious here. I love the combo of pork, lettuce, cucumber, Japanese mayo and barbeque sauce.

Tempura is hit and miss for me. The single Tempura Prawn (£2) is decent; the batter light and crisp and the prawn cooked just right. But the mixed vegetable Kakiage (£2) is very unwieldy to eat and very quickly goes soggy as steam gets trapped within the ‘nest’.

Ichiryu Udon Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle -7930 Ichiryu Udon Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle -7931

After these snacks it’s on to the udon. For those of you not yet familiar with these noodles, they are thick and white with a distinctive chewy texture that is enormously satisfying. Ichiryu’s udons are made fresh daily using Japanese wheat flour.

From the Hot Udon list we choose Niku Beef (£11.50) described as sukiyaki beef, spring onion in tsuyu bonito soup.

The broth is light yet with a decent beefy flavour, and the noodles are cooked to retain that lovely chew. My surprise on tasting this is that the generous portion of thinly sliced beef is plain and not marinated in a soy, sugar and mirin mix as I’d expected from the sukiyaki label. That makes the dish a little blander than I’d like, overall. It’s good but doesn’t blow me away; when it comes to soup noodles I’d prefer a bowl of intensely rich tonkotsu ramen.

Ichiryu Udon Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle -7926 Ichiryu Udon Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle -7936

Our choice from the Cold Udon list is something far more special.

Ontama Egg (£8.40) comes with an ontama poached egg, spring onion, ginger and tempura pieces in tsuyu bonito sauce. There’s a dollop of fresh ginger paste too.

This dish shows off the udon noodles far more successfully, and the first mouthful of noodles, slippery from the sauce and studded with a few crunchy bits of tenkasu, transports me immediately to Japan. It’s an immediate visceral reaction that remains with me through subsequent mouthfuls. The cold perfectly poached egg, the soft raw ginger, the fresh spring onions and the crunchy tempura fragments combine with the noodles and sauce in perfect harmony.

This is the dish I will be returning for again and again and again.

Ichiryu Udon Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle -7947 Ichiryu Udon Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle -7950

For dessert, Pete enjoys a Kagua Rouge Craft Beer (£6.30, 330ml, 9% abv), brewed on license in Belgium.

I can’t resist Mochi Ice Cream (£6 for 3 pieces) and am delighted to find that they are Little Moon ice cream mochi, which have admired since they launched a couple of years ago. From front to back, they are matcha, sesame and yuzu flavours.

Ichiryu Udon Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle -7937

With it’s fast food approach, Ichiryu doesn’t take reservations. Opening hours are Mondays to Saturdays 12 – 22:30 and Sundays 12 – 21:30. Last orders 30 minutes before closing.

Do yourself a favour and find time to drop in for a Hakata Bun and a bowl of Ontama Egg Cold Udon. You will not be sorry!

 

Kavey Eats dined as guests of Ichiryu Hakata Udon House.

Square Meal
Ichiryu Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Imagine you’re in the mood for Indian food. Sometimes that means seeking out the amazing place you’ve found across the other side of London, the one that makes rotis and parathas just like the ones you had when you travelled around India. Or the one down in Peckham serving Keralan food redolent with curry leaves and coconut. Or the new place everyone’s talking about, specialising in fermented-rice appams and lentil-and-rice dosas. But sometimes it means heading to the nearest curry house for a lamb saag and a naan. And that’s just fine because they are all delicious and satisfying, if they are what you fancy in that moment.

Why am I talking about Indian food in the introduction to a Thai restaurant review?

Because this was one of the topics of conversation when Pete and I visited Suda Thai recently. Suda is one of the collection of restaurants within St Martin’s Courtyard, an open space between the buildings that line the triangle of Long Acre, Mercer Street, Shelton Street and Upper St Martin’s Lane.

Billed as a Thai Cafe Restaurant, Suda’s extensive menu is full of familiar Thai dishes, the classics you already know and love – the traffic-light of curries, som tam malakor (green papaya salad), satay chicken, pad thai (rice noodles), minced chicken sesame toasts and more. But there are also a wide range of dishes that are less likely to found in the Thai equivalent of a curry house, such as tub gai (chicken livers sautéed with garlic and black pepper), gui chay (pan-fried chive cake), kao soi (a yellow curry noodle soup in the Chiang Mai style), kao ob talay (seafood rice pot) and cho-chee pla (sizzling sea bass in a kaffir lime leaf and red curry sauce). This is no Janetira Thai but there are some interesting dishes here nonetheless.

The menu is a little bit all over the place though. Starters are split between regular portions and Small Bites – a kind of design-your-own-platter idea. There’s a Small Bowls section, more of which later. Mains are split across Curries, Thai Salads, Thai Soups, Stir Fried, Chef Recommends and To Each His Own (no, I have no idea what the meaning of that heading is either). And there are separate sections for  Accompaniments and Rice. There’s also a page pulling together all the vegetarian starters and mains.

We are in the mood for familiar flavours, so our order is quite pedestrian. Perhaps next time we shall stray further into dishes we know less well.

Suda Thai London Restaurant Review on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7838 Suda Thai London Restaurant Review on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7847

The drinks menu is also extensive with a range of wines one side of the sheet and cocktails, smoothies, juices and soft drinks, beers, spirits and liqueurs on the other.

My Lychee Martini (£9.25) is lovely – full-on lychee, exactly as I’d hoped. I’m not as keen on the Thai Pimm’s (£7.85) as I’d asked for recommendations for a sweet cocktail, but this one has more sour and sharp flavours than I like.

Suda Thai London Restaurant Review on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7840

The first starter we are served is the most disappointing, not to mention shockingly over-priced. Roti with Peanut Sauce (£3.25) turns out to be four small pieces of cold, fried roti (flatbread) with a small dish of peanut sauce. It’s genuinely hard to comprehend the pricing on this dish, surely one of the cheapest and easiest to put together?

