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Design Junction

I meant to visit loads of London Design Festival stuff, but ended up being quite lazy/disorganised last week and ended up just going to Design Junction on Saturday. Worked out pretty well though since it seemed to be all of the coolest stuff, housed in an awesome old sorting office warehouse.

Design Junction
Design Junction

Fernandez & Wells popup cafe

Design Junction
Design JunctionDesign Junction
Design Junction
Design JunctionDesign Junction

Mid-century Modern area

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Global Feast

I was invited to spend a night eating at the Global Feast on Friday, a series of suppers running alongside the Olympics which celebrate the cuisines of most of the competing countries. The nightly dinners each feature guest chefs cooking alongside Kerstin Rogers, the location of each night’s origins moving west round the world. A hugely ambitious project combining my loves of food and travel? How could I resist…

Global FeastGlobal Feast

The evening started with a gin and tonic in the pretty setting of Stratford’s Old Town Hall, just a skip away from the Olympic Park.

Global Feast
Global Feast

The stunning banquet table, dreamed up by Alex Haw of Atmos Studio, who we had the pleasure of company with for the meal, is laser-cut into the shape of the world complete with longitude lines, topographic accuracy and a hole bored in to mark each large city. We were sat on the coast of Brazil facing the Andes!

Global Feast
Global Feast
Global Feast
Global Feast

Besides the amazing table itself, the effort put into the presentation was really impressive. I loved the map flowers and mini herb gardens sprouting up.

Global Feast
Global Feast

The food was equally impressive. After canapes and a started of curried egg, the main was a thali-style combination of paneer biryani (chicken for the meat-eaters, and a spiced lamb chop) with peanut aubergine and a little glass of yogurt soup called khadi, complemented by brilliant pink beetroot raita and warm chapattis. It looked as good as it tasted, the spicing containing Persian-influenced ingredients like rose and pistachio which are often found in Pakistani cooking.

Global Feast

After an interlude of brilliant Northern Indian dancing for entertainment, dessert was a trio of chocolate tarts by Pistachio Rose, each spiced with a warming background of chilli, fennel and chai. The white choc with fennel and rose was my favourite, yum yum.

The Global Feast runs every night of the Olympics, so there’s only 8 days left. Read more about the Indian night on Kerstin’s blog and grab tickets to the remaining nights here. Much more fun than that sports malarkey, eh?

Coffee workshop at… Workshop

Coffee workshop

Last week I spent a very enjoyable morning learning all about the sourcing, roasting and brewing of coffee at a session put on by Clerkenwell coffee house Workshop (previously St Ali). As well as putting on a mighty lovely all-day dining spread, Workshop also take their coffee very seriously, with an in-house roaster at the rear of the shop and a brisk takeaway trade.

Coffee workshop

Our host and coffee manager, Tim, started by telling us a load of fascinating stuff about coffee that I never knew. For example, did you know that the skins of the coffee cherries (the beans are the inner ‘pip’ of this fruit) are caffeinated because it’s a natural insect repellant, and the dried skins can be brewed into a tea called cascara? And that’s just the start – we discussed the different varieties of coffee and the effect that altitude, location, processing and volume have on its quality and flavour.

Coffee workshop
Coffee workshop

Tim then explained how they go about sourcing and selecting coffee for Workshop – often they only get a 100g sample which they have to carefully roast and brew in order to decide whether to spend £60,000 on an order. Workshop ensure that they pay a fair price for their premium beans and try to have as open and transparent a relationship with their importers and farmers as possible.

Coffee workshop
Coffee workshop

We then saw the roasting process: raw beans are tipped into the roaster and a laptop displays the ‘recipe’ that each variety is to be roasted to. The temperature is painstakingly monitored and data-entered each minute that they roast to ensure a completely consistent result – a variation of just two degrees means the batch is no good. Workshop roast their beans very lightly to just bring out the subtle natural flavours – a more typical coffee chain might over-roast to mask poorer quality beans.

