Saturday, 26 November 2011

How to Drink at Christmas - Competition Closed

I can certainly tell you how not to drink at Christmas; lots of December evenings in the past have ended with me asleep on the floor, on the couch, in the bath fully clothed (or worse mysteriously naked) with no recollection of how I got home.

There was the time I slipped in the snow and face planted the pavement smashing my glasses, cutting my eye open and making me look like an extra from Saw on Ice...

There was the time I woke up in Peterborough after a night out in Leeds and I stupidly fell asleep on a train. I lived in Wakefield at the time; that was a very cold four hours on the platform that I never want to repeat.

There has been lots of drunk snogging, lots of telling the boss what I really think and even the occasional vomming of Turkey dinners on the way home. Christmas parties and free bars can have a very detrimental effect on your career prospects if you are a young man with no off button.

Unfortunately Victoria Moore’s book won’t tell you how to stop being a bag of shame but it should help you celebrate the festive period in style! It has great cocktail recipes, some brilliant food and drink matching tips and even a few ways of perking yourself up for the morning after!

I’m giving away my copy of the book; which would make the perfect stocking filler for someone or an early Christmas present from Santa Paul for one lucky reader. All you have to do to enter is to go onto my facebook page and click like. It’s that simple then I will pull the winner of the random hat in a week and dispatch your prize!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Mama Lan - Brixton Village, SW9

Brixton Village is one of my favourite places to go mooch around at the moment. Well worn, tatty but entirely charming the old Granville Arcade has a really good feeling about it and there is always something new every time I visit.

Mama Lan opened about a month ago now and word must be getting around quick as shortly after we sat down people were queuing out the door. This little unit specialises in street food from Beijing; delicious fresh dumplings, snacks and noodles all cooked to order.

It's the brain child of Ning Ma who is also behind the supper club of the same name and it’s a completely family run enterprise with mom and pop behind the counter cooking away and her boyfriend helping out on the floor. I don’t know about you but that just makes me like the whole thing a hell of a lot more!

The food is incredibly well priced which is lucky as we ordered almost everything on the menu. The fried vegetable balls were fresh, crisp and incredibly tasty with a delicious spicy sauce.

The spicy chicken wings came perfectly cooked, too often they are pre-cooked and refried to order, but these were spot on with crisp spicy skin and tender meat. Onto the dumplings and they definitely rank amongst some of the best I’ve had in London.

The pork and Chinese leaf were sweet and juicy with great texture. The beef and carrot were delicious, I feel like I can’t do them justice really and I keep coming back to the same word in my head and that’s FRESH.

They were excellent on their own and just amazing when dipped in some of the dark sweet vinegar or soy on the table. The seaweed and sesame salad was a bowl of meh but that’s only because I don’t like seaweed that much.

All in all it’s definitely worth a visit and at £24 for two with a couple of teas it’s also incredibly good value. It’s everything good Chinese food should be; delicious, fresh and packed full of flavour and spice.

I think I’m in love with it a little bit as well!

Mama Lan Supper Club on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Mr Singh's and Spam

My doctor recently told me to cut back on the fatty stuff and keep spice to a minimum. It goes a little way to explain why I’ve been so quiet lately; healthy food just doesn’t really inspire me to write that much if I’m honest.

I’ve been eyeing up a tin of spam in my cupboard for weeks now, tempting me when I reach in for some flageolet beans or some other low GI pulse de jour. To add to the sleaze factor I’ve been waiting to test a bottle of Mr Singh’s Hot Punjabi Chilli Sauce as well.

Well fuck it I thought... If you are going to be bad at least do it in style! Mr Singh’s is no Holy Fuck Hot Sauce but it served its purpose well in my sandwich. Definitely what I’d call a Kebab house sauce with lashings of Birds Eye Chilli and Tomatoes all sharpened up nicely with malt vinegar, molasses and soy.

I’d recommend using it with some fatty lamb shoulder or chops charred on the fierce heat of a grill or barbecue. The sharp flavour and gentle heat of the sauce would cut through the fatty lamb well and it definitely deserves to be used in a more glamorous setting than this cheap white bread and spam combo.

Mmmm Spam...

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Valentine Warner's The Good Table

Oh the anchovy! I love them like a bat loves a moth, like a starfish loves a mussel, like a crow loves a lambs eye and a black bird loves a netted raspberry.

It has to be said our Valentine is a bit of a pervert when it comes to the anchovy. The things he does with them in the kitchen could almost make you blush but give me a cold glass of white wine, a warm baguette and a bowl of Anchoiade and I’d die a happy man.

Upsettingly for me I hadn’t heard of Anchoiade until I was sent a copy of his latest book The Good Table and it’s safe to say I’ve been making it quite a bit since. The Good Table is a cook’s cook book; all big flavours and good ingredients simply treated.

Its honest food basically, mixed in with good writing and that gentle natured bumbling Warner charm. The recipes have a very homely feel as well and even the most timid of cooks should be able to find something to try.

The photography works to highlight the simplicity of the food but is still tempting enough to draw you in, even the gratuitous shots of Valentine lounging around add to the allure. I’ll share my favourite recipe from the book so you can see what the fuss is all about!

Serves 6 as a pre-dinner snack (
or two as a lazy supper)
12 Kalamate Olives, pitted
2 Garlic Cloves, peeled
6-8 good Anchovies in oil or salt drained, or rinsed and dried
½ teaspoon dried thyme or rosemary
Dried Chilli flakes (
Valentine says optional but definitely throw them in)
1 level teaspoon Dijon Mustard
3 teaspoons of Red Wine Vinegar
4 desserts spoons extra virgin olive oil
15g butter

Put all the ingredients in a small bowl and blitz with a stick blender until totally combined. (thats it, seriously)

Serve with crusty sourdough baguette and some small beakers of rough (his words) white wine.


Friday, 4 November 2011

Snoop MUGG

Sad but true this kind of shit makes me happy. The Lady bought me this mug as a present and I'm quite enjoying having some pretty gangster looking Earl Grey out of it... It's kinda hard being Snoop M-U-double-G.