Suda Thai London Restaurant Review on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7842 Suda Thai London Restaurant Review on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7845

Some of the Small Bites we pick are a better. The Toast Na Gai (minced chicken sesame toast £1.25 a piece) is nice enough, a does-what-it-says-on-the-tin kind of dish. The Goong Sawan (king prawn wrapped in egg noodles and fried, £1.85 a piece) is far, far smaller than I expected and a little bland. The best of the selection is Gae Yang (marinated lamb chop, £6.50 a piece), though I’m not sure where the fresh green salad and sweet potato crisps promised on the menu disappear to.

The sauces that accompany the starters are served in shot glasses – these no doubt make it easier to fit more items on the serving plate, and perhaps someone decided they look stylish too – but they are awkward to dip food into and a perfect example of style over substance or practicality. Give me wide shallow sauce dishes any day.

Suda Thai London Restaurant Review on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7849

One of the strongest menu ideas for me is Suda’s Small Bowls – a short and sweet list of five Thai curries which can be individually ordered in small portions; I love the option to enjoy more variety than a single main portion of one curry would afford. The Gaeng Kiew Waan (green curry with chicken £4.25) packs a punch of flavour – the thin sauce is hot and delicious. The Gaeng Panang Nua (beef penang curry £4.25) is thick and creamy, generous in the amount of beef and seriously hot. Another delicious whack to the taste buds!

With these we have a portion of Kao Mun (steamed coconut rice £3.50).

Suda Thai London Restaurant Review on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7852

One of Pete’s long time favourites is Pad Thai with chicken (£10.50) and the mound of stir fried rice noodles is generous and enjoyable. Note that you’ll pay a whopping £6 extra for king prawns instead of chicken, and the menu stipulates that you’ll get just two of them – if they’re the same size as the one I had as a starter, I’d steer well clear!

Suda Thai London Restaurant Review on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7856

We also order a Nua Yang Salad (£13.95) of grilled sirloin steak with a spicy dressing. This is good and tasty but the salad alongside is not what I expected – a standard mixed salad leaves affair with it’s own dressing on the side; I think a small dressed som tam would work much better here.

Suda Thai London Restaurant Review on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7857

I cannot resist finishing with Kao Niew Mamuang (sticky rice with fresh mango £5.95), a huge favourite of mine. The sticky rice is unsweetened, dense and chewy – gorgeous against the fresh, sweet mango. Suda Thai do this dish very well, though I don’t think the vanilla ice cream adds anything.

Suda Thai London Restaurant Review on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7863 Suda Thai London Restaurant Review on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7862

Pete orders a Suda Coffee (£2.70) which comes in glass cups tucked into a charming carrying frame. Mild black coffee sits above a layer of sweet condensed milk. The second glass holds richly-scented jasmine tea, provided as a chaser.

There are certainly some missteps in our meal – the pricing and portion size of some of the starters and a boring pile of leaves with the sirloin beef salad. But there are highlights too, the two Small Bowl curries are superbly delicious and well priced; the sticky mango rice is wonderful and the novel (to us) coffee and tea combo is a delight.

Staff are helpful, guiding customers through the menu with warmth and efficiency. The restaurant itself is attractive, split across two floors and with plenty of space, plus a disabled lift to the first floor.

Would I go again? Yes, particularly with a group of friends – I think sharing a few more dishes between 4 or 5 would work well for this menu. The location is very handy too.

Kavey Eats dined as guests of Suda Thai, St Martin’s Courtyard.

Square Meal
Suda Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

During the last few weeks we’ve been enjoying some very quick and tasty dinners at home, thanks to Simply Cook – one of the many recipe-by-post subscription services now available in the UK.

Unlike many of the competitors, Simply Cook’s offering is a little different. Instead of sending a full set of ingredients including fresh items with limited shelf-life, they provide letter-box friendly packs containing the flavourings and cooking instructions for 4 dishes, all of which can be stored for a few months, often more.

Each recipe needs only a handful of fresh ingredients to be purchased and takes only 20 minutes to cook. The range of dishes available is wide and appealing, with lots of globally-inspired dishes packed with flavour.

Inside the box you’ll find four recipe cards and the three flavour pots needed to make each one. These pots might contain flavoured oils, herb and spice blends, marinades and pastes, dressings and sauces, and even garnishes to top the finished dish. Each recipe is sized to feed 2-3 people.

One of the key attractions for us is to bring a wider range of cuisine into our weekday repertoire – it’s so easy to fall into a rut, especially at this time of year when the excesses and meal-planning extravaganzas of December are just behind us.

Scroll down for our review and giveaway and to find our special discount code to try a box for yourself for just £1.

Simply Cook on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7755 Simply Cook on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7766

There are three ranges to choose from – the original Discovery Box, a Gluten Free Box and a Light Box with all meals less than 600 calories (based on 2 people sharing the recipe as written).

Simply Cook’s resident chef Anisa Jamal sent us four of her favourite recipes to give us a taste of the range.

Each recipe card has a handy tear-off slip at the top to use as a shopping list when buying fresh ingredients, just 4 or 5 per recipe.

Goan Fish Curry - Simply Cook on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7770 Goan Fish Curry - Simply Cook on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7773

Goan Fish Curry comes with Goan paste, coconut paste and a spice blend and you’ll need to buy an onion, tomatoes, rice, coconut milk and some cod fillet.

Malay Laksa - Simply Cook on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7785 Malay Laksa - Simply Cook on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7789

Malay Laksa comes with laksa paste, chicken stock and Malay garnish and you’ll need to buy butternut squash, chicken, coconut milk, rice noodles and asparagus spears.

Cajun Chicken - Simply Cook on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7812 Cajun Chicken - Simply Cook on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7813
Cajun Chicken - Simply Cook on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7819

Jerk Chicken comes with jerk seasoning, jerk paste and chicken stock and you’ll need to buy chicken, basmati rice, coconut milk, black-eyed peas and an onion.

Jerk Chicken - Simply Cook on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7775 Jerk Chicken - Simply Cook on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7776
Jerk Chicken - Simply Cook on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7780

Cajun Chicken comes with garlic oil, cajun seasoning and red pepper stock and you’ll need to buy sweet potatoes, chicken, bacon and either okra or courgettes.

