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Foxlow, EC1

Foxlow

It was my birthday this week, and rarely for me I was paralysed by indecision on where to go have dinner on the day. I’d nearly resorted to an old favourite (Polpo, Dishoom or Yautacha) before booking Foxlow, the newish place in Clerkenwell from the guys behind Hawksmoor. Yes, the meaty, steak-y Hawksmoor that I could never go near with a barge pole. Luckily Foxlow is not all about the meat, though it still features fairly heavily on the menu, but there were enough veggie options to keep me and my veggie-for-January boyfriend happy. The cocktails, vino and service – and mighty desserts – made me even more happy.

Foxlow

Win the first: our booked table wasn’t quite ready when we arrived, so were treated to a complimentary drink in the bar area while we waited. I went for a St John; I don’t remember what exactly was in it (we’d been to three cocktail bars prior to dinner) but it was delicious. Josh was happy as the beer list is strong, with local London breweries Partizan, Beavertown and The Kernel amongst the offerings.

Foxlow

Once seated, we went for every veggie thing on the menu to share. The waiter helpfully guided us, even pointing out that the parmesan on one of the salads was not veggie. I was delighted to find that they even have my favourite wine, Le Petiot, which we first had at the Corner Room and is offered by the glass or carafe here.

Foxlow

We started with a butternut and ricotta toast. Unusually served at room temperature, the perfectly caramelised onions amongst the sweet squash meant this was destroyed pretty quickly.

Foxlow

The mains were imaginative and skilfully executed. A dish of roasted vegetables and grains was more tasty than it sounds, with a mix of seasonal beetroot, artichoke and carrot amongst nutty and toasty grains. The Imam Bayildi was a superb example of the dish, the aubergine smoky and super soft, stuffed with a spiced tomatoey mixture with a dab of yogurt on the side.

Foxlow

We also got two of the salads from the salad bar (which colourfully greets you as you enter the dining room) including a zingy sour slaw, and uh, chips. Really good crispy, salty chips. With kimchi ketchup. oooof.

Foxlow

Somehow we still has room for dessert, especially after looking at the menu. It reads like a pornography of comfort foods: apple crumble, cherry pie, salted caramel, nutella, chocolate popcorn…

Foxlow

We went for the Peanutella, served in a jar with a layer of salt caramel and served with filthily buttery brioche soldiers. I can famously usually only manage a mouthful of sweet things, but I would happily have licked this jar clean.

Foxlow

And a chocolate-popcorn soft-serve sundae. A superluxe McFlurry basically. Yeah. No words.

Foxlow

They even have good coffee. I’m glad that’s becoming a thing now. Everything as Foxlow is just done very well, but it never feels stuffy or pretentious. I can completely understand why it’s tricky to get a table at the moment. I hope they change up the veggie menu regularly so I can go back and try more soon. Though I’d be fine with just the chips and a sundae really, thanks.

Foxlow on Urbanspoon

Recipe: Kale, tomato and egg tart

Kale tart

Would you believe this week is the first time I’ve ever bought kale? And I call myself a vegetarian, tsk. Anyway I’m pleased I picked it up on my last visit to the greengrocer as the big bag happily lasted a week in the fridge and made its way into three meals.

Kale tart

My favourite way to use so far is boiled to remove toughness then baked to crisp it up a bit, and it’s best buds with egg and tangy cheese, so I made it into a meal with the addition of a bit of pastry from the freezer.

Kale tart

Kale, tomato and egg tart

Serving Size: 3

Ingredients

  • Two handfuls kale
  • (Optional: throw in any other green veg like courgette or broccoli - I used some courgette)
  • 2 tomatoes
  • (Optional: two sun-dried tomatoes, chopped)
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 pack ready-rolled puff pastry
  • Any good strong, melty cheese: try taleggio, ossau, or a goats', two thick slices/approx 100g.
  • 3 eggs
  • Wholegrain mustard
  • Thyme
  • Chilli flakes
  • Olive oil

Method

  1. Remove the kale stalks and chop the leaves into small pieces. Boil in water for 5-7 minutes, until softened.
  2. Set oven to 210 degrees C. Roll the pastry into a suitable shallow baking dish, prick the bottom with a fork and blind bake with baking beans for ten minutes.
  3. Slice the tomatoes and onion (and other veg, if using) thinly, keeping them in intact rings, spread onto a baking tray and put under a hot grill for 4-5 minutes until browned and soft.
  4. Combine the kale, tomato and onion with a glug of olive oil and 1 tsp mustard, and season with the thyme, chilli flakes, sun-dried tomatoes if using, and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Spread another 1tsp mustard on the bottom of the part-baked pastry, then heap on the kale and tomato mix and spread out evenly. Crack the eggs onto the top and dot on the cheese.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes more until the eggs are cooked but yolks are still runny and the pastry and kale is crisp and browned.
  7. Serve with mini roasties, yogurt and salad. Or baked beans.
http://www.whatkatiedoes.net/2013/12/recipe-kale-tomato-and-egg-tart.html

Kale tart

Nb. It’s also superb reheated the next day, with beans, yogurt and hot sauce. Mmmm.

Any more ideas for kale recipes?

Makin’ cider

Cider making

Ugh, autumn is truly here isn’t it? I swear it got dark at 3pm yesterday, so miserable. In my mind the only good things about the gloomy seasons are of the edible and quaffable varieties: a few months of soups, stews and mulled things make it all bearable. So I was happy to get an email from Garden Trading asking if I’d like to try out an apple press from their range of harvest season products. If you haven’t heard of Garden Trading yet, they make timeless and practical homewares that look equally at home in a country cottage or a more modern setting: I’ve got their enamelled metal lightshades in both my bedroom and kitchen.

