Friday 11 January 2013

Chile: El Vergel

What a lovely lunch!

Extensive search of the internet only turned up one possible eating establishment for Chile in London, El Vergel, but luckily reviews were very much on the positive side. The only downside, it's only open at lunch time.

El Vergel is in a quiet Southwark back street, between Southwark and Borough tubes, so it wasn't too difficult to find a day when we could escape the office, and take the trip west from Docklands. James and I arranged to meet our friend Deeg for a Tuesday lunch date. It's a short stroll from Borough tube and interestingly situated on the ground floor of a fairly new block of flats. The chefs must benefit from being close to Borough Market.

The décor was minimalist, having that Wagamamas feel with long wooden tables, bare concrete pillars that kids had obviously been encouraged to scribble on with felt tips. But an impressively large space with room for a deli at one end. And very busy for a Tuesday in January. They did stick us in a corner table, so I felt we were a bit out of the main café action.

We were under time pressure, so opted for a snacky two course lunch.

For starters, James and I shared an empanada de carne. Delicious crumbly pastry case with a minced beef filling. I would certainly recommend them and guess that they probably sell them in the attached deli (didn't even have time to browse!)

For the main course, all three of us chose churrasco queso - a steak sandwich with cheese on Chilean village bread. The bread was amazing and contained a huge slab of tender medium to medium rare steak with mozzarella style cheese.

I washed my sandwich down with a tropical juice, only because we needed to get back to work, otherwise it would have been a cold beer or a glass of Chilean wine.

Nice place, a little gem if you live or work in that part of town. It's looking like we may end up back in the London Bridge area at the end of this year, this will make a great place for lunch once in a while.

Now for the scores! Haven't done this in a while, what categories did I have?

Food: ****
Value for money: *****
Atmosphere: ***

El Vergel on Urbanspoon

Sunday 6 January 2013

Chad: lourobbo's kitchen

Chad is a country with an unsettled past and consequently the cuisine has developed under a variety of influences, the dominant being French.

But also, we see the return of Peanut Butter, which does appear to be prevalent amongst African nations!

I chose two dishes from Chad, Moo Sate and a broiled fish dish, Tilapia au four. Moo Sate is exactly what you would think - beef satay. Here are a couple of pictures of the preparation - the marinating skewers of meat and the smooth creamy peanut buttery sauce.


It's a very easy dish to make, and the meat doesn't even really need much time to soak up the flavours. I used some nice frying steak from Morrison's, cut into thin slices. The satay is given it's luscious texture with the use of a packet of coconut cream and smooth peanut butter and has a bit of a kick with the use of curry power and some very finely chopped chillies.
The second dish was a broiled fish recipe, that I found on several sites. It seems to use tilapia in the main, although I have seen it on sale in UK supermarkets, I couldn't find any yesterday, so substituted with some cod steaks.
The fish only needed 30 minutes to bake in the oven and the kebabs literally a few minutes on the hot plate/griddle, turning occasionally (particularly if you like your steak medium rare). The peanut sauce was warmed up in a saucepan and both dishes to be served with rice.

I liked the Moo Sate, it had a good level of heat and the sauce was velvety. The fish was a little bland I thought, but maybe a touch more seasoning and you have a fairly healthy dish there. Overall, a tasty way to get back into the A to Z eating challenge.  And all washed down with a particularly lovely bottle of cabernet/shiraz from Some Young Punks, a birthday present from a friend!


Tuesday 1 January 2013

Cape Verde, Cayman Islands, Central African Republic: lourobbo's kitchen

Ahem. It's been a while. A long while. In fact almost precisely a year since I last updated the Eating the A to Z of London blog.

But a new year's resolution has prompted me to get back to it and finally type up the few countries that we did actually sample at the start of 2012 and continue with the tour!

The main reason for the delay in the project, I admit, is actually the typing up of the entries in the blog. I had actually cooked from the next few C countries, but hadn't got round to updating the site, a vicious circle ensued where I didn't want to get any further ahead without recording these, yet I never seemed to have the time to sit down and finish the entries.

So, procrastinate no more, lourobbo! To help me back into the swing of things, I've combined the 3 countries we did "visit" at the start of last year into 1 post. Mainly, because I can barely remember what I cooked anyway, there won't be much to say!

Cape Verde

Let's start with Cape Verde. Once Portuguese owned islands off the coast of West Africa, the country's cuisine has a definite African core with Portuguese influences. There was no restaurant I could find in London that claimed to be Cape Verdean, so it was into the kitchen.

This recipe is known as Canja de Gahlinha, and is essentially a chicken and rice stew.


I can't claim to remember exactly what it tasted like, but I certainly don't remember it being revolting. Guess there's not much that can go wrong with chicken and rice!

Cayman Islands

Onto Cayman Islands, and another stint in lourobbo's kitchen. What I do recall about the Cayman's was that I couldn't really find any savoury recipes that either seemed that representative of the country or that was that easy to cook, so I settled for pudding only. Pudding in the shape of Cayman Island's Rum Cake.

Suzanne is a big rum fan, so we nearly always have some in he house, and usually the golden variety. I think I made this with Mountgay which is a particular favourite. The cake was pretty nice although a little dry.

But's cake.

Central African Republic

Now this is where I really begin to struggle as I hadn't actually uploaded any photos from the Central African Republic to my flickr site. Looking through recipe websites that I have used quite a lot for African dishes, I THINK it was a mince beef meatball dish by the name of Kanda ti Nyma. I remember it certainly had peanut butter in it, seems to be a staple in that part of the world and I'm fairly sure it was meatballs.

Trouble is, I can't find any pictures. James confirms that he remembers a meatball peanut butter recipe, so let's call it Kanda ti Nyma and if I ever come across the photographic evidence, I'll come back and post it on the blog. Or I may well cook it again as apparently he also remembers it being quite tasty!

Hooray! I'm back on the wagon of Eating the A to Z of London. Next up, Chad, a cook at home country, and I fully intend to be doing that this weekend.