What We Thought

All four recipes were delicious and we particularly loved the Jerk chicken and Cajun chicken meals. All four were packed with flavour.

Additional ingredients, because there are only a handful for each recipe, are not hugely expensive and you are free to buy from your preferred shop or market. We spent £4-5 on each of these four recipes, but did have rice and onions already in the store cupboard. With some of the recipes, we had some ingredients left over, which we easily used in our cooking over the next couple of days. Add this to the £2.25 per-recipe cost of Simply Cook flavourings and that’s around £6-7 per recipe, £3-3.50 per portion (based on splitting each meal between 2). That compares very favourably with the £6.50 per portion from HelloFresh (based on 3 meals for 2) and £5.75 per portion from Gousto (based on 4 meals for 2).

Recipes were generous and certainly could have stretched to feed 3, especially the Jerk chicken. In fact, the flavour pots are pretty generous, so you could easily scale up the main ingredients a touch and feed four without compromising on taste.

None of the ingredients were difficult to find – all should be readily available across the UK in season; Simply Cook switch the recipes offered according to time of year, so you shouldn’t find yourself asked to buy butternut squash in the height of summer.

Pete, who did the shopping, cooking and prep, found all four recipes very accurate. He also really appreciated the little tear-off shopping list.

The recipes really did only take 20 minutes each to make; perfect for weekday dinners.

Any Negatives?

If you’re looking for the most authentic version of international dishes, Simply Cook doesn’t always provide that. The Malay Laksa was very enjoyable but didn’t much resemble the Malaysian versions I’ve tried, particularly in terms of fresh ingredients suggested – butternut squash and asparagus spears – rather than the flavourings. I don’t know Jerk or Cajun well enough to comment knowledgably on authenticity but we absolutely loved both. The Goan curry was pretty good and the flavours seemed right to me.

You won’t learn to cook new recipes from this subscription; because all the key flavours are in the secret-recipe flavour pots, you can’t keep the cards and use them again as you can with some subscription meal services, for example – we’ve made variations of a pasta dish we learned from a long-ago Gousto review a few times since.

Other Points Of Note

Simply Cook don’t currently offer the option of buying one-off boxes unless you are already signed up for a subscription. However this is very easy to cancel at any time, so you can certainly sign up for a discounted trial box and cancel your subscription before it rolls over to a full priced box if you decide it’s not for you.

Once you’ve set up an account the first box you get is selected by Simply Cook to introduce you to their boxes. After that you can swap one, two or even all four proposed dishes out for any of the recipes currently listed. When I played around with this feature, I had 51 recipes to choose from!

GIVEAWAY

Simply Cook are offering two lucky readers of Kavey Eats a 3-month subscription (of one box per month) each, worth £26.95. Winners can choose between the Discovery, Light and Gluten Free options. Delivery to UK addresses is included.

HOW TO ENTER

You can enter the giveaway in 2 ways – entering both ways increases your chances of winning:

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
Leave a comment telling me about your favourite international recipe – what is it and why do you love it?

Entry 2 – Twitter
Follow both @Kavey and @SimplyCookCom on Twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter! Then tweet the exact sentence (shown in italics) below.
I’d love to win a 3-month subscription to @SimplyCookCom from Kavey Eats! http://bit.ly/KaveyEatsSimplyCook #KaveyEatsSimplyCook
(Do not add my twitter handle or any other twitter handle at the beginning of the tweet or your entry will be considered invalid.
Please don’t leave a blog comment about your tweet either; I track twitter entries using the competition hash tag.)

RULES, TERMS & CONDITIONS

  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 26th February 2016.
  • The winner will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator.
  • Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
  • Where prizes are to be provided by a third party, Kavey Eats accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
  • The prizes are offered and provided by Simply Cook.
  • Each prize is a 3-month subscription (one box per month) to Simply Cook. Winners can choose between the Discovery, Light and Gluten Free options. Delivery to UK addresses is included.
  • The prizes cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. You may enter both ways but you do not have to do so for each individual entry to be valid.
  • For Twitter entries, winners must be following both @Kavey and @SimplyCookCom at the time of notification.
  • Blog comment entries must provide a valid email address for contact.
  • The winners will be notified by email or Twitter so please make sure you check relevant accounts for the notification message.
  • If no response is received from a winner within 10 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

TRY A BOX FOR JUST £1

If you’re still not sure whether Simply Cook is for you, here’s a fantastic offer – Kavey Eats readers are invited to try a box for just £1 using discount code KAVEY1, valid through to the end of March 2016.

Note that you will need to sign up for a subscription with future boxes priced at £8.99 but you are free to cancel after your first (discounted) box if you wish, though you may be hooked, as we now are! I signed up a new account and used the discount code myself to check, and it’s very easy to pause deliveries for a month at a time or to cancel indefinitely – in which case your account remains active but you receive no further deliveries until you go back in and kick them off again.

Kavey Eats received a review subscription from Simply Cook.

The winners of this giveaway are Lindsey Loughtman and Sarah N.

 

Social media – for those of us who follow lots of London fooderati – was filled with photos of plates piled high with grilled meat when Blacklock opened its doors in the heart of Soho last February. Mounds of beef, lamb and pork chops cooked on a charcoal grill and served over bread that soaks up the meat juices.

Despite my best intentions, I never managed a visit last year. Starting a new job last spring – based outside of London and a pig of a commute – put a bit of a brake on my central London dining experiences. But lately I’ve been keen to make up for lost time. And meat is at the top of my list.

Blacklock, then.

The brainchild of ex-Consultant Gordon Ker who decided to swap a desk in the City for running his own restaurant, pausing to take some time working in Hawksmoor along the way, inspiration has come not only from Hawksmoor but from Joe Beef in Montreal, London’s Turkish ocakbasis and steak houses around the world.

