Going underground...

October 22, 2010
Going underground...
 At last I have a new laptop and I am able to resume my blogging! It has been two weeks since I last wrote and my fingers have been itching to tell you all about our Underground Supper Club experience.

I came across an article on London's Underground Supper Clubs and thought this would be a great encounter to write about.  If you are not familiar with the whole concept of SC's, then let me enlighten you! They're a combination of a restaurant and a dinner party - mostly held in people's private homes (perfect for those of you who love to snoop...), the venue remains a closely guarded secret until you have a confirmed booking. Run by enthusiastic foodies - including professional chefs, ordinary working couples, mother and daughter teams - your hosts are simply people who loves to cook! How do you get invited? You don't - you invite yourselves.  

So, after doing a bit of research and reading some reviews I decided we should try out Fernandez and Leluu. (We were really fortunate to get a booking that week.)  Friday night arrived, armed with our cooler bag and healthy appetites, we ventured to our secret location in East London.  I have to admit that my anticipation was heightened when the most delicious smell of something cooking wafted passed us as we walked down the inconspicuous street trying to find the right door...


   
The setting... note the linen napkins - always a good feature!

We were the first to arrive (punctuality is my middle name...) and were ushered into the makeshift dining room where we were offered a glass of wine by Uyen (from their website I have ascertained that she was born in Vietnam but has lived in London since the age of 5 - she now owns her little fashion boutique somewhere in Soho, I think.  Simon, yes, you guessed it - is the Fernandez part of the duo. He wasn't anywhere to be seen that night, but just to fill you in he is of Spanish origin and is a computer software developer...)

   

Within a few minutes, the rest of the guests started arriving and before long there were about 27 of us packed into the room.  Richard and I were seated at the end of a table set for 10 and funnily enough, our direct neighbours for the next four hours were Kay and Colin (who claim to be just friends), they both hail from, wait for it, South Africa!

Our menu for the evening consisted of six courses... We started off with a refreshing chicken salad, with carrots and crunchy green herbs - the lime dressing gave it a fabulous sweetness.  Having starved myself the entire day, there was much haste to eat and I must apologise for neglecting to take a photo of the salad before we devoured it...  Instead I have only a photo of my darling husband, accompanied by our half eaten salad!


My handsome husband 

The service provided by host Uyen, was informal and friendly - how she navigates up and down the stairs to her kitchen in 6 inch heels, god only knows...
 
 Next up, a pile of crispy Springrolls filled with Prawn, Crab & Pork - accompanied by a chili dipping sauce.  These were absolutely lipsmackingly delicious... We polished ours off in no time, and Uyen kept bringing out more... In hindsight, we should have said no thank you, as there were still four more courses to come and the wine was flowing like a river...




 
I could smell our third course long before I could see it - aromatic Beef Pho.  (And just in case you have never hear of Pho, it's a Vienamese Noodle soup.) Thinly sliced beef, rice noodles & beef broth - garnished with chilli's, coriander, red onion & a splash of lime juice - a soup that's both nourishing and comforting! 




It was time to un-notch our belts!  By this stage of the evening, the room was filled with raucous conversation and laughter.  Colin kept us entertained with his smokeless cigarette (it rained on and off which interfered with the smokers routine of disappearing outside in between courses.)


 
Round 4 - Fish & chips (with a twist).  Sashimi tuna served with wasabi mayo and French Fries.  This was one of the only courses that I didn't really enjoy that much - I like my Tuna either seared or served slightly chilled.  I'm afraid the tuna was a little too "warm" for my liking.  Richard suffers from gout so was also not about to overindulge.  Everyone else at the table appeared to enjoy it though - so maybe I am just being a fuss pot!

 

It was nearly 11pm by the time our fifth course arrived - Pork cutlets with broken rice.  (I had to look this one up when I got home - broken rice is fairly similar to normal rice, it's just that these grains broke during harvest or cleaning so they are perhaps half the size of normal rice grains).  The rice had a nutty taste to it and stuck together in clumps which makes it easier to eat with chopsticks.  The pork was okay - somewhat dry, perhaps a little overcooked, but by this late hour I don't think too many people took too much notice.  Wine bottles were being passed around the room and all were having way too much fun to even think about complaining.
  



We finished off the meal and the evening with a subtle sorbet of Coconut and Cointreau which was refreshing and delicious.  (I have a seriously sweet tooth and this was just the right end to the meal that I was after.)


 
Before you get up, grab your coat and start making your way towards the front door, Uyen hands out a classy little envelope for your contribution/  "donation". (You are requested to give a minimum of £35 or more if you think its worth it).

So what did I really think of the experience?  Overall, it was a truly fun, adventurous and original night out - a great way to meet new people  - even if some of them are South African :-)   You may be sitting cozy among a group of interesting strangers, it certainly doesn't feel that way.  Make sure you come hungry & bring plenty of plonk (and arrange a cab to take you home - the last tube left hours ago...) 

To book a spot at one of their tables - http://www.fernandezandleluu.co.uk/  


A few more pics from our night underground - a rather unique experience...


Colin can't believe that I am only 21 years old... 



Richard and Kay - keep that red wine coming...  


 
Colin making sure he gets his moneys worth of Pho... 


Trying to capture the atmosphere & vibe in a photo...

 
Colins staple diet... Bushmills and broken rice...
 
 

This little piggy went to market...

October 3, 2010
Located beneath the railway viaducts in SE1 and just a stones throw away from the river Thames is Borough Market - one of London's oldest and largest farmers markets.  We arrived here just after noon and purposefully walked here from our apartment (about 40 minutes walk) and skipped breaky so that we could make complete pigs of ourselves!  

The atmosphere is incredible - just taking a stroll among the buzzing crowded stalls gets your stomach juices flowing and we couldn't wait to sample everyt...
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Simply di-vine Sunday Lunch

September 30, 2010

One fine Sunday morning, together with my inlaws and husband, we ventured out of London and into the picturesque countryside, our destination: The Vineyard Hotel at Stockcross, near Newbury in Berkshire.  Their website promised a "Gastronomic affair" and what a fine affair it was!  The welcome we received upon arrival was warm and inviting and the service remained exceptional from the Apéritifs right through to the Petit fours, it was faultless.

To start with Richard had the salmon sushi - th...


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Just Married & Living the good life in London


Janice Bruce-Brand Hi, I'm Janice. I am not a chef, and I am not a photographer - but I love cooking, eating and taking photographs. My mother is a great cook and this is probably where my love for food began. A few years ago, she opened up her own little restaurant in the quaint farming hamlet where I spent roughly 20 years of my youth! By creating this blog, I hope to share with you my curiosity for just about everything in life that relates to food. Those who know me are aware of just how much I love to document my trips and travels. I hope you'll join me for the ride... I promise to keep you suitably entertained (and perhaps even drooling at times!)

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