London Food Finds!

I don’t know about you but February makes me restless. Maybe it’s because winter has hung around longer than a dinner party guest you can’t get rid of, but suddenly I’ve got a hankering to pack up some sartorial splendor, dust off the ole passport and hit the road. If you’re feeling a bit of the same then we’ve got some inspiration from our foreign correspondent (aka friend) in London, Julia Platt Leonard. Here are some of her favorite foodie finds – perfect for a real or armchair trip.

London

When I moved to London 18 years ago, I got a lot of doleful looks. Sure there were positives –a place dripping with history, art to die for and how cute is the Queen with those corgis? But – and here was the rub – what about the food?

Let’s face it, England wasn’t known for its haute cuisine. It wasn’t known for any cuisine, come to think of it. But that’s all changed. Now it’s a smorgasbord of flavor (or flavour as we like to say) sensations and tasty treats. It is hands down the world’s top culinary destination. Picking some of my favorites was a toughie but here are a few that go in my ‘don’t miss’ column.

Honey & Co               Photo courtesy:Patricia Niven

Honey & Co.

Ten tables – that’s all you’ll find at this tiny restaurant tucked into a quiet street in Fitzrovia but my heavens they pack a punch. It’s a labor of love from Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer who hail from Jerusalem and serve up what they call Middle Eastern Soul Food. Both are fabulous chefs but you’ll more likely find Itamar upstairs welcoming customers (expect a hug from this gentle bear) and making sure that each order is perfect. The menu – like the restaurant – is small but perfectly formed. It changes with seasonal treats like poached quince salad with curd cheese; creamy hummous with warm cumin mushrooms & pita; and a killer cinnamon-spiked falafel. A mezze platter for the table to share is a no-brainer. And don’t forget dessert. You’ll see them perched in the windowsill wooing you to caloric destruction. But what a way to go. On a recent trip with two American friends we didn’t order a dessert but Itamar brought us over a luscious pumpkin cheesecake anyway – worried about sending us out into the cold without something sweet to sustain us.

20130929_Honey_&_Co9962_Patricia_Niven_Lemon_&_Saffron_Cake         Photo courtesy:Patricia Niven

25A Warren Street, London, W1T 5LZ (closest tube: Warren Street)

020 7388 6175

www.honeyandco.co.uk

Ben’s House

When you’ve put down your fork at Honey & Co., it’s only a short walk to Ben’s for a restorative coffee. While the barista is whipping up your flat white, take a peak at the shelves lining the walls of this chilled-out shop/cafe. Every product you see is made in London. You’ll find everything from wine, beer, cheese, jams, bread and even ceramics and homewares. As Ben proudly says, it’s all cured, created and crafted in London. It’s basically Ben’s love letter to London and folks come to hang out for a coffee during the day and a well-earned glass of wine or cocktail in the early evening with an entertaining chat with Ben thrown in at no extra charge.

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64 Grafton Way, London, W1T 5DP (closest tube Warren Street or Tottenham Court Road)

020 7388 0850

www.benshouse.london

Dishoom

Sometimes it’s the simplest things that make me salivate. So it is with the Bacon Naan roll at Dishoom. It starts with smoked streaky bacon from the Ginger Pig, one of England’s premier butchers. The bacon is dry-cured for five days with rock salt and demerara sugar (a coarse textured, raw sugar), then cold smoked over oak chips. The naan – an Indian flatbread – is baked in the tandoor oven then spread with cream cheese, chili tomato jam, herbs and of course that bacon. You can choose sausage instead or add an egg but the Bacon Naan is my favorite. It doesn’t hurt that it’s served by the nicest wait staff, in a setting that harkens back to old Irani cafes in Bombay (or so the website tells me). With several locations around London, it’s the perfect pick-me-up before or after a gruelling day of sightseeing.

Locations across London

BACON NAAN ROLL (1)

www.dishoom.com

Celia Brooks Gastrotours

If an insider’s view of London’s culinary hotspots is what you’re after, then American-born Celia Brooks is the answer. She runs gastrotours throughout the city including her South Kensington Gastrotour, Sweet Delicacies of London and her ever-popular Borough Market tour (she’s the only licensed guide in the market). Check out her new tours with food and health expert Bettina Cortezi.