The offering is a short menu of top quality meat cooked over charcoal, a trio of snacks to start and a few simple vegetable sides. To wash those down, a handful of surprisingly affordable cocktails, a couple of craft beers, tapped wine by the volume and a soft drink or two.

Named for its main cooking method – meat is cooked ‘on a homemade charcoal grill and seared with scorching hot vintage irons, made in the 1800s by a cast iron foundry in the Deep South called Blacklock’* – the restaurant is located in a basement in the heart of Soho; a former brothel, no less. Note that access is not great for anyone with mobility issues; I expected no lift access – common in basement-only restaurants in historical properties – but what I didn’t expect was a staircase with no handrail for the top few steps. Probably not an issue for the vast majority of customers, but difficult for me.

blacklock interior1
Image courtesy of Blacklock restaurant

Downstairs is an impressively open space with unusually high ceilings for a basement and a slightly retro, low-budget-cool decor. Much of the seating is at large tables with stools, at least one of which is communal, or at high tables with high chairs to match; both are a no-no for me – I need a backrest and I find clambering onto high chairs uncomfortable – but probably not a problem for most customers. There are some tables available with proper chairs or back-supporting banquettes, so reserve in advance to request these.

Menu - Blackfoot Restaurant Review on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle
Image from Blacklock website

Skinny Chops are listed on the two-sided printed menu (all at £4 each) but Big Chops are chalked onto pillar blackboards, impossible to read from our table and staff didn’t seem eager to run through the contents for us before ordering – have a quick browse before settling in at your table.

In any case, we went for the All In option – £20 per person for 8 Skinny Chops between two – 2 beef short ribs and one each of all the rest, we were told, plus 1 each of the three Pre Chop Bites, and one Side each.

Blackfoot Restaurant Review on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7791

At first glance (of the menu), Pre Chop Bites (£3 for the set or £1 individually) didn’t sound very exciting but actually, they were bloody marvellous! A precarious pile of pickles over sharp cheese, a draping of Dripping Ham and – my favourite – egg mayonnaise with an anchovy fillet and raw onion, all served on bite-sized Peter’s Yard crispbreads; these were perfectly balanced mouthfuls of texture and flavour. A good reminder that the supremely simple can be superb!

With these we enjoyed some of the very keenly-priced cocktails (£5 each); Spiked Lemonade and Aperol Negroni both get a thumbs up.

Blackfoot Restaurant Review on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7795

Impatient though we were, we didn’t have to wait too long before the main event arrived. A magnificent mound of ‘Skinny Chops’ of beef, lamb and pork that looked anything but skinny to me – fat, juicy cuts of meat cooked on charcoal and served over bread that soaks up the meat juices. What was served didn’t quite match up to the menu list – we had two beef short ribs as expected, but only two of the pork cuts and four of lamb. This wasn’t a problem, but it would have been nice to be advised on ordering that one skinny chop was not available and asked for our choice of replacement.

Still, the chops were tasty and beautifully cooked. The beef short ribs were the least favourite, for both of us I think – nothing wrong with them but not a cut that’s particularly tender cooked this way, so a little chewy to eat. Pork was superbly tender, with nicely browned fat – the best bit! Lamb had the best flavour of all, and was juicy and tender. I was full after three chops, but luckily my friend has an appetite that belies her lithe body and hoovered up the other five with no hesitation at all!

Blackfoot Restaurant Review on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7797 Blackfoot Restaurant Review on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7798
Blackfoot Restaurant Review on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7801 Blackfoot Restaurant Review on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7799

For our two included Sides we chose Beef Dripping Chips and 10 Hour Ash Roasted Sweet Potato. The restaurant also sent out Charred Courgettes, Chicory & Stilton and a green salad with parmesan. Next time I visit I’ll likely do the same and order extra; at £3 each these sides are great value (especially compared to those at fellow meat purveyor, Zelman).

The sweet potatoes were the best I’ve had for a long time, superbly soft flesh full of smoke and sweetness; very special indeed. The green salad (listed on the menu as kale and parmesan but served as rocket) was a welcome addition, refreshing against the unremitting mountain of meat. I’m not a fan of chicory but the courgettes were cooked just as I like them – with a little firmness of bite – and the flavours of charring and stilton worked well. Chips were as good as they sound and look – excellent flavour, and perfect combination of crunchy exterior and fluffy inside.

Not pictured are the sauces (£1 each) – we ordered both available – Chilli Hollandaise and Green Sauce, the former served in a sauce boat and the latter in small jam jars. Both excellent and a nice change from the usual Peppercorn and Béarnaise (even though I adore it).

Blackfoot Restaurant Review on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7804
Blackfoot Restaurant Review on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7808 Blackfoot Restaurant Review on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7809

I was full to bursting but my friend was confident she had space so we went ahead and ordered dessert (£5); there’s only one available and on the night of our visit it was a white chocolate cheesecake with rhubarb compote. Served at the table straight from a family-style dish, my friend would have happily devoured a teetering tower but the portion served was generous enough; a bit of mess dolloped into the bowl, but homely and tasty and a good way to end the meal.

I asked owner Gordon Ker to describe the Blacklock experience in a nutshell; he suggested, ‘the very best meat cooked simply over charcoal for great value in a fun setting with great hospitality.’ Based on our visit, he’s achieved his goal. Three courses (including that impressive pile of meat), 5 alcoholic drinks, a softie and 2 extra sides resulted in a very reasonable bill of £40 a head plus service and the food was certainly an enjoyable feast.

Blackfoot Restaurant Review on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7802

Kavey Eats dined as guests of Blacklock. Interior image provided by the restaurant. Info on Blacklock’s name* and sources of inspiration courtesy of top London restaurant review site, Hot Dinners.

Blacklock Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Square Meal

 

My name is Kavey and I’m a recovering magazine addict.

You might laugh, but fellow addicts know that this particular affliction can be a hard habit to break. Of course, as addictions go it’s by no means the worse to have, not by a long shot. But still, it can be pretty expensive. And if you like to keep titles for future reference, it’s a storage nightmare too.

