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travel

Eating London – Day 1: Fryer’s Delight and St. John Restaurant

After spending Six Hours in Boston, we hopped on another red-eye to London. We arrived in Heathrow at around 7:15am and hadn’t really slept in two days. But after finally getting into London at around 9:30am and settling into the Russell Square flat where we were staying, we went looking for food.

One of my eating missions for our trip was to find a chippy for some proper fish and chips. I’d read a lot about various chippies around London, but when I learned that Fryer’s Delight was walking distance from our flat AND fried everything in beef tallow, it immediately got on our “must” list. I ordered the haddock and my wife had the cod. We got it with a side of forgettable mushy peas, but you can’t really go wrong with this as a first meal:

Fried Haddock and Chips at Fryer's Delight
Fried Haddock and Chips at Fryer’s Delight

Energized by fried food, we walked our way through Bloomsbury, Covent Garden, and Camden until we ended up at the British Museum, a welcome (and free) sight since it was drizzling outside and my wife doesn’t like the rain.

The main hall at the British Museum
The main hall at the British Museum

(We had a lot more pictures, but my wife’s bag was stolen, including our beloved Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 inside, while we were shopping in Piccadilly Circus before we had a chance to download the pictures from the camera. Because of this, pictures from the first two days in London are from my iPhone 4. Good thing I was taking pictures, too!)

After looking at mummies and other artifacts that were stolen from Egypt, we went back to the flat to rest before for our dinner at St. John Restaurant, Fergus Henderson’s shrine to nose-to-tail eating. The restaurant is in Clerkenwell, which wasn’t that far from the flat, so we walked to dinner. We walked a lot in London, which is funny because at home, we normally drive to places that are much closer than many of the places we walked to in London. I hope this changes now that we’re back.

St. John Still Water
St. John still mineral water by Hildon

We met one of my wife’s friends at the restaurant, which meant there was going to be more food to sample. :) We started with the Roasted Bone Marrow & Parsley Salad, which is just about as classic as you can get. I loved that there was still meat on the bones for us to gnaw on along with the marrow and toast.

Roast Bone Marrow & Parsley Salad.
Roasted Bone Marrow & Parsley Salad

Our other starter was simply called “Terrine” on the menu and contained Middlewhite pork, duck, rabbit offal, foie gras and some other awesome stuff I don’t remember.

Terrine
Terrine

Our friend ordered the Turbot, Fennel & Samphire, which she liked a lot, and we all learned that a samphire is a “sea green bean.”

Turbot, Fennel & Samphire
Turbot, Fennel & Samphire

I ordered the Roast Tamworth, Carrot & Aioli, a simple and delicious roasted pork dish that came with a nice surprise…a little chicharron. I always appreciate a little fried pork skin when it’s made available to me. :)

Roast Tamworth, Carrot & Aioli
Roast Tamworth, Carrot & Aioli

Speaking of fried pork skin, my wife ordered the Pig’s Cheek & Dandelion, which features one of the best parts of the pig and also contained some fried bits of pork skin and crunchy breadcrumbs for texture. This was our favorite entrée of the night.

Pig's Cheek and Dandelion
Pig’s Cheek & Dandelion

St. John may be a mecca for meat lovers, but their desserts were also outstanding. The Poached Peach & Vanilla Ice Cream was the best peach dish I’ve ever eaten and is one of my favorite desserts of all time. I love peaches, but I’ve never eaten anything this pure before. Simply stellar.

Poached Peach & Vanilla Ice Cream
Poached Peach & Vanilla Ice Cream

My excitement over the peaches didn’t malign my impressions of the other two desserts we ordered. The Chocolate Mousse & Crème Fraîche was a decadent combination, and the Strawberry Ripple Ice Cream was a great showcase for the season’s freshest strawberries.

Chocolate Mousse & Crème Fraîche
Chocolate Mousse & Crème Fraîche
Strawberry Ripple Ice Cream
Strawberry Ripple Ice Cream

You have to order the Madeleines at least 15 minutes in advance, which we did, and they were a great way to end the meal. They’re pretty hefty and we ended up taking a few home and eating them for breakfast the next morning.

