When I first heard of Foxcroft and Ginger it was because of the introduction of their new hybrid pastry the Cruffin – a croissant/muffin crossbreed both flaky and chewy, filled with ganache or custard. I thought it a triumph and spread the word via an article for Good Housekeeping.
Today I had to stop myself ordering another, as I am here to sample some of there other goods. After all, one cannot live on pastry alone! (Though I am always tempted to try…)
The shelves are teaming with beautiful Viennoiserie and cakes, including the gorgeous pistachio lemon loaf (on of those please!) and individual Victoria sponge (and one of those!). So that’s dessert sorted then, now how about lunch…
The menu has everything you would hope to find at an artisan cafe – showcasing the baked goods they are known so well for with a bit of imagination thrown in for the food adventurer. The Kimchi Burger immediately catches my eye. A few salads thrown in and we are good to go.
Service is quick and my burger is delivered stacked high. The kimchi is not overly fermented or hot – it tastes fresh and adds a welcome kick to the juicy (obviously high quality) meat. However, the real winner in each bite comes as no surprise given the roots of this bakery cum cafe. The bun has all the desirable elements of a fresh, chewy roll baked this morning, with a crisp crust, just enough sour from the ferment and salt to give each crumb full flavour. It’s very easy to eat the whole thing, even if there is a lot of it!
The salads are fresh and crunchy, but lacking a little flavour. A bit more seasoning would really bring out the best in these vibrant vegetables, but then, maybe I like things a bit more on the salty side. They do make me feel healthy, and it’s a nice touch that you can get all three on the same plate when you order. Variety is the spice of life in my book, particularly when it comes to salads.
On to my favourite course. I nearly consider dessert as an essential part of the meal, though of course in moderation… only once a day.
The pistachio lemon loaf nearly glows green the pistachios are so fresh. It’s moist and packed with flavour. But the really fabulous treat is the individual Victoria sponge. Thick cream holds the top and bottom together and creates a moat for the sweet strawberry jam. It’s a simple recipe made decadent.
Served with beautifully brewed flat whites in adorable mismatched tea cups to end a perfectly lovely lunch.
In a nutshell – you can taste the effort.
Foxcroft and Ginger have two more cafes, one in Whitechapel and one opening in Dalston that promise all their Soho branch offers and more. As one who is inclined to top almost anything with a poached egg, I am desperate to try their new Dalston poached egg bar, a venture I can only applaud. It launches on Thursday 18 June 2015.
You’ll remember that last summer I reviewed a delicatessen-come-cafe in Pimlico called Gastronomica. Well, it’s back and it’s better than ever! With a new sign and newly renovated interior, Gastronomica is sparkly clean yet remains down to earth and is again offering its Aperitivo for high quality imported Italian cured meats, cheeses, veg, pasta and wine every Wednesday from 6-9pm.
I had a lovely weekend out in the Cotswolds – really worth a visit if you haven’t been! Lady Bamford’s Daylesford Farm is pretty spectacular. I had a delicious lunch of Jerusalem artichoke and truffle risotto (OMG so good!) with a delightful pint of Laverstoke Farm ale followed by a glass of Daylesford’s own white wine (left room for improvement but not bad). All in all a perfect family outing with my in-laws! Did I mention there is a spa as well? Might be hitting that up for a bit of Christmas cheer come mid-December….
I am obsessed with breakfast. I love sunrise, bacon, eggs, pastries, coffee, the excitement of reliving yesterday’s fun- really everything to do with the meal that starts the day. I usually make at least one cooked breakfast a weekend. Bacon is always on the menu, we are kind of bacon fiends here, but always from free range pigs.
I just want to say Bravo! to Konditor & Cook. Unpretentious yet deliciously serious about baked goods, they offer lovely cakes, cookies, brownies, and their famously creative Magic Cakes, which are like bright and cheerful petite fours. The discerning customer, I am sure, keeps coming back because the cake tastes just as good as the icing. Actually, it tastes better, which makes sense as ‘konditor’ means pastry chef in German.