When Pete and I bought our house 21 years ago, I got hooked on Home decorating magazines. Not a huge surprise to start with, given the unreconstructed 60s and 70s interiors we inherited – not so much retro as hideous, and dilapidated too. More of a surprise a few years later, given how little of the magazines’ ideas I’d put into use – though at least the swirly carpets, melamine kitchen and metal-framed louvre windows were quickly replaced. I never did get my stencilling, stippling or sponging on – which I’m very glad about in retrospect.

I weaned myself off those after a few years but as my interest in that topic waned, so my hunger for travel magazines and photography titles grew and there were just as many subscriptions dropping through the letterbox as ever before. Food magazines tended to be adhoc purchases, especially supermarket inhouse ones. But I was easily buying 8 or more, per month. Plus Pete’s computer ones on top of that!

It wasn’t until piles of magazines started taking over the house that I cancelled virtually all of them and went somewhat cold turkey. That was around ten years ago…

Magazine Addict - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-151110

… but I didn’t entirely get rid of all the back issues, as this photo (taken today) proves all too well.

Actually, you know what? I’m going to take an action point right now to get rid of most of them within the next few weeks!

Around the time I cancelled most of the subs, I started reading a lot more blogs – I was an avid blog reader for years before I launched Kavey Eats.

I loved (and still love) the world of blogs, and there’s a lot of content I enjoy that simply wouldn’t be published by commercial magazine titles. But there’s still a strong place for traditional magazines, still quite distinct from blogs – certainly the single-author type like this. The forecasters and fortune tellers have been predicting the end of print media for many years now, and while I think they are no doubt right, I am also certain it’s a long way off yet.

So I do miss reading magazines.

Only my memory of how quickly magazine mountains can build up stops me from falling back into my old addiction.

Introducing Readly

This is where Readly comes in.

Clever, clever Readly is an absolute godsend for people like me – providing access to over 1,300 magazine titles in digital format for one single subscription price of £9.99 a month. Given that most of the titles I enjoy reading cost around £4 or £5 per issue, that’s pretty good value.

Once you have signed up, you can access Readly on multiple devices – your desktop PC or Mac, your laptop, your tablet, your phone… and when you switch devices, you can resume reading a given title where you left off on a different device, making it a seamless experience. All the screenshots below are from the PC Desktop app. I have also been accessing Readly via my Android phone, and via our Nexus tablet. All work perfectly well, though obviously there’s an advantage to devices with larger screens!

You can share the service with your family too – a single Readly account supports up to 5 profiles, allowing you to save different magazines into your profile Favourites lists, save personal bookmarks individually and so on. Note that you will all sign in using the same login and password, and have access to all available profiles so if privacy of content is an issue, this may not be suitable for you. For Pete and I it’s perfect, as he can save beer and brewing, science and tech content into his profile and I can save food, travel and photography content into mine. If you do have multiple profiles set up, Readly will ask who is reading each time you login, so you don’t need to worry about accidentally messing up each others’ profiles.

You don’t have be online to read a magazine on Readly, though if you just want to browse and flick through a bunch of magazines that is certainly easiest. Readly also allows you to download magazines to your device when you are connected, and they will remain available for you to read when offline. The number you can save depends on the space available on your device, so you may need to housekeep and delete downloaded titles you’ve finished with now and again.

This means I can catch up on magazines during my Tube commute – a very handy feature!

In More Detail!

The Settings box allows you to ensure that magazines are only downloaded to the device if you are on an unmetered internet connection.

You can also limit the maximum number of downloaded items.

If you prefer to see only newer content, you can hide publications according to how old they are.

Parental Control allows you to apply a password to access Readly, however I believe this across the entire account, not per profile.

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Setting up additional profiles is very straightforward.

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Before starting to browse, I suggest you access the language settings and restrict to those you can read. I have mine set to English only, but like that I could add French titles in to my mix if I choose.

You can filter the country of publication too, if you wish, but I am happy to view magazines published elsewhere, as long as they are English-language.

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Go to Magazines to browse the entire list (of titles available in your specified language) or filter by subject matter.

There are plenty of categories – Animals & Pets, Comics, Health and Fitness, Fashion & Beauty, History, Music, Sport, TV & Film & Cinema and many more.

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Of my areas of interest…

Food & Drink is very well represented with 46 English-language titles currently listed. Of those, I have added several to my Favourites list including Good Things (which I wrote for from launch until late last year), Lucky Peach (a fantastic US title which would cost me a whopping £8 an issue to buy in print form), Saveur, Olive, Delicious and BBC Good Food.

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Photography is similarly well represented with 25 English-language titles currently listed including Practical Photography (which I used to subscribe to), Photoshop Creative and Shutterbug.

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Travel is the weakest category for me. Despite having 66 English-language titles currently listed, most of these are region-specific – Sussex Life, Kent Life, Best of Bavaria. Of those remaining, only Wanderlust and Lonely Planet are titles I want to read, though I appreciate special interest travellers will enjoy Practical Caravan, Cruising World, Canal Boat, Yachts International, Skiing, and Climbing!

The ones I’m really missing are Food & Travel (the UK title, not the Californian one listed), National Geographic Traveller UK, Sunday Times Travel, Conde Nast Traveller, Travel Africa.

If you’re not sure whether Readly will cover the titles that interest you, do check out their full titles list via their website. For me, even with the gaps that I’d love to see plugged, the list of titles available is pretty appealing.

Of course, once you’re subscribed, you can search for and read any available title – not only the latest issue but several back issues too. The number of back issues varies by title, so for Olive I can go back to October 2014, whereas only the latest 4 issues of Lucky Peach are listed.

For titles you want to read regularly, adding them to your Favourites list makes it quick to access them without searching. When viewing the Magazines list, select one or more titles, then Add to Favourites.

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You can then access them without searching, via your Favourites list. You can also choose to be notified when a new issue of any of your Favourites is available.

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On larger devices, Readly displays a double-page spread – on smaller devices, a single page is shown at a time. You can easily access a quick navigation scroll bar which shows small versions of all the pages, making it quick to skip through without reading every page.