 

Pavilion Celia 2

www.celiabrooks.com

07956 152 899

Some other favourites:

Best Martini: Duke’s Hotel. Choose gin or vodka but for heaven’s sake not an olive. Watch as the bartenders create your drink tableside, releasing a fine mist from the most gorgeous Amalfi lemons into your cocktail, then sit back and know that life is good. These are such lethal (but lovely) libations that there is a limit of two per customer. You’ve been warned.

2---dukes-martinis

 

 

 

www.dukeshotel.com

35 St James’s Place, London, SW1A 1NY

020 7491 4840

Best bar for Dining: A toss-up. Either Le Caprice or Palomar. The vibe is totally different Le Caprice is white napkin with tinkling ivories in the background while Palomar is ringside seating as the chefs whip up some amazing Middle Eastern food. You choice!

Caprice

www.le-caprice.co.uk

20 Arlington Street, London, SW1A 1RJ

020 7629 2239

palomar_restaurant_soho_london

 

 

www.thepalomar.co.uk

34 Rupert Street, London W1D 6DN

020 7439 8777

Want any more recommendations? Got any suggestions? Just send a note to those wile chile guys and I’ll get back to you. And see you in London!

 

A Cranberry Relish you’ll actually relish this Thanksgiving!

You want a Thanksgiving folks are going to remember? And no, I don’t mean like the time your sister-in-law announced she wanted a divorce just as you were serving the pumpkin pie.

I’m thinking food, people. You know the turkey, the stuffing, the mashed potatoes and gravy. I bet if you jotted down a list of favorite Thanksgiving foods, somewhere near the bottom, (just above Brussels sprouts) would be cranberries. Because try as you might, you never hear someone say is: “My Thanksgiving? It was great. You won’t believe the cranberries they whipped up.”

The problem is that cranberries are an afterthought, a balm to assuage our guilt at having consumed enough calories to feed a small island nation for a month. Kids hate them and adults push them around on their plates hoping they’ll go away.

But cranberries aren’t bad – they’re just boring. Or until now. Because at the Chile Trail we like nothing more than a challenge. So we’ve created a souped up cranberry recipe that will have you moving our fruity friend to the top of the list. And it’s simple. SIMPLE! And you can do it ahead of time.

No need to thank us. Just consider it an early Christmas present.

 

Chipotle Lime Cranberry Relish

This isn’t hot. The chipotle adds a nice, rich smoky flavour and the lime gives it a zippity-do-da flavour. If you want heat, add in a bit of chile powder to taste.

cranberry1

 

12 oz (about 2 ½ cups) raw cranberries, washed

1 cup sugar

¾-1 cup water (the cranberries should be covered but not swimming)

1 dried Chipotle chile

Zest of a lime

Squeeze of lime juice (optional)

 

cranberies in pan

 

Put the cranberries, sugar, water and Chipotle chile in a saucepan. Place on medium-high heat and give the mixture a stir. Bring slowly to a simmer, stirring occasionally or when the mood strikes you. The cranberries should plump up and soften but remain whole and the chile will soften. When it’s coming to the boil, remove from the heat and stir in the lime zest. Taste and add a squeeze or two of lime juice – it lifts the cranberries but don’t overdo it. Cover the pan and let it sit to cool. Place the relish in a container – you can keep the chile pod in the mixture – and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Make this a couple days in advance as it gives the flavors time to mingle and get to know each other.

last photoFinally Happy Thanksgiving everyone…Stay safe!

 

Summer’s Here at Last…Yeah!

Nothing beats a chicken. Not a cow, a lamb or a pig. Think I’m kidding? Exaggerating (who me?)? Well then, answer me one question: can a cow, lamb or pig lay an egg?

No.

I rest my case.

I mean, think about it. Chicken – roasted, poached, grilled, you name it – is pretty darn awesome. Slap on some Chile-spiked BBQ sauce and you’re cooking with gas. But then, like the lottery bonus ball, a chicken gives you eggs too. And now that we’ve finally realized eggs aren’t the dietary villain we thought they were, we can eat them with mad abandon. (To be honest I never stopped.)

And if you raise your own chickens like I do, you’ve got a fresh supply right on your doorstep. Yes, you heard me right. I have chickens. Now you’re probably saying to yourself, “Where does he find the time?” Let’s just say that while spreading the chile love is a full time job I do find time to care for my flock.

