- 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

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

'Awana' Restaurant Redeemed!

I do feel that there is the growing danger that every time I eat out at a restaurant, it becomes a 'review' of sorts and this can't be very healthy. Even if I myself don't do the complaining, the people I'm with seem to expect me to take the lead, which of course I would not refuse. Still, I do seem to be more critical of things than most and this is NOT (I repeat NOT) because I write about food. This is because of my background in Michelin star restaurants, where high standards are the ONLY standards that are acceptable. So this entry isn't really a review, but sometimes when a restaurant's standards are lower than usual and they make the effort to right their wrongs, then it is most definitely worth mentioning.

As you may have guessed from many of my stories, pictures and recipes, I just adore food from the Far East. Vietnamese is currently my favourite, followed by Thai, Korean and Chinese. But what about Indonesian food? And Malaysian food? Don't they get a little share of the love? Well, I love Malaysian food but I'm not sure why it took me so long to visit 'Awana'. I finally made it there last night for a special occasion with 8 other ladies and the bar was packed, the football was on and so we shimmied into the dining room and sat down. The room was empty initially and being a Monday, I thought it was fair enough. Within 15 minutes the dining room was packed out and full to the brim with loud parties making conversation rather difficult and inaudible. The football was also being shown in the dining room, which made me quite uncomfortable.

The menu itself was generous in content, but I found the repetitive statement of “This dish is not included as part of any promotion” tedious and frustrating. A clever ploy to avoid giving 50% discount on certain dishes, should be stipulated at time of booking as it certainly didn't just apply to one or two dishes, but indeed several. This aside, it has to be said that the food was delicious and I honestly wasn't disappointed with anything we ordered and we had ordered A LOT of food.

Fingfer-licking Malaysian Satay skewers of chicken, lamb and prawn... crab and pomelo salad, spicy chicken parcels, deep-fried soft shell crab and salt and pepper prawns were just some of the tasty starters we chose. Main courses were also fantastic and we plumped for whole seabass with lemongrass, chilli and coriander, classic beef rendang, seafood rice noodles, plenty of 'morning glory' greens and of course the infamous Malaysian Roti Canai breads - which although delicious was priced at an eye-watering £6.50 per portion! So this place is not cheap, but they pretty much offer a consistent 50% discount on food (not drink!) via Toptable making it all the more affordable.

Cocktails were also really good, but we did have to send a couple back as we found some ‘unexpected visitors’ floating in the drinks, which were then immediately replaced. There were also few hiccups with ordering and also speed of service, which although they were incredibly busy, is still frustrating. The volume levels were so loud as the party of 25 or so next to us became increasingly drunk and this did affect the accuracy of our orders and toward the end of the evening, the enjoyment of our group. It did feel like being in a very loud pub, which for Chelsea Cloisters, is not what I would expect and I wasn't overly pleased.

I decided to attempt what we Brits cannot ever seem to do and make a complaint. I had a quiet word with the manager about my feelings and he immediately apologised and made a very kind gesture on our bill for the problems incurred. THIS IS THE MARK OF A GOOD ESTABLISHMENT! This is actually what redeemed the restaurant for me again and I thought I would make a special mention because of it.

If only more restaurants actually gave a damn about their customers and really looked after them, restaurant trade would always be consistent and on the up instead of struggling. Problems do arise in restaurants, it is very common and if the food is great and the staff are really very nice but the problems aren't correctly dealt with, would you go back there? I know I wouldn't. However on this occasion, Awana did the right thing by acknowledging my concerns and making a suitable gesture to compensate us and so I will definitely be going back and further more, I would happily recommend Awana to those looking for good Malaysian food.

Awana - 85 Sloane Avenue, Chelsea SW3
http://www.awana.co.uk/

Saturday, 19 June 2010

TASTE OF LONDON 2010

Another year, another hugely well received food festival in Regents Park in the form of the wonderful Taste of London. As a one-time exhibitor at Taste of London, I know exactly how arduous the process of setting up, decorating and stocking your stand can be and then there is the 4 day ecent itself to contend with! The whole process if enough to drive you to drink, so I salute the efforts of the hard working exhibitors each year.

This year, I braved the pouring rain as well as some rather untimely back trouble and hobbled my way around the show with my girlfriends in tow. At one point the heavens really opened up and showed no signs of stopping. We took shelter in the lovely stand belonging to "Nyetimber" who are a British winery in Sussex that make absolutely splendid fizz, whose Nyetimber's Classic Cuvée 2003 beat French Champagne to receive the title of "Champion of Worldwide Sparkling Wines" beating French Chamopagne houses Bollinger and Louis Roederer! Nyetimber is available at Waitrose at around £25.00 a bottle, which is a steal.