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Once you’re viewing a page (or double page spread), you can zoom in easily to read small text or view the images in more detail.

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Here is some of my own content in Good Things magazine, issues 7 and 8.

If, as you’re reading, there’s an article you want to come back to, you can create a bookmark. This allows you to return to a specific page in a specific issue of a specific title with a single click.

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Giveaway

Readly UK are offering one reader of Kavey Eats a 6 month subscription to their service, worth £59.94.

The subscription will be provided via a gift card which can be redeemed anywhere in the world (see Rules, Terms & Conditions).

How To Enter

You can enter the giveaway in 2 ways – entering both ways increases your chances of winning:

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
Leave a comment telling me what you love reading about in your favourite magazines.

Entry 2 – Twitter
Follow @Kavey on Twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter! Then tweet the exact sentence (shown in italics) below.
I’d love to win a 6 month subscription to @ReadlyUK from Kavey Eats! http://bit.ly/KaveyEatsReadly #KaveyEatsReadly
(Do not add my twitter handle or any other twitter handle at the beginning of the tweet or your entry will be considered invalid.
Please don’t leave a blog comment about your tweet either; I track twitter entries using the competition hash tag.)

Rules, Terms & Conditions

  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 5th February 2016.
  • The winner will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator.
  • Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
  • Where prizes are to be provided by a third party, Kavey Eats accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
  • The prize is offered and provided by Readly UK.
  • The prize is a 6 month subscription to the Readly UK service. The gift certificate can be redeemed anywhere in the world, but the winner must select UK as country when redeeming it. This will provide access to all Readly UK content (including international titles covered by Readly UK).
  • The prize cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. You may enter both ways but you do not have to do so for each individual entry to be valid.
  • For Twitter entries, winners must be following @Kavey at the time of notification. Blog comment entries must provide a valid email address for contact.
  • The winners will be notified by email or Twitter so please make sure you check relevant accounts for the notification message.
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When I was a child back in the Seventies, the only terms I knew for the aboriginal peoples of North America were Red Indians and Native Americans. As a child, I understood that the former was considered offensive, a relic clinging to the clichéd coattails of Hollywood Westerns. It also surprised me that early European travellers had confused the indigenous people of the North America continent with my own ancestors in India, or indeed with any of the various distinct peoples of East Asia. After all, their appearance and behaviour were completely different, each tribe with its own rich history, culture and traditions.

As a member of a minority ethnic group myself – albeit a large one – I was keen to give others the respect of addressing them as they preferred, rather than use terms associated with exploitation, marginalisation, derogation and prejudice. Of course, it’s never that simple – I’ve since discovered that there are some who still choose to identify as American Indians while others use Native American and others who ask for their tribal identity to be used, rather than a generic term that groups all tribes together.

The best way of finding out how someone prefers to be labelled, if such a label is even relevant to the conversation, is to ask them!

The reason it became relevant for me recently was my desire to find out more about the food of Canada’s indigenous peoples during my recent trip.

Until I started researching the trip, I didn’t realise the term Native American is not commonly used in Canada, indeed it’s pretty much only used in the United States.

In Canada, the collective term for the country’s indigenous peoples is First Nations, with an individual referred to as a First Nations person, man or woman. Generally this covers all the nations except the Inuit of the Arctic regions and the Métis, a formally recognised cultural group that was born of mixed-race unions between First Nations people and Europeans and between those of different First Nations.

Just as Native Americans has (somewhat) replaced American Indians in the United States, so First Nations has replaced Indian bands in Canada. There are more than 850,000 Canadians who are officially recognised as First Nations people on Canada’s Indians Register. As well as protection from discrimination (under the Employment Equity Act), Indian status also confers a range of additional benefits including property rights and tax exemptions related to Reserve lands, carefully controlled traditional hunting rights and access to a range of social programmes.

HuronWendat First Nations Hotel and Nuseum collage
Hôtel-Musée Premières Nations, artwork in the museum and hotel lobbies

For those interested in learning more, Tourisme Wendake operates the Hôtel-Musée Premières Nations in Wendake, less than half an hour’s drive from Quebec City. Established in 2006 by the Council of the Huron-Wendat Nation, Tourisme Wendake is a non-profit organisation created to promote aboriginal culture and tourism. Their website is a mess – the navigation will make you weep; I recommend navigating directly from the Sitemap.

Visiting in person, however, is a pleasure and the site is a Must-See for anyone seeking an insight into First Nations history and culture.

At the heart of the museum and hotel complex, located on the banks of the Akiawenrahk river, is the Huron-Wendat Museum. Named for the Wendat people – also known as Huron and Wyandot – the museum opened in 2008 with the aim of protecting and promoting the nation’s heritage through permanent and temporary exhibits, activities and workshops. The museum also serves as a gateway for visitors keen to explore Wendake’s numerous heritage sites.

The complex is decorated with traditional and modern arts and crafts created by artists from many of Canada’s First Nations; indeed some of these items are available to purchase from the onsite shop.

I am shown around the museum, hotel and longhouse by Jason Picard-Binet, Marketing and Tourism Development Coordinator for Tourisme Wendake. Jason is part of the Huron-Wendat nation and takes enormous pride in sharing his culture with visitors. Indeed he says that many of the staff working in the complex are First Nations people.

As we stand in the entrance lobby to the museum, Jason points out colourful paintings on floor and ceiling, and tells me the story they represent. The creationist saga of the Huron-Wendat people relates how Aataentsic was banished from the sky world for breaking the rules. As she fell through the sky towards the world of water below, the water birds flew up to help her and gently held her above the water with their wings. As they tired, Great Turtle arrived to relieve them and held her on his back instead. Toad arrived, and dived into the water to retrieve earth from the ocean bed, giving it to Aataentsic to sprinkle over Great Turtle’s back. Soon after, Aataentsic gave birth to twin sons and they created all the elements of the earth and sky. Where one created light and human life, the other created darkness and destruction. The twins fought, and when the good brother won, the other was banished into the underworld where he remains.

