Dinner at The Brasserie , Tower Guoman – a review

On the day of the Mens Singles Final when Djokovic won  the match against Roger Federer ,I had an invite to go dine with a few fellow bloggers at The Brasserie at the Tower Guoman. I must admit the match was so engaging that I was glued to the tv and only in the game that I was just to nervous to watch so I dragged myself out and kept pestering a dear friend of mine in whatsapp till she gave me updates of almost every move on the court …. I was hoping that Djokovic would win and also hoping that the match would end before I hopped onto the tube and lost network… Lets just say that all invisible divine forces were with Djokovic ( and me )that day coupled with his awesome performance, just as I was about to get into the tube… there it was..,… message I was hoping to see on whatsapp…. ‘He won’… which led to a very comical impromptu gig on the staircase by me watched by bemused passers by…heck a good win deserves a dance ..at least ! Bonus points to all those who also watched this match to oogle at Boris Becker …teehee

After that I needed a refreshing drink and just as I was settling in the beautiful area  just outside the Guoman, an open air bar  and siping my cocktail gazing up the Tower Bridge was perfect. Chilled Prosecco, Cocktails and Mocktails flowed while we chatted up with the manager who also had dinner with us later .Meeting my friends after Food Blogger Connect was fun and camera lens choices, food photography ,the Wimbledon final results and the stunning view dominated our conversation. Before long the rain decided to play spoil sport and we were ushered inside to our huge table at The Brasserie.

I took the seat the far end of the end but the view from any where inside is just as brilliant , it’s the first time I was so close to the Tower Bridge and you can be guaranteed you will have the best seats in town at The Brasserie with superb views of Butlers wharf thrown in.

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The table was neatly laid out with our special menu for the evening there and fresh bread , warm and just out of the oven with 3 different dips arrived.

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Our rustic bread selection with truffle oil and olive oil.

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To go with our Rustic Bread selection we had the smoked paprika dip – the bright orange one and my fav of the 3, one with chives in the middle and a plain one which I found a tad too salty.

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I choose to have the Grilled Vegetable and Goat Cheese Tart to start off my meal with – it sounded very appetising – Tomato olive salsa,balsamic reduction,pine nut,sekura cress – hummm yes please.

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The thin crisp  pastry base was not one bit soggy or eggy, the grilled Manchego cheese ( a cheese made in the La Mancha region of Spain from the milk of sheep of the manchega breed) tasted great in combination with summery veggies like asparagus and grilled peppers and the salsa was very good ,I loved the taste of the olives and hints of fennel, the cress made the whole dish so fresh not just to look at but to taste too.

The Head chef Kamaldeep Singh (left) and his colleague decided to take us through the process of how the new menu was created , the origin of ingredients and basically make us hungry for more!

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Madeleine seated next to me choose the other option as her first course :Peppercorn Cured Beef Carpaccio – Manchego cheese , home cured tomatoes,charred artichokes,mizuna and micro cress. I was avoiding red meat that so was very happy to photograph her dish and ask how it tasted but equally satisfied with my light tart.

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The carpaccio was hammered thin and artichokes placed over – it looked great, to find out in her Madeleine’s own words what she thought of her dish go check out  her review here.Very happy with my first course, I expected the second course to deliver and impress me a bit more. Must say my Pan-Fried Fillet of Sea Bass served with diver scallop,caper crushed potatoes,mixed bean salsa and ‘sauce vierge’  did not fail to do so. It looked amazing and I had to photograph it from various angles – we food bloggers!

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But  this was simply delicious and worthy of praise for more reasons than one – made using farmed sea bass responsibly sourced scallops, a lighter than most sauces that usually accompany a fish main the scallop sat one a delicious pea puree and cream base.

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The mixed bean salsa tasted great with the morish caper crushed potato, the cress balancing off the dish in a subtle way.Nayna my vegetarian food blogger friend chose to have the Spinach and Ricotta Raviolli made with heirloom tomato salsa and served with freshly made basil cream sauce , to read her views go onto her blog here.Our first wine of the evening accompanied the first course , Vidal sauvignon blanc from New Zealand , aromas of gooseberry, passionfruit and guava lead into a palate that exudes tropical and passion fruit flavours.

