Thursday, December 24, 2009

White Christmas - Revisted Review By The London Foodie

Please click on this link to be directed to The London Foodie. We didn't manage to take many pictures so better see it on Luiz's site:

http://www.thelondonfoodie.co.uk/2009/12/london-underground-restaurant-7_23.html

Friday 18th Dec: SOLD OUT
Menu White Christmas:
-Egyptian Beetroot Dip with Paprika, Coriander & Cinnamon
-Country Terrine
-Apple, Cheese & Radish Salad

-Fried Udon Noodles With Argentinian Fillet
& Red Chillies

-Cauliflower & Parsnip Soup With Blue Cheese
-Russian Salad
-Meatballs In Cider With Prunes & Apple


-Croissant & Butter Pudding With Whisky & White Chocolate



Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tea By Fernandez & Leluu


































Jasmine Pearls Green Tea is one of my favourite teas. It smells absolutely beautiful and tastes like heaven to me. So sensual, sweet and yet refreshing! Feels like I am drinking a beautiful meadow on a sunny day.

I have a real passion for tea and opened up a tea shop selling loose premium tea for a little while but it has closed down now due to the Crossrail Development by Transport For London. I have sourced a lot of green teas from Vietnam where I go quarterly to design my fashion collection for my boutique.

There is so much I have learned about tea and I love everything about teas from how they taste to their health benefits to how they should be consumed. I would love to bring this to our supper club and hope that one afternoon we will host a tea tasting event to be enjoyed with the great food we will also serve.

I have discovered so many things about tea - like the different varieties and grade of green teas, black teas, oolong teas. Why the teas are categorized into blacks, greens, whites etc. Its all to do with the oxidation process much like when you cut an apple and leave it, it turns brown, the more you cut it or bruise it, the apple changes its condition. This is the same thing with tea.

All tea comes from the plant Camellia Senesis like wine comes from grapes. Depending on where it is grown, how much weather it has had, when it was harvested and treated results in different types of tea.

For instance, my favourite tea is a variety of green teas. Compared to black teas it has been less processed and gone through less of the drying and roasting process which gives it its unique green tea flavour and contains much more antioxidants and less caffeine than black teas.

Within the green tea range, there are many processes to make all sorts of green tea from Sencha to Matcha, to Dragon Well thumb pressed leaves to rolled Jasmine Pearls. This is where it gets very interesting because one can taste a huge difference in green teas depending which kind it is. Once you have acquired a taste for premium teas there is no going back. The difference is massive and life just gets more wonderful once this experience is had, I promise!

Considering that the British drink so much tea and sadly I do drink it too - the builders' brew with milk and one sugar - hardly anything is commonly known about tea. This is very sad to me. The tea we so commonly drink is the lowest grade of tea, usually the dust of tea - the bits no one from the rest of the far eastern world would touch. It is not very good for us and we have to hide its taste with milk and sugar.

Tea is about labour of love - handpicked, hand rolled, hand pressed and protected to provide the best tasting drink. White tea is purer than green teas containg more antioxidants than any other tea. Imagine, not so much has been done, just hand picked and laid to dry over the March & April then sometimes scented with a layer of Jasmine over August nights when they are at the height of blossom under China's mountained skies. Tastes supreme!

I would love to introduce my small knowledge of the second most drank drink after water to those who are interested. Email bookings@fernandezandleluu.co.uk

Like all great partnerships, Simon loves his coffee so we are re-branding the existing 'Teaspoon' to 'Fernandez & Leluu'. You can buy our teas at very competitive prices (now) and weasel coffee (from January) online at http://www.leluu.com/c/130779/1/tea-by-fernandez-leluu.html. Free Delivery in UK.

There will be an interesting post about Weasel Coffee which we served at one of our events. Its an unforgettable and amazing coffee.
































Hand Tied Osmanthus Green Tea Balls - tastes like honeydew.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Fish Tales




Menu
Salmon Sashimi With Mirin & Orange Served With Ferdie Chips
-Udon Noodle Soup With Dill Fishcakes
-Tempura White Bait With Lemon
-Garlic Turkish Bread
-Cold Octopus Salad

-Sweet Potatoes Tortilla
-Tiger Prawns With Black Squid Ink Rice & Ali oli
-Ferdie's Bread & Butter Pudding




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday 11th & Saturday 12th December 2009

How angry would you be if you had prepared all this and 4 people decided to cancel 2 hours before they were meant to arrive. I was quite angry. Considering that we had to buy the freshest of fish from Steve Hatt (Essex Road) on the day (we normally get all our shopping the day before as there is so much to do on the day) so that our guests get to eat the best that there is. We could give extra portions to all those who attend - but we have already considered how much is enough per person. We always have to be very careful how much we give as there is so much food and we want everyone to enjoy every dish without being full to the brim.