Unlike some other bake shops, which offer delightfully colourful mouthfuls of icing atop slightly dry and flavourless cakes, Konditor & Cook seem to pay as much attention to their sponge recipe as to their icing decorating. They claim to only use natural butter and organic free range eggs, which, in my experience, really does make a difference to the taste and texture of a cake. It’s not only mental, I promise. Their cakes are delicious and just look at how fun those Magic Cakes are! These ones are for a wedding.
Konditor & Cook has character to top it all off. Each shop feels special, using the architecture of the building as part of it’s decor rather than putting a same-old, ready-made design inside the space.
Located in Waterloo, on the South Bank, Chancery Lane and a few other spots, it’s worth it to have a look and a taste! Visit http://www.konditorandcook.com/ to find your nearest shop or to buy online. You can also read about their attempt at making a portrait of the Queen for HRH Diamond Jubilee! All made of those mini Magic Cakes, you won’t believe it ’til you see it!
It’s a great place to go for a cup of tea and a scrumptious snack and it’s even worth a bit of a trek. Just ask the people who voted Konditor & Cook in for Time Out’s 101 best things to do in London!
Oh, and one more thing, when I went there, I was having a real bad day… I think the guy serving me could tell because he gave me a free magic cake when I left. Sweet- in every sense.
Seattle is getting a lot of love these days. More people are starting to notice how great a city it is and it’s making Seattlites (as we call ourselves) pretty nervous because as friendly as we are, we like our peace and quite too.
It rains a lot, which keeps the crowds out, but Seattle is pretty amazing for reasons big and small- normally manifested in big flavours, big shows, big culture and…small crowds. That’s why it always makes the most livable cities list- a lot of big fun but without the trampling.
As it happens, some incredible pop-up restaurants are growing from small to big on the popularity scale! If you find yourself in Seattle on a Monday you might consider giving a pop-up a try. Let me tell you, I bet you’ll taste something that will change your life- particularly for those poor souls who have never eaten real Mexican food…(London, I’m talking to you).
Pop-up restaurants add an international flavor to Monday night dinners. Pop-up restaurants make a debut every Monday night at some local establishments. These one-night-stand restaurants take the cuisine in a decidedly different direction than what you usually would find at the address.
ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES
At top, arrays of colorful Mexican tacos, including these Nopales cactus tacos, are served at Alvaro Candela-Najera’s Monday pop-up restaurant at Sitka & Spruce, where, above, Sandy Ha, left, and Dustin Schulte await dinner.
You’ve seen these Monday ethnic-themed dinners, right? It’s hard to miss them if you dine out that night. You may find Mexico City food at a restaurant where you usually would be served poached sea cod and New American cuisine; Indian comfort food where Mediterranean fare normally would be presented.
These are pop-up and pop-up-inspired meals. Most are run by line cooks and sous chefs who rent restaurant space to run a once-a-week eatery. In other cases, it’s the chefs doing it in their own restaurants — comfort or street food that you wouldn’t find on their regular menus.
Pop-ups usually take place on Monday nights, when restaurants normally would be closed and available to rent out. The plating is less fussy, the cooking more like your grandma’s.
The concept isn’t new. But in recent months, it has become so popular that the dining rooms for pop-ups often fill up quickly.
Every Monday, chef Matt Dillon of Sitka & Spruce turns over his kitchen to his former server, Alvaro Candela-Najera, who does tacos with Mayan-style braised pork and milk-soaked beef belly.
At the Mediterranean hot spot La Bete on Capitol Hill, chefs Aleks Dimitrijevic and Tyler Moritz used to rent out their space for Monday pop-ups. Now they do their own. Walk through the front door on Mondays and you get whiffs of coriander and cumin, the smokiness from the naan being grilled in the open kitchen.
In Wallingford, chef David Kong of Perche’No Pasta & Vino normally cooks Italian food, but once a month he pays homage to his homeland and does Monday Malaysian food night.
Most pop-ups are run by young cooks. Like the food truck, the pop-up is an economical way for aspiring chefs to showcase their talents until they have the money or the following to go the brick-and-mortar route. The concept is most popular on Capitol Hill, where a dozen young cooks are giving it a go.
David Howe and Kalen Schramke, both from Rover’s, do Korean, Caribbean and other ethnic-theme dinners at Volunteer Park Café on Capitol Hill once a month. By summer, they will add a second pop-up at another location with star bartender Jay Kuehner of Sambar. Irbille Donia debuted his Filipino cuisine at Olivar restaurant on a recent Monday, the same Capitol Hill restaurant where he works as a line cook on other nights doing Spanish cuisine.
