48 hours of eating in London

Except for Din Tai Fung Covent Garden, which I wrote about the other day, we visited a few other noteworthy spots.

Barrafina

One Michelin-starred Barrafina on Dean Street a stone’s throw from Piccadilly Circus delivered some of the best tapas I’ve had.

Cold meat platter. Everything extremely good.

Ham croquetas. Crunchy, delicious and perfect.

Best pan con tomate I’ve had.

A runny, perfect tortilla with peppers and prawns.

Morcilla; spiced Spanish blood sausage (similar to black pudding) with fried quail eggs, a crispy wafer thingy and a rich sauce.

Location: Dean Street, Soho.

Price: £80 for the above (and some more), including a glass of wine each.

Eve Bar (hidden in Frog restaurant’s basement)

It was nearly impossible to take decent pictures, but a staircase down from fancy restaurant Frog (by Adam Handling) is Eve bar. Get it, Adam and Eve?

Clever naming aside, Eve Bar was really my cup of cocktail with great cocktails, ambience, service and decent prices.

Location: Covent Garden.

Price: About £13 for a cocktail.

The American Bar at The Savoy Hotel

A 40 minute wait, £25 cocktails and lots of tourists. Could that be good? I’d say so! Friendly service, live piano music, free snacks and a hard-to-beat ‘old world’ atmosphere. As an extra bonus you’ll get access to their small museum, and can also sneak around the grand lobby (above) of The Savoy Hotel which The American Bar is a part of.

Location: Covent Garden(ish)

Price: ~£19-££££

Breakfast at Eggbreak

For our last meal for this time we went to Eggbreak in Notting Hill, after I read about their crab cake eggs benedict.

The coffee, a flat white, was, as the youth of today (I think as I’m old-ish) would call it: on point.

The star of the show: perfectly poached eggs on top of equally perfect crispy, delicious crab cakes. A few healthy spoons of sriracha-hollandaise sauce and some chives finished the decadent masterpiece.

Price: £45 for three coffees, two mains, a grilled grapefruit (also delicious) and a pain au chocolat.

Location: Notting Hill.

Din Tai Fung London

Just got back from a visit to London and the newly opened branch of my favourite restaurang chain in the world: Din Tai Fung.

Famous for their soup dumplings aka xiao long bao, Taiwanese Din Tai Fung has reached fame over the world and now have restaurants in Asia, the US, Australia, and, finally, Europe.

Our expectations were to say the least high, but fortunately not too high as the standard was as good as in Asia. Part of this might be due to that part of the staff have been flown in from Taiwan to work in the restaurant for the first year, to train the locals in the art of the 18 folds soup dumpling.

The usual suspects: pork soup dumplings. Delicate skin, a delicious “soup” broth on the inside and delicious minced pork. Too good.

Wontons in a spicy chilli oil, black vinegar, spring onion and garlic ‘sauce’.

Shumai prawn dumplings.

Premise-made perfect chewy, elastic noodles with a spicy sauce.

Noodles with a succulent Taiwanese pork chop.

Spicy cucumber salad.

Dessert bao buns filled with sesame, taro and red bean paste.

Location: 5 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden.

$$ Price: We paid approximately £110 for the above and some more shared among three people, including a beer each.

Website (including menu without prices)

5 days of eating in Shanghai

Just visited the Chinese mega city Shanghai, for five days of eating, getting some Chinese culture and just enjoying Asia.

We naturally started the eating at my favourite Asian chain Din Tai Fung to have some of their otherworldly steamed xiao long bao soup dumplings.

Sheng Jian Bao at Yang’s. These are with soup and meat on the inside like the above xiao long bao, only that they’re pan fried instead of steamed. We managed to order like 20 each due to the language barrier. Needless to say we ate them all.

Hairy crab (a local species of crab) xiao long bao.

Pork xiao long bao in the same restaurant. I can’t tell you the exact name of the place but it was near Jiangsu Lu. We visited as a part of the Untour night food tour, so that’s hopefully your best bet to visit the same place and eat a lot of other good stuff as well.

One of the best meals of all time for me: Sichuan style crayfish at FOMO. Incredibly delicious.

Kung Pao chicken with chilli and peanuts at a lunch restaurant in the French Concession.

Various delicious dishes from Lost Heaven, a trendy Yunnan province restaurant. Since Yunnan borders Myanmar, Vietnam and Laos the food has a South East Asian flavour with lots of chilli, herbs and greens.

Guo Kui, crispy Sichuan province flatbreads stuffed with spicy beef and mint. Really good.

I am a sucker for views, and one of the better bar views I’ve had in a while was that from the Peninsula Hotel. Top pic is as you can tell from the bar. Their cocktails were indeed expensive, but quite delicious. And look at that view!