Cider making

Here’s the sweet little apple press they sent me. Crafted from solid wood and pretty sage green painted cast iron, it feels solid and well made. It’s nice and petite so fits onto the kitchen worktop easily.

Cider making

It comes ready to roll, complete with a mesh pulping bag, pressing blocks and simple instructions.

Cider making
Cider making

To give it a whirl, I bought a lovely range of apples from my local greengrocer: a mix of eating apples like Granny Smith and Gala for sweetness mixed with cooking varieties like Bramley for sharpness. Don’t they look pretty? The 9kg I bought yielded about 6 litres of juice.

Cider making
Cider making

The process is pretty simple, though you need a bit of elbow grease and be prepared to get pulpy and sticky! First wash and roughly chop the apples: I did this by hand but for a larger batch you’d probably want to use something more mechanised. Then you need to roughen/pulp them up a bit: we used a stick blender but a bowl food processor would have been quicker and cleaner. Give them a good whiz so they’re broken down but not entirely mush.

Cider making

Load the mesh bag into the barrel and fill with the pulpy apple goop. (This photo shows our first try where we hadn’t whizzed them up enough and they would not press: the right consistency looks more pulpy than this.)

Cider making

Pop the pressing blocks on top and start turning. Ta-da, out pours lovely apple juice! Of course you can just drink it right away, but I really fancied trying to make cider from it, with a little help from the live-in brewer boyfriend. It just requires a couple of extra supplies and ingredients – cider yeast, Campden tablets and PET bottles, all which I got from Brew UK – as well as the fermentation bottle and airlock which Josh already had from beer brewing.

Cider making

The Campden tablet stops any wild yeasts or bacteria from mucking up the fermentation, as well as lightening the colour. After 24-48 hours the cider yeast is added, then it needs to be tucked away away under the stairs for a couple of months, so it should be ready just in time for Christmas. Can’t wait to try it!

Cider making

We also had a bit leftover to drink straight away, to which I added some of this Morris Kitchen ginger syrup I got in Brooklyn. Delicious. The juice can be frozen too, which would be handy if you’re lucky enough to have a glut of apples to use up. All in all, top autumnal fun.

Apple press supplied for review by Garden Trading – thank you!

Kings County Distillery

Kings Country Distillery, Brooklyn

One of the more unusual things we did in Brooklyn was a visit to New York’s first new whiskey distillery since the Prohibition era, Kings County. Tucked away in the paymasters’ building at DUMBO’s Navy Yard, the distillery has only been open since 2010. It’s starting to get a reputation for small-batch quality and the product is now stocked in many of Brooklyn’s bars and restaurants.

Kings Country Distillery, Brooklyn
Kings Country Distillery, Brooklyn

The tour began at the imposing entrance to their premises. Cofounder of the business, Colin Spoelman, started by giving us a fascinating potted history of distilling in the USA and explained how he came to set up the business. He was essentially a home-moonshiner from Kentucky who was moved to set up officially when state laws dropped the previously huge taxes and setup fees for a new distillery.

Kings Country Distillery, Brooklyn
Kings Country Distillery, Brooklyn

We wandered to the tiny ‘corn field’ to the side of their building. This corn isn’t really used for their everyday production: there’s nowhere near enough space to grow what they need, but they just requested to use the land for fun. They may brew a special edition whiskey with this year’s harvest.

Kings Country Distillery, Brooklyn
Kings Country Distillery, Brooklyn
Kings Country Distillery, Brooklyn
Kings Country Distillery, Brooklyn

Our next stop was the distillery itself. Here the corn (several tons a month come from an upstate farm) is cooked up with barley and yeast, then left a little while so the yeast can eat up the natural sugars in the corn, creating alcohol. Then it’s distilled twice in the ‘stills’: they are currently in the process of upgrading their production from the smaller metal tanks to the much larger copper kettles in the middle of the space.

Kings Country Distillery, Brooklyn

Helper kitty keeps the mice away.

Kings Country Distillery, Brooklyn
Kings Country Distillery, Brooklyn
Kings Country Distillery, Brooklyn
Kings Country Distillery, Brooklyn
Kings Country Distillery, Brooklyn

Colin then led us upstairs to the barrel room, which drew collective oohs from the small tour group. Ageing in oak barrels is what gives the clear alcohol its amber colour and depth of flavour. Colin explained that a longer ageing doesn’t necessarily result in a better whiskey and that the temperature fluctuations in the barn mean the liquid can absorb better from the wood. They constantly taste from the barrels until the required flavour profile – a balance of spice and caramel tones – has been reached.

Kings Country Distillery, Brooklyn
Kings Country Distillery, Brooklyn
Kings Country Distillery, Brooklyn

At the end back in the tasting room, there’s a small exhibit of the history of the area and whiskey in NYC – hilariously dubbed the Boozeum – and shelves of the lingering remains of experimental batches. The hand-typed labels and small-batch approach remind me of London’s very own Kernel brewery. We also got to sample the final product in its unaged (moonshine) and aged forms. Now I’m not a whiskey fan but I really did like the ‘chocolate’ version, with Mast Brothers cocoa nibs thrown into the barrel. They imparted just a hint of sweetness and warmth. Josh bought a couple of bottles to bring home. It was a great tour and fascinating to learn the history and processes of distilling. Tours run informally every Saturday afternoon and are well worth a visit.

Brooklyn & NYC Eats & drinks

Brooklyn

This was always going to be an indulgent foody holiday. I’d saved about 200 places to my Foursquare list and Google map and was determined to plough through as many as possible, waistline be damned. I think we did pretty well! I don’t know if it was the exchange rate or being in Brooklyn rather than Manhattan, but prices everywhere seemed really reasonable, and it was a delight to have so many places on our doorstep in Williamsburg.

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