Monday, 31 August 2009

The Notting Hill Carnival 2009

I'm a dutiful sod I'm.
Don't mind if I share some pics with you lot.

I love women and food but I'm not keen on them Babylonians

Batala, Grupo de Percussao.
The best act. Year in and year out.

Yes that's the man himself.
Looking somewhat pensive.

My lunch of Jerk Chicken and Rice n Peas.
Chicken was undercooked as it's always the case at the carnival.

Betcha the road sweepers are earning triple tonight!

Private residential loos for hire.
£1.00 for a slash and £3.00 for a dump.
(I made that up)

Certain things aside, she is extremely pretty...

...and her...

...and of course her.

The anorak in me couldn't resist these noise machines.

Till next year.

There are quite a few more carnival shots on my Flickr photostream here. But beware as it has an extremely short shelf life due to the freebie account.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

The Pot Kiln

There’s no point in debating about the credentials of The Harwood Arms in Fulham, it’s quite simply the best gastropub in London. So how does The Pot Kiln in rural Berkshire fare up? The co-owner of The Harwood Arms, Mike Robinson owns TPK, and the same objectives apply: finest homegrown produce, superlative cooking, real ale and exacting wines. Both places are effectively bestowed with a destination status.

Sometime ago I had to stay a night at one of my customer’s abode in Dorset. He was a farmer and what with me being a committed townie I didn’t mange to catch a wink, as it was all too quiet. I was glad to go back to Notting Hill and this made me realised how much I valued the sirens, the screaming and the diesel fumes. Like the farm in Dorset, TPK is seriously out in the sticks and that’s despite being only a few hundred yards away from the busy M4.

TPK can only be reached by driving; you’ll need a buddy who’s able to drive and for all his sins, a teetotaller as well.

I’m grateful for the view of the green green grass plus the odd livestock so long as I’m not required to spend a night here. Give me concrete carbuncles and drum and bass vibes any day.

This is a pub with the functional bit that’s decidedly small; the one at The Harwood arms is huge in comparison. TPK’s intentions are quite clearly gastronomical as opposed to the excessive-pints downers philosophy. The bar menu on the wall whets the appetite like no other pubs I’ve been to.

When we came here for lunch during a weekday, it was pretty much dead in the rather dowdy but purposeful restaurant. The pretty young ladies who served us all spoke with an upper class twang (rare as hens’…in London these days!). The service provided by them was both friendly and excellent.

The fixed price lunch menus available during weekdays are £14.50 for two and £19.50 for three courses. And the wonderful thing is they include anything off the full a la carte and the specials on the board. The world is your oyster as far as lunch is concerned at TPK.

Companion’s starter of pea soup.
Good but deemed too thin and polite.

My starter of warm salad of wood pigeon, smoked Vicar’s Game bacon and black pudding.
Pigeon was beautifully cooked, bacon lacked a salty kick but the black pud was astounding.

Companion’s mains of parcel-baked sea bream, chive new potatoes and buttered spinach.
The fish was cooked nigh on perfection and there were enough of the delicious potatoes on the plate to stave off any post meal hunger.

My mains of T-bone of Linkenholt Fallow deer (dare I say put to sleep by Mike Robinson the sharpshooter), pomme purée, beetroot, cabbage and peppercorn sauce (£2.00 supplement).
I found the whole dish satisfying, but in spite of the lingering propaganda that champions venison as a healthier and tastier option to other red meats; no apologies on my behalf for stating that the cow beats the deer every time.

Companion’s pudding of strawberry fool.
He thought it too sweet whereas I begged to differ and insisted as sublime. The strawberries came from a farm in the neighbouring village of Tutts Clump.

My pudding.
Erm, I’ve forgotten what it was except for the green thing; pistachio cake. Whatever the mauve ice cream was, I did finish the whole lot. That said, it must have been good but not memorable.

TPK is no Hinds Head (the best in the country?), it simply cannot match the precision and intricacy of the cooking at Heston’s haunt. And it also plays second fiddle to its half-sibling The Harwood Arms. TPK offers good honest grub at good value prices and it’s certainly surpasses the likes of The Commander, The Princess Victoria and the pioneering Eagle in Farringdon.

If one gets a little too weary of London (not too much I hope, as life’s too precious) TPK is perfect as a welcome respite. Indeed I shall make an effort and go back again. Recommended.

On the way back to the motorway, one is afflicted with a strong odour…well I shall leave it at that.

Nr. Yattendon
Berkshire RG18 0XX
Tel- 01635 201366

Friday, 28 August 2009

vida e caffè

First and foremost I would like to say that the staff at vida e caffè are the friendliest and most charming guys I’ve ever had the pleasure of encountering* in London. And that’s not just coffee shops. If there ever was a national smile and be happy campaign, these chaps ought to be the ambassadors. Bros, thank you, I’m touched.

A second thank you goes to I♥C for recommending this place to me. This post is for her.

The location of vida e caffè in a prime touristy spot is hardly going to convince any toffee coffee-nosed geeks to step in and sniffle about. I’m also not entirely convinced about the biased Portuguese tie-up with this South African outfit, but what I do know is the company has obviously gone through some kind of powerful branding exercise. vida e caffè is in my mind a textbook dream ticket for the private equity peeps. But rest assured, the coffee served here is very good.

A small place like Dose, but more crowded and less intimate.
(the rent here must be astronomical!)

People watching is part and parcel

I’ve tried everything there is that contains caffeine on the menu. The blend of coffee on offer here belongs to the Square Mile school of an intense flavour but super smooth drinking.

Double Espresso

Con Panna


Decent coffee, brill service. Recommended.

* Caffè Vergnano take note, sort your girls out!

43 -63 Regent Street
London W1B 4DY

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Harbour City

Harbour City is by now, one of Chinatown’s grande dames. It serves a purpose.

I only come here for the Dim Sum. Together with Phoenix Palace, these two are one of the few places in London that are faithful to the traditional fayre that’s found in Hong Kong. You’re more likely to find older Chinese diners here than the younger ones who prefer a buzzier ambience and 21st century interference on the dishes (like venison pastry, why FGS?) at places like Yauatcha or Royal China (heavens!).

What I tend to order when I come here-

Left- literally White Flower Fish Stomach Dumplings or more appetisingly, Fish Maw dumplings.
Right- Siu Mai

Deep Fried Squid

Cha Leong
Same as the prawn cheong fun but stuffed with fried dough instead.

Tai Saik Foong Chow
Thai style marinated chicken feet. If you can eat squid then this boneless dish shouldn’t prove too much of a challenge. Crunchy and inexplicably moreish.

Sa Loot Meng Har Gok
Fried prawn dumplings with salad cream (yes the Heinz variety!) as a dipping accompaniment.

If this place is good enough for me and as it so happens, Marco Pierre White likewise, then it’s likely that you’ll be satisfied as well.

NB don’t get too upset with the oft-condescending service, it’s Chinatown!

46 Gerrard Street
London W1D 5QJ