What a great food city Shanghai is, I hope to be back soon for some more eating.

7 really nice restaurants to eat at while in Santorini (and one GREAT bar)

Visited the amazingly pretty Greek island of Santorini a couple of weeks ago. While I’ve had plenty of Greek food in Sweden, there’s nothing like having a proper Greek salad with sun-ripe tomatoes, a juicy grilled souvlaki or a fluffy delicious gyros pita while soaking up the views of the deep blue Med, white chalk stone houses and steep cliffs.

For once, we did not have that much of an agenda on Santorini; the plan was pretty much to laze by the pool, read books, watch the view, and of course, eat a lot of tasty Greek food. Below you can find my favourites (in no particular order).

Argo (Caldera view)

Price for 2: ~ €70

Website

Argo is a sort of fancy restaurant that faces the Caldera in Fira (although the view at some tables is limited. We stopped by our first night without any reservation, but were given a table right away. The food was quite good, especially the tomato keftedes, or fritters made from battered battered local tomatoes. The fava bean dip was nice too with a nice splash of olive oil and warm, fluffy pita breads.

For mains we had a seafood spaghetti and a veal stifado, served with either fries or linguine. We opted for the latter, and hence both had pasta our first night on the island. Sorry Greek food. Oh well, both dishes were good but by no means fantastic. The seafood was well cooked and served in a sweetish “Santorini style” tomato sauce. It was nothing wrong with it, but at €19, I expected to be slightly more wowed. The stifado was quite nice, tender and well-seasoned but could’ve been served with something more inspiring than chips or spaghetti.

All in all though, service was nice, food good and the view nice. But probably stick to the Greekier dishes if you’re a pasta snob like me.

Salt and pepper, Fira (no view)

Salt & Pepper is a nice little restaurant, run by a husband and wife, where the husband works in the kitchen, and the wife service the tables. Service is not very polished, but quite friendly and the food is tasty. I tried their keftedes, Greek meatballs, and they were yum, so was the Greek salad. Save some space for dessert which was complementary.

Price for 2: ~ €45

Website

Lucky’s Souvlaki

Of all the places we visited in Santorini, the downright most tasty food was at Lucky’s Souvlaki, a small, quite unimpressive looking venue on the tourist street close to Fira’s bus station. What they do is souvlaki; meaning kebab-style meat skewers; gyros, which is shaved, döner kebab resembling pork or chicken shaved vertically from a rotating spit, and a few other foods, served fast food style, meaning mainly wrapped in fluffy pita bread, slathered in tzatziki and then washed down with a cold mug of Alfa beer. Or two.

Another great benefit was that it was not only the tastiest, but also the most affordable of all the places we visited during our week. A nice little lunch kit with two gyros (pronounced yeeros), fries and a drink was €9,5.

Website

Anemoloos

Situated a bit of a drive from central Fira, with stunning views of the non-caldera side of the island, Anemoloos served up some of the best dishes we had during our visit to the island. The restaurant served local dishes, meze style, meaning loads of small platters of extremely delicious food that we shared among the table.

Favourites were the Santorini style Greek salad with capers, grilled pork belly and the grilled sausage. Also deep-fried potatoes with shaved butter was (as you can tell) very delicious.

Price: Since we were part of a tour during our visit, prices were never displayed, but I’m guessing prices were affordable.

Website

Parea Taverna

In the touristy part of Fira, but lacking a caldera view. Food is tasty, without being spectacular. We had a very tasty moussaka, and nice, soft and crunchy-from-the-batter calamaris.

Price for 2: €45 with wine.

Website

PK Cocktail Bar

Towards the end of our visit, we found the not-so-hidden gem PK (Palia Kameni) Cocktail Bar. The place offers incredible views, incredible sunsets and incredible cocktails. The prices are relatively expensive, but not crazy expensive. To score a nice seat, you can pre-book spots for a €10 (online) or €20 (walk-in) deposit that is then removed from the bill. Cocktails starts at ~€9 and goes up to ~€20. We tried a couple and they were all great.

Website

Aktaion

Aktaion was probably my favourite restaurant in terms of food in Santorini. Unfortunately we showed up without a reservation and only got an hour to eat (totally our fault), they did their very best to accommodate us.

We had their fresh sea bream with baked vegetables and lime sauce; falling-if-the-bone tender slow-baked lamb shank with roasted mizithra cheese, and Ouzo-spiked mussels.

As mentioned the food was great. For once I felt like also trying a dessert, but no time unfortunately.

More than in any other place we visited in Santorini (except for Anemoolos which was similarly great in quality), you could really feel the love in the food at Aktaion. The quality was a notch up compared to the competition.

Very recommended, but make a reservation in advance. And then walk along the edge back to Fíra (there is a footpath all the way), amazing views.

