- NEWS & ACHIEVEMENTS -

2011
Delicious Magazine Recipe Feature Recipes published in Princes Trust Charity 'Trusty' Cookbook Guest panellist on UKTV Food's 'Market Kitchen' Recipes published in 'Come Dine With Me Special Occasions' book Blog named as a "Media Must-Have" in Jan & Feb issue of Olive Magazine

2010
Launch of Sabrina's one-to-one private cookery tuition Guest critic on Gordon Ramsay's 'F-Word' series finale Organised Top Chef Charity Banquet for Haiti raising £70,000 for 'Action Against Hunger' Seasonal Food & Recipe Writer for 'Blue Tomato'

2009
Winner of Channel 4's 'Come Dine With Me' (West London) 'Bronze' winner in professionally judged 'AA Home Cooking Competition 2009' Appointed resident cookery columnist for Foodepedia

Japanese Rice Risotto with Miso, Lemongrass and Scallops

Japanese Rice Risotto with Miso, Lemongrass and Scallops

Seasonal Penne Mediterraneo

Seasonal Penne Mediterraneo

Persian Split Pea, Dried Lime and Lamb Stew

Persian Split Pea, Dried Lime and Lamb Stew

Monday, 31 May 2010

Istanbul (Part II)


From the minute I arrived in Istanbul, I have literally had food thrusted in my face from every single possible direction. From taxi drivers offering me sweets during the cab ride, shopkeepers serving up tea with sweet bites to my friends who took me where real Istanbulites eat and even my own experiences whilst taking pictures of various foodie stall, where the owners would want to give me free samples. What a warm and wonderful culture of people the Turks are. I cannot tell you how much this trip has enriched my knowledge and passion for Istanbul and it has made me want to see every inch of this beautiful country.

For the first night of my trip I was alone but my friend Aysegul made sure to send me to the best places for dinner – a funky cosmopolitan roof top restaurant called ‘360’ (an apt reference to the panoramic views overlooking the whole of Istanbul. Amazing cocktails and unparalleled views make ’360’ one of the hottest spots in town. It was only a Wednesday and this place was already heaving. The next day, after visiting the Blue Mosque (known to locals as Sultanahmet Mosque) and also the stunningly beautiful Hayasofia Museum, I tustled through the markets a little and headed back to the neighbourhood near my apartment and met my friend again for dinner. She took me to another funky rooftop bar lounge called ‘Midpoint’ in the bustling pedestrian streets of ‘Istiklal’ near Taksim Square and after a few Mojitos we headed to ‘Leb-e-Derya’ which means ‘By the sea’ for some wonderful modern Turkish cuisine overlooking the night lights of the city below.

The following morning, we go to Ortakoy right by the water for a traditional Turkish breakfast (pictured above) right next to the water’s edge on a bright and sunny day. We take a one hour boat ride around the Bosphorus and I see beautiful houses, palaces, an historic castle and I enjoy the unique experience of seeing two different continents at the very same time – with Asia on my right and Europe on my left, it really is something I will never forget and I am very glad had the opportunity to see it for myself.

In the evening we head to the ever-so-trendy ‘Lucca’ bar and restaurant in ‘Bebek’ which reminds me of the funky pavement cafés and bar of La Croisette in Cannes, which the uber-chic well heeled locals, rich kids and glamourous locals clamber to drink, eat and mostly, of course, see and be seen. Aysegul plies me with one of their famous ‘Satsuma’ Vodka cocktails, which leads to another and another and as the joint gets packed out, the music gets louder and I find myself in the party swing. I feel like a local, the whole experience is beginning to feel strangely familiar to me, like I’ve been here before. I love it and I can’t wait to make it a regular destination on my list of regular places to escape to. For dinner we head to ‘Vira Vira’a great and famous seafood restaurant owned by some famous singer or move star type. It’s not a showy place at all, which I like a lot but it is teeming with locals and the food is fantastic. Bottles of tiple distilled local hooch ‘Raki’ (pronounced ‘Raku’) line the shelves and cabinets and seem to be on every single table in the restaurant. Raki is a traditional aniseed-flavoured alcoholic beverage that traditionally accompanies Meze here in Turkey. It is consumed in great quantities, yet slowly slipped throughout a meal, just like wine. Our waiter Huseyin is absolutely lovely and is enthused at the sight of my camera and asks if I will write about him – so special mention to my friend Huseyin at ‘Vira Vira’ on the sea front.

Extremely tipsy and full of the joys of a Friday night we head back to my apartment, twisting and turning through all the ridiculously narrow streets, both uphill and down and we end up back at my apartment and enjoy the warm evening on the roof terrace, chilling and listening to music and laughing, half in English and half in Turkish as now there are more of us – The evening ends at 2:30am, which is a very early night I’m told. Some of our guests continue on to clubs to party til 7am! More stamina than I have, I’m afraid.