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After that very satisfying sea food dish ,we moved onto the next course , I stayed away from red meat again and the Garden pea,mint and pecorino cheese risotto was fabulous for me , I love my rice and many a times I really need some to complete my meal and make it me feel full, maybe a psychological thing but coming from the coastal side of western India ,fish curry and rice is our most staple everyday far.One of the staff members asked me where I was from and when I said Mumbai, pat came the next question which I was sort of expecting – was the sea bass as good as the Pomfret, well no! For me pomfret is the king of  all fishes on this planet – but its a matter of what taste one has grown up with and our method of cooking is also so very different. But yes Sea Bass , Salmon and Basa are my favorite buys,best eaten fresh on the day of purchase ,hate frozen fish,tastes muddy and weird in curries especially.

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The  pecorino cheese added a subtle tangy taste to this very morish and filling risotto, its easy to get this dish so wrong because often the seemingly easier to make dishes are the toughest to produce to perfection . I am a great fan of the risotto that my elder sister hubby makes , he is a trained chef but now a very busy and senior marketing head honcho so it’s very rarely that we meet and even more rarely that I get to eat the risotto he makes. Ah sweet nostalgic family moments, only truly good food can bring on such an attack for me.. 🙂

By now the light had really faded and my risotto photo and all that follow look terrible!

I must admit Madeleine was very kind and allowed me to have a taste of burnt celeriac which I loved with some of the calvados sauce I scooped it off her plate with from her Confit of Gloucestershire Pork Belly. She enjoyed  my cheesy risotto too.

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The 14 hour low heat cooked pork belly looked so very appetising, the burnt celeriac adding to the earthiness of this dish,the cinnamon compliments the pork  and the savoy cabbage and compressed apple give it a tart almost tangy twist on the side. This was washed down with several glasses of a full bodied Chilean Merlot – Errazuriz , almost opulent with notes of berry and cassis fruit.

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It’s at this point that I slipped into blissful food coma and saw this beautiful rainbow emerge right in front of my eyes… the photo does no justice to the what we actually saw…

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That is us at the table – L- R – Bintu who blogs at Recipes from a pantry, Nicki who blogs at Baking Beardy,seated opposite her is Fiona who writes an award-winning blog – London Unattached,Nayna – who blogs at  Simply Sensational Food her other blog is Citrus ,Spice and all things Nice, and the lovely Madeline who blogs at Kitchen Journeys and documents heart healthy recipes at From the Healthy Heart.

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Was too full by now and the dessert platter served with a large shot of margarita in shot glass lined by sugar , managed to cut the sweet taste that was bound to settle on the palate after cheesecake ,a panna cotta that failed to impress because I was expecting the usual wobble and a refreshing pista flavoured ice cream  – my fav from the selection.

As we strolled out for an impromptu photo session and gazed happily at the beautiful Tower Bridge,I couldn’t help but wonder that though the exterior of  the Tower Guoman leaves one wanting the view of two world Heritage Sites – Tower Bridge and the Tower of London certainly makes up for it!A massive refurbishment project is on the cards too.A few more plus points include a convenient location within easy reach of the financial district, Canary Wharf, the Excel Centre, London City Airport, historic Greenwich, the West End and Westfield Shopping Centre. Also the newly launched menu at The Brasserie definitely warrants a visit. The menu is bold and one where the chefs have really gone the extra mile to hope that if they try ambitiously to achieve the Zero Mile Ingredient mark and grow their own herbs fresh on the terrace garden which is to come alive very soon!

The staff was very polite, genuinely attentive and ensured we had a great evening.

*With  thanks to The Tower Guoman for the invitation. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review . All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

The Brasserie at the Tower Hotel on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

Angel Hair Pasta and Prawns in Thai Red Curry and white wine sauce

I loved the name of this recipe by Chef Delia and hubby was also so excited about eating that we went to supermarket that she endorses and got us some really nice White Cooking wine and vermicelli pasta which I used as ”Angel Hair”. The other thing about this recipe that I found appealing was that it was easy to make, serves 2 as a main meal if prepared with suggested quantities and is a really satisfying dish to both cook and eat!

