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"To eat well in England you should have breakfast three times a day."

Somerset Maugham

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Tuesday
Aug212012

Silvena Rowe's Smoked Aubergine Salad with Hibiscus Salt

I first tried this recipe when holidaying in Spain. Our very dear family friends Gayle and Gilpin have a lovely house in the arid, mountainous region of the Alicante province. I was lucky enough to be invited along to the 2012 congregation of the Lippy Witches Cauldron – an annual celebration of three of my favourite things: cooking, eating and drinking good wine.

On our first evening we were on the food and wine appreciation committee (no cooking, just consuming). Lippy witch Jools and husband Trev cooked up a range of delicious salads, exactly what I felt like after a typically unpleasant Ryan air flight and a stuffy car ride full of wrong turns and familial bickering. My favourite was this salad from Silvena Rowe’s Purple Citrus and Sweet Perfume.

Trev wasn’t so sure. Rowe writes in her introduction to the recipe that “The smell of charred aubergines – nutty, smoky and caramelised – is seductive, and that’s what makes this salad what it is.” Trev lost this element because he roasted the aubergines rather than charring them on an open flame. Still, it was a huge success with all the judges and delicious enough to inspire me to make it again – this time with charred aubergines, which did take it to another level.

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Monday
Jul302012

My restaurant recommendations: North London

We have finally reached North London, the place I call home. This is where I dine most often so I have plenty of recommendations.

I noticed when writing this that almost half the suggestions are pubs. I would like to think that says more about the type of place one chooses to dine locally than my drinking habits. When you eat locally you are usually looking for something easy, convenient and good value with a relaxed atmosphere; a pub is generally all those things. 

For the most part, the restaurants included here also fit that description; all are good value and convenient if you live locally, but some of the more popular venues require booking in advance which makes them less ‘easy’ though certainly worth the effort. None of the restaurants are as relaxed as a pub, but none are stuffy and formal either; even the romantic, candlelit Bistro Aix is without pretention.

There are six venues that I haven’t included at this time, which are worth mentioning. Selale and Hala are my favourite kebab houses on Green Lanes, but I have only ever eaten the take away; Isarn was my favourite Thai restaurant for a time but was disappointing on my last visit and I haven’t been in a while. Mosaica at the Factory, Seasons and The Oak and Pastor were all great first time round, but I’ve only been that once so need a repeat visit to decide. I will revisit all these in time and include those I feel confident recommending.

These are my tried and tested local favourites. Get stuck in.

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Friday
Jul132012

My restaurant recommendations: East London

We are getting closer to my home turf and with that comes some more tried and tested favourites.

All of these restaurants are cheap to mid-range and some even let you bring your own alcohol, which brings down the bill significantly. You will notice that Vietnamese features heavily; well it is one of my favourite cuisines and London has some great stuff to offer. Further down the Kingsland Rd there are lots of good Turkish restaurants to choose from. I am yet to include any as I am still trying to decide which are best, but they will come in time. 

I hope you will enjoy these restaurants as much as I have.

Next stop North London, the place I call home.

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Tuesday
Jun192012

My restaurant recommendations: South London

When I got back from South America I spent a few happy months living with family friends in South London. Until then my knowledge of food south of the river was pretty much non-existent. While I was there I made a point of trying some of their suggestions, which sees this post boosted from a pathetic two recommendations (one of which isn’t even a restaurant) to a healthy eight.

I still have a lot of places to try – there are many more goodies to be found on the Brixton market and I really ought to have an Indian included since Tooting is touted as the place to get London's most authentic curries. And I haven’t even begun to explore trendy Clapham, which is by many accounts the centre of South London’s food scene.

Still, these eight restaurants are a good start; I hope you will enjoy them as much as I have.

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Tuesday
May292012

My restaurant recommendations: West London

West London is not my area of expertise, I admit it. I am not going to try and pretend.

There are two quite simple reasons for this. The first is laziness – the West is not my part of London and I have not devoted enough time to exploring it. Secondly, it tends to be expensive; well the places I want to go to are anyway.

Of course, I’m sure there are many good value local eateries in the suburbs, which if I lived there I might have found. The point is that I am not about to head to West London to find something cheap and cheerful when I can do that in my own backyard. 

Some of the finest establishments in the capital can be found in West London, and I have only just begun to scratch the surface. How fortunate then that this is a blogpost and can be updated and added to overtime. I can and will come back to this post and do just that, but for now here are four great restaurants in that part of town.

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