Sunday, 27 January 2013

Dining in the sky, Bangkok ( part 2 )

Vertigo and moon bar, Banyan Tree Bangkok.

Those of you following me on Twitter or Facebook will recognise the picture below. I use it as my cover photo on my profile. This is Vertigo and moon bar which resides 61 floors high on top of the Banyan Tree hotel in Bangkok.

Vertigo was the first truly high-rise rooftop bar and restaurant in Bangkok. Converted from what had previously been the helipad of the hotel and tower.
Vertigo is located in the heart of the business district and offers 360 degree panoramic views of the Bangkok skyline including the Chao Phraya River and Lumpini Park.

My partner and I had a reservation here in 2007 whilst visiting Bangkok. 
It was during my stay here that I fell in love with drinking and dining on rooftop terraces and have sought them out ever since whenever we visit a new City.

In Bangkok your literally dining and drinking in the sky ! and here at Vertigo we were lucky enough to be seated next to the edge. The view was just stunning, the food was good but quite expensive for Bangkok's standards but that's expected for the location.
The experience overall was memorable and one we will be repeating sometime this March.

Bangkok is peppered with roof terrace bars and restaurants so I'm looking forward to another date with the sky, and this amazing capitol in the Land of Smiles.


Image from Banyan Tree Gallery






Drinks & snacks before dinner at the Moon bar. Here you are given a little torch to view the drinks menu.  









Amuse bouche of Salmon


Warm goats cheese filo roll, smoked duck salad, Cherry tomato, mizuna. pecan nuts, balsamic dressing.


Puree of butternut pumpkin soup.


Palate cleanser - Vodka sorbet.


Sorry for pic quality here - but it's the only one I have of this dish.
Grilled beef striploin, asparagus, roasted cherry tomato, sauteed spinach & marrowbone.


Baked cheesecake, fruit coulis.






Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Drinking in the sky, Bangkok ( part 1)

Sky Bar Bangkok

Writing a Blog based around food and drink then deciding to go on a diet is never a good idea! But diet I must, this means there will be a lull in visiting restaurants. All is not lost though as this gives me an opportunity to look back on some of the wonderful experiences I've had and write about them for my Blog. So here goes, lets start with Bangkok!

Browsing through an inflight magazine on a trip to the Maldives in 2006 I was absolutely bowled over with the image of a bar, It is called the Sky Bar and it's in Bangkok.

Sky Bar, Bangkok

Turning to my partner I said "one day we will drink here!"
Then in 2007 fulfilling a dream to visit Thailand we booked our next vacation there. Realising part of the vacation was to spend four days in Bangkok before spending the remainder in Krabi gave me the opportunity to turn my statement into a reality!

The Sky Bar is one of the world's highest open air bars, perched high in the sky on the 63rd floor of The Dome at State Tower in Bangkok, which is also part of the Lebua hotel.
The state tower is Bangkok's third tallest building, standing at 247m.
Boasting the most beautiful panoramic views of Bangkok and the Chao Phraya River.

It has to be one of the coolest bars in Bangkok, we visited the Sky Bar in 2007, but after it featured in the Hangover II, it has become a must on every traveller's to do list. Judging by the latest reviews it's now even more popular and queueing for entry is inevitable.
It is also very expensive I think we paid around £11 for a Gin & tonic.
That said if your ever visiting Bangkok it really is worth the visit.


The Illuminated bar (official photograph)

Stepping out from the lift you are greeted with the most awesome sight of a night lit Bangkok, a sight I will never forget. Apart from the view the most amazing features are the neon lit bar that changes colour every few seconds, just stunning against the night sky. The view from the bar of the illuminated steps up to the dome are equally stunning.
Atmosphere is lively With the sounds of live jazz which plays nightly.

There is a strict dress code here, we were actually turned away on our first visit because my footwear was unsuitable, so we returned the next evening with my toes hidden in closed shoes and was allowed in the lift to go up !

There are also strict rules around photography, staff escort you from the lift down the steps and to the bar, your not allowed to take any photographs from the top of the steps and certainly not near the restaurant (Sirocco) understandably as people are eating. They are more relaxed about you taking photographs around the bar area.

We did not eat at Sirocco on this visit as we had already made a reservation to eat at another rooftop restaurant "Vertigo" on top of the Banyan Tree hotel.

More of that next post.
 


Sirocco

 

























Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Sticky toffee cheesecake

I have a weak point in cooking and that's deserts, I don't make them enough to practice.
My partner bought me a kitchen Aid stand mixer last Christmas, the most expensive kitchen gadget I have and the least used. When I first got it I had a go at making this cheesecake and it turned out very well.

Last week it was my sisters birthday and the rest of the family planned a surprise party for her. My younger sister and I split the buffet food between us, the kids wanted me to make the cheesecake again, so I jumped at the chance to get the mixer out.

This is a baked cheesecake and very easy to make , to be honest the mixer does it all !
You can see the original recipe Here.