Former Lark sous chef Wiley Frank and his wife, Poncharee Kounpungchart, helped popularize the concept. In fall 2009, the couple started a Thai street pop-up, first at Licorous, then at La Bete. It became a cult hit and led the couple to open a takeout shack, Little Uncle, on East Madison Street earlier this year. The couple miss the frenetic energy of a pop-up and plan to do it again this spring.
Here are five places to find pop-ups or pop-ups-inspired dinners. Check the restaurants’ Web pages, most have references to their Monday-night dinners. Many pop-ups call it a night after they run out of food. Reservations recommended.
Judkins Street Café: Skillet line cook Adam Trujillo plans to do one to two Monday dinners a month, specializing in the comfort food of his homeland, Mexico, including a Posole soup from Jalisco. Café owner Michael McGloin plans to fill up the other Mondays with a Southwest- theme dinner, meatless Monday and other pop-ups. 2608 S. Judkins St. judkinsstreetcafe.com
La Bete: The chef does an “Around the World Dinner Series.” Their Indian-theme dinner was memorable — juicy veal meatballs in a Kashmiri stew, served with stuffed Paratha flatbread; shrimp fritters to dip with the spicy chutney. Next up, an Eastern European-theme dinner with Hungarian goulash and smoked meat. This summer, they head south with an Oaxacan-theme meal. 1802 Bellevue Ave., labeteseattle.com
Sitka & Spruce: Candela- Najera, a former server at the restaurant and now bartender at bar ferd’nand, hawks his Mexico City-inspired comfort food. It’s a simple half-page menu of mostly chicharrón and gourmet tacos. 1531 Melrose Ave. www.sitkaandspruce.com
Skelly and the Bean: Chef and owner Zephyr Paquette runs her restaurant from Wednesday through Sunday and rents the space Monday and Tuesday to young cooks and culinary students. Terra Plata’s cook Shauna Scriver will take over the first two Mondays in April to do tamales, and Kevin Burzell formerly of Ba Bar will do Malaysian comfort food the last two Mondays. The couple behind Little Uncle will do some Monday dinners here soon. 2359 10th Ave. E.skellyandthebean.com
Sitting on a bright corner along the Camden Passage in Angel are two stacks of the most wonderful pancakes you have ever seen. Each stack with four perfect pancakes and a wonderful stiff custard cream cloud floating above them, carrying sliced strawberries and plump blueberries, and accompanied with syrup. I feel like I’m floating on my very own cloud as I munch them down in the sunshine with my friend. I would post a photo, but it would cause a stampede…. (actually I forgot to take one as I was in a pancake trance, so you will just have to trust me.)
The Breakfast Club is busy, busy, busy and the staff behave a bit like friendly bees, bumbling around quickly and efficiently the whole time but without hovering too much so as to make you feel they might land on your plate. You go inside to get your menus and once you’ve picked -which is hard because everything looks AMAZING- you go back inside, past the ‘Sex, Drugs, and Bacon Rolls’ sign, to the till to order. Your coffee comes out so quickly you can’t believe you were ever without it and the food comes out nearly as fast but not so fast as to make you think you’re in a fast food joint. This is definitely not fast food, it’s so delicious it practically stops time.
The decor is definitely shabby chic, but it seems to have progressed naturally rather than being purpose built and bought- everything is as bright and cheerful as the staff. It feels like a community has made it, which is why I think it lives up to its name as Breakfast Club. All I know is, I want to be a member.
I am enjoying another enormous bite when our waitress comes out and shouts in excitement ‘Look what I found!!’, holding up the centre piece of the old seat I am using- an old iron cafe chair painted bright blue- and quickly jams it in, replacing the pillow under me before I can sit down again. She smiles a huge, bright smile and I say thank you as she pulls a bottle of syrup out of her apron, ‘AND more syrup for you too, just in case…’. There is joy here, and even though we paid the bill at the beginning, my friend and I agree we could sit here all day… and come back again tomorrow.
Love from Maggie
After the Market
The Breakfast Club Cafe, Angel
31 Camden Passage N1 8EA