So if you would like to attend, please be really considerate about cancellations. You must give us as much notice as possible because we are buying food and preparing it for you. We don't want to waste time, energy, money and good produce. Should this happen 48 hours before you are meant to attend, please ask us for a paypal link to cover our costs and we will happily donate the rest to charity.

Putting that negativity aside and now I got that off my chest, Fish Tales was the smoothest supper club nights we had ever done! We thought that dealing with fish only was a great challenge but we managed to overcome any hurdles. We love fish and wanted to serve simple and delicious recipes where one can enjoy the flavour of fish and all its freshness and goodness.

Here are some very easy recipes you can try:

SALMON
We wanted to use common fish such as salmon and white bait and let their unique flavours speak for itself. I loathe cooked salmon or smoked salmon but love raw salmon. We got a whole side of salmon from Steve Hatt, once for the first night and returned for more for the second night - Simon insisted that he would make the trip because he refuses to serve sashimi that is not bought in on the same day. We served it with our famous chips (Simon still a bit miffed that something was not right about the chips though everyone told me they were amazing!)


I was very proud about my orange & mirin soy sauce. Very tasty. Basically: Tropicana Smooth Orange Juice (50%), Soy Sauce (40%), Mirin (10%) - then wasabi to taste - I suggest not too much.
The reason I used Orange Juice is because I am still seeking for the oranges that smell and taste like orange in London. Even if I buy organic oranges, the flavour is much lost with the soy so I used Tropicana.


 [our dinner before guests arrived]


UDON NOODLE SOUP W/ FISHCAKES
We repeated the Dill Fishcakes Udon Noodle Soup because it was such a hit the previous week at Miss Saigon. This is a really delicious and simple soup to make. Although it tastes so complex and yummy - its because its so simple!

Ingredients & how to do:
-Mature Chicken (You can buy these at Vietnamese Supermarkets) - clean, put in big pot and bring to boil. Watch for the throth - remove it as soon as possible - to keep the soup clear. Then simmer with lid on for about 45 mins with 1 x whole onion

Add the following to taste, take care and love your soup:
Fish Sauce
Rock Sugar (about 100g)
Pork granules by Knorr

Everything will change to become the perfect soup base once you do the following:
Peel (painstaking) two handfuls of shallots, put in blender to dice (to save time) then throw into a hot pan with olive oil. Get it crispy and burnt then throw all the shallots into the soup. It will taste like heaven!
Buy some udon noodles, they will be cold so blanch them in some boiling water for a minute or less (don't let it get soggy), then put them into a bowl, with fishcakes (or chicken or Vietnamese hams) with some corriander, spring onions, and sweet basil or mint.

DILL FISHCAKES for 50 small bowls: knead together all the ingredients below
4 x Grey Featherback Fish Pie
3/4 pack of Dill
4 x tsp Ground Pepper
6 x tsp Pork Granules by Knorr
2 x tbs brown sugar
10 x tbs fish sauce
7 x red chillis deseeded.

Please note: I make things according to my own sense of judgment, please do not follow the quantities I have put down as a rule. Add less, test some (fry a bit) then add more as you can always add more but you can not take things out.

This is extremely sticky, once you are happy that everything is mixed in well together,  add some olive oil - I think I must have used about 6 tbs all in all, but do not put it all in at once - see how you go.
The oil seals the mixture making it easy to set into shape. (Do not make too thick - remember you will cut them up later and is always nice to see and eat golden edges).

Steam the fish cakes for about 25 minutes. Then deep fry until golden brown. When cool cut them up into thin slices.



Simon will post recipes for the rest, including the excellent Croissant Bread & Butter Pudding with White Chocolate which we served on the first night.

Yet again, we had wonderful guests, everyone enjoyed the food and themselves ever so much. We feel so happy and proud to make all our guests happy. We used to cook for all our friends and family to make them happy. One of the reasons we started the supper club was to maintain the buzz it gives to make people happy with food.

We were so happy to meet Jim & Anna, fellow supper clubber : and you will know us by the trail of our bread its nice to hand any advice or tips we have picked up in the last 3 months. We still need more tips ourselves. They were joined by a birthday party organised by Rachel for her meat loving husband Laurence. Apparently, he kicked up a fuss about not wanting to eat fish for his birthday (hehe) but the overall party won and they made it to Fish Tales. We loved this group especially Sean who knows everything about wine and was ever so polite to me and always addressed me by my name.