Recipe calls for a 20cm cake tin but I used a 24 cm one therefore I used a full 200g packet of biscuits and upped the butter from 50g to 80g also used 8 toffee's instead of 6. The rest of the ingredients stay the same.


Ingredients

  • 8 shortbread fingers (I used a full 200g pkt)
  • 50g Butter (I used 80g) melted
  • 600g Cream cheese or curd cheese
  • 100g Golden caster sugar
  • 3tbsp Plain flour
  • 2tsp Vanilla extract
  • 3 Eggs
  • 142ml Pot soured cream
  • 300g White chocolate, melted
  • 6 Hard caramels roughly chopped (I used 8)
  • 225g Jar caramel or dulce de leche.




Method
Heat the oven to 180c/fan 160c / Gas 4. Crush the biscuits in a food processor, stir into the melted butter and press the mixture into a spring form tin. Bake for 10 minutes then cool.
Turn the oven down to 140c/fan 120c/ Gas 1.


























While the base is in the oven melt the chocolate. I put a large glass bowl over a smaller pan so the boiling water did not touch the bottom of the bowl. 
I also used a white chocolate with vanilla seeds, you can see all th little black seds in the chocolate.





In a mixer first beat the cream cheese with the sugar, flour and vanilla. Then add eggs, soured cream and chocolate and combine.




When the base has cooled sprinkle the hard caramels over the base, pour the cheese cake mixture carefully on top and bake for 40-50 minutes. I have made this cheesecake many times now and it always needs a little longer in the oven than the original recipe states. I usually give it an extra 10 mins. 




Once the cheesecake is done the filling should still have a slight wobble. My top tip,Turn the oven off and leave the cheesecake to cool down inside the oven. I have never had a cracked cheesecake using this method.

 The baked cheesecake after 1 hour 30 minutes at Gas mark 1 (for a 24inch cake tin )



Once cooled spread a layer of caramel on top.



I decorated mine with small chunks of toffee around the edges.
You can see the chunks of caramel along the base too. Tastes divine !

Friday, 18 January 2013

Slow roasted lamb shanks in red wine with garlicky lemony butter bean mash

It was inevitable I would have to go on a diet post Christmas gluttony and pre-holiday, I had no choice!
Tonight's supper was supposed to be salmon fillet with salad. All day I've been dreading the thought of it. Hardly a winter warmer is it?

I left work a few hours early today due to the bad weather. Those few extra hours could be spent slow roasting something heart warming. That was all I needed to weaken the will power so a quick detour to the supermarket and I was two lamb shanks nearer to utopia!

Once home I got to work straight away ! 

No recipe followed just chucked what I knew worked well together, so here's how I made this tasty supper.

Ingredients (for two people)
  • 2 lamb shanks
  • 4 large garlic cloves smashed
  • 2 rosemary sprigs - 1 chopped the other left whole
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 4 carrots chopped
  • 1 courgette chopped
  • 1tbs flour
  • 1/4 pint of red wine - I used Casillero del Diablo (Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • 1/2 lamb stock cube
  •  A good splash of hot water from the kettle.
 For the Butter bean mash
  • 1 clove of garlic finely chopped
  • The zest of half a lemon
  • 400g tin of butter beans
  • A good glug of olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Method
Preheat the oven as high as it will go.
Put a glug of olive oil in a frying pan and get the pan really hot.
Brown the shanks on all sides, then set aside in a casserole pan with lid.
Fry the onion, garlic and rosemary in the same pan till just turning soft.
Add the flour and cook out for two minutes.
Add the red wine and cook for two Min's, add the stock cube and water.
Add the chopped vegetables and stir to coat.
Pour vegetables and sauce over the lamb shanks then put in the oven on the middle shelf.
Turn the heat down to gas mark 3, 325F, 160/170 C and cook for 3 hours.

To make the butter bean mash.
Add a good glug of olive oil to a pan then add garlic and lemon zest, warm through gently on a low heat to let the garlic and lemon flavour the oil .
Rinse the butter beans then add to the pan, cook gently stirring and squishing the beans down with a wooden spoon till the resemble mash ( or you could leave some chunky for texture)
Add salt and pepper to taste.

And most importantly served with a large glass of the red ! Happy days :0)







 



Sunday, 13 January 2013

Some serious reading

I remember the big Hoo - Ha last year when the Michelin guide results had been revealed a week ahead of the books publishing date, prompting Michelin to bring this book out a week early.

This little red book has had it's fair share of controversy. In 2009 a US food Blogger revealed the results in a security breach, then in 2010 Amazon made a gaff delivering the books ahead of schedule. It was Michelin itself last year who accidentally published the new star ratings on it's own website then quickly removed them but not before Twitter went crazy .....

This is the first time I have owned one of the Michelin guides, with information of over 3,800 hotels and restaurants I don't suppose I will be stuck for looking for places to eat this year !






