Flat White at Elbgold

Germans drink a lot of coffee. Apparently the next most after the Swedish, but they tend to either have it very black, or with a heck of a lot of milk. A quick google for “flat white Hamburg” uncovered a local roastery called Elbgold. On the weekend I was in Hamburg I managed to check out both of their locations to enjoy.

Firstly the flat white was pretty good. I got it to take away. The milk wasn’t too hot, there wasn’t much of it, and they did a very fantastic micro foam. The first location, Mühlenkamp 6 is in a lively, fantastic area thriving with people. The cafe, even on a cold winter days reflects this with no spot empty.

They did a great selection of sandwiches (on that famous dark German bread), pastries and cakes although I managed to hold back from indulging.

Their other location is tucked away near the popular Sternschanze. You have to go up a set of stairs, around the back of a building and you’ll eventually find it. Just walk amongst the other warehouse like buildings and wait to find the crowds of people there.

This location has a tonne more space, and is much better for sitting outside in their courtyard. On a nice day, you’ll still probably battle everyone else who wants to sit outside, but at least you’ll have a better chance of getting one.

Name: Elbgold
Website: http://www.elbgold.com/

Hawksmoor Air Street

Out of the great steak places in London, Hawksmoor is one of those that are consistently good and although, not cheap, is great value for the quality of the food and the service you get. We had a dinner booking at Hawksmoor Air Street, one of the latest expansions of the steak restaurant located near the bottom of Piccadilly. It’s outfitted with a larger number of booths, polished floors and significantly more suited customers to go along with it all. I can only imagine their city outlet would compete with them on this. Nevertheless the food did not disappoint as you can see in the photos below.

Name: Hawksmoor Air Street
Website: http://thehawksmoor.com/airstreet
Found at: 5a Air St London W1J 0AD

The Secrets to Perfect Pork Belly

There are a lot of techniques that make a pork belly successful. I recently cooked with for dinner with some friends and, I think, it turned out pretty well:

The result

In order to make a good roast pork belly, you want to ensure the meat is soft. That means slow cooking the meat for a long time. However, you also want a crisp skin. A crisp skin only works with a high temperature, but you have to balance out both of these aspects. Here are a couple of principles worth noting after doing some reading on the internet:

  • Dry the skin – There are many different ways of drying the skin. Scoring the skin helps more heat get in, and more fat to escape, leading to crisper skin. Salt naturally draws out moisture and will help. Some argue that oil is not needed. I tried a little bit figuring at high temperatures, it’s slightly like frying. Pouring freshly boiled water onto the skin “shocks” and helps draw out more moisture, if you then follow it up by leaving it in the fridge uncovered for a while.
  • Roast the skin at high temperature – I cooked the pork belly at high heat to start off with to start the skin drying out. I protected the rest of the meat from the heat by putting foil around everything but the skin. I then dropped the temperature, and then towards the end, raised it again.

Here’s a picture of the pork belly, skin sliced, having been drenched with boiling water and then rubbed with salt and left in the fridge to uncover. Before putting into the oven, I patted it down with kitchen paper, added more salt and a little bit of oil before putting it into a hot oven.

Pork Belly Resting in Fridge

Serve with some roasted vegetables and greens!

Roasted Vegetables

Hawksmoor Guildhall

I think I may have eaten at all the Hawksmoor locations now, after having dinner with my sister at the Hawksmoor City branch. Also open for breakfast and suprisingly close to where I live, it’s a tempting offer since it’s only about a ten or fifteen minute walk. I’d really have to do something to both work up an appetite for the meat-heavy plate and also do something to work it all off.

I agreed that I’d meet my sister for dinner after going to the gym, knowing how rich and decadent the Hawksmoor meals could be and how I can’t really stop myself from ordering. It’s one of the most consistently great places I trust for a good steak even if it’s sometimes hard to get a booking.

On a Friday night, the Hawksmoor Guildhall branch was buzzing. It was one of those strange days where it was raining particularly heavy outside. I’m glad I was able to leave my soaking wet umbrella upstairs in the cloakroom before descending downstairs. I’m met by I’m guessing the head maitre-de who was fantastically friendly, striking up a conversation instead of simply leading me to my table.