MadeleinesMadeleines

My only regret was that I didn’t order the Ox Heart, Beetroot & Horseradish, but overall, I think we had a pretty good first day of eating in London. We returned to the flat to rest up for day two, which featured more English culinary royalty…Heston Blumenthal.

Fryer’s Delight
19 Theobalds Road
London WC1X 8SL
44(0)20 7405 4114

St. John Restaurant
26 St. John Street
London EC1M 4AY (map)
44(0)20 3301 8069
Web site

Categories
David Chang Momofuku pork recipes

Chicharrones (Fried Pork Rinds)

Chicharrones

In my world, there is no finer snack than some chicharrones, a.k.a. fried pork rinds. It’s something I’ve been eating since I was a kid, and Filipinos love it with sukang sili (chili vinegar) and beer.

Over the past year, chicharrones have been embraced by the “mainstream” through the efforts of chefs like Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats, whose chicharrones, despite my initial apprehensions, are other worldly. They’re incredibly light and when they’re fresh, they snap, crackle, and pop in your mouth like porky Rice Krispies.

4505 Chicharrones

Because they’re so cheap and readily available near me, I’d never considered making chicharrones at home until a couple weeks ago. I had some pork skin left over after removing it to making the Momofuku Pork Belly, and it would be a shame to waste such a nice piece of pork skin. There’s also a recipe in the Momofuku cookbook since they serve a piece of chicharron to every guest as an amuse bouche at Momofuku Ko.

The process is pretty simple. First, put the pig skin in a pot of water and boil it for about an hour a half, then chill it in the refrigerator for a few hours.

Boiled and Dried Pig SkinPig skin after chillin’ out overnight.

Use a spoon to scrape off any excess fat left on the skin and put it in a food dehydrator for 12 hours. It should look like a brown piece of plastic.

Dehydrated Pig SkinBreak this into small pieces and fry them up.

Next, break the dehydrated pig skin into 1×2-inch pieces. This doesn’t have to be exact, as the small pieces make nice chicharrones, too. Heat some oil (preferably one with a high smoke point) to between 390-400F in a deep pot. Drop a piece of pig skin into the oil and agitate it a bit until it puffs up. This should take about 10 seconds. Fry each piece one at a time, so they don’t stick together. Here’s a short iPhone video I shot to give you an idea of how long it takes.

After frying, season the hot chicharrones with a mixture of equal parts togarashi (Japanese 7-spice powder), sugar, and kosher salt. Serve them hot or at room temperature. You should eat them within a few days when they’re still crunchy, but I doubt these will last more than a few minutes. :)

Categories
cookbooks David Chang Momofuku pork recipes

Cook the Book: Momofuku – Pork Belly

Momofuku Week is a new series I made up yesterday after realizing an epic post I was writing about cooking from the Momofuku book was going to be too long. I decided to break up the posts over the next week since I’ve made enough dishes from the book to cover about a week’s worth of posts already.

Momofuku Pork BellyPork belly fresh out of the oven.

Momofuku’s pork belly is really easy to make, which is good because it’s used in a lot of other recipes in the book, including the famous pork buns, ramen, and sam gyup sal ssam. This was the only the second time I’ve ever made pork belly, and it’s safe to say that it was rousing success. (My first attempt at cooking pork belly was a sous vide version that was good, but I didn’t know what the hell I was doing at the time either.) I also have a piece of pork skin in the freezer waiting to become chicharrones. If I’m lucky, that might be the end of this week. :)

A skinless three-pound slab of pork belly sits in a simple 1:1 salt/sugar cure for between 6 to 24 hours. After discarding any excess liquid, put it roasting or baking dish and roast it fat side up in a 450F oven for an hour, basting it with rendered fat halfway through. Then reduce the oven temperature to 250F and cook it for another hour or so until the pork belly is tender and has—as the book says—”a down pillow-like yield to a firm finger poke.”