Friday, 11 January 2013

Pork and spinach meatballs

It's that time of year again when I have decided it's time to eat sensibly after all the over indulgence of Christmas. Like most people I've gained a few extra pounds but in March I'm off on a holiday to the far east, so my plan is to lose a bit of weight to allow for the over indulgence again. See! every cloud has a silver lining.

I hate the word diet so eat sensibly I must ! and when I have to eat sensibly I have to have a meal plan. I find Rosemary Conley's Diet & Fitness magazine is great for this.

So I'm putting away my Olive & BBC Good food magazines and developing temporary blindness to most of my cookery books for a few weeks. And as for meals out ...... Yikes !

Anyways what I don't spend in restaurants will be going into the holiday fund (silver lining again).

I made these pork and spinach meatballs from this magazine and I have to say they were very good, and did not feel like diet food at all. Here's how I made them. 
( I doubled the ingredients to make a larger batch to freeze)


 204 calories per serving and 4.4% fat .

INGREDIENTS
Serves 4
  • 400g lean pork mince
  • 2 Leeks, finely chopped (I used 1 large one)
  • 1 Garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped sage
  • 1 tbsp Grain mustard
  • 1 tsp Vegetable stock powder
  • 100g finely chopped spinach

METHOD

1. Place pork in a mixing bowl. Add the leeks, garlic, sage, mustard and stock powder. Mix well adding the spinach.







2. Divide into 20 golf ball - sized balls.




3. Preheat a none stick dry fry pan, dry fry the meatballs browning on all sides.


Serve with unlimited fresh vegetables.

P.S I made a tomato sauce for these by dry frying one red onion with a chopped clove of garlic and any herb you like, then add a tin of chopped tomatoes. Cook for a few minutes then blitz using a stick blender. Add the meatballs to heat through.



Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Medlar

 
During our last visit to London in November my partner and I were very fortunate to have a reservation at the Electrolux Cube with chef Tom Kerridge. We were only in London for one overnight stay but our train was not due to to leave for Liverpool till 4pm the next day so there was time to have lunch before leaving. I had heard very good things about Medlar, in fact I had not heard one bad thing about Medlar.

I liked the fact although Medlar has a Michelin star this was regarded amongst reviewers as a more relaxed affair without letting up on quality and standard.

Owners Joe Mercer Nairne & David O'Connor have a combined wealth of experience.
Joe Mercer Nairne has worked in some of the worlds finest kitchens from Carluccio's, the Savoy grill, Chez Bruce, as well as a stint down under in Sydney at Neil Perry's Rockpool .
David O'Connor, has managed front of house at three of the Nigel Platts - Martin restaurants, The Square, Chez Bruce and the Ledbury ..... and is a fellow Scouser !

Checking the menu on Medlar's website we were stunned to see the set menu priced at £30.00 per head, offering a massive choice per course. Not to mention the fantastic reviews from the likes of AA Gill, Giles Coren, Charles Campion, Jay Rayner to name a few.
We didn't waste another second in picking the phone up, Hurrah they had a table for 12.30pm.

From the outside Medlar has the casual look of a neighbourhood restaurant, inside is smart and stylish soft tones of greys and greens and crisp white table cloths. The service is warm and very professional,service went like clockwork. 


For my first course I chose Duck egg tart with red wine sauce,turnip puree, lardons and sauteed duck hearts. It was the most fantastic combination of flavours, A perfect fried duck egg sat on the thinnest sliver of pastry but there was a meaty element with the duck hearts and lardons, the sauce bringing a deep rich savoury element which brought everything together in a perfect balanced dish.


My partner chose Crab ravioli with samphire, brown shrimps, fondue of leeks and bisque sauce. I was assured that this was very tasty and she loved all the different textures in this dish. 


We both chose the same mains, Fillet and cheek of middle white pork with boudin noir, chestnuts, sprouts, sage and artichokes. Stunningly soft pork which just cut like butter and great crackling ! always a winner.




For my desert I chose Chocolate tart. This came with Pistachio ice cream which I like but there was another desert which had prune and armagnac and I fancied that. No problem for the kitchen this was swapped for my preferred choice, I was a very happy bunny.
I have to say this was one of the nicest chocolate tarts I have ever had and I have had a few !! The nicest surprise was it was warm, most are served cold. This made for a very light desert and the pastry was the thinnest pastry I have ever seen I cant begin to imagine how they managed to line the tin without it tearing.




My partner was so full she opted for the Clementine sorbet with almond nougatine. The verdict on this was divine but one scoop would have been enough as it was very tart. This is not a criticism it's fantastic that it had not been sweetened, just with something so tart a little goes along way.




























There's not many Michelin starred restaurants you can eat for such a reasonable price, this was an outstanding meal and one we would like to repeat again.

You can find Medlar at: 
438 Kings Road
Chelsea SW10 0LJ
020 7349 1900