Price was ~€50 for two with house wine.

Website

To Ouzeri

Our last meal was enjoyed at To Ouzeri, very close to the caldera view, but without the view. Food is wholesome and tasty, but not fantastic. We had a spicy feta dip, warm pita breads, Greek salad and soft meatballs in a slightly spicy cumin-scented tomato sauce.

Price was around €40 for two including wine, starters and two mains.

Website

Quick to make Italian style prawn spaghetti

After the thrilling Sweden-Switzerland game during the FIFA world cup in Russia, we needed some carbs to soak up the beer we’d had while watching.

This is probably a more American-Italian style spaghetti then genuinly Italian. It’s a bit resembling to an “angry” arrabiata sauce though, but without oregano. I also had some parmesan cheese on, which is a no-no when it comes to seafood in Italy.

This was a really nice, and easy to make, seafood or prawn (or shrimp) spaghetti. I made it quite spicy with a load of toasted chilli flakes, but just skip most of them if you want a less spicy version.

We had garlic bread on the side (might also have something to do with the game beers we had), a bit unneccessary but also delicious.

What you need (for 2-3 servings)

12-15 peeled prawns

About 300 grams of fresh good quality tomatoes (or use canned)

3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

About 250 grams of spaghetti

Fresh, finely chopped parsley

Dried chilli flakes

Olive oil

1. Chop the fresh tomatoes relatively finely. Use a sharp knife or this will be frustrating.

2. Heat olive oil in a pan. When the oil is quite hot, add the chilli flakes and give them a nice toast for 30 seconds or so. Then add the garlic and fry for a short while until soft, but not burnt. A little bit of colour is okay though.

3. Add the prawns to the oil, cook a shirt while on each side until cooked through but before they get rubbery. This does not take long, so watch them. Remove shrimos from oil and set aside (they will go back into the sauce later).

3. Add the tomatoes to garlic-chilli oil. Let simmer for about 25-30 minutes. Add some water if it reduces to quickly.

4. Cook spaghetti until properly al dente (with a bite – slightly undercooked). Save a half deciliter/ quarter cup of cooking drained pasta water.

5. Add the spaghetti and reserved cooking liquid to tomatoes in pan. Combine together for a minute or two on low eat until the sauce and pasta is properly mixed. At the last 20-30 seconds, add prawns and fresh parsley, and toss.

6. Serve immediately! I also used parmesan, because I am a sinner, and it was really good too.

Easy peasy lobster roll recipe

It might be the tastiest food there is; succulent lobster meat, toasted brioche, mayo, a sprinkle of chives. Maybe a couple of crunchy chips. Maybe a glass of pink champagne too?

Well the best part is that while it’s not inexpensive, it is not that much of an effort to throw together if you use store bought mayo, a pre-cooked lobster and ready made brioche. You could of course do it all from scratch. But then again, sometimes it’s okay to take the easier route.

What you need (for two rolls)

One big, or two smaller lobsters

About 2 tablespoons of mayo, make your own or buy a nice one such as Hellmans

2 Brioche buns (I use Swedish brand Garants brioche hotdog buns)

Chopped chives for decoration

How to make the lobster roll

1. Cut the lobster in half lengthwise, remove all shell and hard stuff and save the lobster tail, claws and meat in a bowl.

2. Add mayo to the lobster meat, toss.

3. Heat up a pan and toast the brioche buns until slightly charred on the outside.

4. Fill buns with the lobster mayo mix and top with a sprinkle of chives.

5. Serve with chips, a glass of pink champagne, normal champagne or just a cold beer. Enjoy!

My foodie happy place: Lau Pa Sat food market

Lau Pa Sat, also known as Telok Ayer Market, is a hawker centre that has fed Singaporeans since the 1800s. Situated smack bang in Singapore’s financial district, the classic building, filled with local eateries, is one of my favourite foodie places in the world. Just sitting there, sipping on a beer, smelling the grilled satay skewers from the “satay street” next to the market while waiting for what ever you’ve ordered (there is actually sort of table service with different vendors selling and bringing food to the table). Above is satay, grilled chicken, lamb and beef skewers with peanut sauce. There are different stalls doing different kinds of satay, but all I’ve tried has been really good.

Blackpepper crab and mantou. A really nice steamed crab, woked in a spicy blackpepper sauce. The mantou buns are sort of like deep fried bread rolls that you use to soak up the sauce. So good.

Hokkien Mee. A seafoody noodle dish topped with crispy pork rinds.

Carrot cake or chai tow kway. Not containing any carrot but radish and sliced rice cake in a omelette-meets-pancake kind of creation.

Murtabak. A pancake-like dish filled with spicy, fragrant sliced chicken. Dip in the accompanying curry sauce. Mmmm.

