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Monday, 29 September 2014


Friday nights in Soho are always interesting. It can be fairly seedy and you have to pick your restaurants wisely. You can easily find yourself in a horridly touristy place if you’re not careful. Side step the chewy steak and pre-performance specials and pop into Dozo instead.
The atmosphere is great – a calm and relaxing oasis in the middle of Bangkok-style madness. It’s still buzzy, but in a quiet and reserved way which provides immense relief to the sensory overload outside. The set-up is quite fun too – the tables are at ground level (known in Japan as zashiki style), so it feels a bit more traditional. 

My Dad was in town for business and we were celebrating Tomasz’s birthday which meant a lovely big sushi splurge. He brought a load of lovely gifts for the birthday boy which Mum had lovingly packed from Spain. Her ability to fit so much stuff into such a small space always astounds me… we even got some little bits from their recent trip to Budapest – I’m sensing a goulash post coming up! This weird stuff that looks like cat litter is apparently something like gnocchi so I will have to experiment with that. 

Now, back to the food. We ordered a lot. It got to the point where our table was so full it was getting a bit embarrassing… oh well, it passed. 
We had chukka wakame which is an amazing seaweed salad with sesame seeds and I could eat it by the bucket load. 

We shared steamed edamame beans with sea salt, and two portions of king prawn tempura with soy sauce. Tomasz tucked into a steaming bowl of seafood soup with pieces of fresh sashimi to poach in the broth while we devoured tiger maki rolls with jumbo prawns, cucumber and avocado and the show stopping spider maki – soft shell crab in tempura batter with avocado, sesame seeds and tobiko (the bright orange fish roe). *Dribble*. 

To add to the growing mound of food, we had a couple of extra soft shell crab hand rolls with the most delicious homemade mayonnaise, lamb chops grilled and marinated with Korean chilli sauce, and butter soft wagyu beef fillet with shitake mushrooms. Naturally we had to order gyoza dumplings – which are always a firm favourite – and some sticky teriyaki chicken skewers. In short, it was epic and we were stuffed. 

While the stacks of plates were cleared Tomasz tucked into his presents and I even got a blue cushion to go with my rug when I finally get it! The staff were professional and charming, and as we had booked we didn't need to wait with the queuing masses outside. (If you go on a weekend, make sure you book a table). The only criticism I have of the evening is that we were hurried away from our table at the end of our meal for the next sitting. Not great when you want to relax and enjoy a couple of drinks. 

We meandered through hoards of people and the manically honking rickshaws to the tube, carrying our bags of goodies. We said our goodbyes to Pa who is off to Oktoberfest this week. What a globe trotter he is!  

Friday, 26 September 2014

Spicy Pork & Chorizo

This dish is really big on flavour. You have to go large with it – chunks of pork (fat left on please for cooking), chorizo with a slightly blackened crunch, woody herbs, good olive oil, chunky veg and heaps of mash. No coodles, no pureed cauliflower, no piddly pieces of onion and strictly no salad. Go big or go home.

I expect you to work up a sweat cooking this. It takes heavy duty chopping, stirring and dodging the hissing splatters of molten fat. You need a heavy bottomed pan, a strong wooden spoon and a big bicep. It takes care and attention to get the meat a deep, rich brown while gently softening the onions and peppers in the glistening oil. This dish is forgiving though, with deep earthy flavours of paprika, garlic, rosemary and sage you could be forgiven a charred mushroom or two. Best finished off in the oven for that extra baked stickiness, this dish takes around 45 minutes to 1 hour to make, and is even better the night after, served in a large subway roll with crunchy iceberg lettuce and sour cream.

To make you’ll need:
(Serves 2)
2 pork chops, cut into large chunks with fat left on
1 Chorizo sausage string
2 peppers/red and yellow
Half pack of mushrooms
1 onion
1 tin chopped tomatoes
Paprika, salt, pepper, rosemary, sage leaves
Olive oil
White wine
Garlic – 3 cloves

Pre heat your oven on a medium heat (150 degrees will do)

Heat your pan with light olive oil while you chop you pork and your chorizo into generous even pieces. Drop a sprig of fresh rosemary into the pan and when it spits, add the meat and stir, coating in the oil. Leave it to brown deeply, stirring occasionally. There will be a lot of fat – but that’s what we want. The chorizo will make it a fiery orange colour and it will all be beautiful. 

Let the magic happen while you roughly chop your vegetables and garlic and when – and only when – each piece of meat is suitably crunchy and golden, tip them in. Let it all fry up for a few minutes so it’s all coated in oil and flavour from the chorizo and then add your seasoning. 

Leave to steep in all the oily porky juices, turning until soft and the veg has broken down, then add your wine and deglaze the pan a bit working all the sticky brown bits off the bottom – this is where loads of the flavour will be! Careful, it might spit a bit, but just stand back and wait until some of the liquid has evaporated. 

Next tip in a tin of chopped tomatoes, give it another stir, pour yourself another glass of wine and then pop the pan in the oven (with the lid on) on a medium heat for about half an hour. 

When you're ready to serve, whip it out and top with a pile of fluffy mash. Yum.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Sarson's Fish & Chip Campaign

A good Brit loves a bag of fish and chips. We may be geographically divided when it comes to toppings (gravy, cheese, curry sauce, scraps, au naturel...) and the debate over ketchup or mayo rages on (I'm partial to a blob of both, actually), but no one can deny the feeling of clutching a hot paper parcel of fat chippy shop chips and a fillet of crispy fried fish. Come on, you know you're salivating thinking of that smell filling your nostrils.

Sarson's most recent print campaign seeks to use the nation's attachment to this splendid grub by rejoicing in fish and chip Fridays - a concept still popular for many, and something we need to hold onto in the age of sushi and the deconstructed apple crumble.

The layouts are really simply done; illustrating the loving relationship between a fish and a chip, the bond over Sarson's vinegar and celebrating their all important Fridays together. We all know that Friday feeling; a night on the town, a cosy night in, or just a few beers down the pub, and these nostalgic ads communicate that sense of fun and playfulness perfectly.

Sarson's move to link themselves to the classic double act born out of Victorian Britain ensures we form an emotional connection to their brand. During World War II, ministers even made sure fish and chips were one of the few foods that were never rationed because they thought it would boost morale and help us win the war! When a meal becomes a matter of national security, you know it's powerful, and it's clever for Sarson's  to play on that. 

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Mum's Chocolate Sauce

You know that awful moment when your boyfriend/husband is out, and there's no chocolate in the house? It's late, you're in your pajamas, it's cold outside... but you really, really need chocolate? Yes, I think we all do. That's where this recipe comes in. Guaranteed to give you that chocolate hit trickled over ice cream, pudding, or even just spooned straight out the pan... I won't judge.

This is Mum's recipe from her old tea-stained relic of a scrapbook and should remain a family secret forever, but you need to have this in your pocket for those cold, chocolateless nights. It's also so simple you can make it faster than the time it takes to put on your Uggs. So here it is. Use it well, my friends. 

To make:
6 oz sugar
150 ml water
Tsp vanilla essence
3 rounded tbsp cocoa powder
3 tbsp honey


Combine the ingredients together in a pan above a medium heat, stirring to remove any lumps. Bring to the boil, and boil fast for 5 minutes until the sauce coats the back of your spoon and is a rich, syrupy consistency. 
And that's honestly all! Let it cool a bit before tasting, otherwise you'll burn your taste buds off. I know it's hard, but be patient. Fuzzy burnt tongue is rubbish. 

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