Why is it called Angel Hair ? Capellini Pasta literally means Angel Hair – because this pasta is the finest, thinnest… and when boiled it opens up and is so delicate , almost like how an Angel’s hair would be! Since it is a very light pasta it pairs well with sea food and is sold in nest like shapes that open up into silky strands on boiling …ummm perfect !

Ok my cheat sheet for this recipe , I used Thai red curry paste from a bottle but you can make your own too.As with other types of pasta, it is generally cooked until it is al dente, or firm to the teeth.

I love this angel hair pasta as it cooks really fast and the sauces are taken up so well by the strands.

Serves:2

Marination Time: 4 hours Preparation Time: 15 Minutes Cooking Time:25 Minutes

Ingredients:

  1. 175gm Angel Hair Pasta.
  2. 2 packets of prawns.
  3. 2 tablespoons light olive oil.
  4. 4 large tablespoons Thai Red Curry Past.
  5. 4- 5 large garlic cloves skinned and very finely sliced.I love the skins so I kept them, they add a diferent twist and crackle that I cannot resist!,
  6. 2 large tomatoes skinned,de-seeded and chopped.This was the first time in my life I skinned tomatoes and must say it was fun 🙂
  7. Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
  8. 200ml dry white wine
  9. For the garnish – 3 tablespoons fresh coriander finely chopped,fresh lime thinly sliced.

Method:

  1. Marinate the deveined prawns in the Thai Red Curry Paste and set aside for as long as you can before cooking the meal, as suggested by Delia for 4 hours in a fridge is ideal.
  2. To start with the sauce ,add oil in a pan and the chopped garlic, fry till i is a beautiful golden brown and the kitchen starts to give away a delicious aroma that tantalises your senses…ummm , then go in the pan the lime zest and juice , the tomatoes and wine  and on a high heat cook and eventually reduce  for about  8 minutes.
  3. Now add the prawns and mix well on a high heat, then reduce to a low flame and let this bubble again for 3- 5 minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat once prawns are well cooked and cover and keep warm till the pasta is done as we have to be ready to serve this immediately when the pasta is ready , being thin it does not stay very easy to scoop out and handle once boiled.
  5. In a large vessel boil water with salt and cook the pasta , it is done in 3 minutes precisely.
  6. In bowls ready for serving spoon out the pasta ,whatever water comes with it , wil be soaked up by the pasta and the sauce.
  7. Serve the prawns in the Thai red curry paste and white wine sauce on top of the Angel Hair Pasta.
  8. In one word – Perfect !

Finito;)

Now for some pics- hover over each pic for a description, pics are followed by credits to the sites which inspired this blog post,Cheers Folks and do drop me a line if you liked this recipe and made it for your family 🙂

And last but not the least my sweetheart, my patient hubby for buying me the ingredients and for being my time keeper for this dish,I am eternally in love with you …..

The Day the internet failed……

I wrote this piece on Monday evening ,the internet went up after a few hours ,after I wrote this , spent all of yesterday doing god knows what , so here I am updating my blog with stuff I should have uploaded long back …guilt guilt … sighh:)

It’ s been a very wet day , I woke up at half past 11 , quite late for a Monday morning for most of the world , including my hubby , but well ,probably acceptable for a retailer like me for whom a weekday becomes her Sunday . I would have typed 11:30 but the habit of saying half past so and so has finally seeped into my head thank to all the people around here at work in London , just another small, subtle but noticeable change at how one’s surroundings make us change our long learnt habits .

I do feel like stepping out and just talking a walk but my back has been sore for a few days and yes the weather isn’t helping at all in pushing me to step out , maybe if I treat myself to a new pair of wellis in a bright and cheerful pop colour it may help.

 

I just saw a movie ‘’Sabrina’’ on T.V as I tried many times unsuccessfully to get my internet up and running , I started cooking too , now am brewing some hot ginger tea and am frying some spicy , hot dal vadas (fried crunchy finger food made from ground dals) , waiting for hubby to get home .

I know that by the type I upload this to my blog, the whole moment will have passed away but just wanted to write about it.

