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International Food Porn

13 Jan

Everytime I travel somewhere I come back meaning to immediately do a post showcasing the fine foods I have sampled, however I’ve never got around to it so here is a roundup of some of my food highlights of 2012:

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Salt Yard (Central London)

20 Mar

Not far from Euston station, which is of course the key navigation point in London for anyone coming from Manchester, there’s a place called Goodge Street. On this street there is a dimly lit place called Salt Yard. And in this ‘Salt Yard’ there lurks an unassuming dish called ‘Truffled Macaroni Cheese. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Salt Yard has been serving tapas with an Italian and Spanish feel for years. It is a highly regarded, award wining restaurant given praise in the press and through general reviews. The atmosphere is intimate, the decor is modern but luxurious and the menu looks exciting. All of which makes the experience a little more enticing, but ultimately it all comes down to the food. We took a range of dishes here but the key one which stuck with me was the Truffled Macaroni Cheese. So without any further ado, here it is:

A cheesy thing of beauty

Now let’s not be too hasty to move on. Let’s soak up the image here for a moment and contemplate this dish. The crisp, baked topping gave a parmesan flavour with a satisfying crunch. You can see at the edges of the dish, how creamy the cheese was and the rich consistency was matched by its flavour. The buttery cheese flavours were at no point overpowering as they were perfectly complemented by the spices in the mix. The overall effect was a silky, slightly sweet cheese cream. The macaroni was cooked just to the point it became soft so as to keep its hearty pasta ‘chomp’ without becoming soggy in the cheese. But there in the middle is the crowning glory of the dish. Its shaved truffle turned this great macaroni cheese into a masterpiece of flavoursome, luxurious delight.

I honestly can’t oversell this dish enough. To the point where writing about any of the other excellent dishes would just be redundant, because this dish alone should be enough to make you throw on your best eating trousers and make travel plans to get to this stuff immediately. For those who enjoy a little more salacious food photography however, here’s the highlight reel.

Venison carpaccio, Lardo, Dandelion, Marcona Almonds and Qince vinegarette

Cripsy Soft Shell Crab, Fennel Salad and Piquillo Aioli

Grilled Underblade Fillet of Beef, Artichokes, Black Olive and Piquillo Salsa

Need I say more. At between £6 – £8 a dish, it’s not that shocking that you’ll need to book ahead. I’m booking train tickets to London as we speak.
Salt Yard on Urbanspoon

Ed’s Easy Diner

6 Mar

Step back in time for classic American diner food

I was down in London a few weeks ago staying near Euston station. Anyone who’s been through Euston will have probably spotted Ed’s Easy Diner outside. Giving that 50’s rockin’ vibe to diners since 1985, Ed’s is a small chain with a good rep and good food, but on this particular occasion, I went for one dish. Ed’s All American Pancake Stack. I decided that if I was going for an American diner breakfast staple then it needed to be done properly, which is why I opted for the bacon on top.

The flavour was great. The fluffy, thick pancakes sucked up the maple syrup like no-one’s business and the strawberries and blueberries, while not the most flavourful, fitted in great. What I didn’t expect was for the bacon to work in there so well. I’ve had these salty/sugary breakfast combos in the US and not been won over, as an uneaten croque-monsieur covered in powdered sugar showed in San Diego. This one was perfect the crispy bacon giving the fluffy pancakes the crunch they needed to stop this dish becoming monotone. There was also the light smoke from the bacon that just made such perfect sense when mixed with the sweet syrup.

Bacon and syrup on pancakes. Naughty breakfast

I’m not saying much more. From a diner, you’re really looking for simple, no-nonsense and tasty plates of food. Ed’s is doing a pretty stand up job on this front.

For anyone in the Midlands, Ed’s has now opened up at the Selfridges in Birmingham and I’d I’ll keep an eye out for it in Manchester, but if you’re stopping in, try the pancakes, or at least let me know what else is good on the menu.