Thursday, 30 December 2010

Birdmania: Thanksgiving and Christmas 2010

Another year till Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Phew.  The last month has been a haze of food, drinks and airports. I am secretly glad it is over and I look forward to getting back into my daily routine.  

Although I feel like I don't ever want to eat anything but salad again (this will hopefully and probably go away soon), I thought I'd share the turkey Mr. Sprinkle and I made for Thanksgiving and the gorgeous duck that my mum cooked for Christmas.  Bless her - she cooked Christmas dinner two nights in a row so Mr. Sprinkle and I too could enjoy a traditional Danish Christmas feast despite arriving a day late due to the snow chaos at Heathrow Airport. 

But first let's go back a month to Thanksgiving. We had 10 friends over who helped us eat a beautiful pheasant from the amazing Clapham butcher Moen & Sons. We roasted it on top of garlic, cellery, red onions, carrots and parsnips.  


Like last year, we made Jamie Oliver's stuffing which consists of minced pork, sage, red onions, dried berries and chestnuts.  It is divine!  I also use Jamie Oliver's tip of mixing butter with lemon and orange zest and tucking it under the skin on the turkey breast together with fresh sage.  


We served the turkey with potato gratin (courtesy of friends Pawel and Rena),  mashed sweet potatoes with marshmellows, green beans, lots of gravy and red cabbage.  No wonder my waistline slowly started expanding after Thanksgiving! 

Now to Christmas.  Traditional Danish Christmas dinner consists of roast duck, caramelised potatoes, gravy and red cabbage.  Due to popular request my mum also serves boiled potatoes and crisps heated in the oven.  The latter may sound weird, but is actually quite a common side dish with Christmas dinner in Denmark. My mum stuffs the ducks with apples and prunes.  It is delicious! 

I am happy to send full recipes your way should you be interested.  For now I would just like to wish you and yours all the very best for 2011! 

Monday, 20 December 2010

Two Nights in San Francisco

What was supposed to be an 8-day trip to Northern California has turned into a two week trip due to the snow which is paralysing Heathrow Airport.  I am with Mr. Sprinkle visiting his family. We spent some days in wonderful San Francisco last week, walking up and down the steep streets and, of course, enjoying some of the many culinary treats Fog City has to offer.

Like last year we decided to stay at Hotel Tomo in Japantown, a great little hotel in the midst of excellent Japanese restaurants and a stone's throw away from the lovely Filmore Street with its' great boutiques, bars and restaurants. This Japanese-inspired hotel is also in walking distance to Union Square and the Marina where you get a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. 


Anyways, lets get to the food!

Right next to Hotel Tomo you will find the small Japanese supermarket Super Mira (
1790 Sutter Street).  It is a gem.  You can buy freshly made sushi for very cheap and you fill find an impressive selection of sakes and Japanese snacks.  We picked up a delicious selection of sushi - california rolls, bbq eel rolls and spicy tuna rolls - and some dumplings.

We had dinner at Beretta (1199 Valencia St) with two friends. This Italian bar and restaurant is located in the Mission District where you will also find several bike shops and a lot of people in flanel.  Yup, this district is favoured by San Fran hipsters. 

This trendy restaurant has a no-reservation policy, but staff will kindly point you in the direction of the bar where you can sip cocktails or wine while you wait for a table.

Normally this would annoy me, but the bar is long and the cocktails are divine.  You will encounter many interesting cocktails on the menu - ever heard of an Airmail or a Mumbai Mule?  I hadn't but I am sure glad to have been acquainted! All are made with fresh citrus fruits and herbs such as basil and rosemary.  There are big bowls brimming with lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits on the bar.  The bartenders use these in your drinks meaning that you won't find a dry slice of lime that has spent two nights in a fridge in your drink.  It may sound strange, but the cocktails feel healthy because the ingredients are so fresh. 

I tried the Lonsdale (gin, apple, lemon, basil, honey) and the Mumbai Mule (saffron vodka, lime, ginger and fresh mint). The latter was my favourite, but both rank among some of the tastiest cocktails I've had in a long time. 

As for the food, we shared a couple of starters: 
roasted beets with ricotta salata, arugula & fennel salad with shaved parmesan and some herb onion bread with extra virgin olive oil.  I especially enjoyed the beets.  We shared two pizzas for the main course.   It was pretty good pizza though I would have liked to try their risottos or meat dishes.  Their butternut squash with rosemary and crescenza risotto certainly sounds very good.  For dessert we went for a scoop of vanilla gelato and panna gelato with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt. What? Gelato with olive oil and sea salt, you may rightfully ask (I did), but it is surprisingly good. 

Moving on to breakfast.  A favourite of ours is The Grove (2060 Filmore Street) which is 5 minutes from Hotel Tomo by foot.  Like so many other good breakfast places it is full of Macbooks, but the food and service is good.  I opted for Huevos Rancheros (when in California....) while Mr. Sprinkle went for the poached eggs with hashbrowns and bacon.

A final restaurant tip - if you find yourself shopping in Macy's on Union Square (you most probably will) then treat yourself to a burger in Hubert Keller's Burger Bar on the 6th floor. Overlooking Union Square, this is paradise for burger lovers.  

The menu has everything from your standard beef burger to the $60 Rossini burger containing Kobe beef, foie gras and truffles to the Surf & Turf Burger which consists of black angus and half a grilled lobster.  Not to be missed, but be sure to bring an appetite!  I devoured my American Classic Burger before I could take a photo. I guess sometimes no photo says more than a thousand words. Yes, it was that inviting. 

Do you have any tips on where to eat and drink in San Francisco? 

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Brunch at No. 67 in Peckham

I went for brunch at No. 67, a café in Peckham, this morning.  I am not a big fan of brunching - I always worry that the service will be slow as I am a pretty unpleasant person when my stomach is empty. I admit to it though I take some comfort in the fact that it runs in my family. 

Nonetheless I agreed to meet my friends, Pawel and Rena, for brunch at this café between Camberwell Green and Peckham High Street. I'm really glad that I did.  I had never heard of the place, but it has a cosy vibe and, most importantly, the service is fast and friendly.  

The menu has a Spanish twist so the closest you will get to a full English is a full Spanglish where the sausage and bacon is replaced by chorizo and morcilla.  Two in the group went for this option and very much enjoyed it.  I had the salmon and scrambled eggs.  Simple, but good and it came with nice fresh sourdough bread.  Two others in the group went for the baked eggs - eggs baked with tomatos and a side of beans.  They were happy with their choice.  The bill came to £48 for 5 meals, 5 large coffees (cappucinos, lattes etc.), 1 orange juice and 1 vanilla milkshake.  

The space is very clean and light thanks to its white walls and big windows. It doesn't feel sterile though and it is clearly popular with the hip and trendy locals.  

No. 67 is in the South London Gallery.  We had a look at the current exhibition after our meal. I am no art critic, but I'd definitely make the café my reason for heading down here.  The lunch menu looked good and I have no doubt that it would be a great place for an afternoon coffee and a cheeky piece of cake. 

Being part of a gallery it is closed on Mondays, but otherwise open from 10am - 6pm.  On Wednesdays it is open till 10pm.