After cooking, save the rendered fat and cool the belly till you can handle it. Wrap it in plastic or foil and refrigerate until needed—the belly is easier to cut into uniform pieces when it’s cold. When you’re ready to use the pork belly, cut 1/2-inch slices from the short end of the belly (against the grain) and warm it up. I like to use a cast iron skillet over medium heat to lightly char each piece of pork belly on both sides.

Download a PDF excerpt of this recipe (via Time Out New York):

Tomorrow: Momofuku Pork Belly Buns.

Categories
Anthony Bourdain Filipino TV

Philippines Tops Bourdain’s “Hierarchy of Pork”

As the No Reservations – Philippines episode gets set to air, Bourdain’s latest blog post boldly declares that the Philippines is No. 1 in his so-called “Hierarchy of Pork,” ahead of Bali and Puerto Rico.

In his post, Bourdain had high praise for both sisig and the lechon he had in Cebu.

What we did get right, I’m quite sure, was making sure that the amazing, porky delights of “sisig” got plenty of camera time. If you’ve never had this divine mosaic of pig parts, chopped and served sizzling and crisp on one side on a screaming hot platter, then you’ve yet to have one of the world’s best beer drinking dishes. And speaking of pig? It can now be said that of all the whole roasted pigs I’ve had all over the world, the slow-roasted lechon I had on Cebu was the best.

First Manny Pacquiao and now No. 1 on Bourdain’s Hierarchy of Pork? All we need now is for Charice to become bigger than Celine Dion, and we can start our official cultural takeover of the world.

Categories
Anthony Bourdain Filipino musings TV

Watch Bourdain Eat the Philippines on No Reservations

I know I’m probably the last Filipino food blogger to mention this, but the much-anticipated Philippines episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations is airing on the Travel Channel tonight at 10pm EST. For a preview, check out his travel itinerary.

Don’t pee here, Tony!

On his Travel Channel blog last October (on my birthday, no less!), Bourdain said this upon his arrival to the Philippines:

Of all the people who watch NO RESERVATIONS, it’s been Filipinos who have been consistently among our biggest fans and most vocal about our having yet to film in their country.

“You’ve been all over Asia,” I hear again and again, “…so WHY haven’t you come to the Philippines?!”

Well…I’m here. And the pressure is on…

All I can say is “Don’t worry. We’re NOT doing balut. Been there. Done that.” And privately think to myself, “Don’t screw this up … don’t screw this up … don’t screw this up.”

It’ll be nice to see a show that highlights Philippine cuisine without featuring balut because it’s such a cliche for “adventurous” eaters. Also, It looks like the silog segment got cut, but you can watch it here.

Even though I’m in Hawaii right now, it’s family dinner night so we’re staying in, and I’ll be in front of the TV watching. Will you?

Categories
Ad Hoc pork reviews Thomas Keller

Ad Hoc (10.07.07)

We’ve been trying to stay away from Ad Hoc until my birthday (and fried chicken night) on the 22nd, but last weekend, my friend Patty called and said she was going to be in the Bay Area before going home to Thailand, and she really wanted to go to Ad Hoc. Who was I to refuse?


Garbure
cannelini beans, haricots verts, savoy cabbage
sweet potatoes and butternut squash

~

Snake River Farms
Braised Pork Short Ribs

on faro with toasted pecans, shaved celery
and splenda apple sauce

~

Gubeen
spiced concord grape jelly
baguette croutons

~

Ice Cream Sundaes
candied pecans, fresh blueberries
chocolate and caramel sauce

This particular visit was notable because the cheese course ended up being a pseudo-chemistry lesson. Gubeen, a pungent cow’s milk cheese from Ireland, was paired with a spicy housemade Concord grape jelly and crispy baguette croutons. Gubeen smells and tastes kinda like garbage, and eating it on its own wasn’t very pleasant. I almost didn’t want to try another bite. But when you combine the Gubeen with the jelly and the croutons, you see why this pairing works. The jelly was more like a grape syrup with a hint of cayenne for heat, and it cut the intensity of the Gubeen, making it a lot more palatable. It’s definitely not the best cheese course I’ve had at Ad Hoc, but it was certainly the most interesting.