Second night - full house! Tom & Jen http://tomeatsjencooks.blogspot.com/ booked in with 6 others for the second time and Lacey & Chris came for the third time! We love them! And as always new guests who promise to come back. We try to to always join our guests for dessert. Tim & Emma stayed and talked to us for ages - which we love because we missed out on all the socialising during service. Poor Simon always feels like he'd been let out of the cage by the time we get to dessert. I am lucky, I chose the front of house role and get to talk to everyone but he is stuck in the kitchen.

We are getting massive rewards for doing the supper club. For the time & energy invested in it, the payment we get is very little. But payment in smiles, joy and happiness means more to us and we are grateful that we continue to get bookings and amazing reviews we couldn't have even dreamed about.

We gave everyone a Christmas present on the second night - from a set of chopsticks to fridge magnets to coconut milk and cookies. No one expected it. No one expects the Spanish Inquisition.

Posted By Uyen

Monday, December 14, 2009

The London Foodie Review

Review by Luiz Hara - Click here:
http://thelondonfoodie.blogspot.com/2009/12/london-underground-restaurant-7.html

"Verdict – sophisticated cuisine by delightful couple Uyen and Simon @ £30 a head plus tips. A great value supper club serving outstanding food in charming apartment in East London. BYOB with no corkage charge. One of the best London supper clubs, and highly recommended."

























We have great admiration for many food bloggers we have found and met in the last three months of supper clubbing. Although in love with eating out and cooking, neither Simon nor I have ever blogged about it and now feeling slightly jealous that we can not write as well or have collected photos and experiences of the great food we have eaten on our travels and in London.

Last night, over Italian in a cosy new place we found on Upper Street, Islington - we promised ourselves to start writing about wonderful food and places to eat and start a wonderful collection of memories like Luiz has in his blog of places he has eaten in London. Looking and reading through - one can see true dedication and love.

What a wonderful way to share the love of food!
We have listed some of our favourite food blogs on the right hand side of this blog. Also check out Gastrogeek, The Londoneater, flibbertygibbet, Princess & The Recipe and Gin & Crumpets.

Although Thomas Walsh has posted hundreds of reviews on Yelp, our new favourite is: tomeatsjencooks

Tom & Jen have eaten at ours twice now and every other day I tend to check out where they have been. Tom & Jen write with such wit and pace. Delicious in detail and observation. I find it fascinating that all these people have full time jobs and lives to live but live to tell and share in such eloquence and passionate ways of writing and/or photography and will be following recommendations and reading eagerly.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Leluu's Spring Rolls


















Everybody loves Spring Rolls! Its a crowd pleaser. Its like an eastern pie - you can add whatever you want to inside as a filling. But of course, we don't recommend that you see it like that!

Like everything, the more love you put into them the more rewards you will reap. Choosing cheap ingredients is tempting but not everybody loves tasteless, greasy or empty spring rolls.

On our trip to Vietnam we discovered a new rice paper that looks like lace. This gives a wonderful crispy texture that is light and delicate, leaving you to devour full flavour of what is inside.

You can make spring rolls with all types of rice paper: regular rice paper (traditional, does not remain crispy for very long), pastry paper (crispy, crunchy - very nice) or lace paper (delicate, crispy without being crunchy, beautiful texture).















Ingredients: to make 100 spring rolls full of love.
-Rice paper (dip in warm water long enough to cover- a couple of seconds) only do one at a time!
-500g minced pork
-1.5kg peeled, devined king prawns - blizt gently so that there are still big chunks of prawns
-3 cans tinned crab (squeeze all juice out)
-500g julienne carrots (squeeze all juice out)

Reason for squeezing out juices is so that your spring rolls do not get soggy.

-2 handfuls of dry black fungus mushrooms (better to buy finely sliced version - soak for an hour)
-1 bulb garlic
-1 handful of shallots
-3 portions pack of glass noodle (soak in cold water for less than 10 mins - keep eye that it does not get soggy then cut into inch lengths)
-Pork flavour granules
- 2ish teaspoons of sugar (adjust later)















Once you have got all the ingredients prepped, put into a large container and massage well with your hands. Season with salt and pepper. Then start rolling. It is a good idea to fry one to taste for seasoning.















TIP: If using pastry sheets, you should par fry until lightly golden brown. When ready to serve it takes about 3 mins in the deep fryer.

