Monday, May 31, 2010

Sneaky Chorizo


This week we put on a few hits including our signature "Fish and Chips" which we were told we totally undersell by calling it that. The tuna sashimi together with my homemade crunchy chips always pleases our guests and their reaction to it is always lovely to hear! Uyen's carrot and coriander salad with it's super refreshing dressing, always makes my taste buds tingle with delight : )
I had a bit of fun doing the test runs for one of the the seared trout with ginger and lemongrass broth, will post recipe later this week. Who would have thought this:
Turns into this!!!!
This weeks menu:
Turkish Garlic Bread w/ Beetroot Dip
Sashimi Tuna & Chips
Spicy Chicken, Carrot, Mooli & Corriander Salad W Prawn Crackers
Miso Aubergine
Rainbow Trout w/ Lemongrass, Lime & Ginger Broth
& GlassNoodles, Pak Choi & Beansprouts
Sweet Potato w/ Chorizo Red Wine Jous & Rocket
Lime & Chillie Chocolate Topped Mousse

I love our guest's reaction to the Egyptian Beetroot dip, it's sooo bright purple, looks like it should be used to colour in crazy cartoons! "I don't really like beetroot but the dip is fantastic!" Yup, especially when combined with some fresh garlic turkish bread, golden with butter from the oven, soft on the inside and crunchy on the out, fantastic combo! (So I'm told that is...) 

Dip me, dip me!
Love to load a bit of refreshing salad onto one of these babies, taste explosion loveiness!
Sometimes we have a little battle about my menu designs, and Uyen insists on dropping something, and sometimes rightly so (pretty rare tho!), this weeks menu was all over the place in terms of geography, South East Asia, Africa, Mediterranean, and America- key limes - India would have been there too but the spicy coconut mushrooms got culled. I'm glad I insisted on keeping the chorizo, soft and juicy spicy sausage cooked in red wine and served with roast sweet potatoes and rocket, drizzled with the red wine jous, cracking! Our guests liked it too, which is always nice specially if we've not put it on the menu before, there's always a bit of trepidation, only one leaf of rocket came back : ) taking that as a good sign! 
Must add a little note, I picked up the chorizo from a great little place just off the Holloway Road, I cannot emphasize enough how good it is. It's a cafe deli combo and they take a great deal of care in sourcing their ingredients as you can tell when you bite into anything they serve you. It's called Le Peche Mignon and I totally recommend it: great coffee, great food and very friendly folk!

Lime and Chilli Chocolate Topped Mousse
Where's mine? Do I get some? Do I? Do I?
This weeks guests were lovely - we've been very lucky in this respect - including Cass Titcombe, Chef/Owner of  Canteen and also has a funky book out called 'Canteen, Great British Food'.

Doing more test runs this week recipe posts to come! Sx

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Secret Garden Party At The RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Following my post, Champagne Happy about my Dorchester Afternoon Tea experience with Laurent Perrier – we were kindly invited to attend The RHS Chelsea Flower Show – Secret Garden Party –hosted by Laurent Perrier who also has a garden there, designed by Tom Stuart-Smith.
The spot in the diary glowed for weeks. The words ‘secret garden party’ brings all sorts of fantasies a light– from Narnia to Alice In Wonderland. We get a chance to play in the world’s most famous Flower Show and go on a secret tour of the gardens without the public.