Fortunately I booked and I didn’t have to wait for my table, with my sister joining about five minutes later. The classic Hawksmoor elements are there. A warming bar for those waiting for tables or who failed to reserve a table. Dark wooden tables, an underground cavern feel and the buzzing nature of a busy steakhouse.

One thing that stood out for me in this particular Hawksmoor location (and it wasn’t just me as my sister commented on it too) was how extremely noisy it was. We fortunately had a table against the wall at the back of the dining room, with a wide view of the entire restuarant. However, maybe it’s a city thing, particularly on a Friday when too many city workers had already had a few and there were notably a lot more shrieks and group “chants” than I’ve ever heard anywhere. It made me feel like I was attending a football match than I was dinner.

Like most of the Hawksmoor restaurants, their waiters and waitresses are friendly. We had a particularly warm Spanish (I think) waitress who took care of us for the evening. She refilled our tap water without hesitation, and observed when the bread that I ordered hadn’t arrived when the appetiser we ordered had, asked if we still wanted it.

We went a bit lighter on ordering, sharing a starter (the Tamworth Belly ribs are to die for and significantly larger than normal portion), skipping dessert and just opting for a good steak with some nice sides Perfectly cooked medium-rare steak arrived for me and went down a treat with the umami-rich mushrooms, creamed spinach and the wonderfully executed fries. No disappointments there.

My sister asked if she could order something off the bar menu, and not feeling like a steak opted for the beef brisket sandwich served in a toasted brioche bun with bone marrow sauce. Considering how rich, tasty and large it was, it is a really good deal for the price we paid.

Pear Crumble

Although apple crumble is probably one of the most well known “crumble” desserts, the concept translates very well to other fruits similar to it. Plum, rhubarb, cherry are all good types, but my favourite is the pear crumble. Crumbles are great for a proper winter dessert, and I love the contrast of hot and cold elements when you combine it with custard that has been sitting in the fridge or a plain vanilla ice cream. Even a hot custard works just as well with these sorts of puddings.

There are plenty of variations worth trying including stewing the fruit beforehand to produce a crumble with more sauce, or try cloves *and* cinnamon for a very festive treat. Here’s the recipe that I have used for a crumble pretty reliably:

Ingredients for the base

  • 6 pears (for four people) – Find good cooking pears if you want more texture
  • 20g brown sugar

Ingredients for the topping

  • 100g butter
  • 100g flour
  • 3 tablespoons oats
  • 1 tsp cinammon
  • 30g brown sugar


  • Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips. Or cut the butter into the flour with a knife. It should look a little like breadcrumbs afterwards.
  • Mix in the oats, cinnamon and brown sugar. The oats give the crumble more texture. Try Demerara sugar for some more bite.
  • Peel, core, and slice the pears into fan-like fingers. Arrange in layers until you at least cover the bottom of the dish you are using
  • Sprinkle the 20g of brown sugar on top (not too much otherwise it’ll be too sweet)
  • Cover the pears with the crumble topping and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 180oC until it’s brown
  • Serve with your choice of accompaniment. Serves four people.

And now in pictures:

Measure out the butter.


Add the flour in.


With some cinammon.


Now with a knife, cut the butter into the flour, or rub it in with your fingertips. Your goal is to coat the butter with flour and minimise the amount of gluten.


Now add the brown sugar.

Brown Sugar

And muesli. Mix together, and top your cut up fruit.


After baking, enjoy the result. Serve with custard. I prefer the hot-cold contrast and decadence to have crumble served with ice cream.

Pear Crumble Result

Return to La Carbonara in Rome

For the past couple of years, we have been making a journey to Rome to watch a game with Italy play in the six nations. Luca is very good at organising it. One of the places that we try to frequent is a place called La Carbonara.


It is definitely one of those places where you need to book in advance. Luca was good enough to also organise that on our latest trip. They do two sittings, and we ended up with the later sitting at 20:30 although you can turn up for a drink at the bar whilst waiting. We did see quite a number of people enter, only to be turned away because they didn’t have a booking. If you’re in Rome, get your hotel to make the reservation for you. It’s very worth it.


You also have to be careful because there are two places in Rome called La Carbonara, and they aren’t even related.


We started by sharing some fritto misto (mixed fried stuff) – almost very much like a tempura coating.

Frito Misto

We also shared a fried artichoke (it’s one of those things in Italy where I’m surprised they fry a lot of things). Of course, it tastes pretty good because they do it with olive oil, and the ingredients are super-fresh.


