Ruby is a 15m2 room with a huge stove bustling with pans at one end, a wooden counter that runs along the window and three small tables. At lunchtime, it usually has a queue that spills into the street, which is a testimony to the quality of the food. The queue moves fast too because the men that run this place are part of a well-oiled machine, used to serving hundreds of hungry office workers around Shoreditch on a daily basis. You can take away or eat there, but space can be an issue.
They have a set menu and a handful of dishes that change daily, most of which are pasta, with at least 3 different ones being prepared every day.
From the set menu the chorizo, roast peppers and rocket sandwich is delicious. The chorizo is sliced diagonally and placed on a hot plate with the roasted peppers to be finished off and warmed before going into a two slices of ciabatta-style bread with the peppers. The chorizo unashamedly oozing orange fat into the soft bread. Not-to-be-missed.
Although this photo is not the latest from my kitchen, you get the idea. Where once was a tiny family kitchen is now a lot of dust, plaster and debris. So there will be no cooking from me for a while, which means I won’t be able to post new recipes until it’s all back in place. I will keep posting, though, when I go somewhere worth talking about or to discuss food-things. So keep visiting!
Good news is a new kitchen is being put in place with more space and shiny new appliances. And an island! I always wanted an island. I can’t wait for trying it all! The bad news is that we can’t have the Aga back. It just didn’t fit and although I felt hugely sad to let it go, there was no other way. The Aga life will have to be for a bigger kitchen, if we ever get one, probably in another house (so not for a very long time). In the meanwhile, the new ovens and hob will have to do and I have high expectations for them.
The most important change in the kitchen, however, is that it will now become part of the family room, where we all gather every evening and on weekends. That means I will be able to do more cooking without losing sight of my favourite people in the world.
The other day, a friend and I were discussing making rice. I get the impression that rice is often touch and go for a lot of people. They have heard lots of different versions of what works and what doesn’t work and often don’t understand why it never turns out quite right. Even on Masterchef, a cooking TV competition with super-skilled contestants, I have seen rice fail.
Because I cook it often, over the years I managed to perfect a way to make a loose, fluffy and tasty rice that doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan, without thinking too much about it (even though my skills do not come close to any of the talented people that cook on TV!).
I was excited about trying L’Anima, as it makes big claims about serving good higher-end contemporary Italian food – something that never fails to get me excited. It also boasts about a long list of awards, albeit all pre-2012.
I went there for a Christmas work do so I guess you need to take that into consideration. The experience of mass-production of food from a Christmas set menu is never the same as the free-choice smaller scale event. Nevertheless I think you can still get a view about a place if you eat there and get served by its people.
Over the years I have had an on-off fling with gin. It is one of those drinks with a terrible reputation (it is, after all, Mother’s ruin), an undefined origin (which country is it from originally?), but has recently gained renewed hype and become very much part of the Zeitgeist in the UK (and Spain and Portugal, that I know of).
Gin was always Mother’s ruin to me. I liked it, I did it and it hurt.
So I self-excluded from gin for a good 10 years.
This meatloaf is as simple as can be – it is all about the meat (and butter, and Port Wine). And as a lot of the dishes I cook and love, it comes from my Mum’s endless repertoire of yummy homely foods.
If I want to make a fancier version I use herbs (parsley and oregano work well), chopped onions and/or garlic, grated parmesan and sometimes a tiny bit of chorizo (not too much as it can overpower the other meats). Feel free to add any combination of these until you have your favourite version. But trust me, the simple version is divine just as it is and it is dead simple to make. I wanted to post this version because I stand behind it flavour wise and didn’t want to complicate the recipe for the sake of it.
If you were looking for skilled service, beautifully crafted menus and intricate dishes look elsewhere. This place is all about no-frills authenticity. And it’s all about the food, or at least, it’s all about the octopus. You may be thinking why would anyone get excited about eating octopus?
This is still one of my top 10 restaurants and my current favourite in Porto. It specialises in traditional Portuguese food that has been elevated to a fine foods standard. But don’t be fooled by the hauteur of the food. This place has got lots of soul. The atmosphere is intimate, subdued and rustic. Think exposed stone walls, cast iron props and traditional pottery.
The service is impeccable, with a good balance between attentive and friendly. It’s the kind of service that is always there but you don’t see it. Your needs are looked after permanently – as you remove your coat, it gently and swiftly gets taken away, your glass is always full, the table always clean, and you barely notice it all happening around you.