In the morning, I wake up with a sore head and fix myself a nice cup of tea with local bread topped with ‘Peynir’ (cheese) and a generous drizzling of honey. I would like to point out that this is a traditional breakfast for many countries, including Turkey and my own country Iran, especially when coupled with tea. It is my last day and I visit the insanely busy spice market, buy some lovely serving plates, take some more pictures and then when the heavens open up I go back to the apartment, stopping to grab some food from a local restaurant and I eat my final meal in the comfort of my apartment away from the flooded streets and heavy downpour – and what a meal it was! Stuffed vine leaves filled with meat and rice (Dolma), aubergines and garlic (Imam Biyaldi) and delicious lamb patties (Kofte).

If you are looking for somewhere nice to go away to, then Istanbul is the place. Beaches, Islands, restaurants, markets, museums, Mosques and so much more to see that one trip just isn’t enough! For me, for now, Istanbul will have to wait until 2011 for my next visit, but next time I will definitely be staying longer and will plan to see more than I could this time round. Istanbul is most definitely my new addiction and I cant get enough.

USEFUL LINKS:

'Vira Vira' Seafood Restaurant (Besiktas) -
www.viravirarestaurant.com

'Lucca' Restaurant/Bar (Bebek)-
www.luccastyle.com

'360' Restaurant/Bar (Tasksim) -
www.360istanbul.com

'Midpoint' Restaurant/Bar (Taksim)-
www.midpoint.com.tr

'Leb-i-Derya' Restaurant (Taksim)-
www.lebiderya.com/richmond/eng/ana1.html

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Istanbul (Not Constantinople) Part I

It is my last night here in vibrant and beautiful Istanbul, so far removed from anything I had ever imagined it to be. Having had many Turkish friends over the years, I have always felt lucky to have a better insight than most into true Turkish culture, which bears many similarities to my own culture both in tradition and language. But I find it difficult and somewhat embarassing that we Brits can only seem to muster up the image of a kebab shop when thinking of Turkish people, which to be perfectly honest is a complete and utter insult to an incredible country which is not only rich in history and culture but fast becoming one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world.

Istanbul is the official '2010 European Capital of Culture' and it really doesn't take a genius to see why. This ancient and historic city, once known as both 'Byzantium' and 'Constantinople', is brimming with historical treasures; everything from architecture, religion and thousands of years of history to my own personal favourite type of treasure, food.

What struck me when I first arrived in Istanbul is that every street corner, back alley or main road has some kind of ready-to-eat offering for those who indulge. Want tea? Ditch your kettles because in Istanbul there seem to be men that literally carry tea trays from place to place selling proper glasses of Turkish tea ready for you to drink. No plastic cups or annoying fiddly lids with tea bags... Far from it, this is the real deal and it's known to natives as 'Çay' (pronounced 'Chai') and it wont cost you more than 50p (stuff Starbucks' 2 quid equivalent!) and Turks cannot get enough of the stuff. They drink it in glasses at bus stops, they tray serve it on tourist boats and stay in any shop for longer than 5 minutes and the chances are, you will be offered a glass of the good stuff. Hospitality is king in this part of the world! And we thought we Brits were the 'Cuppa Kings' of Europe? Not so, it seems.

But what if tea is not your cup-of-tea, so to speak? Well turn the next corner and someone is selling freshly barbecued corn-on-the-cob, which is dipped in salt water and served hungry patrons. How about roasted chestnuts? Evidently they are not just a winter treat over here and the smell of them fills the air and reminds me of Christmas in London's bustling Oxford Street when I was a kid. If that isn't enough, how about giant Mussels with fresh lemon, freshly cut watermelon, 'chewy' ice cream, syrup-soaked donuts, filled 'Borek' pastries, the famous Turkish 'Simit' bread which are similar to bagels but not as heavy as well as popcorn, some incredibly interesting hard candy lollipops that are made while you wait by dipping a lolly stick into hot coloured and flavoured syrups and spun around the stick to form a multi-flavoured fruit lollipop. Incredible and one of the most fun things I have ever seen being sold on a street corner.

Locals here seem to be eating constantly. You cannot escape the overwhelming sights and scents of food. Every corner is bursting with intoxicating smells which draw you in and make it impossible to avoid the temptation. Pictured above, you can see just some of the incredible sights of Istanbul and there will be more to come in the next installment on my new favourite city soon. I whole-heartedly recommend you visit this vivacious, welcoming and colourful city. The food is superb, the people are warm hearted and so lovely and the city has so much to see and enjoy. I mean, in how many cities can you take a boat ride and be in between two continents? The Bosphorus parts Asia and Europe, which are both still part of the city of Istanbul. Value wise for culture, cuisine and so much more besides, Istanbul is unbeatable and I really hope you will add it to your list of 'Must-see destinations' this year.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

"MIEN TAY" The BEST Vietnamese Food in London!

Ok, the decor is beyond cheesy and the music is very '70's American supermarket'… But this place is the daddy of all Vietnamese restaurants. The menu is pretty large with lots of different choices, with a huge selection of starters and mains. Mien Tay is a family run establishment. Their first branch is located on Kingsland Road in Shoreditch and chosen as one Gordon Ramsay's 'Best Local Restaurants' in the January aired episode of F-Word, they deserve every ounce of press they get as the food is still good old fashioned home cooking, that is clean, authentic, cheap and 100% delicious.