Of course, the star of the show is the carbonara, and it would be wrong to order any other pasta dish as a first course, unless you have a dairy intolerance, or just don’t like bacon (who doesn’t?!) Like classic Roman style, the dish is creamy without the addition of real cream, just an egg yolk to bind it all together, plenty of black pepper. Just perfect.


The other classic dish to have in Rome, is the Saltimbocca, or pieces of veal topped with some prosciutto. Good to have a couple of green sides to go along with this as the main dish.


And what would an Italian meal be without any tiramisu? A nice, light way to finish the meal.


Name: La Carbonara
Website: www.lacarbonara.it
Found at: (Viminal Hill) Via Panisperna, 214, Rome (it’s not the one in Piazza Campo Dè Fiori)

Loving Hut in Hamburg

Although some believe vegetarian food is hard to find in Germany, the wonderful website, The Happy Cow makes it easy to find places where you don’t really need to think about what you choose.

Loving Hut Menu

On starting a new project in Hamburg, I was delighted to find a fully vegan place quite close to the office. When I’m tired, not really wanting to venture very far or think very hard about what I’m going to eat, The Loving Hut is a place I’ll probably end up. The style of this one is all pan-asian foods with inspiration from Thailand, Vietnam, and Chinese cuisines but all done with seitan, tofu or just vegetables.

Vietnamese Pancake

I really enjoyed this vietnamese pancake. Super crisp, well filled and surprisingly moreish.

Mixed Grill

I had the “mixed grill” for a main, which arrived with some fried rice. The “meat” was pretty hearty, surprisingly close to the vietnamese style of grilled pork, but done with mock meat or something similar.

Vegetarian Curry

Others reported the curry pretty good (although not particularly spicy since they’re catering for German tastes) as was the grilled pork “bun” (vietnamese style) dish below.

Grill with Noodles

Name: Loving Hut
Website: http://www.lovinghut.de/hamburg/
Found at: Markusstraße 2 20355 Hamburg, Germany

Breakfasting at The Delaunay

One of the very well praised restaurants to have popped up in central London is The Delaunay. It’s a European cafe/restaurant located just off the side of the strand. The cafe portion is unmissable with large windows viewing into a very grand reception, whilst the entrance to the restaurant is slightly inset from some formidable gates.


As a meeting breakfast place, I find this to be a good option because it opens at 7am. Most other places in central London open at 8am, and if you happen to be working in the area that is fine, but hard if you need to further your journey. It’s easy to meet for an hour meeting and then be on your way for a normal day.

Everything engraved with a D

Operated by the same people behind The Wolseley and Brasserie Zedel one expects the service and the food to be up to high standards. And it is.


Although we weren’t asked for our coats to be taken, the restaurant has plenty of space and numerous coat stands near most of the tables. We were seated promptly and then asked if wanted some drinks. Juices are reasonable, although I found the £4.50 they charge slightly excessive. Stick with the Americano for the same price, but greater quantities.

Pancakes with Blueberries

Whilst we talk about price. Many of dishes are extremely reasonable. Porridge for £4.75 (yes, it is a restaurant), plain pancakes £6.75, or with bacon £9.50 or blueberries (pictured above) for £9.75. Perhaps you just want some muesli for £4.25. All amazingly great value considering the atmosphere and the execution (three pancakes is plenty!).

Single Benedict

At the other extreme, you do pay dearly if you want any of the benedict/florentine/arlington eggs. £7.25 for the cheapest (single), or up to £17 for two. Yes, it’s quality, but it’s terrible dear. Having said that, service was very prompt, the atmosphere extremely grand and a wonderful place to have an early breakfast during the week. Note that the place fills up with suits by about 8am, so it’s definitely the in-place to have some business meetings. I prefer just the leisurely breakfast there.

Name: The Delaunay
Website: www.thedelaunay.com
Found at: 55 Aldwych, London, WC2B 4BB

Michelin Starred Food at Morgan M

I have been wanting to eat at Morgan M for some time. The chef is well known for previously running a Michelin-starred restaurant and their clean, French approach was now available just down the road on the hidden side of Smithfields market. I met Luca here for a way to catch up – we both enjoy our food and always tempted to try something new.

