Sunday, 31 May 2009

Taste of Spain 2009

Lisa, since you mentioned it first, here we go-

The huge advantage with being a Londoner is you're spoilt rotten by events like this. Bliss.

Regent Street. Noon, hot but made comfy with a slight breeze.

As if we don't get enough of it. I was going to rant about Barcelona beating Man U, but I think we all need a break.

21st century Dali wannabe



Impossibly pretty

No fake tan here mate

As for food, the usual suspects were here

Come to think of it there weren’t many food stalls...

...there were two jamon stalls...

...dishing out tiny tiny slices for free. Look at those hands!

Paella, otherwise it wouldn’t be a Spanish event would it?

Like the jamon stalls there were two of these set up as well; to feed the five thousand no less.

I didn't stay for the rice to be cooked, it was getting too congested and hot hovering next to the giant paellera.

Lunch at Dehesa nearby.

The Spanish do thrive on surrealism

The following snaps are of people. Beautiful people.

Dustmen like you and me him fall into this category as well

Till next year...

Friday, 29 May 2009

Momma Cherri’s Big House


Recession or no recession, some people are just plain clueless about running a business. Frankly this place was an embarrassment to Brighton, so I'm glad it folded.

Fried chicken as I understand is one of the pinnacles that contributes to the term Soul Food. Twelve years ago a plonker of colossal proportions maliciously suggested that it was Tiger Woods’ staple. That admittedly got me going with my quest for the finest Southern fried chicken I can lay my hands or jaws on. Alas, I can only dream about what the late Austin Leslie’s ultimate version would taste like. I also know that it’s going to be impossible to get the real thing here in Blighty, so desperate measures led me to this wonderful site where one simply drools over the huge list of restaurants and their respective snapshots of chicken dinner. One day I’m going to set off to the States and eat myself silly.

Momma Cherri’s American Soul Food, is a surefire destination joint that was catapulted by ‘effing this and that’. After four hours of setting up turntables (don’t ask it’s boring) I was looking forward to lunch. That partially covered up ‘leasehold for sale’ sign above the shopfront is ever so ominous. For the whole picture of this impressive building you can see Mark’s pic here.

For a restaurant of this ilk, the diners were strangely passive, I supposed the rather uninteresting ambience was accountable.

Fried Chicken main course.
I didn’t need to look at the menu, it was what I came for.

Three drumsticks with creamy white and sweet potato mash, Southern fried gravy, cornbread* and chef’s choice vegetable dish of the day. The chicken wasn’t bad but it wasn’t brilliant either. At least at KFC (yes I know AA and so on), for less than half the price you’re guaranteed a thigh, bit of breast, etc…and dare I say it; taste every bit as good if not better. Couldn’t taste any sweet potatoes in the mash and that gravy made me realised that I’m never going to take the mickey out of Bisto, ever. The chef’s veg…I’m gonna give him or her break now. The whole platter was supposedly a soulful dish but unfortunately it was hijacked by the Dementors.

I decided to pass on the desserts in order to avoid a more vicious appraisal of the place.

I know that some of you might say that it’s unfair that I only had one dish here, but this is Soul Food and the simplistic but defining dish of Southern Fried Chicken failed woefully. I digress.

If only I'd checked earlier and went for IHC’s and Lisa's recommendations of Angel Food Bakery and Bills Produce Store respectively. Live and learn methinks, glad I went back to London.

*Enlighten me if some of you may, is this suppose to taste stale?

2-3 Little East Street



Thursday, 28 May 2009

Café East

Bi Cuon
Like summer rolls, except that the prawns have been given a day off. In its place, shredded pork meat and skin, and baked rice are filled instead. Porky flavour, but still needed tons of nuoc cham (fish sauce dipper) to make it worthwhile.

Pho Tai
Luscious raw slices of beef fulfilled but broth is still too mild mannered.
Hung Viet and Que Viet are still the benchmarks.

Pho Kho Dac Biet Cay
Dry ho fun noodles with beef, pork, chicken, prawns and the rest of the animal kingdom in one bowl.
It was rather good.