We visited some of my favourite Chefs, stopping to see Francesco Mazzei of L'Anima who helped us launch our Salumiamo project this month and with help from the leading lady of L'Anima, Jenny, we were spoilt rotten in true Italian style with Prosecco, some of Francesco's infamous rustic rabbit stew, Sardegnian seafood 'Fregola' and a wonderful aubergine salad with a side of my favourite rich and creamy 'Burrata' cheese. If that wasn't enough spoiling, we were given a massive great portion of the delicious Limoncello soaked lemon cake that was absolutely scrumptious. Granted special access into the L'Anima kitchens, I snapped the boys in action, headed by Lello, Francesco's right hand man. What a happy, funny bunch they are, its good to see people having fun whilst doing their work and producing wonderful food for the masses. If you missed taste of London, why not visit L'Anima at: L'Anima, 1 Snowden Street, London EC2A 2DQ

We also stopped by one of my favourite Indian restaurants of all time, Tamarind (Mayfair) to see the wonderfully serene Michelin starred Chef Alfred Prasad. A Chef whose feathers never seem to ruffle, no matter how stressful a situation gets. Alfred is the embodiment of serenity and his food is truly remarkable because of it. No wonder then man secured a Michelin star at such a younge age. Alfred plies us with some of his delicious dishes including "Keema Muttar" a spicy minced lamb and pea stew served with rice and lipsmackingly tasty along with some very special crab cakes with lime leaves and spices and some spice crusted giant prawns all washed down with an utterly irresistable cardamom infused rice pudding, creamy and rich with a hidden bottom of thick, unctuous mango puree. If this isn't heaven, I'm not sure what is! Tamarind Restaurant, 20-22 Queen Street, London W1J 5PR

We even bumped into Anthony Worrall Thompson before heading to Oddono's Gelati stand for some of the best ice cream in the world, outside of Italy! I plumped for some Valrhona chocolate ice cream along with some Sicilian Pistachio flavour and my friend went for the Nutella. Rich, creamy ice cream that is unrivalled anywhere else in London. You can visit them at Selfridges, Whiteleys or at their shop in Bute Street, South Kensington where they make their ice cream daily:

We also visited Busaba Eathai's fabulous stand and had some of their splendid calamari and we visited the Action Against Hunger Stand also, where my lovely friend Stefano was working with Valentine Warner to help raise money for the charity by preparing sumptuous meals for the crowds.

We also picked up some wonderful and very decadent truffle products from a stand that supply all the top restaurants in town, Black Truffle paste and cream of white truffle with parmesan. After an afternoon of scoffing, gorgeing, tasting and savouring, we stopped by Floridita's stand for a delicious "Appleton" rum Mojito before heading home. Fabulous. All in all a lovely time and I'm already looking forward to next year's Taste of London! Let's just hope the weather is a bit more sunny for us!

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Perfect 'Korean' World Cup Half Time Nosh

Another hum-dinger in honour of the World Cup! It's a great bowl of food and if you haven't tried Korean food yet, then NOW is the time, because it is absolutely delicious!

HERE IS WHAT YOU WILL NEED TO MAKE MY DELICIOUS
'KOREAN BEEF BULGOGI':


INGREDIENTS
250g of lean steak, like sirloin or rump (I use Onglet which is cheap and delicious)
10 pieces of ‘tenderstem’ broccoli stems, chopped into 3
Some oil for cooking
Cling film

FOR THE MARINADE
6 tablespoons of light soya sauce
2 tablespoons of toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons of caster sugar
6 peeled garlic cloves thinly sliced
1 bunch of spring onions chopped into 1cm thick slices

METHOD
You need to marinate your meat first of course and there is no reason that this cannot be done the night before, but a couple of hours will suffice. So first of all take your meat and thinly slice it into ½cm thick slices which are suitably bite-sized. Then place your meat into a large mixing bowl, add all your marinade ingredients and using your hands, mix the ingredient well for a couple of minutes, to ensure the sugar is virtually dissolved in the other ingredients and the beef gets an even coating of sauce, before covering it with cling film and placing in the fridge to marinate.

After a minimum of 2 hours, take the meat out of the fridge (about 30 minutes prior to cooking) and then using a wok or a deep pan, on the highest temperature possible, preheat your pan and when it is red hot, add a little oil and quickly fry your broccoli for 30 seconds. Then using a slotted spoon, scoop your beef, garlic and spring onions out of the marinade and fry them making sure you keep them constantly moving. At such high temperatures, you need to keep everything moving to prevent it sticking to the pain. After about 30/45 seconds, the meat should start to brown at the edges and cook through, which is when you should add some more of the marinade to the pan to make a sauce for your Bulgogi. Add as much of the marinade you like, just make sure you cook it through for 15-20 seconds and then you are ready to plate up and serve with a steaming hot portion of rice.

DELICIOUS!!!!

Monday, 14 June 2010

Perfect 'Italian' World Cup Half Time Nosh

This is one of my favourite pasta salads, namely because its absolutely BURSTING with flavour and vibrancy. It is so easy to make and as I sit down to watch Italy versus Paraguay, I am munching away on a bowl of the fabulous stuff!