Happiness and excitement eagerly carried us in its arms as we entered the press hall, me almost falling off my high heels along the way as we were greeted with chilled flutes of Laurent Perrier Rose – my most favourite magical drink. It drinks beautifully, smooth and perfectly balanced with fruity and velvety notes. This glass of liquid can surely cause many sins in its divine form.
Surrounded by press, cold canapés and Rose, we giggled our way like little children, rubbing shoulders with Alan Titchmarsh and other people off the telly.
The Director of Laurent Perrier telling us how much he liked our Champagne blog post completely made our evening and we smiled more and more as representatives kept coming to ask us, who are you? who do you work for?
No one. We work for ourselves.
I see... Congratulations.
Failing miserably at chit chat, I was telling a particular bee, a represent of The Body Shop that Anita Roddick, their late founder was also a very loyal customer of Leluu as well as me being a very loyal customer of theirs and how I used to work at their Kings Road branch as a keen seventeen year old but she didn’t batter. She wanted names to write about how their 'long-standing-commitment-to-protecting-the-planet-by-joining-forces-with-The World Land Trust -to-protect-a-nature-reserve-in-the-Brazilian-Atlantic-rainforest'. Thanks for the goodie bag – bee. I love the Hemp Hand Protector (they’ve aged excessively since supper clubs started).
It is sometimes rather amusing when in the presence of so many press from all the nationals- the old schools, and then announcing that you are (just) bloggers - sort of feels like we’ve cheated our way through because we are seen like - outsiders, the naughty kids smoking in the bike yard.
It was wonderful to go on a little tour of the show without the public – the place empty, serene and still with a champagne stop at the Laurent Perrier Garden. A perfect evening of joyous memories. We are very lucky to get invited to lovely things like these. Who would have thought, doing a supper club and writing a blog would lead to so many great things indeed.

Thank you to Wildcard PR and Laurent Perrier for inviting us.
Please check out: (We should hear what bee is saying)
The World Land Trust Patron, Sir David Attenborough, says, “I am of the opinion that tropical rainforests must be saved at all cost… I fully support the Trust’s drive to save as much of the “real thing” as is humanly possible. Despite man’s sophistication we are unable to recreate anything quite so wonderful’.

Monday, May 24, 2010

COM-SA-ME-DA

Seoul is a city that has its soul buried a little below the surface. Blocks of blacked out 4 x 4s and Bentleys cover the 6 lane roads, swept clean, kept to its utter bare concrete. Everybody keeps to themselves, contained in their sphere with a grim, fierce and stoney face. Its people - the men and women some of the most beautiful in the world- appear far colder than that of any Asian country I have ever been. Polar opposites of the Vietnamese whom I feel are like the Italians of Asia.

I have come to Seoul more often than I can count with both hands for my Love Leluu boutique – my passport, full of Incheon’s customs stamps and I have a pocket full of bad memories as well as good ones.
As my relationships with my suppliers grow with each journey building a stronger and stronger bond. I have discovered that you have to unravel the Koreans, you have to earn their trust, merit their warmth and win their smiles. A contest that can come across as quite difficult but one must and should persist.

I have the same relationship with Korean food. Introduced to it in London, by a lovely Korean friend, Jisook – who always called me her sister: ‘Ran’ – in Great Marlborough Street, Soho became a regular treat as I have had the most amazing food. Korean – being right up there on my top 3 cusines.
This all changed when I went to Seoul and was faced with everything in a red pepper gravy – that does not really appear to have a pleasant taste. It is slightly salty, mainly peppery and a bit spicy but not really hot. It is in everything – red stew bubbling away in the street stalls, smelling like stale pepper. Utterly unappetizing! (That I haven't managed to ever take a photo of it, because I am running away)
It is Korea’s most typical dish -kimchi – fermented cabbage in this pepper sauce – a strong and dominant pickle that gets to me, makes my stomach raw and acidic – repeating on me through my pores and in my breath for days and days afterwards. No wonder Seoul smells a bit like damp cloth. This kimchi and this red pepper sauce lingers above many culprits like a invisible vapor – hard if you were pregnant or stuck in a lift!

Kimchi comes with everything and I see people order JUST kimchi with noodles or with rice! How could you…?
Putting stinky kimchi aside, I do love the Korean Barbeque – I mean, how could you not? It is one of those things in life that is a real pleasure, a real treat and in Korea, this is what I look forward to most.

My favourite is 'bulgogi'- tender beef, marinade in soy sauce with sesame oil, sugar, onions, garlic, black pepper, rice wine vinegar. I heard that what makes it ever so tender is blended kiwi and onion.
I usually order a rib of this, and it comes with so many accompaniments to make your entire meal, including kimchi. You use the salad leaves as a wrap, fill it up with pickles, onions, rice or whatever you are offered with some meat from the barbeque, roll it up, dip it in one of many sauces on the table and you can end up eating half an animal by the end. Surprisingly, even with a little kimchi makes it all very tasty.
 Wash it all down with my favourite beer – Hite and we’re on our way! ‘Hite’ is a light and refreshing beer which is perfect for all the meat you could eat at a barbeque. It is made with Spring water but has quite a high alcohol content.
I have taken my mum to Seoul once, and she absolutely loved it – the salad wraps – Korean fajitas! I also took Simon who really loved the barbeque and especially the beers! ‘Cass’ beer is also really nice.