HuronWendat La Traite collage 2
Chef Martin Gagné, La Traite Restaurant, some of the dishes served during my Autumn visit

One of my key interests is to find out more about First Nation cuisine, including some of the unique ingredients traditionally farmed and foraged from the local landscape.

Jason introduces me to Martin Gagné, the Executive Chef at Restaurant La Traite, an elegant restaurant at the museum-hotel. In summer months, tables on the peaceful outdoor terrace are particularly sough-after.

We sit down for a chat over tea. Martin offers me a choice of teas and infusions, highlighting those made with herbs and berries that have long been a part of the First Nations diet. Arctic Blend features juniper and other local berries and herbs. Cloudberry and crowberry teas are both fruit infusions. I follow Martin’s lead and choose Labrador tea, an infusion of a flowering plant in the Rhododendron genus which has a refreshing, mildly minty and rosemary-like flavour. Some of the traditional First Nations ingredients are becoming more popular of late, says Martin. Labrador tea is one such ingredient; traditionally used to cure headaches, to relax and to help mothers through childbirth, it is now being investigated by Western Pharma and has tripled in price in the last few years.

Although Martin is not registered Indian, he is part Algonquin and has always had an interest in First Nations culture. I ask him how he came to work at the Huron-Wendat Museum and Hotel.

After studying catering Martin worked at a number of prestigious restaurants, eventually taking up the head chef position at Manoir St-Castin, not far from Quebec City. It was here that he became more inspired by First Nations food traditions, and began to incorporate them more regularly into his cooking. Indeed it was during a visit to Wendake to purchase a teepee in which to host events at Manoir St-Castin that he first met the Grand Chief of the Huron-Wendat nation. Later that year, he was invited to cook at the community’s Harvest Festival. There, the Grand Chief told him of the nation’s plans to set up a new museum and asked Martin to head up the restaurant.

Other First Nations restaurants in the area tend to serve traditional First Nations food, but Martin wanted to take things further – to take the traditional and bring it up to date. At La Traite, he uses local products to create a modern, nature-focused menu with strong influence from First Nations traditions, but not bound by them. The cooking is informed by his classical French training, the wider Canadian-Quebecois food culture and some international references. These he skilfully fuses with a larder of wild game, seafood and many vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices foraged from boreal forests that still cover much of Canada. It is a celebration of the abundance of nature, seasonality and the ethos of sustainability.

As much of the restaurant’s customer base is repeat diners and corporate clientele, Martin is keen to offer a menu that not only changes seasonally but introduces diners to new ideas and dishes each time they visit. Alongside traditional game meats of the region, he also assimilates ingredients and ideas from aboriginal traditions elsewhere in the world – hence the menu has also seen dishes using Australian kangaroo and Mayan shrimps (from modern day Belize) over the years.

When it comes to adding flavour, Martin uses herbs and spices favoured by First Nations cooking to complement his main ingredients, but often looks to use them in new ways. Gathered when in season, some are are dried and preserved for use throughout the year.

We want our customers to discover new flavours in our forest’, he says, ‘but we also want to show them that with our local products, we can produce similar tastes as the spices of the Orient’.

Dune pepper (poivre des dunes), for example – the small buds from the green alder tree – is traditionally used with game meat such as buffalo; Martin describes its aroma as the perfume of the forest, adding that it has a peppery flavour but not the heat of peppercorns; it is good in a creamy sauce, much as one might use peppercorns.

Balsam fir (sapin baumier) is similar to pine; Martin uses it to smoke fish, imbuing the fish with a citrusy woodland flavour.

Coltsfoot (tussilage) flowers are found all over Quebec and traditionally used in medicinal infusions; with a flavour resminiscent of chamomile, Martin likes to pair them with fresh fish.

Myrical gale (myrique baumier) is also known as bog-myrtle, sweetgale and royal piment (pepper); the leaves and buds have a nutmeg-like aroma and taste and can be used in similar recipes.

Horsetail (prêle des champs), also called sweet grass, is a sacred medicinal plant for the Nation and has a very particular scent. Martin grinds it to make a marinade for prawns.

There are over forty such herbs and spices in Martin’s kitchen, each of which brings a unique flavour to his cooking.

As restaurant service starts, Martin heads back to the kitchen and Jason and I take a table in the restaurant, to enjoy some of the flavours I’ve recently learned about.

With traditional bannock cornbread rolls, we have a refreshing ‘rhubarb water’ – I’m not usually a fan of rhubarb but the perfect balance between sweet and sharp, and the gentle flavour, is delightful. Our first course is a traditional Sagamité Soup featuring the three sisters, red beans, squash and corn, in an elk broth – the ingredients are so known because of the way they are traditionally grown together – the tall stalks of the corn provide a frame for the beans to climb, and these in turn provide shade to the squash plants growing beneath; an early and enduring example of companion planting.

Next comes a beautiful tasting board with several perfectly-presented little dishes including smoked salmon, lemon ‘caviar’, salicornia (a beach or marsh-growing succulent) and capers; foie gras with a spiced apple butter; a fresh vegetable salad; venison with parmesan and cheddar cheeses, confit onion and wild blueberry jam; crab rillettes with sweet peppers and gherkins and a smoked L’Algonquin Cheese, grilled with pear.

To finish, we enjoy fresh fruit with maple syrup mousse and maple syrup – of course the First Nations people harvested and used sap from the maple tree long before the Europeans arrived in North America!

As I’d hoped, the cooking is accomplished and delicious; the way Martin and his kitchen team weave together ingredients, techniques and dishes I already know with those I’ve not previously encountered is a special experience indeed.

I’m reminded that there are many such ingredients available in Europe – foraged for centuries, perhaps even millenia, but somehow forgotten by modern cooking, yet readily available in our local woodlands, verges and untended grounds. First Nations food is above all about that link to the local environment, and making best use of the produce it offers; surely a good lesson to take home.