I am at home alone , it’s still a bit bright outside , there is a slight drizzle, a lonely person is trying hard to stay warm in a thin flimsy wind cheater on the bus stop opposite our building gate .I feel grateful for being indoors, having a warm place to stay , food to eat , a husband that loves me to bits and pampers me rotten , a laptop on which I can type this piece onto and a fairly decent life with very few things to crib about ,of course it isn’t perfect , but then isn’t perfection another illusion, shall I just say that I am happy with my life for now , it does suffice for now, certainly does .

I have a book next to me that I want to read , I will after I write this and sip my tea as I wait for my husband to get back from work.

I know what’s for dinner, a spicy traditional fish curry with steamed rice, comfort food for the soul.(The fish of choice is Bombay Duck – or as we call it in Marathi my mother tongue – ”gatgate” or ”Bombil”)

I don’t want to call anyone though am missing home back in India real bad since morning. I am sedate in a way but totally restless in some far corner of my mind.

I am not sure what the reason for that restlessness is, but then if we always knew all the answers for what we feel and why, life wouldn’t be what it is, would it?

I have no idea if anyone will read this and if they do what would they think about it? Spot a few grammatical errors perhaps or maybe incorrect sentence construction. Some might even think, ‘’what garbage, just because blogging is free, everyone who can type thinks they can write’’ Partly true perhaps as well I guess…

Anyway , I am not writing for anybody , it’s more of a release, a diary of sorts , a catharsis even , who knows …just that I want to write this for now …

 

Aaah the husband’s back, now to get cracking on preparing dinner, catching up on how we spent our day and other daily stuff that life is made up of…..

Bye bye or as the babes in the new Fosters telly ad say ‘’Toodles’’ ….

 

 

 

 

Of movies and GREAT MOVIES

Some movies have such an impact that they make you smile somewhere deep inside , they give us hope , that kind of hope that can stir up a twinkle in the eye of even the most deprived of souls …The Shawshank Redemption is one such movie.

I cannot fathom why I haven’t seen it for all these years …

It’s the kind of movie I would see with my Father , he loves watching war movies ,old westerns and the like .When he and my mother came to visit us last year we had a lovely few weeks together. He made a list of his all time favourite films all old English awesome one really …I would love to share that list will try and find the paper where he wrote it …

We would have an early dinner and then I would download the movie on my laptop using utorrent and my parents and me would crowd around my laptop and watch it only stop if I wanted a break in between I always do, movies make me hungry errr hungrier to be honest …am always hungry 😉 My mum doses off after the first 15 minutes and wakes up after a few more and asks why so and so did this and what is happening and then dose off blissfully again , though she’s one determined person I tell you , she wouldn’t quit halfway would sit through to the end with me and daddy.

Anyway, this ritual went on for about 15 days after which my Laptop crashed due to some bug and when it was done up again it was time for them to go , the weather had changed ,it was much colder than their old bones could handle so they would turn in earlier and stay home most day.

I do miss them, but I miss my dad the most when I see such movies. I almost imagined I was curled up next to him as I was seeing this movie. Will call him tomorrow and tell him about it, of course am sure he has seen it and will have some interesting movie facts to tell me, he always does.

The following lines are ingrained in my mind forever and ever – “Hope is a Good Thing,Maybe the BEST thing and Good Things NEVER Die” – Andy from The Shawshank Redemption.

It’s a movie that will stay with me for a long long time to come ,maybe some day I too shall sit down with my kids and share such moments ….hopefully 🙂

P.S: Baba’s List of Must watch movies , family favourites at ours and anytime watchs for a LIFETIME…

*Where Eagles Dare

*North By North West

*The Bridge on the River Kwai

*The Eagle has Landed

*The man who knew too much – who can forget Doris Day singing Que Sera, Sera Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)

*Dial M for Murder

*Psycho

* Butch Cassidy and the Sun Dance Kid

*Mackenna’s Gold

*It Happened One Night

*The 39 Steps

* Godfather 1 &2 …. Oh Marlon Brando what he did no one ever has and no one ever can these movies and books are EPIC !

* The Day of the Jackal

*Casablanca

*Rear Window…Irony was I saw this when I was in bed nursing a broken leg 😉

*Frenzy

* One Flew over the cuckoo’s nest