One of my favorite things to make with fresh eggs is mayonnaise. I can see you rolling your eyes. Who makes their own mayonnaise? Or more to the point, why? Because it tastes incredible – unlike any gunk you find in a jar. And it is so easy. Yes, easy.

The only trick is that you’ve got to drizzle the oil slowly – and I mean slowly – to get a rich emulsified sauce. Don’t pour it in with mad abandon like you’ve got some place to go. You need to be in a zen state of calm and at one with the oil. And this is not the time to whip out some expensive extra virgin olive oil from some fancy pants estate in Tuscany either. Put it away. Use a good quality vegetable oil instead.

And because chile is king, I’ve spiked the mayonnaise with  Chile and used lime juice instead of the traditional lemon juice.

What to do with this gorgeous beast? Well it’s summer you num-nut. Slather it on burgers. Slip some over barbecued salmon or as a dip for shrimp. Or create a massive crudité platter and dazzle your friends, neighbors and that kid from second grade who always picked on you. You’ve made a mayonnaise. You rule.

CHIPOTLE LIME MAYONNAISE

3 Egg yolks

1 Tbsp White wine vinegar

2 Limes, juice and zest

2-3 tsp Chipotle Chile Powder (Los Chileros)

1 tsp Salt

20 – 22 oz Vegetable Oil

Place all the ingredients except the vegetable oil in the bowl of a small food processor. Turn the food processor on and blend together. Keeping the motor running, add the vegetable oil very, very slowly until you have a thick, emulsified sauce. Taste and adjust the seasonings adding more Chipotle Chile and salt if needed. Refrigerate until ready to use.

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Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

What’s all the fuss about what’s for Christmas dinner? Turkey? Goose? Ham? Who cares? Let’s get down to the real nitty-gritty – what’s to drink? Because let’s be honest, what you’re drinking may be just the thing that gets you through Christmas dinner when you’re sitting next to Uncle Earl. You know Uncle Earl – the one with the bottle top collection who gets weepy talking about his dog Jess who died back in ’79.

So hats off to Chile Trail fan and food blogger Julia Leonard who – in the Christmas spirit – is sharing her recipe for Chile–Spiked Eggnog. It’s nice ‘n spicy – just the thing to put a smile on your face when Uncle Earl gets going.

Chile-spiked Eggnog

Egg Nog

This is super easy – no separating the eggs. It’s got a nice warm kick but feel free to ratchet up the heat with more chile, because ‘tis the season.

 Makes about 4 cups – enough for Ian or Chuck

 ¾ cup whole milk

¼ cup cream

Nutmeg

1 guajillo chile (or other dried chile of your choice)

4 large eggs

3 Tbsp sugar

1 cup- 1 ¼ cup bourbon or rum

Place the milk and cream in a small saucepan with the chile and a few gratings of nutmeg. Pierce the chile or snip off the tip it allows the chile to infuse the cream better. When the mixture begins to simmer, remove from the heat. Leave the chile to steep in the cream for about five minutes. Strain, making sure to smash the chile bits into the sieve to extract as much chile flavor as possible.

While the cream mixture is steeping, crack the eggs and place them in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Beat with an electric handheld mixer until pale yellow and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat further. Check the cream mixture. You should be able to dip your finger in but barely. If it’s not hot enough, zap it in the microwave for a minute. Turn the mixer back on and while going, slowly drizzle the hot cream mixture into the eggs. Pop in the fridge to cool. When ready to serve, add the booze and ladle into glasses. Top with a light dusting of red chile powder.

ONLY 2 HRS ONLY LEFT to SAVE 25%

JUST over 2 HOURS left ….for our FLASH SALE @loschileros
The Holidays are just around the corner so take advantage of our Flash Sale and take 25% off of our regular prices (shipping excluded) and stock up on your favorite Chiles,Powders,Rubs and Mixes..

Santa wants Posole this year instead of cookies!! ……

2 HRS only ONLY…….Must Finish 8:30MT So don’t delay!

Promo Code: SANTA

http://www.loschileros.com

Santa wants Posole this year instead of Cookies!

FLASH SALE 24HRS ONLY
The Holidays are just around the corner so take advantage of our Flash Sale and take 25% off of our regular prices (shipping excluded) and stock up on your favorite Chiles,Powders,Rubs and Mixes..