HuronWendatEkionkiestha longhouse collage
The Ekionkiestha’ longhouse at Huron-Wendat

After lunch, Jason shows me more of the site.

The main hotel is within the same complex of buildings as the museum and rooms are gorgeous. Spacious, attractive, decorated with traditional and modern First Nation art and crafts, they are really delightful and of course, staying one or more nights gives you more time to learn about the First Nations as whole and the Huron-Wendat nation in particular. It’s also a great base for outdoor activities in the region such as hiking, boating, fishing and more.

Just outside the hotel and museum buildings is the traditionally constructed Ekionkiestha’ longhouse. Here, guests can learn traditional First Nation myths and legends over a cup of Labrador tea and some bannock bread. Guides are also available to teach interested visitors about First Nation cooking, hunting and craft-making. For a more immersive experience, guests can book to spend a night in the longhouse, under the supervision of the firekeeper.

My visit this time is too short to stay overnight. I’d like very much to come back and spend longer next time, learning more about Huron-Wendat culture and traditions.

 

Kavey Eats visited Wendake courtesy of Destination Canada, with the assistance of Tourisme Quebec. Huge thanks to Jason and Martin for their time and all that they taught me.

 

I’ve enjoyed visiting Hawksmoor, albeit only intermittently, since the days when there was just one of what later became a mini chain of five; each new property to open serving the same impeccably sourced and delicious steaks, super and inventive cocktails and tasty desserts in a wonderfully individual, beautifully furnished, welcoming setting. Owners Will Beckett and Huw Gott created a wonderful brand; a sure bet if you ever fancied a damn good steak at someone else’s table.

In 2013 they sold a majority stake (geddit?) to investors but remained involved in the business, turning their efforts to launching sibling steakhouse Foxlow, which provides a similar offering to Hawksmoor but is aimed at a more local neighbourhood clientele. There are now four Foxlow properties – in Clerkenwell, Stoke Newington, Chiswick and Balham – and certainly on the night of our visit, the newest to open was doing a roaring trade.

Although I’ve seen Foxlow referred to as a less expensive sibling to Hawksmoor, I’d say that prices for the star of the show – steak – are pretty much on a par with Hawksmoor. Starters, sides, sauces and puddings are a touch less, though, but it’s not a huge differential. The vibe is more relaxed though, not that it’s overly formal at Hawksmoor, and the location of this branch close to a tube stop makes it handy for weeknight dining even if you’re not a local.

Just as it does at Hawksmoor, the beef is from native breed cattle reared by The Ginger Pig in North Yorkshire, the meat is dry aged for 35 or 55 days, depending on the cut. Seafood is caught off the South Coast and travels directly from Brixham every morning. Chicken is slow-grown herb-fed Yorkshire Ross. Charcuterie, cheese and bread are similarly carefully sourced.

Which means that whatever you choose from the menu, you’ll be in for a treat.

Foxlow Balham Steak Restaurant on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7694

Burrata with Sorrel Salsa Verde (£7.5) is fresh, creamy and wonderfully matched by the citrus notes of the sorrel. A good example of allowing quality ingredients to speak for themselves.

Foxlow Balham Steak Restaurant on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7697

Salmon Crudo, Chilli & Ginger (£7.5) is thinly sliced and lifted perfectly by a light gingery dressing, slivers of hot chilli and a scattering of micro herbs. Delicious and disappears alarmingly quickly!

Foxlow Balham Steak Restaurant on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7704

300 grams D-Rump 55 days (£18) is cooked medium rare as requested and is a truly delicious piece of meat. (D-Rump, by the way, is cut from the centre of the rump). It’s served with a small bone marrow and onions, no vegetables included, so don’t forget to order (and factor in when assessing the prices of a main meal) your choice of sides. This is as good a steak as any I’ve had in the last year or two, and beautiful smeared with a very tasty Béarnaise, generous servings of which are £1 each.

Foxlow Balham Steak Restaurant on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7701

We select a 250 gram Rib Eye (£21) from the board (because it’s a smaller weight than the 275 gram cut listed on the menu) and ask for it medium, to give the fat a chance to cook. It’s served rare, so we send it back. Not a bother, a new one cooked exactly as requested is back with us before too long. Never feel nervous to return a steak that is not cooked as you requested – even a good kitchen can get a steak wrong from time to time, especially a thin cut like this, and any good restaurant won’t baulk at changing it for you, as was the case here.

Foxlow Balham Steak Restaurant on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7703 Foxlow Balham Steak Restaurant on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7709

Our sides are a super soft Baked Sweet Potato (£3) and lovely Buttered Anya Potatoes (£3.5).

To drink Pete enjoys a 375 ml carafe of Foxlow House Red (£8.5); it’s odd not to see any hint of what kind of wine it is, but I imagine this allows the restaurant to switch in different wines more easily, and he deems it a perfectly satisfactory easy-drinking red. I have a Vietnamese Iced Coffee (£3.5) which would also make a nice after-dinner drink if you don’t have room for dessert but fancy something sweet and caffeinated!

Foxlow Balham Steak Restaurant on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7714

The desserts list is full of temptations and I lament my lack of space for the Black Forest Brownie (£6.5) but decide instead to steal a few spoons from Pete’s Bourbon Caramel Soft Serve Sundae (£5.5), especially when it arrives with unexpected candied pecans which he doesn’t like but which I am happy to devour.

Is Foxlow the perfect neighbourhood restaurant? Yes. While the interiors may not be as lavish as those of elder sibling Hawksmoor, they are comfortable and attractive. Service is friendly and enthusiastic (to everyone, not just those of us invited to review). And the food, particularly the steak, is every bit as good. Certainly I’d love to have a branch near me (though this one is within easy reach of my current workplace). That said, £90 between two for three courses and only minimal drinks, remains on the high side for an everyday meal, although that line is, of course, different for everybody. But for a little splurge on pay day, or for those little celebrations of milestones achieved, anniversaries and birthdays counted, it’s spot on.

Kavey Eats dined as guests of Foxlow Balham.

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