If you are using lace paper, it does not take as long to fry - 3 mins only until crispy and golden but the paper is very delicate and you will have to work fast and carefully. Roll these on the day you want to eat them.

FREEZING: You can keep some in the freezer and impress those unexpected guests or have some whenever you fancy it. We have not put our spring rolls in the freezer, be careful if you do depending on if you are buying fresh prawns or frozen prawns. We would only recommend cooked rolls to be frozen then fried til golden before serving.















The secret to great spring rolls is the sauce. However, the problem is I have never measured how I have made it, because every time I make it, I do it from memory and from tasting and intuition but here are the ingredients you can try to master yourself:

Hot water (half), Fish Sauce (half), Sugar (to taste), Lime, Garlic, Chilli - blend together
Mix it all together and see how you go - adjust levels to get the perfect balance of salty, sweet, sour and hot!














Traditionally, a spring roll is placed in some salad leaf with corriander, rolled up, dipped into fish sauce and then eat. It is also great with vermincelli and salad.

Country & Town House Magazine


Monday, December 7, 2009

Miss Saigon - Street Food

The streets of Saigon are filled with people living closely next to each other, families are close knit. To me, Vietnamese people love sharing food, especially with people that they love.
Until the age of 5, I was lucky enough to grow up in my father's home in Saigon where my grandmother opened up the front room as a Bun Bo Hue (hot & spicy beef/ pork noodle soup) restuarant. My mother had a portable banh mi stand selling delicious ham & pickle baguettes. Food appreciation started in the womb...
















For our supper club, Simon and I ventured to Vietnam to rediscover Vietnamese cuisine and learn how to make my favourite dishes for our guests. We decided that cooking up a Vietnamese feast is great but we wanted to make Vietnamese food that you can rarely order in the many of the busting at the seam restaurants in London. Or make some of the classics different - do it like they do it on the streets of Saigon. So this was what we came up with:


Miss Saigon Menu

Summer Rolls of Egg, Barbequed & Cured Pork, Shredded Pork Skin, Spring Rolls, Mint, Corriander & Lettuce
(Bi Cuon)
Clear Prawn Tapioca Dumplings With Phan Thiet Sweet & Hot Fish Sauce
(Banh Bao Dep)
 Shredded Chicken With Corriander & Lime Salad Served with Prawn Crackers & Puffy Seaseme Rice Paper 
(Goi Ga)


Woven Spring Rolls With Prawns, Pork, Black Fungus & Vermincelli
(Cha Gio Nem)

Braised Ham & Quails Egg In Fish Sauce & Coconut Juice Served With Morning Glory Fried With Garlic & Rice
(Thit Heo Trung Kho)

Udon Noodle Soup With Dill Fish Cakes
(Banh Canh)  
Banana With Tapioca in Coconut Milk
(Che Chuoi)

Vietnamese Weasel Coffee With Condensed Milk
(Ca Phe Sua Da)
A lot of food from this menu is based on peasant food such as the braised ham and egg. Its a dish that is delicious and keeps all week. A Vietnamese family can share a small portion together as the rock sugar, coconut & fish sauce adds so much flavour to the rice that you do not need so much meat. The lunar new year being about humility and love, this is also one of the traditional dishes every family eats in celebration.

The summer rolls are a Phan Thiet speciality where you can roll up left overs such as hams and pickles. Full of refreshing mint and corriander to balance out the fried taste of spring rolls and barbeque meats.


The tapioca prawn dumplings (also a Phan Thiet speciality) were very difficult to make so unfortunately, we could not have time to make them for both nights. They are my favourite things to eat. Visually stunning as well as beautiful in texture and taste.


The Spring Rolls were wrapped in a special woven rice paper - like a beautiful lace. Not only does it look amazing but it is very crispy without being crunchy. Very unique! Will post - how to do most of these -


 

 
 
Unfortunately, we forgot to take good pictures of the final results of most courses and hope to pinch some off our guests soon.

Friday night was a buzzing night - lots of groups of friends sharing with other groups of friends. Simon and I were yet again totally totally jealous we could not join them. The roars of laughter - the chaos of people mingling and meeting new people (not chaos really - was really wonderful). I had something to love about all our guests this night. 



Geoff had booked for his friends, Vicky, Anna & Babak to come eat. He told that he had found us whilst on the train reading about supper clubs and claimed his cool card for bringing them to us. He was indeed cool and I felt so lucky and honoured to have such a wonderful and a hilarious group of friends come to my place for dinner. They couldn't stop laughing the entire night. They welcomed Nancia, a wonderful and beautiful lady into their group and as well as Nicole, Zhenzhong & Qin who shared their table.