HERE IS WHAT YOU WILL NEED TO MAKE MY DELICIOUS
'INSALATA di PENNE CON PESTO E POMODORI SECCHI':


500g penne pasta
190g jar of 'Sacla' Classic Green Pesto
100g of pine nuts, toasted preferably
2 medium red onions, sliced thinly into half moons
200g of sunblush or sundried tomatoes, each cut into 3 using scissors
100g grated parmesan
150g of drained capers (Nonpareille are best) OR use 200g of chopped olives if you prefer

METHOD

Cook the pasta per the instructions on th packer, then drain, rinse with plenty of cold water and add to a large mixing bowl. Add all your other ingredients into the mixing bowl and using either a large wooden spoon on your hands (I prefer the latter) mix the ingredients and hey presto, it's ready to serve! Buonissimo!

The salad will keep really well for 4 days in the fridge if covered! But I know that it wont stand a chance of lasting that long!

Now hurry up and go watch the game!!!

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Egon Ronay Dies (RIP)

Hungarian born Egon Ronay, creator of the infamous Egon Ronay restaurant guides and former Daily Telegraph food critic died earlier today, aged 94. Renowned for never accepting a free meal, Ronay published his first guide in 1957 and remained a critics well into his late 70's.

The culinary world is at a loss today as it bids farewell to a legend who built his reputation on integrity and passionate commitment to transform the eating habits of our nation.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Bar Boulud - Mandarin Oriental Hotel

I finally made it to Bar Boulud at The Mandarin Oriental Hotel to see what all the fuss about and after an incredibly disappointing experience at 'Daniel' in New York, I must admit my expectations of Bar Boulud were not high. Perhaps this is the best way to tackle these foofy, over-hyped places, but on arrival I see the venue is not so much the 'Bar' that it claims to be and in fact crams double the amount of covers I would have thought to be sensible for a venue of this size, making it more of a full service restaurant than just bar. I don't like this at all, not one bit. If anything, when you first open a restaurant quality of service and attentiveness should be your key focus surely? Not so at 'Bar Boulud'; it's most definitely a "Cram 'em in and kick 'em out" type affair, with fabulously snooty French service to boot. This may wash in America, because Americans love our Euro-snobby ways and find it endearing, but we Brits expect better.

I wonder why they call it 'BAR Boulud' when it's really more of a Brasserie. Doesn't Brasserie Boulud sound better? I digress. Chatting to my companion we quickly realised how the interior reminded us of the formulaic standard decor of the 'Strada' restaurant chain. Bizarre considering how high profile the brand is, did they not think to try and do something a little better suited to Knightsbridge and the 5 star hotel that houses the restaurant? 'Null points' for decor.

Food wise, I dont buy into paying twenty quid for a charcuterie platter. Stuff that, if I want sliced meats I will nip to my local deli and get them there. I ordered the New York Burger (DBGB or was it DBBG????) and actually it was as good as I'd hoped albeit a bit on the small side, but accompanied by some pommes frites it was just enough for a greedy girl like me. My friend has the steak which she seemed to enjoy but she said her chips were hard and not as hot as she has specified she would like them to be. The devil is in the detail you know and the detail was clearly not high on the agenda tonight.

Dessert was not very good. My friend said "A meal without dessert is like sex without the climax" which made me laugh although I knew she was right. The dessert choices fell flat and we opted for some Madeleines and a trio of not-so-nice sorbets and ice cream accompanied by the ugliest biscuits I have ever seen, which needless to say we didn't touch. And to think we were charged so much money for the pleasure of desserts that we didn't even enjoy! The even bigger disappointment lay in the fact that they charge a fiver for the Mignardises of Madeleine cakes when in fact they are usually complimentary at 'Daniel'.

What a shame, I really thought they would exceed my minimal expectations tonight, but sadly the mediocrity of the experience did nothing but reinforce the fact that I was right in my pre-conceptions and that unless you are in the area and fancy a quick bite, you are probably better off avoiding 'Bar Boulud' altogether.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

'Salumiamo' - Fine Italian Meats Hit London

Top Italian Chefs Giorgio Locatelli and Francesco Mazzei
launch 'Salumiamo' campaign


To improve our awareness of this fine produce, the Istituto Valorizzazione Salumi Italiani and the Italian Trade Commission are launching a unique experience. After the success of the campaign in Belgium, France and Germany, ‘SalumiAmo’ comes to London this month for the first time, hosting an ‘Aperitivo’ (or happy hour). The events will be held across six exclusive London venues commencing on Monday 14th June right through to Friday 2nd July.

A great chance to try some complimentary samples of some of Italy's finest top-grade cured meats including Prosciutto San Daniele, Mortadella Bologna, Salami Cacciatore and Bresaola della Valtellina. The promotion runs for just 3 weeks and each venue is completely unique, so why not try them all?

The Salumiamo promotion dates are;

Monday 14th June - Friday 18th June (5:30pm-8:00pm)

1 Lombard Street http://www.1lombardstreet.com/
Mews of Mayfair http://www.mewsofmayfair.com/

Monday 21st - Friday 25th June (5:30pm-8:00pm)

The Anthologist Bar http://www.theanthologistbar.co.uk/
The Living Room http://www.thelivingroom.co.uk/venues/london-w1/

Monday 28th June - Friday 2nd July (5:30pm-8:00pm)

Dover Street http://www.doverstreet.co.uk/
Raoul's http://raoulsgourmet.com/ (Notting Hill branch)

For more information e-mail: sabrinaghayour@hotmail.com