Morgan M Menu

Unlike several other restaurants it the area, Morgan M was surprisingly open on a Monday evening. We totally won out by being able to enjoy the food, although the area is quiet on a Monday evening and we didn’t see the restaurant have any other guests the rest of the evening. It’s definitely not a reflection of the food, or the decore – both being very good and also reasonably priced.

Restaurant Interior

We both decided quickly – the seasonally changing menu six course tasting menu is a steal at £52 (obviously more with accompanying wine), and you even get to choose between two alternatives in some of the courses. The bread was fantastic – even that had a choice of two and was obviously fresh out of the oven, slightly warm and a superb crust.


Our first course, cream of turnip and white truffle, glazed button onions definitely set the tone for the entire menu. A warm appetiser, made from in-season ingredients helped to fight against the cold outside and ready our appetites. Though not a big bowl, it’s size did not reflect upon the massive flavours contained in each mouthful.

Turnip soup

We diverged at the next dish, Luca opting for the ravioli of snails in Chablis, garlic froth, red wine jus

Snail Ravioli

I wanted to order the crayfish and lobster cannelloni with tarragon, Jerusalem Artichoke Soubise, Shellfish Cappuccino . Although dangerously looking like something you wouldn’t normally see at the dinner table, the cannelloni was divine. Each mouthful burst with the taste of the sea and the last bite wanting for me. Generous with the amount of crayfish and lobster, I have no idea how they make their money with this dish on the menu (I hope they do make money so I can go back and try some others)


Our next dish was a Seared fillet of John Dory, carrot and ginger risotto, lemon and saffron broth. The piece of fish was large – much more than what I expected to have from a tasting menu and cooked well with its skin crisp but still full of moist flesh. The clever ginger and carrot dish helped lighten up the risotto, and my worries for an excessive, overpowering taste were fortunately not met.

John Dory

We both ordered the same dish out of the next selection. Slow cooked boar, celeriac purée, braised root vegetables, sauce civet. It wasn’t the strongest tasting boar that I’ve had (a good thing) but the meat was tender and fell apart easily and was exactly what I wanted to eat as a main dish on a cold winter day. The braised root vegetables, though cooked still had some bite and the celeriac purée really brought the whole dish together.

Wild boar

A short intercourse of dessert was a light vanilla rice pudding, orange tuille and was strangely the star of the evening. The flavours really burst out of this simple dish and the rice pudding cleverly made light by turning it into a type of ice-cream (it’s going to win my heart over). Combined with the crunch of the well executed tuille it had a contrast of textures that made consuming it a pleasure.

Vanilla rice pudding

We split at the other dessert course as well. Luca ordering the orange segment salad marinated with Campari, pain de gêne, grand manier ice-cream. It looked really good though I didn’t taste it.

Orange segment salad

Even though I am not the biggest souffle fan, I still ordered the blueberry and pistachio souffle, blueberry sorbet and pistachio creme anglaise. An impressive, light souffle arrived and a little bit of table-side dining when the waiter struck the souffle lightly (it remained fluffy) before pouring in the pistachio creme anglaise. Though skeptical, the flavours worked wonderfully. I should really have had no doubt.


A really wonderful evening with hospital service, amazing food and good surrounds. Go now, support it’s business and enjoy the great valued-meal there.

Name: Morgan M
Found at: 50 Long Lane, London, EC1A 9EJ
Website: http://www.morganm.com/

Anzac Biscuit Recipe

Teams who get to work with me know of my tradition of trying to make Anzac Biscuits every year. Unfortunately I was travelling on this year’s one, so I ended up making some the week before to celebrate. They are really easy to make and taste soooo good.

Anzac biscuit before baking


  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup desiccated coconut
  • 125g butter
  • 2 tablespoons of golden syrup
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tablespoons of boiling water

Anzac Biscuits


  1. Mix most of the dry ingredients together (flour, oats, sugar and coconut)
  2. Melt the butter and golden syrup over a gentle heat
  3. Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in the water, stir that mixture into the butter and golden syrup mix and pour over the dry ingredients. Mix until you can’t see any more white flour.
  4. Put heaped tablespoons of the mixture (allowing for spreading) onto greased or lined baking trays
  5. Bake in a moderate (180C) over for about 15-20 minutes til golden
  6. Remove from the oven when you’re happy with their colour, leave on the tray for a short time and then lift them off with a spatula to cool on wire racks.

Anzac Biscuits

The best. Enjoy!