Friday, August 19, 2011

I wanted...I bought... I made

Lovely little balls, no? Wish I'd taken the photo but it's not my food, rather a little of what's being served up at Meatballs, a new restaurant that has opened in the old Quality Chop House in Farringdon. I was invited to dinner by their PR and I was both intrigued and a touch troubled. I love the old site with its six seater booths from its days as a Victorian working men's dining room but it went bust and closed a while ago. Glad it has re-opened but I admit I assumed it was the first of what was no doubt intended as a chain - chasing 'roll-out' with concomitant mediocre food and attention focused too firmly on the bottom line. How wrong can you be?! What I found upon arrival is a shiny clean version of the old interior, a nice selection of meatballs with sometimes eclectic sides, a fab drinks list under the label Hard Drinks including a very seasonal blueberry G&T. Hard to resist. The food is good, freshly made and not expensive, and a chat with the new owner Hugh Fowler, who I know of old from the Pasta House on Shaftesbury Avenue, has no intention of expanding, he and his wife are putting all their attention and considerable skill into this one site. All in all - great balls!

Last week I made a vague list that didn't make it on to the blog but it included chicory cooked in cream and pancetta and lamb burgers with roasted onion salad, neither of which made it on to the table either. I did buy cream and used it to make pasta with lemon, chilli and cream richly scented with sage from the garden. The rest of it I used in fairly decadent scrambled eggs for lunch one day - the joys of being home alone with frugal tendencies and half a pot of Hurdlebrook Farm cream. The lamb is in the freezer and may well be defrosted for dinner next week. Or perhaps I'll defrost a tub of lamb and chickpeas instead and save the burgers for the week after.

Had a lovely fish based collation last Friday - fresh mackerel I lightly cured with coriander and ginger, fresh prawns, a whole dressed crab and some salmon that had been hot smoked with whisky and molasses. All totally wow with a little bread and salad. This week I think I shall repeat the cured fish as a little starter then have the chicory we missed last week cold platter of parma ham and sweetly scented melon. Saturday there will be some swearing no doubt as we rearrange the cupboard under the stairs, think we need soothing dinner, sausage and lentils perhaps spare ribs sticky and spicy with rice and greens. Sunday roast pork might be nice with roast spiced sweet potatoes. Monday I am out for a little while so shall make some savoury muffins for grazing both out early so great dinner at the Canton Arms later, Tuesday spicy chicken lamb burgers and a gorgeous grilled onion salad, Wednesday we are out, Thursday noodles because I love noodles salami and pesto muffins and a crunchy salad which was pretty much as good as noodles.

Started not at Borough Market but at Greensmiths on Lower Marsh SE1, a lovely little food shop with butcher and baker and high quality fruit and veg as well as a cafĂ© and lots of friendly staff. There was a huge and exquisite smelling canteloupe melon which I could not resist. There was my new favourite raw veg - runner beans - discovered after a colleague of the man's gave him some from her allotment, so fresh, so beany. Cucumber because mine are not quite there yet, beetroot because my current delight is steaming them whole then dressing with walnut oil and strawberry vinegar, tomatoes because they are sun ripe and gorgeous, cornish new potatoes because I like them even more than Jersey Royals - is that sacrilege? With carrots, a couple of endive and a fennel bulb it was £12.21 - not bad.

Then to Borough and the Ginger Pig for pork to roast, spare ribs because they inspired me when I was unsure what to buy, and some bacon to round out the piggy treats - £23.25 Elliots, the new restaurant/cafe is open, definitely on my list, all the produce comes from the market so a very good starting point. The little Turkish cafe is open too, from the Taste of Turkey, another that is seriously on the list. Didn't dally, headed to Neals Yard for milk and yoghurt and a tub of discount cream which freezes well and is handy for many things. Spent £8.30

At Gastronomica I bought a rocchetta and a different Pecorino to last time that is utterly extraordinary, rich creamy and moreish. £12.50

Wanted parma ham to go with the lovely melon, bought it from the ham and cheese stall - £6.70

Headed to Wild Beef for eggs only to discover was no stall, turns out Lizzie had a horse in a race elsewhere but will be back next week so I went to Northfields and bought eggs there £1.50

Olives from Borough Olives - I am currently much enamoured of their fat green ones with taragon - £3

Almonds and handmade olive oil biscuits flavoured with rosemary from Brindisa - £6.50

A good haul - spent £73.96

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