For reviews that are more comprehensive, concise, fun to read and by enlarge free of grammatical errors please go to the following reviews- Lizzie, Helen and Little Miss Random. Ladies thank you for your foodie acumen on this place, I'm grateful that I made it. It was good but there are buts, not bad buts mind you, but buts nonetheless.

Ok the two stooges (aka me and henchboy KC) finally made it here, it was embarrassingly easy to find in the end.
KC, get that bloody BMW satnav sorted please!

Those two girls, aren’t they sweet? I’m sure they also thought I was a right pillock snapping at the dishes thereafter!

The place was obviously conceived as a pub, but a blessing for Cafe East to have secured the premises. I like the bright and airy dining room and compared to most of the other joints on
The Pho Mile, this place looks positively clean. For the train spotters of designer furniture, you’ll notice that the costly Scandinavian chairs and tables are at odds with the utilitarian canteen style interiors. The service we found to be incredibly friendly, goes without saying again as with all Vietnamese restaurants- cocky college yoofs at your service. One thing that's worth mentioning is that this is quite clearly a pure Vietnamese restaurant, the short and concise illustrated menu was devoid of Crispy Aromatic Duck or Singapore Fried Vermicelli. Unprecedented in my humblest.

Sam Bo Lung (Chinese Herbal Tea) and Iced Coffee (cà phê sữa đá)
The former seemed popular with the Oriental diners, the Boy said it was refreshing but somewhat acquired in taste. My coffee was excellent.

Cha Hue (Chả lụa)
Deep fried Vietnamese meatloaf or sausage. Like Chinese fishcakes or fishballs, this item is not made in house but bought in. It's nigh on impossible to fluff this dish unless the kitchen is manned by meerkats. Yummy.

Banh Cuon (Bánh cuốn)

Here we are with the first of the 'buts'; it was good but not a patch on the one served at Loong Kee Café. The savoury meat filling inside these steamed rolls was lacking depth and the crucial ingredient of cloud ear fungus. It was very nearly bland but saved by the umami overload of steamed cha hue (see above) that came with the dish.

Goi Cuon(gỏi cuốn)
No complaints with the Summer Rolls. One of the best I've eaten.
Don't gorge too much on this dish, as it's incredibly filling due to the vermicelli filling, it might suppress the appetite!

Pho Tai (phở tái lăn)

The second but. Yes it was commendable and the generous amount of rare beef slices thrown in were great. But the soup/stock was too delicate and light for my palate. For a more intense kick (more beefy and slightly spicier) one needs to visit Loong Kee Café again or my current absolute reference that's found at That Vietnamese Place (post coming up soon).

Sticky Vietnamese Rice Pudding (xôi ngọt)

Sickly sweet and extremely stodgy glutinous rice pudding concocted with black-eyed beans (urad to be precise) drowned in coconut cream. I found this strange tasting dish wonderful, undoubtedly not for everyone but the highlight of the evening for me. Love it.

One site (a pioneering blogger) described The Pho Mile as serving 'diluted substitutes' compared to Café East, well hell; pants on fire I would say! I bellaPHOn, have been to at least 95% 91% (bets anyone?) of all the Vietnamese restaurants in London, I should bloody well know what I'm harping on about! Anyway (sweeping my hair to one side), Café East is still very good and I do intend to come back, I would love to try out the their curry and meat ragu with baguette. Recommended.

100 Redriff Road
London, SE16 7LH


Botched first attempt
(on my behalf that is, or not)

Once a upon a time there was a rumour about a Vietnamese joint somewhere in South East London that puts all the other other ones on
The Pho Mile to shame. Dutifully I went in search for it.

With my mate KC and his fast car plus a sat nav of some description...

...going around in circles...

...and again...

...I'm getting dizzy...

...we gave up at this stage and it was also when I succumbed to a packet of fags (£5.92!!!).

Café East, where flipping art thou?

I shall keep you posted when I decide to go to Surrey Quays by the epic means of four bus changes from Marble Arch. Patience, Sybil, patience.

NB Two thick guys and a German made sat nav make a perfect tragicomedy. Oh well best get on with the puffing.