On the same table, Kate, Abigail & Jane met Douglas, Simon & Leonardo - they were like out of a scene from a movie where there was instant bonding and gelling. Looked like they made friends for life.

Selena, Paul, Vicky, Steve were Simon's friends - who kept saying - how could you do this so well? how? how? 
Lizzie found great time to catch up with her brother David. 

And lastly, Luiz Hara - one of our favourite food bloggers (http://thelondonfoodie.blogspot.com/) had a chance to bring Gerald, Tim & Regis for supper. 

We had written to him first, two months ago, when we first started the supper club. It feels like it had been so much longer than this. When we look back, it definately feels like we have gone a long way, developed so much and feel so proud to still be running, that our initial idea of giving it a go, worked out exactly how we wanted it to work out. 

Luiz gave us the most wonderful compliments about our food - for this we felt so humbled by as Luiz eats everywhere. Not only had he been to Vietnam, he has reviewed many Vietnamese restaurants and restaurants and supper clubs in general. Besides this, Luiz and his friends are some of the nicest, gentle and warm people. We are so lucky to have great guests!

My mother - the quiet star, who had come to help out for the weekend - as after all - she is the original Miss Saigon.




Saturday was also great, however, the atmosphere very different as mainly couples/ pairs had booked to eat. This still makes a very noisy night but not as loud as groups. 

It was nerve racking to have Anh & Van - fellow Vietnamese guests who own the Vietnamese baguette - Banh Mi (http://www.banhmi11.com/) stand on Broadway Market. They were kind enough to bring us some to eat - which we enjoyed after wards. And they loved everything and chatted a lot to my mum. Vietnamese people are extremely thoughtful when it comes to food. Sharing and giving food is a way of life.

Charlotte and Rob were filled with so much pleasure from all the food they enjoyed. It is so rewarding to see such happiness in the eyes of Charlotte and for Gail (http://flibbertygibbet.typepad.co.uk/flibbertygibbet/2009/11/going-underground-supper-club.html) & Simon on their second visit who want to come every week. I love catching Gail taste a dish that comes to the table. After a few seconds comes the, 'Mmmmm...' and shakes her head out of disbelief of how good it tastes. Brings a massive smile to my face every time!

We had some guests come all the way to us from New York and Vienna. It was such an honour to have them book especially to eat at our supper club on their short trip to London.


Will post recipes and tips soon...
Uyen

As a child, we all got one of these milk sweets as a treat for being good or for completing a chore. Milk was scarce in Vietnam and therefore these were a real real treat. Even for adults.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Best Won Ton Noodle Soup In The World




We have just been on a food odyssey to Vietnam to get inspiration for the Miss Saigon Menu - more posts coming up...

Every lunch time in rainy and foggy London town, I dream of visiting this little street stand in Saigon.
The family here immigrated from China years and years ago, and bought with them the best Won Ton Noodle Soup to Saigon. I wasn't ever lucky enough to find such a memorable bowl in China!



You can chose to have flat noddle or thin egg noodles or Pho noodles. I love the flat ones with chunks of boiled pork and won tons and plenty of Vietnamese chives. There is something heavenly about the stock. It is fresh and flavoursome in a way I have no words to describe. When I am eating it, it involves me being at one with it. In the few minutes it takes me to eat it - I feel utterly complete!

 
 

Jobs are scarce for the huge population of Saigon. Almost everybody has to create businesses for themselves to get by. A lot of families open up restaurants downstairs in their front room and it opens up onto the streets, busting with Hondas and Saigonese rushing from one place to the next. They normally only sell one thing that they are really good at making. As word spreads around, everybody knows to go to a certain place just to eat won ton noodles, pho, mein ga, banh xeo etc. All modest, no fuss, no frills, just simple and great soul rendering street food.


What attracted me to this "living room restaurant" was the antique stand that you can wheel around. Alot of ordinary working Vietnamese people steer away from antiques and anything old. They feel that they have lived in a poor, undeveloped world for long enough and want the new things in life.

However, this family still chooses to use their antique food stand. Perhaps to remind others of our ancestors living within and around us, its their lucky food stand, or that it makes them look different from the rest - if it ain't broke why fix it, or that they simply can not afford to buy a new one - (which I doubt because this place is buzzing)!

About 50p a bowl of food treasure!

I will find out the address and post it here for anyone who visits Saigon, District 10 - far out from the commercial central. This is a must stop. This is real Saigon.


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