My other most favourite meal is ‘bibimbab’ – it is most delicious when made well of course as you can get many variations. It is normally cooked in a stone bowl, with rice, pickles, minced meat and a fried egg on top. You mash it all up with red pepper sauce and it is really delicious.

I have had really nice red pepper sauce and really bad ones – like anywhere and any foods, some people can make it really well, some others should give up!
As a foreigner, I feel the people, like the food is masked yet once you reveal it, it is so complex and beautiful – you just have to get to know it – it doesn’t just wear its heart on its sleeve. It has no interest in seducing you, you have to seduce it and that’s where you find the most pleasure – Just like this post reveals, I do not like kimchi or this red pepper sauce, but I do find that I do like it - actually!

I never used to like going to Seoul very much – although I always enjoy my work there, but that was because I didn’t really understand it. I still don’t, but slowly slowly, I am coming around.

*Com-sa-me-da* [Thank You]

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Immy At 33

Last December, Immy booked in to eat at our supper club – and she loved it so much, she asked us to cook for her birthday in May. Since then, she had been back to eat and  we have met a few other times over dinner and bottles of cabernet to discuss plans, menus, schedules, timings etc as well as many heart to hearts as it turned out. We always had a great time with Immy – she is one great lady.

Immy is always full of smiles and giggly banter – perhaps if we had a lot of clients, we would say that she is the ideal client, but we don’t – and she is a great client to start with! A strong and determined character, Immy planned everything from scratch – from where the location was to every detail on the table setting. This event, themed 40s Vintage, was going to be full of love, full of Immy and we were really lucky to have been asked to collaborate on such an event at such an amazing place in Central London, so famous for its parties.
What tied our small worlds together is that Immy works for an advertising agency who did the After Eight Campaign with Jim Haynes – our supper club hero has been hosting Sunday dinners for over 30 years. (Check our event with him here). It was a great coincidence that our worlds collided. Some would say that there is a reason for that… Immy played a very influential role in this as she has tried out a lot of supper clubs and loves new, emerging and underground things.
This is the first time that Simon and I entered a professional kitchen and hell – we loved it! We have cooked everything in seven or eight months in my tiny bachelor’s kitchen – here, we had double huge sinks, large steel surfaces, 2 ovens, 12 hobs, a real fryer and space! We could get on with our prep without being in each other’s way and bidding over one work surface. It was fantastic! We loved it!

We prepped for one full day before, shopping, and pre prepping. We got all our equipment together in a taxi and headed over, prepping non-stop til we executed everything one hour prior to service. We were so on time because we had so much space to work in and not having to wait for one person to finish. We forgot our chopping boards but apart from that – everything went to plan.
(Humming Bird Cupcakes)
(Beef Wellington Preparation)
The main room was immaculately set out by Immy and her friends Olivia & John who arrived amidst the set up chaos and were thrown in to help last minute. As dusk set through the glass ceilings, the atmosphere in the room changed from a sunny summers day to a warmly candle lit banquet, fantastic for Immy and her friends and family.
We got a round of applause at the end and felt really chuffed that everyone enjoyed all the food and had a wonderful night – creating great memories of being with Immy for her birthday.

Like so many professional women of today, who work so hard and are independent, I relate and aspire to be like Immy: Strong, funny, with a positive outlook and in control of her own destiny and getting on with things surrounded with love and without ties to convention.

Another perfect example of how ‘Hector’ in his ‘Search For Happiness’ would find that - happiness is about having inner peace and being around people we love, in celebration, accepting who we are, as we are.
 


If you would like us to cook for your party, please get in touch to discuss: bookings@fernandezandleluu.co.uk

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