Remember Santa wants Posole this year instead of cookies!! ……

TODAY..ONLY…….So don’t delay!

Promo Code: SANTA

http://www.loschileros.com

Big Offer. Big Bowl. Big Game.

Is it just me or have bowl games become more competitive? I’m not talking about the players – I’m talking about the parties. It used to be that when someone invited you over to watch the Big Game you were pleased as punch if they slapped a tub of French onion dip and a bag of potato chips on the table.OFFER DAY 1

Now people invite you over for a ‘spread’ or ‘buffet’. It feels more like a wedding than a football game. And the problem is that you’re expected to do the same when you return the favor. So guess what? You end up spending the whole time in the kitchen so you don’t watch the game, don’t scream your lungs out and don’t raise your blood pressure to stratospheric heights. And where’s the fun in that?

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And be honest – does anyone really want a bunch of foofy food anyway? What they want is stick-to-your-ribs, coat-your-stomach food and a lot of it. So don’t bow down to Big Game Pressure (BGP). Serve up the food people want and make sure you don’t miss out on the half-time show. This year, I’ll be making a big ‘ole batch of Campfire Chili. And before you get all cutesy, no you don’t need a campfire to cook it.

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It’s quick, easy and mighty tasty. I serve it up with lots of condiments on the side– extra chile, diced avocado, shredded cheese, chopped scallions – you get the idea.

Make it on the day or better yet the day before (it just gets better and better). Bring the pot to the table and let everyone fix up their own bowlful. And please – whatever you do – don’t forget the French onion dip and chips. Promise?

Campfire Chile

Campfire Chile Kit
2 ½ lbs lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
3 cups water

Optional:
1 15 oz. can pinto beans, drained
1 15 oz. can kidney beans, drained

Brown the meat, add water and the Campfire Chili seasoning and simmer 30 minutes. Add tomatoes (and beans, if you’re using them). Simmer 10 minutes. If you want more heat, crumble the dired chiles and add a bit at a time to get to your preferred ‘burn’ level.

Continue cooking for 15 minutes. For a thicker chili, combine the contents of the masa evelope (yellow corn flour) with ½ cup warm water and stir to dissolve. Add this mixture to the chili a little at a time to reach your desired thickness. If adding masa, continue cooking for an additional 10 minutes. Salt to taste.

Have yourself a very chile Christmas

ANIMATED-PEPPERSIs it just me or does it feel like Thanksgiving was just last week? Now here we are with Christmas looming over us and New Year’s lurking around the corner.

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If you’ve dared venture into the supermarket you can sense the siege mentality as people stock up like they’re getting ready for another Hundred Years War. To-do lists spawn secondary to-do lists and scribbled notes get shoved in coat pockets as we try to remember if we were supposed to pick up single cream, heavy, double, whipped or some other milk-based product.

photoAt moments like this it’s important to breathe and remember if all else fails you can probably find a gas station open on Christmas Day selling microwave bean burritos. Okay, it’s not much consolation but it’s something. So, for what’s it’s worth, here are some tips/suggestion/ideas to help you navigate the holidays.

  1. Eat more chile. Not just because it tastes great (natch) but because chile is said to help your body fight colds and let’s be honest – ‘tis the season. It’s also a great source of vitamin C.
  2. If you’re cooking a turkey, consider a chile spice rub. Ease the skin away from the meat (gently so it doesn’t tear) and rub in a mix of chile powder, salt and softened butter. Ease the skin back and rub a bit more butter on top. If you can, do this the night before so it has a chance to soak up all that chile goodness. Yum.
  3. Cranberries. Have you noticed how you make them and then – surprise – no one eats them. This year, place the whole berries with the zest and juice of an orange with a whole dried chile and sugar to taste. Cook until the berries start to burst. Remove from the heat and puree the chile (with or without seeds) with some of the berries then add back to the rest of the berries and stir. Very good and very spicy.
  4. Remember the chile cornbread stuffing from Thanksgiving? It tastes just as good at Christmas.
  5. Chile Bloody Marys are an important tool to help you put up with your in-laws. Think of them as medicine.
  6. Avoid wearing Christmas sweaters. This has nothing to do with chile but it will prevent someone publishing embarrassing photos of you on Facebook.

So get going. It’s time to celebrate. See you in 2014.

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