Great lunch at Candlenut, Singapore

Before leaving for Singapore, I read at several places about a restaurant called Candlenut that serves Peranakan style food, sort of meaning Singaporean/Malay and some extent Indonesian food influenced and fusioned with the food of Chinese migrants. Straits-Chinese Candlenut themselves call it. They also have a Michelin star, naturally I had to pay Candlenut a visit.

As the headline implies, we went for lunch. To start we ordered their pork neck satay that came without any peanut sauce or similar. We ordered their housemade spicy sambal to have something to dip in though.

Next up was a delicious fresh, sweet, salt and sour crunchy salad with wing beans, fresh prawns, cashew nuts, lemongrass, kalamansi lime and baby radishes.

King Tiger prawns in a ‘gula melaka” coconut sauce with lemongrass and Thai basil. Giant juicy prawns and the most intense coconut flavour I’ve ever experienced. Totally delicious.

Rendang, or sort of a dry Indonesian curry, I’ve tried in both Indonesia and actually also at home trying to recreate our vacation favourite. It is a bit like pulled beef, to draw a similarity to a Western dish but with quite complex flavours of different spices cooked into the meat for many hours. Candlenut’s version with Wagyu beef ribs was very rich, for me almost too rich. But still very good flavour wise.

Last but not least, the buah keluak dessert that apparently is one of Candlenut’s signature dishes. Buah keluak is a nut from the kepayang tree and is in this dish made into a quite bitter cocoa-y ice cream. With it comes Valrhona chocolate, chilli and a warm chocolate espuma. I read a few reviews of this dessert and many did not like it. I did though. Actually, I really liked it, almost really, really liked it. A really cool way of showcasing a unfamiliar (to the Western palate at least).

What a lunch is all I can say to summarize our visit to Candlenut. Good efficient service; nice interior and ambiance, and of course great food.

Price

We paid roughly 140 SGD (including the ++) for food, a shared dessert and a cup of coffee each. We did only have tap water to drink, which was complimentary.

Website

What is a patty melt? (recipe)

Had a really decadent breakfast the other day. Saw this creation fly past on Instagram a couple of times in the last month, and decided i had to try. I mean a burger meets grilled cheese… I couldn’t resist. Behold the patty melt.

What you need (for one patty melt)

1 burger patty (I used store-ground chuck roll)

4 slices of cheddar cheese

2 Slices of toast bread (preferably rye or brown bread)

A couple of pickles

Butter

Salt

How to make the patty melt:

1. Fry the burger patty until cooked, season with salt. Finish with two slices of cheddar and allow to melt on top.

2. Spread butter on the bread slices.

3. Fry bread with butter side down in a frying pan, turn, and let fry on the other side as well.

4. Add one slice of cheddar on the buttered side of each bread slice. Add burger inbetween the two slices. Return to pan for a few seconds to allow the cheese to melt if needed.

5. Cut the patty melt diagonally into two triangular sandwiches. Serve with pickles. Enjoy (and then go out for a walk)!

Update: Next time I’d probably add some mayo, raw onion and possibly pickles on my patty melt.

Swedish milk stewed macaronies recipe – stuvade makaroner

Made one of my favourite comfort foods for dinner tonight: fried falukorv (pork sausage from the city of Falun) with milk-stewed macaronies flavoured with nutmeg. I served it traditionally with a side of ketchup and untraditionally with a sprinkle of chopped fresh chives, which I think adds a nice-yet-subtle hint of fresh onionness to the generally sweet-salty-fatty dish.

Anyway, here’s how you cook Swedish milk-stewed macaronies or as they are locally known stuvade makaroner.

You need uncooked macaronies and you need milk. I use milk with 1,5 percent fat content.

Nutmeg, salt, black pepper.

Ketchup and falukorv (substitute with any pork, beef or veggie sausage, or bacon).

1. Slowy heat milk in a cooking pot until it is about to boil, eg. hot steam is leaving the milk. For four portions, add about 5 deciliters of macaronies to roughly 8-10 deciliters of milk.

2. Then pretty much stirr until the milk has cooked into the macaronies. Keep the cooking temperature to a gentle simmer. It’s similar to making a risotto actually. Slowly stirr, making sure the milk won’t burn into the bottom of the pot. That happens easy by the way, so no cheating with the stirring.

3. When most milk has reduced into the macaronies, add some grated nutmeg, salt and blackpepper. Remove from heat and serve immediately – as soon as the macaronies are getting cold they get about 50 percent less nice. So pre-cook your sausage. 

Enjoy with ketchup, possibly chives and a glass of milk or a beer. If you want to have some vitamins, Swedes (me?) tend to eat a Swedish carrot salad with raw, grated carrots with a splash of oil & vinegar and salt on the side.