[pictobrowser type=”flickr” userID=”arndog” albumID=”72157602311124802″]

This was also the first time I’ve had soup as a starter at Ad Hoc. The Garbure, a light soup featuring cannelini beans, haricots verts, savoy cabbage, sweet potatoes and butternut squash, was hearty and delicous without being too filling. The main course was Snake River Farms pork short ribs, which were excellent. Prepared sous vide, the pork was juicy and tender and the sweet apple flavor really came through. The rib bones were also included, which contained some of the best fatty meat of the evening. It was served on top of faro, a barley-like “supergrain” that apparently fed the ancient Egyptians, but a vegetable side dish was nowhere to be found, which was unusual for Ad Hoc. Some greens would have been nice.

All in all, another solid meal at Ad Hoc, but I’m really looking forward to my birthday fried chicken.

INFORMATION
Ad Hoc
6476 Washington St.
Yountville, CA 94599 map
707.944.2487

Categories
Best of Inuyaki David Chang Japanese Korean Momofuku New York noodles pork reviews

Momofuku Noodle Bar

I had been on a quest to find the perfect bowl of ramen in the San Francisco Bay Area for awhile, but I think I’ve found perfection at Momofuku. It was seriously the best bowl of noodles I’ve ever had.

This is not traditional ramen, but I don’t care. Instead of slices of chashu (roast pork), Momofuku’s ramen features an incredibly delicious helping of shredded Berkshire Pork. The broth is incredibly porky (exactly what I’ve been looking for) and contains peas and a poached egg (instead of hard boiled), which helps thicken the broth and give it some more flavor. There are no bean sprouts in this ramen either, but I don’t care for them anyway, so that wasn’t a big deal.

We started with an appetizer of Roasted Rice Cakes, which were served with a roasted onion/spicy chili sauce. This looked like a fusion version of the Korean duk bok kee, and it was a delicious way to start the meal.


Roasted Rice Cakes

I ordered the Momofuku Ramen, which also contained pork belly, a welcome surprise. I wanted to order an appetizer of fried pork belly, but that was vetoed by my wife (probably for the better considering how much we’ve been eating this trip). My wife ordered the special pork neck ramen, which featured braised neck meat and a thicker, flat Chinese noodle. My friend had the standard pork ramen, which was like mine but sans pork belly.


Momofuku Ramen

Momofuku is a bit overpriced for a bowl of ramen, but considering the quality of the ingredients and how good it is, I’m not complaining. And as I raised the bowl to my lips to finish off the last of the broth, the chorus for “The Search is Over” by Survivor starting playing in my head:


I was looking for ramen
Looking for the best
I went to New York
Unsure of what I’d find
Now I look into my bowl
The broth is gone forever
The search is over
Momo’s the best one in my mind…

INFORMATION
Momofuku Noodle Bar
163 1st Ave.
New York, NY 10003 map
212.475.7899
Web site

Categories
Filipino Hawaiian pork recipes

Tita’s Hale ‘Aina Pork Adobo

I found this recipe in an article on SFGate.com while putzing around the Web. It’s from Tita’s Hale ‘Aina restaurant in San Francisco, but they closed a couple years ago. Don’t see why their recipe shouldn’t be shared with the world, so here it is.

INGREDIENTS
3 pounds boneless pork butt, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 bay leaf, crushed
1 tablespoon crushed dried red chiles

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Combine all ingredients in a plastic or glass container. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours.
  2. Transfer the pork and its marinade to a Dutch oven and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for 30 to 45 minutes.
  3. Uncover and simmer for 15 minutes longer, until the liquid has evaporated and the pork is lightly browned. Serve with rice.

Serves 4