We begin with the Mien Tay spring rolls that are simply put, incredible with a crispy, crunchy white rice wafer thing wrapping (not like your average spring roll) with a filling of crunchy vegetables, peanuts, ground pork and prawns served with a gently spiced and sweet Nuoc Cham sauce. The papaya salad with spicy dried beef is also absolutely superb along with salt and pepper garlic squid.

We ordered several mains (way too many, as it turns out) including beef with paper thin (and slightly tricky) rice paper wraps, which are a spicy, lemongrass infused mixture of minced beef with thin sticky rice paper sheets and assorted herbs and vegetables so you can make your own rolls. A whole seabass deep fried topped with chilli, garlic and coriander is moist and delicate in flavour. Some Chinese-style crispy fried seafood noodles follow, which were nice but couldnt remotely touch the fabulousness authentic Vietnamese dishes on offer, so my bad for choosing them!

The two of us scanned the room and discreetly looked at all the other diners in the restaurant, mulling over single bowls of food which made us laugh. With so much top-notch food on offer at such incredibly low prices, how on earth do you just order a single dish each? Maybe they are those "Eat to live" types I've heard about but didn't ever think actually existed. Strange breed of people, I think. Ok, you don't have to go into overkill mode either but life is for living, flavours and cultures are for exploring. Every time I go to a new restaurant, I want to enter as a student and leave as a master; having experienced new flavours, new dishes and unfamiliar and exciting textures and tastes.

After all we ate, I thought the bill would probably come to around 70 quid, but no… I gasped to see it came to just 40! What a total bargain. If anything, it gives you EVEN more reason to eat here. The staff are lovely, the service is great… I don't live near Battersea, but nothing will stop me from coming back to this fabulous little gem of a Vietnamese restaurant… It beats all the Kingsland Road Vietnamese eateries, 100 times over. It is absolutely the best Vietnamese food I have ever had in my life and I urge you to try it for yourself!

Mien Tay
180 Lavender Hill, London SW11 5TQ
Tel: 020 7350 0721
www.mientay.co.uk

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

'NING' - THE NEXT BIG THING

Rarely does a book make me salivate so quickly, so that’s always a good sign. Inspired by his mother Norman Musa has put together a collection of recipes from his Malaysian homeland evoking personal memories as well as anecdotes from his childhood. It seems everyone and their uncle has a cook book out these days, so separating the wheat from the chaff is harder to do than ever before, but Musa’s recipes ensure his book is definitely more ‘wheat’ than ‘chaff’.

It features well-known classic Malay dishes like beef Rendang, as well as the lesser known street-food favourites like ‘Cucur udang’ – delicious prawn and chive fritters with peanut sauce - as well as the infamous Roti Canai breads that are sold everywhere in Malaysia. There are also lots of lovely fish dishes and lighter meals using more subtle flavours to suit all palates, along with plenty of tempting dessert recipes to boot. Along with page after page of vibrant photography, there is an incredibly useful key ingredient guide that shows some of the most commonly used ingredients in Malaysian cookery, most of which are readily available in our supermarkets.

The book has a little of something for everyone and the recipes read very easily and are incredibly simple to follow, so even the less competent cook can broaden their culinary horizons and create something really delicious and authentic, without too much stress or effort. The book has a real warmth about it, fusing memories and nostalgia of Musa’s childhood with recipes and plenty of images to keep you hooked page after page. I think we Brits were in need of a good Malaysian cook book, with hearty recipes and in some cases, the lesser known and more authentic than your average Satay – and this wonderfully unpretentious book does the job beautifully and makes a welcome kitchen companion for any household.

Ning restaurant is located in Manchester and if the book’s recipes are anything to go by, then lucky old Manchester.

Ning Restaurant
The Burton Building, 92-94 Oldham Street, Northern Quarter
Manchester M4 1LJ
www.ningrestaurant.com

Monday, 3 May 2010

MY NEW PRIVATE 1-2-1 COOKERY TUITIONS



PRIVATE COOKERY TUITION WITH SABRINA IN YOUR OWN HOME

Having spent years teaching my friends how to cook, as well as catering privately through word-of-mouth, I thought it was high time I concentrated my efforts into providing help for those who need it, through one-to-one private cookery tuition in your own home!

The idea is very personal in that I speak to each client understanding their own unique and individual strengths and weaknesses and create a bespoke cookery day which will help convert weaknesses into strength and take existing strengths to the next level. Costs are also much more reasonable than most group cookery classes, where you get very little hands-on contact with the teacher and you do not get to choose the menu yourself.

Menus can be absolutely anything the client wishes to improve on or desires to learn how to cook and prepare. Sample cookery days include;

- Vietnamese, Thai, Persian, Middle-Eastern and Northern & South Italian Feasts
- Dinner Parties Simplified
- 30 Minute Meals
- Cooking For The Family
- Cooking With Kids
- Low Fat Delicious Cooking
- Dinner Parties Simplified
- Canape Masterclass
- Summer Cooking
- Seafood
- Soups and Stews

For more information contact me via email or leave a comment below, thanks!