Coffee workshop
Coffee workshop

After 14 minutes of roasting, the beans are cooled and then bagged. They have to rest for a week to release any trapped carbon dioxide that can make the coffee bitter. Workshop’s head roaster Richard spends two days roasting approximately 300kg of coffee per week, which is sold via drinks in their two London locations, and also a small proportion as wholesale and retail beans.

Coffee workshop
Cofee workshop

Finally, we experienced a sample ‘cupping’ session. Tim and Richard do this every week to ensure consistency in the newly roasted beans, and also when tasting new additions to decide how they should be roasted and brewed.

Coffee workshop
Coffee workshop

The cupping session is almost ritualistic, like a Japanese tea ceremony, but this is to make sure the coffee is tasted with as few variables as possible. Beans measured into precise 12 grams, ground and added to bowls; kettle boiled and cooled; water poured; coffee stirred; wait for brewing; skim the top and taste a teaspoonful with a slurp.

Coffee workshop

We finished with a lovely brunch in Workshop’s restaurant, washed down with yet more coffee. This was a ‘beta’ session to see if the concept worked, which I think it most certainly did. I left with an even greater understanding and appreciation of coffee, along with a long list of wonderful facts to bore people with – I didn’t even share half of what I learned here. Tim plans to schedule in more sessions for the public to book onto soon: keep an eye on their Twitter for news.

Harry Potter studio tour

Harry Potter studio tour

I booked this back in October as soon as it was announced, and finally the date of our Warner Bros Harry Potter tour arrived on Saturday! I’ll pop most of the photos and info under a cut, since there’s an awful lot and some people who are visiting in the future might not want spoilers…

Harry Potter studio tour
Harry Potter studio tour
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Pasta masterclass with Google at Fifteen

Pasta class at Fifteen

We had a great time last night learning how to make pasta properly at Fifteen restaurant, thanks to Google London. If you didn’t know, Fifteen is the restaurant set up by Jamie Oliver to train young apprentice chefs, and all profits are put back into training the next generation of chefs. Alumni of the scheme have gone on to open their own restaurants and work at other top kitchens in London, so the scheme’s definitely a success, and the flagship Fifteen is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year.

Pasta class at Fifteen

We started our class with chefs Alex and Nathan talking us through making the basic pasta dough. It’s just equal quantities of liquid (egg, water or flavourings like tomato, spinach or mushroom paste) to fine ’00′ flour, and a glug of olive oil. The dough is then kneaded to stretch out the gluten, then should be rested for up to 24 hours.

Pasta class at Fifteen

The rested dough is flattened by hand then fed into the pasta machine.

Pasta class at Fifteen
Pasta class at Fifteen

I picked up a top tip here that I’ve been missing out on at home: fold both edges of the dough back into itself on the first few goes to get a smooth ‘leathery’ texture and create a sharp straight edge. Genius.

Pasta class at Fifteen
Pasta class at Fifteen

When it’s long and thin, time to fill with a ravioli filling, in this case a mix of roasted squash, garlic, ricotta and chilli – yum.

Pasta class at Fifteen
Pasta class at Fifteen

Use a piping bag for pro results and make sure to leave plenty of space between each dollop for sealing.

Pasta class at Fifteen

Then ‘cup’ each little mound with your hands to seal and push out any air.

Pasta class at Fifteen
Pasta class at Fifteen

Finally, cut around each mound (a fancy ravioli cutter looks good but a pizza wheel or knife will do fine) and voila – perfect little raviolo. They just need boiling for 4-5 minutes and tossing in a butter sauce.

Pasta class at Fifteen

We got to take our proud creations with us to cook at home, along with some brilliant tips for making pasta at home. I learned loads that I hadn’t thought of while trying my own efforts, but it really is quick and easy when you know how.

Pasta class at Fifteen

We then headed down to the restaurant for a lovely meal of antipasti, the squash ravioli (properly prepared by Nathan!) and chocolate brownie, complete with a matching glass of wine for each course. Fab night, thanks Google and Fifteen.

Google are running loads of foody events at the moment due to acquiring respected restaurant reviewers Zagat, and lots of them are open to anyone who applies by reviewing some restaurants on Google Places, so keep an eye on their Twitter to see how you can get involved.